Sarah Telson advocates and empowers as she uses her voice to give back to her community in some of the most powerful and rewarding ways. She works to be the voice of low-income Black and Brown queer people as the deputy director of legal services for the City Anti Violence Project (AVP), which essentially provides counseling, advocacy and legal services to LGBTQ+ and HIV affected New Yorkers who are victims of any type of violence. As well as dedicating the past eight years as an attorney advocating on behalf of low income Black and Brown people, her time spent in these roles has allowed her to find passion in the work of giving back to her community.
Sarah Telson is a first-generation Haitian American who grew up in Brooklyn. Her time growing up always reminded her of the future she could pave for herself. “I’m a child of immigrants, I’m a first-generation New Yorker, and I’m a queer Black woman, so I always wanted to give back to my community, and try and make New York and the world a better place for queer Black and Brown people,” said Telson.
Telson shared that the wonderful work she continues to embark upon today has much to do with her background. Prior to the work she does now, Telson attended Prep4Prep which is a program that offers promising students of color access to private education within New York City before she attended the University of Pennsylvania.
Telson explained how essentially her experiences within these school settings were rather eye-opening after coming from her background and being exposed to that new way of life. Telson explained, “It was an eye-opening experience, I was a person coming from a low-income background going to this elite Ivy League school, it was different, and honestly if I could do it over, I might’ve.”
She further then went on to explain how being a first-generation Hatian American had its impact on who she is now, and ultimately led her to become very familiar with the field of becoming an attorney.
She shares how she was able to see what it was really like to be underrepresented. “Everyone else in my family was born in Haiti, so I kind of saw firsthand the experiences of people who are non-native English speakers, who are immigrants, and people who don’t necessarily have money, so that really impacted my interest and want to become an attorney.”
The future is boundless for Sarah Telson and so is her vision of how her legacy will continue to pan out. Telson plans on continuing to speak up and representing those who no longer have the privilege to do so. She concluded by stating: “With everything that’s happening in the country, the continuous eroding of the rights of women and queer and trans people of color, I hope I can do what I can to try and stop the aggressive white supremacy that is ultimately causing not all of us to be able to be free and determine our destinies.”