South Side center for LGBTQ+ residents under financial probe

The Illinois attorney general’s office confirmed it is reviewing an independent report on Brave Space Alliance’s finances.

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Activists, including Brave Space Alliance, present the city with a report card on Trans Rights during a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza, Thursday afternoon, March 31, 2022.

Brave Space Alliance and other activists present the city with a report card on trans rights during a March rally in Daley Plaza on Trans Day of Visibility.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

The founder of Chicago’s first Black-led, trans-led center for LGBTQ+ residents is at the center of an investigation into Brave Space Alliance’s finances, according to the center’s leaders.

The Brave Space Alliance’s board of directors announced this week they had submitted an independent accountant’s report to the Illinois attorney general’s office after conducting their own investigation into the South Side-based organization’s finances.

The board accused the founder and former chief executive officer, LaSaia Wade, of allowing funds to be diverted into unknown bank accounts and of “questionable spending” of the group’s funds.

“We are very disappointed that this happened,” board chair Channyn Lynne Parker said in a statement from the board. “We are working hard to make sure BSA [Brave Space Alliance] survives and thrives.”

Located in Hyde Park, the alliance provides services ranging from a food pantry to support groups. It has also been vocal about the deaths of trans people in Chicago.

In 2021, the organization listed 17 staff members, including its CEO, in its annual report published online. At the time, the alliance reported total revenue of $3.3 million and expenses of about $2.5 million.

Parker stated that the organization’s staff would remain employed amid the leadership transition. Jae Rice, the alliance’s director of communications, will serve as interim CEO.

A spokesman for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office confirmed it was reviewing the report referenced in the board of directors’ statement.

In a phone interview, Wade did not detail what took place during her tenure but said she left the organization in October in good standing with enough funds to pay the remaining staff for the next two years.

“All resources are supposed to be given back to the people, and I will stand by that,” Wade said.

She wished Brave Space Alliance well as it moves forward without her, and she said she wants the organization to continue serving the community.

“Supporting those that do not have housing, do not have food, do not have clothes,” Wade said. “Making sure sex workers are protected and driven home. That they are fed at nighttime; making sure our community is safe. We have nobody else.”

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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