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CAI Mourns and Honors Cecilia Gentili, Trailblazing Human Rights Advocate Who Served as Organization’s Director of DEI

New York, NY (February 7, 2024) – Leadership, staff, partners and colleagues of CAI are mourning the death of Cecilia Gentili, who died suddenly this week in New York.

For the last five years, Cecilia has served as CAI’s director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She led efforts to ensure that all of the organization’s programs and operations integrated the voices and needs of people who have been historically under-represented in public health work. As recently as last week, Cecilia co-led a two-day national Learning Collaborative session to help health care agencies provide gender-affirming care to patients who are transgender and nonbinary.

Cecilia came to the U.S. from Argentina, seeking safety as a transgender woman. After years of legal struggles, including several years making a living through sex work, she won asylum in the U.S. – and set out to ensure that “all people living on the margins have access to the dignity and respect they deserve in all spaces.”

She advocated for local, state and federal nondiscrimination laws; she helped increase access to high-quality, inclusive health care; and she helped fight criminalization and stigmatization of people working in the sex trade. Cecilia was also an accomplished poet, author and actress.

“Cecilia leaves the world better than she found it,” said Barbara Cicatelli, Founder and CEO of CAI. “Cecilia accomplished more in a few decades than most people can even try to do in a lifetime. All of us who were lucky enough to work with her are shocked and deeply saddened by her death, and we are also determined to honor her life and legacy. She made the world better and safer for people who are too often ignored or discounted. Now, we all have to continue the work she started.”

For more on Cecilia Gentili’s life and legacy, see this article in Reckon. For more on her work, see the website of the consulting firm she founded, Trans Equity Consulting and read her New York Times op-eds on decriminalizing sex work and federal protections for LGBT people.