2021 Voqal Fellowship Spotlight: Molly Benitez

Photo of Molly Benitez

At Voqal we believe creating a more socially equitable requires a willingness to support a number of diverse approaches and viewpoints. It was with that idea in mind, that we created the Voqal Fellowship. The Voqal Fellowship is an investment in people as individuals and budding entrepreneurs; a talent accelerator aimed at giving those often overlooked by traditional funders a chance to enact their visions at center stage. This month we continue our look at the 2020 Voqal Fellowship cohort with a spotlight on Molly Benitez and their project, The Junction.

The Junction seeks to create a virtual gathering space for LGBTQ+ (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Plus) and QTBIPoC (Queer and Transgender People of Color) trades workers to come together to organize, support, build capacity, and address the racist, homophobic, and patriarchal roots of historically cis male-dominated trades labor.

Molly is an educator, organizer, and activist based in Tacoma Wa., the unceded territory of the Puyallup and Coast Salish people. A current Ph.D. candidate at the University of Maryland and former welder, Molly took a break from the shopfloor to learn more about the experiences of LGBTQ+ and QTBIPoC trades workers. In 2018, Molly co-founded the Seattle-based Reckoning Trades Project which educates and organizes with LGBTQ+ and QTBIPoC trades workers from a community-based framework. Molly is a 2019 AAUW American Fellow and currently sits on the board of the National LGBTQ Worker’s Center.

Molly’s academic work is founded on Black Feminist Ideologies and Queer of Color Critique and is dedicated to anti-racist and decolonial teaching and learning. Molly’s dissertation, Becoming Your Labor: Identity Production and the ‘Affects of Labor’, weaves together these foundations along with theories of work and affect theory to analyze the ‘affects of labor’ – the visceral and active consequences of our working environments that metabolize through our bodies and produce our identities, relationships, and communities.

As an organizer, Molly centers their power building and community convening praxis on abolitionist and transformational justice frameworks. Their organizing is us/for us, in the places and within the communities they call home. Molly believes in the transformative power of storytelling, radical listening, vulnerability, imagination, and love, and that community and relationship building are necessary for systemic change.

We are thrilled to be able to support individuals like Molly and look forward to their continued work to help create the more socially equitable world we hope to see. You can learn more about Molly and the rest of the 2021 Voqal Fellowship cohort on our fellowships page.