A new leader has emerged at The Montrose Center, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ centers in Houston. Avery Belyeu was recently appointed chief executive officer of the nonprofit organization following Dr. Ann J. Robison's retirement.

Avery Belyeu

Belyeu’s passion for advocacy and supporting members of the queer community from all walks of life made her the perfect choice following the board of directors’ extensive nationwide search. Following her appointment, Belyeu became the first openly transgender CEO of a major LGBTQ+ center in the United States and in a statement board of directors president Tara M. Kelly stated, "We are so excited to select Avery Belyeu to lead the Montrose Center for the next generation. Her accumulation of experience and enthusiasm for our future will serve the Center and all our communities well."

“My first and biggest priority is to listen,” the newly-minted CEO shares. “The Montrose Center is an amazing place that does so much good work. It's essential for me to ensure that I'm familiar with all of our staff and programs. As an extension of that, my priority is to listen to the Houston community at large.” Belyeu’s 14-year career as a nonprofit leader includes serving in leadership roles at organizations such as Lambda Legal, The Trevor Project, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. “This Center belongs to all of us, and I want to hear from our community about what we're doing well and where they'd like to see us grow and change to meet the diverse needs of our community better.”

Belyeu joins The Montrose Center following a career serving the LGBTQ+ community through mental health and suicide prevention training and education, civil rights advocacy, and non-profit leadership and as a private sector consultant to nonprofit organizations and State and Federal Government agencies on matters related to mental health, health care, and LGBTQ+ issues.

Her career in nonprofit leadership was inspired by an innate desire to make a positive impact on others. “From a relatively young age, I knew that whatever I did for work, whatever career I pursued, I wanted to make a difference in the world,” she shares. “I love the non-profit sector because it's fueled by a sense of purpose and a genuine desire to do good in the world. From the staff that work in non-profits to the board of directors and the community of supporters that offer financial support, nonprofits are a group of people with really big hearts linking arms together to make a change. I can't imagine anything better than that!”

A newcomer to Houston, Belyeu is quickly ingraining herself in the culture and discovering all there is to love about the city she serves, while also admitting she is open to recommendations from her fellow Houstonians. “I would really encourage folks to visit Montrose. Spend some time visiting the amazing restaurants and seeing all the neighborhood has to offer,” she says. “While the LGBTQ community is spread out across the city of Houston, Montrose still has a special place as the center of our community. For folks visiting our city who want to experience Houston's diverse community, its delicious food, and its welcoming and friendly residents, I think Montrose is an excellent place to start!”

The new leader’s position will undoubtedly break the barriers to leadership often faced by trans-identifying people. Looking ahead, she sums up her role with a call to action for the community at large: “I believe that all of us, no matter what career we choose, can find ways to be a force for good and positive change.”