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40 LGBTQ Leaders Under 40

Marjorie Alexander

(She, Her) is 32
Corporate—Sustainability Consultant
Marjorie Alexander holds both a B.A. Anthropology, Film Studies and a Master’s of Science Environmental Studies as well as a specialization in Geographic Information Science and Cartography. She is a Los Angeles-based sustainability consultant. When Marjorie Alexander, by all accounts a tree hugger since childhood, initially moved to LA from the East, one thing she found shocking about the entertainment industry was how incredibly wasteful each production tended to be; from the hundreds of disposable plates and pieces of flatware provided through craft services or catering to entire film sets being tossed in the dumpster at the end of a production. It was the first time she took notice and she didn’t feel great about being a part of something so unnecessarily wasteful. As a result, she decided to leave the industry altogether to pursue environmental work. As part of her master’s thesis project, Marjorie started a podcast called A Sustainable Mind — all about bridging the gap between earth-conscious individuals and experts in the sustainability field as a way to move the needle on our global footprint. Marjorie battled social anxiety and crippling stage fright her entire life, which is one reason why she wound up behind the scenes instead of in front of the camera. While she was becoming more conscious of her impact on the planet, her commitment to having a lasting impact in her community also grew. Each week thousands of people listen to the podcast, seeking advice, education, and inspiration, and she is beginning to have the impact she’s been hoping for all along; shifting mindsets in households and communities across the globe to benefit instead of harm the planet. While the LGBTQ community continues to fight for full equality, Marjorie is working towards the day when clean air, safe drinking water and access to healthy food are considered a basic right. Without those things, not much else matters.
In 2018 A Sustainable Mind will expand into the video and live streaming formats and will begin partnering with corporate entities to advocate for more environmental literacy in schools.

Gregory T. Angelo

(He, Him) is 39
Non-Profit—Community Activist – Republican Party/Conservatism
Gregory T. Angelo has been working on behalf of LGBTQ equality for nearly a decade. He has dedicated his career to bringing nontraditional allies into the pro-LGBT fold. He is the current President of Log Cabin Republicans, the nation’s original and largest organization representing LGBT conservatives and allies. During his tenure, Mr. Angelo spearheaded the submission of an amicus brief to the 2015 Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges, which was cited in Supreme Court Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. He has lobbied Republican support for pro-LGBT legislation, including the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and New York’s marriage equality bill. Mr. Angelo is also the President of the Liberty Education Forum, a non-partisan think tank that advocates a message of gay acceptance among conservatives and people of faith throughout the United States.

Fabian Astic

(He, Him) is 39
Corporate—Corporate Managing Director – Finance

Fabian Astic is a Managing Director leading the global Analytic and Technology Solutions group (ATS) within Moody’s Investors Service (MIS). His group is responsible for developing the quantitative models and analytical tools used in the rating process and across the organization, as well as MIS technology innovation activities, including advanced capabilities in machine learning and artificial intelligence. Fabian also serves on Moody’s Global Innovation Council. Fabian has always been out at Moody’s. This allowed him to bring his “true self” to work and his best performance. Unfortunately, not everybody feels safe and comfortable enough to be out in the workplace. Fabian says this recognition “is a great honor, and a strong signal” to the LGBTQ community that you can be out and progress to senior management roles of well-known institutions, even in the financial sector, which is widely viewed as conservative. Fabian tells his team members, graduate students, Moody’s employees and those in the community that they can be both proud and ambitious, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Fabian is a founding member of Moody’s LGBT and Allies Employee Resource Group (LGBTA ERG), and he served as a steering committee member of the New York LGBTA ERG chapter since 2009. He is a frequent speaker at ERG events and involved in community service through the Moody’s Foundation. Fabian holds a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Paris-Dauphine, where his research focused on Mathematical Finance. He was also awarded a Master’s Degree in Mathematics Applied to Economic Sciences from Dauphine, as well as a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Mathematics and Social Sciences. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Science and Executive Engineering from the Ecole des Mines de Paris, where he specialized in Quantitative Finance.

 

Claire Avitabile

(She, Her) is 36
Non-profit—Arts and Theater Founder
Claire Avitabile saw a void that needed filling and set out to make a difference. Claire has worked tirelessly to provide space in the Twin Cities theater community for LGBT artists, especially those artists identifying as queer, trans, or non-binary. She saw a specific need for the many transgender theater artists who had no safe place to cultivate and share their talents. Queer and transgender artists had difficulty finding jobs, were rarely taken seriously in the arts—their plays weren’t produced, and they weren’t getting paid when they did have artistic opportunities. “This all needed to change, so I started 20% Theatre Company,” said Claire. Claire’s goals: to empower and employ LGBTQ theatre/performance artists; to mentor emerging artists; and to have resources to pay each and every artist for their work. In the almost 12 years that the 20% Theatre Company has been in existence, it has employed over 500 LGBTQ and allied artists – as directors, performers, writers, designers, stage managers, interns, apprentices, technicians and more. Claire says this work is her life and, more importantly, this work has saved lives. It is why she exists.

 

Andrew Bear

(He, Him) is 28
Small Business—Founder Photo-Video Production Company
Andrew Bear always knew who he was, and he refused to be bullied. Growing up in a small New Hampshire border town and attending school in Maine, there weren’t a lot of resources or a community of LGBTQ people to join. Andrew recalls one incident where kids from school tried to intimidate him; his mother overheard the cruel and harassing telephone call and, lucky for him, his parents were able to intervene and help. Andrew knew he was blessed to have such a supportive family and he realized at a young age that he had a right to be proud.
During high school Andrew focused on being a singer and a performer, put his talents to work creating showcases for The Jimmy Fund (Dana Farber Cancer Institute), raising funds to cure children’s cancer, and fundraising for better care for abandoned animals around New England through for the New Hampshire Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (NHSPCA). He has been an avid fundraiser for many causes during and after college.
Andrew lives in Los Angeles now and is the co-founder of Oui Productions, a full-service photo and video production company providing personalized production support to companies across the globe. He works with high profile clients producing content for fashion brands, print publications and advertising agencies. His small-town upbringing and having to figure everything out on his own inspired him to reach out to suburban and rural LGBTQ youth and to be sure that resources are available. He is making sure that youth in our country and around the world gain the confidence to stand up for themselves and others and ask for help whenever they need it. At the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Andrew has been given that opportunity and is making a difference.

 

Eboné Bell

(She, Her) is 36
Small Business—“Tagg You’re It” —Publisher and Editor-In-Chief
Eboné Bell is an amazing force in the LGBTQ community. Her tireless efforts building the award-winning Tagg Magazine and providing opportunities for exposure and advancement of the LGBTQ community are an inspiration to many. Tagg Magazine’s tagline is “everything lesbian, queer and under the rainbow”, and it has become a central source for lesbian and queer culture, news and events. Eboné started her queer women’s publication and media company at age 30. Her goal was to create a publication that would specifically engage segments of the LGBTQ community that were invisible in other local LGBTQ publications. Eboné and her team have organized events in DC, donated to non-profit organizations and set up a scholarship fund for young queer women of color, among other accomplishments.

 

Henry Briffel

(He, Him) is 37
Small Business—SaaS Reseller Expert and Supplier Diversity
Henry Briffel has a passion for promoting and helping micro, small and medium businesses thrive. He not only helped launch SaaSMax Corp back in 2011, but also helped them to become one of the best known and most successful SaaS app marketplaces. He also helps information technology resellers and app vendors to grow their businesses as well as growing their clients’ businesses. He built a network of hundreds of information technology resellers and business process-focused Software as a Service (SaaS) apps. Additionally, Henry was vice president of global supplier diversity at JPMorgan Chase & Co. An award-winning supplier diversity program, under Henry’s guidance they won the National Business Inclusion Consortium’s Best of the Best award. Henry also participates on the Board of Directors for both Outwords and Tuesday’s Children. Every career and charitable endeavor Henry has undertaken has been guided by a dedication to advancing the rights and business success of small and medium as well as LGBTQ businesses.

 

Savannah Curtin

(She, her) 36
Corporate—HR and Talent Development Guru
Savannah Curtin always knew she would end up in a profession that blended business with truly helping people.  Human Resources was a great blend for her because it allowed her the opportunity to learn a business, understand their talent needs and how to help grow and engage them.  Diversity has always been important to Savannah in every role and at every company she has worked for.  She began her Human Resources career actively involved in Diversity and Inclusion where she started the first PRIDE Team Member Resource Group at Wells Fargo Bank Souix Falls, SD. She also was a Diversity Action Committee Leader, and LGBTQ Pilar lead at Target Corp. She also led diversity and inclusion at U.S. Bank in Minneapolis where she developed training resources and was responsible for external partner relationships.
Growing up in the Midwest, there was such a lack of diversity in most organizations.  All the companies she’s worked for have made it a priority, but truly breaking through the culture components of the organizations can be a challenge.  Savannah says it can be hard to change long-standing behaviors, attitudes and unconscious bias.  Luckily for Savannah, there is so much work to be done and she’s delighted that she can have an impact on culture in the workplace. Recently, Savannah was named Head of Global Growth and Talent Development for Carlson Wagonlit Travel, and she now leads the company’s strategy for learning management, digital learning experiences, and leadership development. She is a committed executive with over 16 years of Human Resources experience and she advocates for innovation within a variety of disciplines including: Leadership, Employee Relations, Talent Development, Organizational Design, Talent Acquisition, and Diversity and Inclusion.
Outside of work, Savannah is into living life outdoors— beaches and mountains respectively.  She enjoys traveling and finding new adventures.   On any given Sunday, you might find her with a book at a local Barnes and Noble.

 

Courtney DeDi

(She, her) is 32
Small Business— Changemaker, Community Advocate and Pet Rescuer
Courtney DeDi is CEO of DiOGi Pet Services and Executive Director of DiOGi CARES, but her story includes overcoming the challenges of being a homeless youth. Among the many challenges faced by homeless youth (and especially LGBTQ youth), the simple pleasure and enormous benefit of owning and properly caring for a pet by a troubled youth is often misunderstood. Since the days of longing for a furry friend, Courtney has become the proud mommy to three dogs and a cat – Buddy, Cosima, Vincent and Suzy Q. Being inspired by life experiences and understanding the needs of pet owners, in 2010 she founded her business to sustain the “happiness and well-being of Atlanta’s pets while their humans are at work and play within the comfort of their own home and surroundings.” Fast forward to 2017 – DiOGi has 18 employees and cares for more than 1,600 pets in Atlanta. Courtney is a small business owner, director of a non-profit board, Small Business Development board chair for the Atlanta Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and a role model for people who have faced or are facing challenges. Courtney continues to inspire LGBTQ youth to “go after their dreams no matter how bleak the future may seem.” Courtney’s impact is to continue creating a safe place of work for her team and a culture of respect, diversity and acceptance which allows them to fully be their authentic selves and come as they are”.

 

Dominique (Dom) DeGuzman

(She, Her) is 30
Corporate—Tech Diversity Evangelist
Dominique DeGuzman is a software engineer at Twilio and leader of the company’s Diversity, Culture and Inclusion program. Dom is a global evangelist for diversity in the technology space with speaking engagements at colleges, conferences, meetups and clubs advocating for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual people; people of color; first generation; different ability; and people with nontraditional tech backgrounds. Dom is also San Francisco City director for Lesbians Who Tech, an organization that highlights and elevates queer women in tech. She also helped organize two startup coalitions —Diversity Advocates and the LGBTQ ERG Alliance—that include representatives from 40 tech companies. Dom helps startups create and improve their Diversity & Inclusion programs, and she’s an advisory board member for Alliance Health Project and a contributor to Elissa Shevinsky’s feminist anthology, Lean Out: The Struggle for Gender Equality in Tech and Start-Up Culture. She uses humor and personal story telling to speak about the importance of diversity and inclusion, battling the brogrammer culture, how to overcome impostor syndrome and encouraging more women, LGBTQ+ and other underrepresented minorities in the field to pursue a future in STEMrelated fields. Outside of her career, Dom enjoys riding her motorcycle, playing with everyone’s dogs and traveling

 

Lance Dorsey

(He, Him) is 39
Corporate—Veteran and Supplier Diversity Professional
Lance Dorsey’s military service ended abruptly after he developed a chronic, potentially life-threatening disorder following a tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Lance enjoyed an unblemished 13-year service record that included a tour of duty at Prince Sultan Royal Air Base, Saudi Arabia, earning 4-degrees, 16 service medals —including a Joint-Service, two Air Force, and Army Commendation Medals – as well as accolades from every military training course he attended. Lance is most proud of the influence that he had on people who, like him, served during a time when who you are and who you love could result in dishonorable discharge. One of his students at the time, Rick Nye, had this to say: “as a newly enlisted Airman in the United States Air Force, I was nervous as to what it would mean for me being gay at a time when it was still a punishable offense. I struggled. When I began my technical training, a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders when I met my instructor, Staff Sgt Dorsey. While it was unspoken, it was obvious from the beginning that he was an authentic gay man. He was a gay man who was respected and admired in an environment where being gay was not allowed. He served as an inspiration for me to press onward in a positive and confident manner.” Lance believes in harnessing the power of diversity to make business run better, and that LGBTQ individuals are a significant, although often unrecognized, segment of the business community. Lance says, “Recognition of LGBTQ business owners and professionals isn’t a request for preferential treatment, but a demand for equality in business opportunities.” Lance’s work is focused on economic stability and inclusion of LGBTQ people along with other underrepresented, diverse communities. Lance believes that corporations “must partner with suppliers and businesses which accurately reflect the communities we serve and sell to.”

 

Jenn T. Grace

(She, Her) is 36
Small Business—Professional Lesbian and Publisher
Jenn T. Grace has been working in the LGBTQ space since 2006 when she first launched an LGBTQ marketing strategy for an employer. She then accelerated her community impact by becoming the executive director of the Connecticut LGBTQ chamber of commerce, followed by 4 years of work with small businesses and eventually moving into working with corporate America. Jenn’s latest iteration is her publishing business which is helping publish diverse authors, many of whom are LGBTQ. Besides being a published author herself, with incredible insightful books on marketing to the LGBTQ community as well as etiquette tips, Jenn’s entire career has been dedicated to serving and protecting the business and economic viability of the LGBTQ community. Jenn’s company —Purpose Driven Publishing —has published 11 books covering a wide range of important topics from diversity and inclusion in the workplace, living a life of abundance and happiness, urban trauma and the impact of racism and overcoming domestic violence, just to name a few. Jenn is helping to cultivate more diverse voices and ally voices to the community and connecting Ally businesses to the LGBTQ business community through her work.

 

Monica Grant

(She, Her) is 31
Small Business—Determined Artist, Activist and Producer
Monica Grant is an advocate for entrepreneurship and allowing it to be a viable alternative for the unemployed, underemployed or those needing to free themselves of oppressive careers. Faced with the negativity in public discourse and declining economic conditions, Monica set a new path for herself and her community by creating a blog and a business talk show. Armed with her experience as a social justice organizer and her skills as a TV producer, her media platforms provide an opportunity for people in the community to explore new ways to provide for themselves economically through business ownership. Fueled by the community’s need to give voice to the entrepreneur at heart as well as business owners and their issues, Monica’s Young Boss Economic Club and Master Plan talk show have become avenues for diverse communities and young people to gain practical skills and advice. Monica’s message speaks to the Millennial who is business, community and politically aware. Monica helps people influence their target market and increase revenue by using social media marketing, television promotion and strategic partnerships as new ways to provide for themselves financially without relying on traditional sources of income.

 

Shannon Hardin

(He, Him) is 30
Government—City Government Community Advocate
When you visit Shannon Hardin’s self-named website, you understand his approach to services. “We don’t serve to win elections; we win elections to serve.” Shannon hails from Columbus, OH, the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of Ohio. It is the 14th-largest city in the United States, with a population of 860,090 as of 2016 estimates. As a current member of Columbus City Council, Shannon has prioritized improving neighborhood safety, investing in infrastructure and transportation, increasing economic opportunity for all, and reducing racial disparities. He studied political science and international relations at Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, before returning to Columbus to work in former mayor Michael Coleman’s office. Shannon served as the External Affairs Manager, LGBTQ liaison, and was on the Religious Advisory Commission. He was a strong voice of advocacy for the city of Columbus, raising their Human Rights Campaign Municipal Equality Index rating from 82% to 100% in 2016 http://bit.ly/2rkmBOP .  In addition to creating a more queer-inclusive city, Shannon developed programs around violence intervention, African-American wellness and anti-recidivism. As a public servant, Shannon has made significant contributions to a more inclusive Columbus by leveling barriers to transportation, creating new opportunities for small businesses and working to eliminate opportunity gaps for young men of color.

UPDATE:  Shannon is now president of Columbus City Council  http://bit.ly/2mMjE3Z

 

Rich Harrington

(He, Him) is 24
Non-Profit—Activist – LGBTQ Equality
Rich Harrington deliberately started his career by working as an activist because he values the experience of helping others engage and make change within their local communities. Whether collecting petitions for an environmental campaign, organizing and empowering citizens to canvass their own neighborhoods for political candidates or conversing with religious leaders to impact their thinking on sexuality, he has decided to dedicate his life to making a difference. As program director for Faith In America (now merged with Tyler Clementi Foundation), this summer Rich traveled to Phoenix, Ariz. to educate the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) members at their annual meeting about the harm caused by outdated religious teachings and their position on LGBTQ issues. Rich understands the connection between achieving full LGBTQ Equality and the elimination of religious-based animus toward the LGBTQ community. Rich says as LGBT Leaders, we “must dream big and fight hard.” Rich reminds us that thirty years ago, marriage equality seemed impossible to achieve, but through decades of persistence and hard work his generation is reaping the benefits of the hard-won fight. Rich continues to be dedicated to full LGBTQ equality as well as spiritual equality because he envisions a better world where being gay and living true to oneself is no longer a sin.

 

Amber Hikes

(She, Her) is 34
Government—City Government and Community Advocate
Amber Hikes recently shared that her coming out story was one where she was led by her mother, the late Dr. Zenobia Lawrence Hikes, asking her to complete a sentence that went something like this “Mom, I’m…” and she shared that she responded with tears. Amber, a leader in her own right, had the benefit of a superwoman and an ally on her side from the beginning. Her courage and strength seems to come from her deep sense of family and community. Amber is the executive director of the Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, where she develops policy and serves as the principal advisor to Mayor Jim Kenney on issues that affect the LGBTQ community. Hikes joined the Office of LGBT Affairs in March 2017, and has set her sights on fighting and advocating for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community, specifically youth, transgender people and people of color. As the new executive director, Amber’s accomplishments include introducing Philadelphia’s new Pride flag last summer—includes black and brown stripes— to publicly and symbolically recognize racial discrimination within the LGBT community. Her personal philosophy guides the Office’s mission and approach: when we fight for the lives of the most marginalized, we, in turn, liberate ourselves. Deeply rooted in the Philadelphia LGBTQ community, she has served on the boards of the William Way LGBT Community Center, Identity Kit Project, Mountain Meadow Camp, and was a long-time organizer for the Philadelphia Dyke March. She organized numerous events to benefit LGBTQ organizations including GALAEI, Mazzoni Center, Equality PA, Equality Forum, Attic Youth Center and ACLU-PA, among many others.

 

Natalie Hinckley

(She, Her) is 34
Small Business—Video Production Entrepreneur and Surf-Punk Musician
Natalie Hinckley did a daring thing at age 24: she used her savings to start a video production company and began working as a director. In an industry where less than ten percent of commercial directors are women, her uncommon choice required confidence and self-motivation. After ten years in business, the company now has proven success with recognizable national and international clients. In 2009, Natalie was an early adapter of live-streaming video as a service for her business along with live events like sports and conferences as well as brand and product story videos. Natalie has made managing success and innovation seem easy. She prioritizes philanthropy by giving back to the community as well as making video accessible to underrepresented communities. In 2016, Hinckley Productions was recognized as business of the year by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce for these efforts in diversity and advocacy within the chamber. On a fun note, Natalie is bass player for the surf-punk band Venus in Furs which toured nationally back in 2012. The band has two full-length albums, an EP and a release on vinyl.

Blair Hirst | Project Manager| Ambulatory Care

Blair Hirst

(They, Their) is 28
Non-Profit—Engineer and Advocate
Blair Hirst is a trained biomedical engineer, project manager and will soon earn an Sc.M, Executive Management of Technology and Innovation from NY University Tandon School of Engineering. From their high school Gay Straight Alliance to co-chairing the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Employee Resource Network, Blair has always been an out member of their community advocating for equity and equality. Blair helps to foster an environment in which LGBT employees, patients, caregivers and community partners feel respected, comfortable and valued, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Blair is also involved with ensuring that Memorial Sloan-Kettering maintains their designation as a Human Rights Campaign National Healthcare Equality Leader. The designation is a point of pride for Blair, but what they are most proud of is creating a sustainable foundation around LGBTQ equality in the organization —through better policies, a culture of inclusion and encouraging the next round of leaders to step up and speak up. As co-lead of the LGBT Employee Resource Network, the group has received commitment from the institution to collect sexual orientation and gender identity data in the future; secured inclusive bathroom signage in new buildings; started a clinical advisory committee to collect data on LGBTQ disparities to help guide the institution and conducted LGBTQ SafeZone Training for more than 100 employees.

 

Tiffany Hudson

(She, Her) is 31
Small Business—Diversity & Inclusion Champion and Business Owner
Tiffany is proud and unapologetic for who she is, because she’s always lived by the words, “nobody knows you better than you.” With that knowledge she has become the voice for the voiceless and one of many who are changing the face of business. As a Black lesbian, she refuses to have her identities minimized in the workplace. She believed in equity in the workplace so deeply, she left her promising corporate career to co-found an organization —The Nova Collective— committed to amplifying underrepresented voices in business. Tiffany is a champion for her employees, her colleagues and her clients alike. She credits the unconditional love of her parents as well as her education and athletic experiences for how she learned to be true to herself, handle business and be confident when doing so.

Karen Jones

(She, Her) is 40
Corporate—Sr. IT Executive and ERG Sponsor
Karen Jones is a senior executive leader at Capgemini and for 15 of the past 17 years she’s been cultivating her brand of leadership in the tech industry. At Capgemini she leads one of the highest revenue generating lines of business within the firm. Her commitment to excellence, leadership and passion for strategy and execution set her apart as a leader. As an out leader, Karen is a role model to many who also serves as the executive sponsor of Capgemini’s LGBTA employee resource group —OutFront. As a services-based business, Karen knows that Capgemini’s primary asset is their employees. To be competitive and to remain relevant it is important that the company and culture represent the same diversity and core values as the companies they serve — clients include the largest and most inclusive brands, governments and institutions in the world. As a woman, an out lesbian and a leader Karen embodies the Capgemini brand slogan “People matter, results count.” With Karen at the helm, Capgemini has transformed the work they do both within and outside of the firm. OutFront supports education, professional development, community and culture for its membership, the broader Capgemini community and the world.

James Felton Keith

(He, Him) is 36
Corporate—Personal Data Champion
A Detroit native, he was supposed to be a drug dealer, supposed to be derelict, supposed to be dead —statistically speaking that is, but instead James Felton Keith decided he wanted to be right. As a mechanical engineer, economist, ethnographer, author, speaker and now as a politician, James is consumed with being right. And, more often than not, he is. After a few career moves that included relocating to Beijing and later to South Africa and then New York, he spent the better part of a decade studying the confluence of culture, economics and identity while publishing his thoughts, observations and conclusions about the world. Most recently he founded and incubated the International Personal Data Trade Association and produced the first Personal Data Week in the world in New York city. He is a senior executive in cyber insurance firm as well as chief operations officer for a predictive analytics firm. James also co-founded SlayTv.com housed at Made In NY.
To date, people haven’t had access to a comprehensive digital representation of their personhood, and while it seems fait accompli people should have total agency over their information, the reality is that they do not. Banking on being right, James is all about economic inclusion, and his latest incarnation he is leveraging a fully-integrated set of skills to empower the masses. James is championing an effort focused on helping people reclaim the equity in their identity and the value they create in our economy. James, like the United Nations, believes personal data is an asset class and the value of that asset belongs to the individual. James just launched his first campaign – he is running for US Congress as a Democrat in New York’s 13th District.

Ashley Kistler

(She, Her) is 32
Small Business—Advisor and Advocate
Ashley Kistler grew up very poor in Massachusetts, and like many in her community, without a financial role model. She says she lacked a basic understanding of finances — the importance of saving money, the role of credit, retirement planning using financial vehicles like a 401(k). During Ashley’s first marriage her husband handled the finances and she was not involved. After their divorce, a tragedy left her with a small life insurance policy, no experience handling money and no one to turn to. Out of necessity, Ashley had to get the skills and training to manage her own new-found wealth and she did. When she was approached by Northwestern Mutual to become a financial advisor, she decided that she would help people become financially literate and able to plan and achieve their financial goals. As a Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual, Ashley was sure that she had to hide her relationship with her same-sex partner. A lot like other closeted LGBTQ people, she set lofty career and performance goals and she achieved them all. With her new-found work credibility and influence in a male dominated, straight work environment during the era of then Governor Pence’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), Ashley found the courage to come out to her colleagues. To her surprise everyone at Northwestern Mutual was incredibly accepting. She eventually joined Northwestern Mutual’s Diversity and Inclusion Counsel and later became president of the Indy Rainbow Chamber of Commerce. Ashley is a sought-after speaker on LGBT sensitivity at a number of Indianapolis companies and the local Federal Bureau of Investigation. She is on a mission to help people to become aware of how questions like, “what does your husband do for a living” or “what is your wife’s name” can shut down lines of communication because of the heteronormative assumptions, and instead introduce more inclusive terms like “spouse” or “partner”.
Ashley and her wife, a trained social worker, speak each semester at a private Christian college, to help the Social Work students better understand the LGBT community and to better prepare for diversity in the work world beyond their college walls. As a member of the community advisory board of the Center for AIDS Research at the Indiana University Medical School, she is part of the movement to change the view and the negative stigma of HIV and AIDS as it is no longer a death sentence. While her career as a financial advisor helps people with the luxury to save money, reduce their tax burden and plan for the future , Ashley is always reminded of her humble beginnings, the negative economic determinants of discrimination and exclusion and her involvement in the world of HIV and AIDS keeps her grounded and working to make things better in the community.

Samantha Kraesig

(She, Her) is 35
Small Business—Designer In Chief
Samantha Kraesig said “design found me”. Society pushes us at an early age to choose profession, but the profession chose Sam. There was a lot of pressure, especially when her grandmother expected her to become a doctor. Her mother always thought she’d be a writer. Sam told herself she would never settle— she would find the one thing she could do for 14 hours a day and wake up excited for another day. Design is that for Sam. It is the storyteller inside, the photographer and the psychologist. It gives her something new to learn with every project—never monotonous. Sam is the Creative Director of Flight. She started the company four years ago with her partner and now wife Michelle Farrell. She works with a team of designers, developers and strategists to build the tools brands need for success.
More than anything else Sam is a problem solver. As the smoke cleared from the fires of Sonoma, entire neighborhoods in her California home town were reduced to ash. The fire left over 3,000 structures destroyed—mostly homes. The short of it, she plans to build transitional modular homes for fire survivors to live in while they rebuild their homes. Learn more at homesforsonoma.org. Sam also founded the Letter People with Holly Garretson, Michelle Farrell and Jan Loewen. They were all looking for community and they all knew they needed to design and build it themselves. The Letter People is all about bridging the gap between all the letters —LGBTQ, it is a group where people create genuine relationships. Letter people members learn to trust each other before they provide business recommendations.
Sam says, “design will change the world. It moves the unmovable. Looks into the future and plucks ideas. Design touches everything and everything touched has been designed. Now, if only people understood this.”

Jeremy Laurin

(He, Him) is 32
Corporate—Environmental Science and Community Advocate
Jeremy Laurin is an environmental scientist by trade, with a strong passion for diversity and inclusion, and he has worked tirelessly to expand LGBTQ awareness and equality. Since joining Pacific Gas & Electric in 2010, he has helped plan and execute many LGBTQ outreach events around California that focus on education and support. These include PG&E’s participation in Pride parades, healing circles particularly during tragedies, such as the Pulse Night Club massacre, one-on-one mentorship sessions and diversity tabling events. Jeremy’s colleagues say his dedication and vocal outreach have helped engage employees and drive positive cultural change that allows others to feel comfortable with speaking up at PG&E. Since joining the board of PG&E’s Pride Network employee resource group, membership has tripled in size to 1,000 members and participation in San Francisco Pride Parade has increased eleven-fold and is now the company’s single largest annual volunteer event. The launch and implementation of an award-winning ally engagement program with more than 600 allies including half of the company’s top leaders is yet another accomplishment. Under Jeremy’s leadership thousands of dollars have been raised to provide scholarships to LGBTQ youth and impact the core business through the implementation of transgender-inclusive policies and procedures. Jeremy is committed to continuing to push the envelope and to creating positive change for LGBTQ inclusion inside and outside of PG&E.

 

Jonathan Lovitz

(He, Him) is 33
Non-profit—LGBT Business First
Jonathan D. Lovitz is a Senior Vice President at the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), as well as Director of NGLCCNY, the New York LGBT and Allied Business Network of NGLCC. He is a prominent voice in the community focused on LGBT economic empowerment and the vital role business plays in creating equity for the LGBT community.
He is a regular commentator on MSNBC, CNBC, NPR, The Advocate, Out Magazine, among others, and has often spoken/fundraised for Broadway Cares / Equity Fights AIDS, The Trevor Project, GLSEN, the Democratic party, and more. His years as a performer on stage and screen raised his visibility as a young, openly-gay LGBT advocate, ultimately leading him to a career fighting for the community in the political and business arenas. Jonathan regularly speaks to colleges and universities encouraging young people to get involved in public service and use their voice to make a difference for their communities.

 

Jessica McGlory

(She, Her) is 26
Small Business—Data-Driven Media Maven
When Jessica McGlory first started her career, she decided to live authentically and out loud to ensure others would see her as an ally. She also did this to set a standard and to ensure non-LGBTQ identified people would know their workspace would be safe for all who wanted to live and work authentically and they have a role in securing an inclusive environment. Jessica believes this is the biggest contribution she can make as a leader —every single day to live and work authentically and granting space for others to do the same. Jessica is Director of Paid Social at Jellyfish. The field of paid social media is difficult to master and even more challenging to garner acknowledgment of peers, clients and the industry as an expert, but Jessica has — awarded the Rising Star Award by AdColor, listed as one of 100 People Who Make Advertising Great, and has received recognition for work she has provided for her clients from multiple organizations including Digiday, OMMA, The Shorty Awards, and The Smarties.
As a data-driven media maven, Jessica not only utilizes her skills to push forward in her career, but she also makes sure to give back. Jessica is a next generation board member for La Casa Norte, a Chicago-based non-profit with the mission to serve youth and families confronting homelessness. Through the special projects committee, Jessica generates data initiatives to better drive strategy in providing programs that have the greatest impact on the geographic breakdown of the homeless community. For example, identifying which neighborhoods have the most LGBT identified homeless youth and propose programs that can help provide proper healthcare needs like pREP and safe sex education.

James Nowlin

(He, Him) is 37
Small Business—Purposeful Entrepreneur, Author and Speaker
A near-death experience changed the trajectory of James Nowlin’s life. He grew up in rural Virginia surviving a childhood riddled with domestic violence and alcoholism. Where James was from, there were no black, gay role models in late 1980s and 1990s in his little town or on television or in the media. James charted his course for the future when the Cosby-era reigned supreme. After high school James went to college with argyle sweaters and loafers, a stint in medical school and a course correction to what he thought was his dream career as corporate lawyer. By the age of 29, James had created a multi-million dollar company. With all the trappings of success but lacking the deep purpose, life got interesting fast. James describes a tragic accident on what was supposed to be a leisurely day on a lake in Texas, where rescuers struggled to revive his lifeless body. After that experience, James made a shift —he decided to live a more purposeful and meaning-filled life. Now he is the role model he wished he had as a young person. As an African-American, proudly out gay man who has achieved acclaimed success professionally and personally despite all odds, he keynotes events, sits on panels and participates in roundtable discussions, fireside chats and one-on-one sessions talking to aspiring entrepreneurs. He always looks forward to engaging LGBTQ and African-American youth to share and learn. He travels globally to spread the good news of positive healthy living, how to grow a business to scale and how to create a life of great success. James is a business and personal mentor to many with a system for success that encourages and empowers others to design and grow a life of meaning and fulfillment.

 

Kellie Parkin

(She, Her) is 38
Non-Profit—Coalition Builder
Still enjoying her first year as executive director for MBA Orlando, an affiliate of the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Kellie Parkin is making a huge difference. After 25 years of being an all-volunteer run organization, Kellie is the organization’s first executive director and full-time staff person. Under her leadership the group has achieved increased local involvement, more visibility in the region, greater enthusiasm and more collaboration in the community. This, along with an increase in the number of volunteers and members all happening in part as the community responds to the Pulse Nightclub tragedy. It’s no surprise that MBA Orlando was named the NGLCC 2017 Chamber of the Year.
Kellie believes partnerships are essential to achieving equality and has made it her goal to increase (or establish, in some cases) collaboration with local governments, Orlando Regional Chamber, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and others. These partnerships help to create a more inclusive environment throughout the region, allowing local affinity chambers to work together to unite the voices of the local Hispanic chamber, African-American chamber, disability chamber and Kellie’s voice representing the LGBTQ chamber on issues impacting the region’s small diverse businesses. Prompted by the Pulse tragedy, Kellie became a member of a task force charged with formally creating a coalition of Central Florida’s 30+ LGBTQ-focused organizations by setting the name, structure, mission, vision, values and by-laws. The coalition, now a properly designated 501(c)3, gives the region a collective LGBTQ voice and will provide a platform for education, advocacy and change.
In the past Kellie had been closeted at work as both an LGBTQ person and an atheist. Now that she can live and work authentically, she is excited about what the future holds and making a positive impact, more opportunities for the LGBTQ community and society as a whole.

 

Eric Patridge

(He, Him) is 38
Corporate—Interdisciplinary STEM professional and Advocate
As a Knowledge Engineer at Viome, Dr. Eric Patridge is responsible for integrating artificial intelligence with diet, functional medicine and the microbiome. His current role follows a rapid pivot into technology after nearly two decades in academia. Before joining Viome, Eric used most of his free time to cultivate a national organization focused on fringe issues for both Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) communities. Whenever possible, he has pushed for long term, sustainable change that will persist despite ever-changing political winds. Such infrastructure requires precise attention to how to achieve success, deliberate dedication to the development of leaders and visible role models and success stories.
In LGBTQ spaces, Eric has advocated for academic advancement, professional development, and capacity building. In STEM spaces, he fought to eliminate barriers for underrepresented groups, to bring LGBTQ representation where decisions are made, and to succeed as an interdisciplinary STEM professional. The community he cultivated, Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM), now has more than 60 chapters globally and hosts an annual conference which attracts over 700 attendees. Last Spring, Eric left the organization to pursue other startup endeavors, and he completed the leadership lifecycle, placing oSTEM’s future with nearly 40 talented leaders from both the LGBTQ and STEM communities. It is an exciting time and Eric’s intention to focus on fringe issues for all LGBTQ people in the STEM community has evolved into a diverse global voice of culturally aware members that perpetually connect LGBTQ and STEM professionals and their concerns.

 

Seth Pearson

(He, Him) is 38
Corporate—Champion of LGBTQ Rights and Community Engagement
Seth Pearson is an associate and business lawyer with Foley & Lardner LLP in Boston and spends much of his free time working with youth from low income and marginalized populations. Seth has shown leadership qualities throughout his life, most notably during his time in law school at Duke University where he served as president of OUTLaw the same year he was President of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. Seth used his leadership positions to delve into and explore intersectionality and create opportunities to tell specific LGBTQ stories to a wider audience. Seth continues to spread the message of inclusion and acceptance while utilizing his education and network to make a difference. Seth currently sits on his firm’s LGBTQ recruiting committee where he leads initiatives intended to diversify their pool of attorney talent as well as increase outreach to the LGBTQ community in Greater Boston.

 

Rhodes Perry

(He, Him) is 38
Small Business—LGBTQ Advocate and Social Entrepreneur
Rhodes Perry, MPA, has spent the bulk of his career advocating for LGBTQ social justice matters. Whether working in the White House, for the City of New York, or within the National LGBTQ movement (at PFLAG National), he has always worked hard to ensure LGBTQ communities, especially communities at the margins, are considered when life-saving policy decisions are made. Through his work, he has helped secure important legislative and policy wins, including passing valuable employment and public accommodations protections for transgender and non-binary people, extending Title IX coverage for transgender and non-binary students, and helped guarantee the Affordable Care Act include non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. Despite the recent assault on these legislative wins by the current administration, Rhodes remains dedicated to full equality for the LGBTQ community.
In the past two years Rhodes has embarked on the journey of entrepreneurship. Rhodes Perry Consulting is a certified LGBT business enterprise focused on helping c-suite executives, human resource and diversity professionals foster a culture of belonging for their LGBTQ colleagues within the workplace. His work also helps supplier diversity professionals extend economic opportunities to LGBTQ, minority, women, disabled, and Veteran-owned businesses. His podcast, The Out Entrepreneur, has empowered thousands of LGBTQ people to pursue their professional passions and build the businesses of their dreams, all while being their authentic selves 100% of the time.
Besides managing his business, Rhodes serves as a Portland Commissioner for the City’s Human Rights Commission. This opportunity allows him to share his expertise with the many communities in the Rose City who call Portland home. Rhodes also enjoys spending time with his family, and bicycling all around the world.

 

Amy Phan

(She, Her) is 27
Small Business—STEM Phantastic
Amy Phan immigrated to the US at the age of 5. She was the first in her family to graduate from college and the only quadruple major in her graduating class at University of California, Berkeley (B.S. Environmental Economics and Policy, B.A. Media Studies, B.A. Political Economy and B.A. Sociology). Amy also earned a Master of Science from Northwestern University in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Amy has been extensively involved in the LGBTQ community and currently serves on the Executive Board of the non-profit Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM), as Vice President for Marketing Communications. She was selected twice as an LGBTQ Tech & Innovation Fellow and founded the East Bay Chapter of Lesbians Who Tech. Previously, Amy supported Reaching Out MBA with marketing & communications strategy and Out for Undergrad with communications, professional development and partnerships. She currently leads product management for the retention business of Storyblocks, a startup based in Arlington, VA, where she oversees content, engagement and revenue.

 

Jason Rae

(He, Him) is 31
Non-Profit—Political Activist and Organizer
There are several stories recounting the 5-year-old Jason Rae telling his parents on election day “don’t forget to vote for Bill Clinton” or even the 15-year-old Jason riding a bike in rural Wisconsin to the county party meetings in the basement of the local library. Needless to say, Jason is a lifelong democrat. He was eventually elected—youngest person ever—to the Democratic National Committee and in early 2017, he was elected to serve as the Secretary of the DNC, the party’s youngest national officer. He serves as Chair of the Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission, partner at Nation Consulting and President & CEO of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber with 500 businesses as members and one of the largest LGBT Chambers in the country. Prior to joining Nation Consulting, Rae had served as a public policy intern with People For the American Way and as a political intern with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund. He has also worked for Herb Kohl for US Senate, among other campaigns. Jason graduated from Marquette University with an Honors Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science and History. He currently lives in the historic Bay View neighborhood in Milwaukee with his husband Phillip Bailey.

 

Adam Scher

(He, Him) is 34
Small Business—Small Business Owner and Entrepreneur
Adam Scher is an incredibly effective and driven individual. He and his business partner started their creative agency CMYK together when he was just 24 years old. For more than a decade, they have grown the company to be a thriving business that fosters and celebrates individuality. Adam prides himself on building a company culture that is as diverse as its clients. Employees are amazed at the level of care and consideration he takes to grow the team and how much he supports and enables self-expression. CMYK is a certified LGBT business enterprise through the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce. Adam proudly represents the LGBTQ community with every business interaction, from large firms in finance and insurance, to personal brands and nonprofit organizations.

 

Gee Smalls

(He, Him) is 40
Non-Profit—Community Activist, Entrepreneur and Life Coach
Gee Smalls is a certified life and relationship coach and co-founder of The Gentlemen’s Foundation and LoveWorks web series. He and his husband Juan founded The Gentlemen’s Foundation, Inc. (TGF) as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization to focus on the healthy development of Gay, Bisexual and Transgender men of color through mentoring programs, educational and cultural initiatives and social events. The foundation promotes positive images, engages dialogue and creates a safe online and offline community.
As a life and relationship coach, Gee is committed to supporting, empowering and mentoring his clients to stand tall in their truth, own their sexual desires and to celebrate themselves and each other. Gee shares his story of pain, self-awareness and evolution on his journey to authenticity to help others make the best choices for their lives. He offers advice to their many social media and YouTube followers, so people can learn from each other and realize they are not alone. Gee and the TGF celebrate healthy, self-affirming and committed relationships. Gee’s philosophy, “honest, candid conversations, education and empowerment are tools that will essentially end the HIV epidemic. Once people achieve an expanded sense of self-awareness, they will ultimately make better life choices.”

 

Vikrum Vishnubhakta

(He, Him) is 35
Small Business—Public Health Policy Guru via Plane, Train, or Automobile
Vikrum Vishnubhakta was born and raised in Wisconsin to Indian immigrants. More than anything, Vik says his parents really served as his inspiration to be proud, to speak his mind and to work hard. Vik’s parents had very little support when they arrived in the United States. His mother is a businesswoman and his father is a researcher. Vik wanted to have broad understanding of both the sciences and business because he always knew he wanted to work in the healthcare space. In addition, he believed studying finance would afford him the ability to understand the fiscal side of healthcare. Vik earned a Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry with an Honors designation and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration in Finance, both at the University of Wisconsin. After completing undergrad, Vik decided to focus his career toward the public health sector as he actually wanted to help improve overall population health, particularly among disenfranchised communities. So, he set out to do that by first earning a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at Johns Hopkins University and an Masters of Business Administration from Columbia University. Armed with his confidence, inspired by his parents and a strong will to make a difference, Vik started Forward Consultants, LLC a consultancy focused on providing analytic, evaluation, and program design expertise in the public health sphere. Vik and his team have conducted several evaluation analyses and developed programs centered on improving maternal and child health, adolescent health, and health for individuals with chronic conditions. Through his leadership, Vik has helped his clients address pressing public health concerns, ranging from the opioid epidemic to healthcare access for migrant farm workers. Vik has always been active in efforts to improve the livelihood and well-being of his community from being the Chair of India Student Association, Federal Club member of the Human Rights Campaign, to Tyler Clementi Foundation board member. Vik plans to continue working on initiatives that will positively impact visible minority and LGBTQ communities throughout the country

 

Kit Volcano

(He, Him) is 34 and

Rosie Volcano

(She, Her) is 33
Small Business—Volcano – Empowerment Advocates
In 2013 Kit and Rosie Volcano founded The Little Volcano. It started as a small healing and yoga business headquartered in a spare bedroom of their home, and has since expanded to a globally inspired movement and network of leaders, healers and coaches. Kit and Rosie connect with their clients through transformative adventure retreats around the world, business and relationship coaching and VIP private coaching weekends all designed to assist with personal barriers and blocks, overcoming limiting beliefs and self-doubt to realize true self-love. They nurture a global community of unconditional love, authenticity and ferociousness. Consequently, Kit and Rosie are transforming the world in an unconventional and refreshing way. Beyond their business both Kit and Rosie have been long-time innovators and leaders of the LGBTQ community. In a bold stand for equality, Kit founded and successfully exited BARBARA&BARBARA, the first hair salon in the US to focus on non-binary pricing and encouraging self-expression. Together they have both raised over $30,000 for different LGBTQ-friendly organizations and individuals through fundraising, special events and dance parties and inspire many to do the same. Kit and Rosie dedicate their full energy to supporting others who are making courageous change in their lives.

 

Sacred Walker

(She, Her) is 36
Small Business—Pain to Power Expert
Sacred Walker is the CEO and Lead Holistic Trainer of Kuumba Health LLC, a certified LGBT business enterprise. As a leading holistic mental health clinician and transformative development trainer, Sacred earned her Masters of Divinity (MDiv) from Union Theological Seminary’s Psychiatry and Religion Program, with a specialization in Holistic Psychology. Her advanced drama therapy, sexual ethics and interfaith chaplaincy training and experience as well as her background in yoga, Ayurveda and holistic psychology from her studies at the Ayurvedic Medical College in Kerala, India, inform her approach to wellness. For more than 10 years, she has been a holistic mental health practitioner, development trainer and compassionate leader of mind, body and spirit health specializing in serving vulnerable populations and people living and working under high stress, especially those within the LGBTQ community. Sacred and Kuumba Health help to create safe spaces and environments for people to thrive. Sacred says “people call Kuumba Health when they no longer want stress to direct their lives.” Sacred and Kuumba Health, LLC help individuals, couples, campuses and companies move from pain to power.

 

Wes Werbeck

(He, Him) is 31
Small Business— Inclusive Business Leadership Champion
Wes is a director at Out Leadership, the first global LGBT+ business advisory company that convenes leadership summits, talent initiatives and delivers advisory solutions to champion the positive business impact of LGBT+ inclusion. Out Leadership transforms workplaces and provides LGBT+ business leaders at all levels with data and tools to accelerate the economic and cultural impacts of inclusive business. In his four years at OL, Wes has worked with nearly 70 multinationals and engaged CEOs in the conversation on how business can be a voice for equality in countries with anti-LGBT+ laws. Wes drives the content and delivery of the firm’s advisory projects, from fact-finding and resource-sourcing to presentation of findings. His experience from working closely to manage Out Leadership’s client relationships have informed a close understanding of the current-state of workplace inclusion among leading global firms, and cutting-edge insight into what best connects inclusion to business results. Wes began his career as a tax accountant at EY in Boston, where he helped lead initiatives within the firm’s LGBT Pride group. He played an instrumental part in connecting the firm to its clients and the broader LGBT+ Boston community through philanthropic and business initiatives. After his tenure at EY, he left public accounting to focus on his passions around LGBT+ inclusion at the intersection of business. Wes’ philanthropic and volunteer efforts continue in NYC and he is currently a member of the NYC Young Leaders Council for Lambda Legal.

 

Logan Wick

(He, Him) is 39
Small Business—Transgender Equality Ambassador
It was Logan’s drive and ambition that paved the way for his business, Power of Two Promotions, to grow and flourish for the past 10 years. But, it is his passion and integrity that make him a force to be reckoned with. Not only has Logan been at the helm of the Power of Two Promotions, he has also been on the front lines as an advocate for inclusion. Logan actively seeks out ways to contribute his time, treasure and talent to the LGBTQ community. Whether it’s becoming a board member of LGBTQ organizations like the Austin Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce or the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival or sharing his personal story with young people at Out Youth, Logan has always been a true ambassador for LGBTQ rights. He stands at the ready to take on new challenges and to defend what he believes in. Logan started out breaking through stereotypes and glass ceilings as a lesbian in his co-ed business fraternity in school and later in his corporate career and now as a transgender ambassador. For many, Logan is the first transgender man people in his community have ever met. At the 2017 Women’s Business Enterprise National Council 2017 conference in Las Vegas, Logan spent a full day on the expo floor coming out to dozens of people – customers, potential customers, old friends and new alike. He believes true leaders lead by example and living his authentic life proudly makes Logan a leader that others are drawn to. Advocating and standing up for acceptance, diversity and equality (including gender equality) will forever be in his DNA.