Commission on LGBTQ Affairs

About the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs
News
Commissioners

About the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs

The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs is the first of its kind in the nation. It was established by an Executive Order from Governor Tom Wolf in August 2018. Its goal is to advise the Governor and state agencies regarding policies, programs, and legislation that impact LGBTQ communities and to serve as a resourceful intermediary between LGBTQ communities and state government. It is composed of appointed commissioners from across the Commonwealth, each acting as a representative and advocate for LGBTQ communities.

News

 

Commissioners

Anne Wakabayashi – Chair

Anne Wakabayashi serves as the Alumnae Director for Emerge America, an organization that recruits and trains women to run for office.

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    She has extensive experience working in politics and advocacy in Pennsylvania, including multiple cycles at the SDCC, fundraising for Equality Pennsylvania, running multiple campaigns and serving as the Founding Executive Director of Emerge Pennsylvania.

    In addition to the Commission, Anne serves on the Board of Director of Liberty City Democratic Club in Philadelphia. Anne is thrilled to be working with the commission to ensure that the voices of our community are heard in the halls of power in Pennsylvania.

 

Shaashawn Dial – Co-Vice-Chair

Shaashawn S. Dial, is the Founder of Voycetress Media, LLC and serves as the Director of Equity, Affirmative Action, and Staff Liaison to the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission (HHRC) with the City of Harrisburg.

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    She is pursuing a PhD in Administration and Leadership Studies with Indiana University of Pennsylvania via the Dixon University Center. Shaashawn joined the commission to: ensure LGBTQQIAAAPPDS-2+ individuals of color voices and lived experiences are centered, to grow in aspiring ally-ship, to continue sixteen plus years of service on the local level to a statewide level and to use her gift and talents to achieve equity and close disparity gaps.

Tyler Titus – Co-Vice-Chair

Tyler Titus, father of two amazing little humans, is a Licensed Professional Counselor, advocate, trauma specialist, and elected School Board Director.

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    Tyler became the first openly elected transgender official in the State of Pennsylvania in November 2017.

    He currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Crime Victim Center. He was appointed to co-chair of the State’s first LGBT Commission of Affairs created by Governor Tom Wolf. In addition, Tyler regularly presents at local and national conferences on the topics of trauma, suicide, and ways that communities can reach out to under-served populations.

Ben Allatt

Ben Allatt is currently the Vice President of Harrisburg City Council and the Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Harrisburg University.

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    He is a devoted community advocate and public servant. He was born in Philadelphia, raised in New Jersey, educated at Messiah College, and has made his home in Harrisburg for 20 years.

    He is married to Stephen Baldwin and they are the proud dads to two cats, Bode Miller, Layla Rose, and the most recent addition, a new puppy named Maxwell.

Rich Askey

Rich Askey is the President of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (PSEA).

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    He has a record of extensive leadership at the local, state, and national levels. As a local president, he led his local through both the Empowerment Act and the Financial Recovery Act. Rich served as PSEA Southern Region’s treasurer and president-elect.

    His statewide Association service includes one year as PSEA’s vice president, two years as PSEA’s treasurer, several years as a member of the PSEA Board of Directors, and five years as a member of NEA’s Board of Directors. Having spent 32 years as a music teacher, he is especially proud of his work in low-income neighborhoods. Rich received his Bachelor of Music Education from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and he also participated in Harvard University’s “Public Education Leadership Project” for two years. He lives in Fairview Township with his husband.

Mark Barbee

Mark Barbee, 29, was born in Rapid City, South Dakota.

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    In 2017, Mark was elected to serve as the Mayor of Bridgeport, PA after serving one four-year term on borough council. He is the borough’s youngest and first African-American openly gay mayor. Mark is single and enjoys politics and music.

 

Chris Bartlett

Chris Bartlett is the Executive Director of the William Way Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Community Center in Philadelphia.

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    For more than 25 years, he has been an innovative thinker and leader in local and national community organizing, having led the SafeGuards Gay Men’s Health Project, the LGBT Community Assessment, and the LGBT Leadership Initiative. He serves on the LGBT Commissions for both the City of Philadelphia and the State of Pennsylvania.

Rosemary Browne

Rosemary Browne has more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit and government sectors working to improve the quality of life of residents of South-Central Pennsylvania.

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    Since 2014, she has proudly served as President & CEO of Alder Health Services, whose mission is to improve the health and well-being of persons living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community in a culturally competent, affirming, and empowering environment.

    The agency provides behavioral health, primary care, case management and support services, education, prevention and wellness services, and HIV/STD testing. She serves on several regional and state collaborative boards and community partnerships that work to reduce health disparities and advance social justice issues affecting the LBGTQ and other marginalized communities.

Patricia Bucek

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Patricia (Patti) spent 24 years living and working in Harrisburg, starting with the Commonwealth Department of Aging during the Casey Administration and finally as Vice President of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC.

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    While in Harrisburg, Patti was instrumental in the development of the LGBT Community Center Coalition as a member of the Board of Directors. Now with Vibrant Pittsburgh, she remains a passionate advocate for LGBTQ equality and elevating diversity and inclusion in the workplace. She is proud to once again have the opportunity serve the citizens of the Commonwealth as a member of the Commission.

Kathy Cameron

Kathy Cameron is the co-founder and current Executive Director of the Washington County Gay Straight Alliance, Inc.

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    She was also an advisor to a community Gay Straight Alliance from 2005-2013 and a board member of GLSEN Pittsburgh from 2007-2013. She is a mother of four and a grandmother of five. She cares about making Pennsylvania a safe place for all and ensuring that all people are respected and protected.

Joanne Carroll

Joanne Carroll is the Executive Director for Trans Advocacy Pennsylvania and is a past President of TransCentralPA.

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    She is a former President and Vice-President of Equality PA, a member of the Governor’s LGBT Work Group, a Member of the President’s Commission for Gender and Sexuality at Millersville University, and a member of the Transgender American Veteran’s Association. She is also a member of the Penn Central UCC Open and Affirming Ministry Team and is an active member of Lancaster County Embrace. Additionally, she is an ordained Minister.

Marc Coleman

Marc is the founder, chief executive officer, and president of The Tactile Group.

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    A highly motivated serial entrepreneur, he has more than two decades of experience in creative direction, design, business management, and client relations. Marc serves on the Board of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia (the Executive Committee and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee) and the Board of the Independence Business Alliance (the Executive Committee and the Diversity & Inclusion Committee). He is a longtime member the Philadelphia African-American Chamber of Commerce and also works with the marketing committee of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. His agency, The Tactile Group, is a certified Minority Business Enterprise via NMSDC, and an LGBT Business Enterprise as certified by the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). With a diverse staff of 20, the firm’s mission states “Designed to give a damn, we actively seek work whose goal is to improve the quality of life for all people.”

Katherine Dalke

Katharine Dalke, MD, is a psychiatrist at Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute in Harrisburg, with clinical focus on the psychiatric care and support of LGBTQ and intersex adolescents and adults.

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    In her role as an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Penn State College of Medicine, Dr. Dalke is passionate about training medical students and residents to provide excellent health care to people of intersecting diverse identities. After growing up in Pittsburgh and completing college and medical training in Philadelphia, she now enjoys exploring central PA with her spouse and young family. Dr. Dalke is proud to represent intersex Pennsylvanians on the LGBTQ Commission and is committed to improving the health and well-being of LGBTQ and intersex people across the state.

Jim DePoe

Bio to come.

 

Sen. Lawrence “Larry” Farnese

State Senator Larry Farnese was elected his third term in the Pennsylvania State Senate in 2016, having been first elected in 2008.

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    He represents the First Senatorial District, which comprises some of Philadelphia’s most unique and vibrant neighborhoods. His priorities have included economic development, campaign finance reform, gun safety, and LGBTQ issues. Senator Farnese earned a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Villanova University and graduated from Temple University’s Beasley School of Law in 1994.

Rep. Dan Frankel

State Representative Dan Frankel has served in the Pennsylvania Legislature since 1999.

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    He has been an outspoken advocate for civil rights and public health; he has championed legislation to bring equality to Pennsylvania for LGBT residents, opposed efforts to limit women’s health-care options, and fought to expand access to health care. Frankel was born and raised in Pittsburgh, and he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science in 1978 from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.

Elicia Gonzales

Elicia Gonzales is a queer Latinx, Licensed Social Worker with a Master’s in Human Sexuality Education.

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    She is the Executive Director for Women’s Medical Fund, which works to ensure and expand abortion access. Elicia formerly served as Executive Director for GALAEI, a queer Latinx Social Justice Organization and adjunct professor for Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies. Elicia also co-founded SEXx Interactive and serves on the Boards of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA, Bread and Roses Community Fund, and on the Red Umbrellas and Red Ribbons project. Elicia lives in Fishtown with her amazing wife and cat – named Justice, of course, and is originally from Denver, Colorado.

Amber Hikes

Amber Hikes is the executive director of the Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, where she develops policy and serves as the principal advisor to Mayor Kenney on issues that affect the LGBTQ community.

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    A graduate of the University of Delaware and University of Pennsylvania, Hikes joined the Office of LGBT Affairs after 8 years of college access work for low income students of color in West Philadelphia and Long Beach, California. At the Mayor’s Office, Amber has set her sights on fighting and advocating for the most vulnerable populations within the LGBTQ community – specifically youth, elders, transgender people, and people of color.

Jodi Hirsh

Jodi Hirsh, MPPM is a Co-Founder and Principal Consultant of Sequal Consulting.

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    Previously, Jodi was the founder and principal consultant at JustAction, LLC, a communications and advocacy consultancy for non-profit and political organizations. Jodi specializes in communications strategy for issue advocacy, including message development, media relations, digital media, organizing, and mobilization. Before becoming a consultant, Jodi was the Vice President for Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania. Eventually, Jodi became the Vice President for Operations at PPWP, where she was responsible for the daily operations of seven health centers throughout southwestern Pennsylvania. After leaving Planned Parenthood, Jodi became the Executive Director of the National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh Section. Jodi holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Rochester, and a Master of Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh.

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta

Malcolm Kenyatta is Pennsylvania State Representative for the 181st Legislative District, Philadelphia County, elected on November 6, 2018.

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    He is a product of Philadelphia public schools and a 2012 graduate of Temple University. Rep. Kenyatta got his start in community activism when he ran for junior block captain at age 11. His legislative priorities include raising wages to overcome systemic poverty, improving the educational system across the Commonwealth and improving access to quality healthcare for families. As the first openly LGBT person of color elected to the PA General Assembly, he is deeply committed to creating an equitable and inclusive society.

Michele Kessler

Michele Kessler is the Secretary-Treasurer for Pennsylvania-based United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1776KS.

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    She has organized and represented workers with UFCW since 1986. Michele is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and representation in the workplace. In 2013, she was elected as the International Chair for the newly created UFCW International Union constituency group for LGBTQ members and their allies. She also is currently the Acting Chair of the IUF Global Union LGBTI and Allies Group. Michele lives in Mountain Top with her wife Lisa Napersky.

Jason Landau Goodman

Jason Landau Goodman is the founding Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, PA’s first and only statewide LGBTQ youth organization.

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    Jason has helped advance local and statewide LGBTQ-inclusive policies for nearly ten years. From Lower Merion Township, Jason is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Maryellen Madden

Maryellen is an attorney practicing commercial litigation in the Philadelphia law firm of Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads.

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    Prior to changing her name from Paul to Maryellen in 2015, she practiced law as a partner in several large Philadelphia law firms. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia. She has been a presenter on transgender issues to the Allegheny County Bar Association (2016), Lavender Law (2018) and Duke University School of Law (2017, 2018). Maryellen and her wife Judy live in Center City Philadelphia and were married last April in historic Christ Church near their home.

Jere Mahaffey

Jere Mahaffey is Director of Executive Strategy for the Philadelphia Youth Network (PYN).

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    PYN alleviates poverty by preparing young people to become productive working adults. PYN coordinates with hundreds of partners to build infrastructure and access to both education and employment, proven factors in being prepared for a career. In his current role at PYN, Jere provides direct support to PYN’s President and CEO with long-term organizational strategy, external partnerships, policy priorities, and special projects. Jere came to Philadelphia from Birmingham, Alabama, were he graduated from Samford University with a Bachelor of Arts in religious studies and sociology. He also holds his Master’s in Theological Studies and Public Policy from Eastern University in the Greater Philadelphia Metropolitan Area.

Michael Mahler

Michael Kenton Mahler is co-editor of Erie Gay News since it was founded in December 1992.

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    He also is a founding member of NW PA Pride Alliance and serves on the Erie’s Mayor’s LGBTQ Advisory Council, as well as the boards for Community Health Net and Drenched Fur. He became the first LGBTQ person to be fully out in May 1992 when appearing on local TV coverage. Michael works as a programmer/analyst for Erie Custom Computer Applications.

Sean Meloy

Sean Meloy is a life-long Pennsylvanian and the Senior Political Director of the LGBTQ Victory Fund.

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    In that capacity, he oversees the endorsements and political engagement of LGBTQ people running for elected office up and down the ballot across the country. Sean was the DNC’s Director of LGBTQ Engagement for the 2015-2016 cycle and helped make the “Gayest Convention and Platform in History” a reality. He also serves as the Advocacy Director for the Steel City Stonewall Democrats where he continues to build LGBTQ power in Western PA. He attended school at Penn State – University Park.

Dr. Gerald Montano

Dr. Montano’s training in pediatrics and adolescent medicine has provided him the expertise and skills in long-acting reversible contraception, mental health, eating disorders, and medical care for transgender and gender expansive youth.

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    The theme of his research is fostering the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth by improving parent-child relationships. His hope is that through additional research, he can create interventions aimed at improving parent-child relationships in LGB youth that will help prevent the many adverse health outcomes this vulnerable population faces.

Sebatian Palaez

Sebastian has worked in the medical field since 2013, performing everything from billing and coding to patient care.

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    As a trans person of color, she is acutely aware of the issues trans people face in the medical community. As such, she has educated medical students and professionals on LGBTQ+ cultural competency with a specific emphasis on transgender patient care. Currently, Sebastian is trans-patient advocate and billing coordinator at Allentown Women’s Center.

Brian Patchcoski

Brian J. Patchcoski is Director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Ally (LGBTQA) Resource Center at Penn State providing a comprehensive range of education, information, and advocacy to students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members.

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    Prior to returning to Penn State in 2017, Brian served as an Associate Dean of Students at Cornell University focused on student support, sexual violence, and advocacy while also directing their LGBT Resource Center. While at Cornell, Brian also co-directed the Center for Intercultural Dialogue. Brian is published in areas of gender inclusion in higher education as well as inclusive faith-based practices for queer individuals. Through participation on the Commission on LGBTQ Affairs, Brian is excited to support and advocate with other Commissioners and residents of Pennsylvania in driving equity and inclusion across the Commonwealth.

Sarah Rosso

Bio to come.

 

Kristin Seale

Kristin Seale currently serves as Legislative Director for Senator Tim Kearney in the 26th District and was elected to the Rose Tree Media School Board in 2017.

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    She has a long track record of protecting and supporting communities in public health, poverty law, and clean energy policy by advocating for and successfully moving bipartisan legislation in two state legislatures through community-led and coalition-based collaboration with elected decision makers. Kristin’s path of service began in high school when she volunteered in support groups for people living with HIV/ AIDS and youth peer support groups, and has continued through work with homeless LGBTQ+ youth and sex workers.

Adrian Shanker

Adrian Shanker is the founder and Executive Director of the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center.

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    He is an award-winning activist and organizer whose career has centered on advancing process from the LGBT community. An accomplished organizer, Adrian has led numerous successful campaigns to advance LGBT progress through municipal non-discrimination and relationship recognition laws and laws to protect LGBT youth from conversion therapy. He earned a Graduate Certificate in LGBT Health Policy & Practice from The George Washington University and a B.A., cum laude, in Political Science and Religion Studies from Muhlenberg College.

Henry Sias

Henry Sias is a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer in Philadelphia.

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    He co-founded a nonprofit that has provided thousands of free expungements for low-income Philadelphians. Henry represents victims of discrimination in employment, housing, and similar matters, with a focus on appellate work and the intersection of immigration and criminal law. He has been involved with Philadelphia’s indigent defense program for over ten years, he and has contributed to efforts to reform that program. He has also represented several transgender individuals as part of his pro bono work, in name changes and in cases involving medical care and coverage. He received his law degree from Yale Law School.

 

Rep. Brian Sims

State Representative Brian Sims is a distinguished policy attorney and civil rights advocate from Center City Philadelphia.

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    He is dedicated to making Philadelphia safer and fairer by improving health care, strengthening education, protecting the environment, and cleaning up government. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and a juris doctor degree in international and comparative law from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has been a leader in the LGBT community for many years; he came out to his football team in 2000 and remains one of the most notable collegiate athletes to have done so.

Sean Strub

Sean Strub is the mayor of Milford, Pennsylvania.

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    He is a longtime LGBTQ and HIV activist who founded POZ Magazine. He was the first openly HIV+ person to run for the U.S. Congress and is executive director of the Sero Project, a US-based network of people living with HIV fighting for freedom from stigma, discrimination and criminalization. He looks forward to working with the PA Commission on LGBTQ Affairs to advancing human rights for every Pennsylvanian. v

 

Ciora Thomas

Ciora Thomas, a Pittsburgh native, is the founder and Executive Director of SisTers PGH.

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    SistTers PGH was developed in 2013, and it advocates for transgender rights within the social and economic realms to demarginalize the trans and nonbinary communities of Pittsburgh. It has opened a drop-in space for Trans and nonbinary people, a place them to obtain resources and temporary housing and then create a plan to gain employment in order to transition into permanent affordable housing. Ciora is one of only a few Transwomen of color leaders in Pittsburgh, speaking truth to power about women’s rights, systematic transphobia, racism, oppression, affordable housing and everything else surrounding Trans inclusion.

Roberto “Tito” Valdes

Tito Valdes, Esq. serves as legal counsel to the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, which is responsible for investigating reports of child abuse and neglect.

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    Tito is a graduate of Lebanon Valley College, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in political science, and the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. He serves on the law department’s diversity committee where he works with others to enhance the department’s cultural competency. In addition, he serves on the board of the William Way LGBT Community Center, where he co-chairs the Resource Development Committee and serves on the Strategic Planning Committee. Tito is passionate about intersectional social justice and believes in the fundamentals of fairness and justice for all.

Harry Young

Bio to come.

 

Heshie Zinman

Heshie Zinman has a long history of innovative activism on both the local and national level addressing emerging needs in diverse communities.

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    He has broad experience creating impactful nonprofits, growing boards, and fundraising. His passionate commitment to the health and well-being of LGBT and HIV communities led him from being a dedicated early responder to a respected multi-issue community leader for inclusive LGBT policy development among social service providers and government agencies. He joined the Commission to continue his advocacy efforts for older LGBT adults statewide.