Commission on LGBTQ Affairs

About the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs
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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.



Rafael Alvarez Febo – Executive DirectorRafael Alvarez Febo headshot


Rafael comes to the Commonwealth with the background as the Community and Economic Development Coordinator for the Office of Councilwoman Maria Quiñones Sánchez.

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    Prior to his employment with Councilwoman Quiñones Sánchez, Rafael was the Program Director of Norris Square Neighborhood Project’s Puerto Rican urban gardens, Las Parcelas. While at Norris Square Neighborhood Project he helped create programming with community members, youth, and volunteers that focused on cultural empowerment, healthy lifestyles, urban gardening and community organizing.

    Rafael also has worked at Youth United for Change as a youth organizer and the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society in their Parks and Vacant Land departments. Rafael has served as President of the Board of Directors of Galaei – a Queer Latinx Social Justice Organization. While Chair of the Board, Rafael led efforts to carry out Galaei’s strategic plan and the organization’s physical move to Eastern North Philadelphia (Norris Square).

    Rafael also served as a board member of the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival (PHLAFF), and as a member of the endorsement committee for Liberty City LGBT Democratic Club since 2016. Rafael has a strong passion for social justice and advocacy, especially in the areas of education, the environment, racial justice, gender and LGBTQ equity and Puerto Rican self-determination.

Anne Wakabayashi – Chair

she/her/hers – Northampton County

Anne is currently a Media Strategist at The Win Company and most recently spent a few years with Emerge, the country’s premier organization dedicated to recruiting and training women to run for office, in a number of different roles beginning as the founding Executive Director of Emerge Pennsylvania and moving up the ranks to National Political Director.

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    She cut her teeth working for state legislative campaign committees, and has managed campaigns up and down the ballot from city council, to State Supreme Court all the way up to serving as Pennsylvania Senior Strategist for Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign. She’s been active for a decade in LGBTQ+ politics and advocacy in Pennsylvania.

Ciora Thomas – Co-Vice-Chair

she/her/hers/they/them/theirs – Allegheny County

Ciora Thomas is a Pittsburgh native, founder, and Director of Sisters PGH. Developed in 2013 because of her own struggles and victimization within a cistem thriving off of youth homelessness, drug addiction, youth sex trafficking, and no real opportunities to thrive independently within the city of Pittsburgh.

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    Her organization advocates for transgender rights within the social and economic realms in order to continue the demarginalization and equality of the trans community of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. Ciora went on to lead SisTers PGH into opening Pittsburgh’s only trans owned and operated community center, where trans and nonbinary people are able to obtain tangible resources, medical/mental health referrals, self-affirming groups, and/or a chance to enroll in the many programs SisTers PGH has to offer including BroThers PGH, which centers the lived experiences of our Trans Masculine Community, Grow To Succeed, which centers Drug & Alchohol sobriety for trans and nonbinary people and Project T, A brave temporary housing initiative garnished by Ciora leading the organization into becoming a home and landowner that provides respite and programming geared to support Pittsburgh’s transgender community members to not only learn how to live independently but also a chance to transition back into the community within there own safe and affordable housing.

    Ciora is the founder and lead organizer of People’s Pride PGH, an alternative Pride event in Pittsburgh in Protest to the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, an organization that has racially segregated Pittsburgh Pride for over a decade. People’s Pride PGH was created in the spirit of Stonewall to center those most marginalized within the TLGBQ communities of Pittsburgh by highlighting the need for Policy and Legislation that defends and protects TLGBQIA Pittsburghers and Pennsylvanians. Through this Ciora has garnished relationships with hundreds of organizations city, state, and countrywide that are beneficial to the relations of the TLGBQ community of Pittsburgh while also giving back annual grants in support of TLGBQ focused initiatives in Pittsburgh.

    Ciora is one of only a few black transwomen leading within Pittsburgh, speaking truth to power about transgender rights, women’s rights, cistemic transphobia, racism, oppression, affordable housing, and everything encompassing trans inclusion – with a black trans intersectional lens and an unapologetic approach in order to bring the very lived experiences of trans people to the front lines as leaders, service providers and independent thriving community members. Ciora sits in several seats locally and statewide becoming the first black transwoman to become Chair of the LGBTQIA Advisory council of Pittsburgh and a Commissioner of the Commission of LGBT Affairs out of Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolfe’s office to later on in 2020, be reappointed as the Co-Vice Chair of Pennsylvania Commission on LGBT Affairs. Ciora has a high focus on legislation, policy, voter engagement, homelessness and equal affordable housing for TLGBQ

    Knowing the struggles that are inherent to our cities, states, and the nation at large, she strives to make a difference by pushing forward equality everywhere – paying whats shes learned forward to other TGNCpeople while being a strong advocate and movement leader for the transgender communities of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and the country. Ciora is a prime example of how perseverance against all odds can shape the movement of trans liberation.

Tyler Titus – Co-Vice-Chair

they/them/theirs – Erie County

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

he/him/his – Dauphin County

Ben Allatt is a local executive in Harrisburg, PA with over 15 years of experience in the Human Resource field.

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    Additionally, he is devoted to serving the community at large. This passion has driven him to become more involved in local government. Ben is an HR Consultant with Alternative HR based in Central PA where he works with clients on building, maintaining, and growing their HR functions. Additionally, he provides training and strategic guidance on growing their human capital. Ben earned a degree in Human Resource Management and a minor in Speech Communications from Messiah College. One of Ben’s passions is working with diversity and inclusion programs. He has played an integral role in making diversity a priority both in the workplace and in the community. He has also developed diversity recruiting strategies for organizations to implement.

    Ben firmly believes that the dimensions of diversity run deep and that there are many facets that contribute to an inclusive environment and as such creates a much more dynamic environment. Ben was able to work with organizations across the country during his executive search experience to apply these principles and help organizations understand the importance of a diverse workforce. Locally, Ben has served on the Board of the Human Resource Professionals of Central PA as a liaison focused on Diversity, as Vice President and as President. Ben has been a speaker and a panelist on a variety of topics ranging from political engagement, LGBTQ issues, and various Human Resource related issues.
    Ben is a graduate of Leadership Harrisburg Area’s Community Leadership program. Ben was also recognized by the Central Penn Business Journal in 2013 as one of the region’s “Top 40 Under 40”.

    Additionally, Ben has served on the Board of Open Stage of Harrisburg from 2009 to 2015 and served as President from 2012 to 2014. He feels strongly about the importance of the role the arts play in the community.

    Ben has also been very active in the LGBTQ community dating back to 2006, where he began volunteering with Common Roads, a youth advocacy arm of the LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central PA. In January of 2012, Ben also served on the Board of the Capital Region Stonewall Democrats and served as President in 2016. In 2013 Ben ran for a seat on Harrisburg City Council. He was elected in 2013 and was sworn in as a member of City Council in January 2014. Ben was re-elected to serve on Harrisburg City Council in 2017 and was elected Vice President of Council in January of 2018. Ben has enjoyed serving the community of Harrisburg on City Council and he has been committed to responsible government that is focused on checks and balances and financial integrity and transparency. In August of 2018, Ben was nominated by Governor Wolf to serve on the newly formed Commission for LGBTQ Affairs.

    Ben maintains his home in midtown Harrisburg with his husband, Stephen. Ben and Stephen have both been committed to investing both personally and professionally in the Harrisburg community and are proud to call the city home. Both are transplants to the city, and love the sense of community in Harrisburg.

Ricardo AlmodovarA photo of Ricardo Almodovar

he/him/his – Lancaster County

Ricardo has a background in community organizing in Latinx, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities. He is currently an Organizing Associate for the PA Budget and Policy Center and his focus is on statewide civic education, public policy and advocacy.

Rich Askey

he/him/his – York County

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

he/him/his – Montgomery County

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

he/him/his – Philadelphia County

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.

Marshall John Blount

he/him/his – Erie County

Marshall John Blount is an Asexual activist based out of Erie, Pennsylvania. Marshall also serves as a board member of Asexual Outreach, a non-profit organization who’s mission is to empower and strengthen Ace communities across the United States and Canada.

Kathy Cameron

she/her/hers – Washington County

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

she/her/hers – Lancaster County

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.

Dre Ceja

they/them/theirs – Dauphin County

Dre Ceja is a Chicano, queer, and transgender speaker, consultant, and trainer.

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    Dre received their BA from California University of Pennsylvania, where they studied Sociology and focused much of their research of racial and gender inequities. They currently work as the Director of Training & Education at the LGBT Center of Central PA, Continuing Education Instructor at Temple University Harrisburg Campus, and Trainer at Transgender Training Institute. Dre is also a member of the Pennsylvania Transgender Coalition’s Training & Education Committee, Penn State Health LGBTQ+ Taskforce, and Wellspan Health’s Transgender Health Education Committee. Dre is passionate about helping others create more inclusive spaces where everyone can thrive and feel belonging.

Carla Christopher Wilson

she/her/hers – Lancaster County

Carla Christopher Wilson is the co-founder of York Equality Fest, York’s Answer to Pride, and a former Poet Laureate of York. She is also an ordained ELCA Lutheran pastor and serves as Assistant to the Bishop in Charge of Justice Ministries for the Lower Susquehanna Region.

Katherine Dalke

she/her/hers – Cumberland County

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.

Michelle Dech

she/her/hers – Berks County

Michelle currently serves as the Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Greater Reading. She stepped into the role in 2019 and initiated growth and expansion of programs, services, and outreach to those 7 to 100 years old in Berks and surrounding counties.

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    Michelle is currently enrolled in the Nonprofit Leadership Certificate program through LaSalle University. She serves on the Sexual and Gender Minorities Taskforce for Penn State Health, Hershey; the Healthcare Advisory Committee in Reading; and the Chief Juvenile Probation Committee in Berks County.

    Before stepping into the role of Executive Director, Michelle was a Regional Manager of a Nationwide Outlet Store division for 28 years. Her territory covered the Northeast and MidAtlantic areas consisting of 11 states, 37 stores and a team of more than 300. She chaired the Diversity and Inclusion Taskforce, improving the integration of diversity into the workplace. She worked to create a recruiting process that encompassed the company’s diversity aspirations through training on topics that included: LGBTQIA+, racism, discrimination, institutional racism, and cultural competency.

Jim DePoe

he/him/his – Allegheny County

Jim was born and raised in the Pittsburgh area, graduating from Chartiers Valley High School in 1977. He enlisted in the Unites States Airforce after graduating and served until 1979.

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    Jim is presently President of the Steel City Stonewall Democrats where their mission is to advance equal rights for all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression; support public policies that advance LGBTQ+ rights in the United States, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the greater Pittsburgh region. The organization also helps elect qualified Democratic candidates that support equal rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. It works to sensitize and educate Party leaders and the community at large to the issues and concerns of the LGBTQ+ community.

    In 2018, Jim was selected by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf to the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania Commission for LGBTQ+ Affairs for the southwestern area of Pennsylvania.

    In 2019, Jim was selected by the Democratic Leader of the PA House of Representatives to serve as a Commissioner for the PA 250 Commission to help celebrate our nations 250 years since our founding.

    From 2006 to 2020, Jim was Vice President of IBEW Local Union 29, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where his duties are to assist the president of the union in the discharge of his duties and will fill in his place in case of his absence and perform such other duties as required.

    Presently Jim is Political Director of IBEW Local Union 29 where he is responsible for the development and execution of all political program functions of the local union, responsible for a broad range of objectives, with a priority on membership-based small donor fundraising, volunteer programs, member mobilization and political communications. Jim is also responsible for developing relationships with legislators and candidates on behalf of the union.

    He is a Delegate to the Allegheny and Beaver Lawrence County Labor Councils in Western Pennsylvania. Jim is also a member of the AFL-CIO Utility Caucus and a member of the Executive Board of the Pennsylvania State Electrical Workers.

    From 2000 to the present, he is an Equipment Operator at NRG Energy in Springdale, Pennsylvania. His responsibilities include, but not limited to, operation of a front-end loader, maintaining stockpiles and roadways; he also operates the front-end loader to maintain the flow of materials and products; load trucks with stone, move and shovel up stockpiled material, perform general plant cleanup and feed portable screening plant also unloading of materials.

    From 1981 through 2000 he was a Nuclear Mechanical Technician at Duquesne Light’s Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he performed preventive, corrective and special maintenance on system, components and structural facilities to ensure the reliability of a nuclear power plant.

Xavier Garcia-Molina

he/him/his – Lancaster County

Xavier Garcia-Molina, who often goes by Xavi (Sah-vee), is a 25-year-old Puerto Rican born queer activist and city councilor for the City of Lancaster. Since the age of seven, Xavi has served his community through volunteering and later working for various non-profits organizations.

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    Following his undergraduate studies in political science at Penn State University, Xavi moved back to Lancaster to help resettle refugees in his hometown.

    It was this direct-service experience that inspired Xavi to be part of the decision-making process in Lancaster while empowering others to get there alongside him.

    Most proudly, Xavi is one of the founding board members of Lancaster County’s first LGBT Center (Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition), which is now on track to open up a shelter in the community that is inclusive of gender identity, sexual orientation, and age.

    Xavi also facilitates community conversations and implements structural changes in the government as chair of the public safety committee to City Council to help ensure fairness and racial equity in Lancaster.

    You can be assured that Xavi will always be unapologetically advocating on behalf of the people.

Michele Kessler

she/her/hers – Luzern County

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.

Michael Mahler

he/him/his – Erie County

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.

Keisha L. McToy

she/her/hers – Dauphin County

Keisha is an experienced Operations Supervisor with a demonstrated history of working in the non-profit organization management industry. Throughout her experience in non-profit organizations, social services, event planning, and youth development, Keisha has acquired a strong drive for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

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    She currently serves as the Director of Administration at Alder Health Services, which strives to improve the health and well-being of individuals living with HIV/AIDS and members of the LGBTQ+ community by providing a culturally competent and affirming environment that empowers the people they serve. Before this role, Keisha served in multiple positions at Alder Health and has been instrumental in its physical and programmatic expansion.

    Keisha, as an information sharer, inclusive policy advocate, and active listener has always been part of the movement to end LGBTQ+ people being second class citizens in the state of Pennsylvania. She will continue to be a driving force of education with evolving concepts such as sex, gender identity, gender expression, attraction, and behavior. She makes every effort to centralize the voices and lived experiences of the most marginalized communities within the LGBTQ+ population.

    As a Commissioner, Keisha plans to use her skills to increase daily awareness of our bias(es), show up as intersectional allies for our communities, advocate for state policies that protect us instead of punish, and work toward legal paradigm shifts.

    In addition to being a professional, Keisha is also a spouse, parent, servant leader, and an involved community member that will continue to fight for all individuals to live their authentic lives: out, proud, and in color.

Sean Meloy

he/him/his – Allegheny County

Sean is a Pennsylvanian through and through, hailing from Pittsburgh and graduating from Pennsylvania State University with degrees in Secondary Social Studies Education and Political Science. Sean serves as a DNC Member from Pennsylvania (the first openly LGBTQ) and is Chair of the PA Democratic Party’s LGBTQ Caucus. He is Vice President of Political Programs at LGBTQ Victory Fund, which works to ensure LGBTQ people are represented in government.

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    Before joining Victory Fund in 2017, Sean was the Director of LGBT Engagement at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and ran two congressional races, including the reelection of Congressman Mike Doyle (PA-14) in 2010. Sean also served in Congressman Doyle’s Washington, D.C. office and advised the Congressman on LGBTQ affairs, education, campaign reform, and judiciary issues. Additionally, Sean has worked on building coalitions, grassroots and digital engagement, and legislative strategy in the areas of intellectual property, telecommunications access, and community college affordability.

Celena Morrison

she/her/hers – Philadelphia County

Originally from North Carolina, Celena’s advocacy work has always been driven by her desire to be of service. She served as Community Engagement Specialist of the Mazzoni Center for several years, a Recovery Specialist at Morris Home where she supported trans- and gender-nonconforming individuals as they develop the knowledge, skills and supports necessary to promote sobriety.

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    She was the Director of Programs at the William Way LGBT Community Center where she was instrumental in opening the Arcila-Adams Trans Resource Center there. During her years working with nonprofits Celena helped educate communities, businesses, agency boards, colleges, non-profit organizations, and religious establishments. She served on the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations from 2018 – 2020 and was honored as one of Philadelphia Pride’s 2019 Grand Marshalls.

    Philadelphia Magazine named her one of 2020’s 76 Most Influential Philadelphians.

    Celena is currently serving as the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of LGBT Affairs.

DaVona Pacley

she/her/hers – Erie County

Davona is 32 and an Erie native who graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in sociology. She currently resides in Erie, PA, with her wife Angelica Spraggins. She is a co-founder and board member of Erie’s Black Wall Street; as well as a trained birth doula with emphasis on community advocacy.

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    In 2019, she was the first open black-woman to run for a city council seat in Erie, PA, on a wide platform of creating a more livable city for all. The greatest focus being on the lack of representation in positions of power in the city/council government. “You can’t be; what you can’t see” and with Black people making up 16.7% of the population in the City of Erie; it was imperative to highlight that. Even though she did not win the seat, she is able to align her goals with EBWS’ mission to serve as a vehicle for change and empowerment of Erie’s Black community through cultivating meaningful relationships, education of members, the creation of social networks, and the promotion of Black entrepreneurship. Davona was recently appointed as a commissioner for the PA Commission on LGBT Affairs.

    This past summer she became a trained birth doula and working towards certification; she also co-created Hearth Folk Collective with a friend to create a brave space for healers of all backgrounds. Lastly, she collaborated with other local activists and a film director and launched the Our Erie Series (podcast); which will bring citizens, entrepreneurs, activists, politicians, and thought leaders together for a frank discussion around societal issues facing the post-industrial city of Erie, Pennsylvania and the United States at large.

    When she is not championing for change, Davona enjoys hanging with her wife, friends, and family, loves to braid hair, loves music, meditation, and plants.

Brian Patchcoski

he/him/his/they/them/theirs – Centre County

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.

Freddy Purnell

any pronouns – Philadelphia County

Freddy is a class of 2020 graduate of The Pennsylvania State University.

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    While attending Penn State he served as the President of the Student Pride Roundtable for Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity, Vice President of Queer and Trans People of Color, and the student representative on the borough council for LGBTQ affairs, focusing on improving the campus experience for queer students. He is passionate about using his voice to advocate for marginalized communities and desires to amplify the voices of queer youth.”

Sarah Rosso

they/them/theirs – Allegheny County

Bio to come.

Henry Sias

he/him/his – Philadelphia County

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.

Sean Strub

he/him/his – Pike County

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.

Roberto “Tito” Valdes

he/him/his – Philadelphia County

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.

Matthew Yarnell

he/him/his – Centre County

Matthew is President of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, the largest union of caregivers in the state, representing 45,000 health care workers across the Commonwealth working in hospitals, nursing homes, state facilities, and caring for seniors and people with disabilities in their home.

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    At the age of 18, Matt began working as a nursing home aide with hopes of becoming a Registered Nurse. He quickly became an advocate for improving workplace standards for caregivers and care conditions for residents who often could not speak for themselves. Matt got involved with his union and learned the power working people have when they take direct action. He also recognized that strong unions are the most significant path to social and economic justice and equality for all people.

    Since joining the staff of SEIU Healthcare PA as an organizer in 2001, Matt has worked with thousands of healthcare workers to build their unions and improve their lives. He also helped launch the SEIU Training and Education Fund that is now the second largest nursing home fund in the country, and while serving as chair of the SEIU Health and Welfare fund, advocated for the inclusion of transgender benefits to members of the fund which became effective in January of 2016.
    Matt lives in Centre County with his husband Scott and their two sons.

Harry Young

he/him/his – Dauphin County

Bio to come.

Heshie Zinman

he/him/his – Philadelphia County

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.


Contact Us

For more information regarding the Governor’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs please contact: