Pride Action Tank
The Advisory Council
GET TO KNOW
Our Advisory Council
The Advisory Council advises Pride Action Tank’s executive director and leverages its expertise, resources and relationships to help PAT develop community-informed projects and initiatives. The Advisory Council also develops and refines projects, may participate in fundraising, and recruits Senior Fellows and other resources to lead the research required to implement and evaluate projects.
Tracy Baim is publisher and executive editor at Windy City Times, which she co-founded in 1985. In 2014, she was inducted into the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Hall of Fame. Baim’s most recent book is Barbara Gittings: Gay Pioneer. Her other books include Gay Press, Gay Power: The Growth of LGBT Community Newspapers in America; Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage; and Out and Proud in Chicago. Baim was executive producer of the lesbian film Hannah Free, starring Sharon Gless, and Scrooge & Marley. She is creator of That’s So Gay!, an LGBT trivia game. She is founder of the Pride Action Tank. She was also co-vice chair of Gay Games VII in Chicago, and in 2013 was founder of the March on Springfield for Marriage Equality.
Jim Bennett is the Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights (IDHR). He served as the Midwest Regional Director at Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization dedicated to securing the full civil rights of the LGBTQ community and people with HIV. During his 12-year career there, Bennett was a lead strategist in Lambda Legal’s Illinois and Iowa marriage campaigns and successfully fought Indiana’s RFRA and their discriminatory ‘religious refusal’ laws. In 2013, he chaired Illinois Unites for Marriage, the statewide coalition that led the successful effort to win marriage equality in Illinois. Prior, Bennett served as acting senior external affairs director at Howard Brown Health, marketing and development director at the Shriver Center, and several roles at the American Red Cross’ national and central Illinois regional offices. He was inducted into the City of Chicago’s Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame in 2013 and was the recipient of Equality Illinois’ Freedom award in 2018. He received his MBA from the University of Illinois at Springfield and his Bachelor of Science in marketing from Illinois State University.
Keron is an organizer with ten years of experience working for social change and he most recently served as the membership director for United Working Families in Chicago. He was also the field director for Raise Illinois, a statewide campaign to raise Illinois’ minimum wage, and for Illinois Unites for Marriage, the campaign that secured the freedom to marry for gay couples in Illinois.
Keron has been a trainer and campaign strategist for the Midwest Academy, where he worked with groups at the city, state and national levels to design and implement strategic campaigns on a wide set of issues, including public education. In 2008 Keron began a three-year position as the director of Interfaith Worker Justice in New Orleans, helping to build local coalitions to strengthen rights for workers.
Jacqueline Boyd is the owner of The Care Plan, the country’s first health care management company devoted to LGBTQ+ individuals and communities. She is passionate about identifying personalized solutions to health and aging challenges, https://the-care-plan.com. In addition, Jacqueline is a co-founder of Project Fierce Chicago, an innovative housing program serving LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. In addition, Jacqueline is the music director at Broadway United Methodist Church, a congregation that has led the struggle for LGBTQ+ rights and marriage equality in religious institutions. It is an honor to develop resources and establish solutions as a member of the Pride Action Tank Advisory Board.
Aymar Jean Christian
Aymar Jean Christian is assistant professor of communication at Northwestern University. His manuscript, Open TV: Innovation Beyond Networks, explores web series as a space of innovation independent of legacy television development. He has been published in Continuum, Cinema Journal, Transformative Works & Cultures, and Journal of Communication Inquiry, in addition to multiple edited collections. His current research project, Open TV (beta), is a platform for television by queer, trans, cis-women or artists of color. He has released three pilots and three series, receiving recognition by the Tribeca Film Festival, Gotham Awards and the City of Chicago, along with funding from Northwestern, University of Chicago, Propeller and Voqal Funds. Dr. Christian has also served as a judge, curator and expert on video and web TV for the Peabody Awards, Tribeca Film Festival, Streamy Awards and Philadelphia Museum of Art. He received his PhD from the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania in 2012.
Aisha N. Davis
Aisha N. Davis, Esq. is the Manager of Policy and Advocacy at Howard Brown Health. She was born and raised in the Washington, DC Metro Area (or the DMV). Aisha attended Columbia Law School and participated in a dual degree program with the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. At the conclusion of her dual degree program, Aisha obtained a JD and an LLM specializing in Human Rights, Conflict & Justice. In 2011, she received the Bright Future Award from the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. and in 2012, she received a Certificate of Achievement from the Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law. Throughout the course of her legal education, Aisha has worked on human and civil rights both domestically and internationally. Aisha’s scholarship on intersectional issues has been featured in the Columbia Journal, Gender and Sexuality Law Online and the Harvard Human Rights Journal. She has also enjoyed blogging and her work has been featured on The Frisky, For Harriet, and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies’ blog.
Andrea Densham is the Senior Director of Conservation Policy & Advocacy at Shedd Aquarium where she has launched the newly formed Policy and Advocacy Division that is driven to create lasting, impactful, science driven, positive change to keep wildlife and wild places healthy and thriving for generations to come. Andrea is a public policy thought leader with over 20 years’ experience mobilizing community assets to maximize impact and create lasting change. A lifelong LGBTQ advocate and activist, Andrea has been honored to serve on numerous boards including the National Coalition on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Health, and the Lesbian Community Cancer Project, The Communities Advocating Emergency AIDS Relief Coalition, National Health Council. Prior to Shedd, Andrea served as Vice President of Government Affairs and Public Health at Prevent Blindness America, Executive Director of the Childcare Network of Evanston, Director of HIV Services for City of Chicago Health Department, and interim Executive Director of the Mautner Project. Over her career, Densham established numerous expert panels, leadership councils, and national coalitions that brought together community stakeholders, public officials, federal and state leadership, as well as private sector executives, to achieve lasting impact. She has written widely on social movements, health policy and women’s, lesbian and LGBTQ issues, and political participation. She earned a BA from the University of Massachusetts and a MA in political science from the University of Chicago. Perhaps most importantly is a parent to an amazing and brilliant art student.
John D’Emilio, PhD
A pioneer in the field of LGBT studies and the history of sexuality, John D’Emilio is the author or editor of more than half a dozen books, including Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities: the Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States; Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America[with Estelle Freedman]; and Lost Prophet: The Life and Times of Bayard Rustin, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. Intimate Matterswas quoted by Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas case, the historic decision that declared state sodomy statutes unconstitutional. An emeritus professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, D’Emilio was also the founding director of the Policy Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. He has served on the board of directors of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance and is currently the president of the board of the Gerber/Hart Library and Archives in Chicago
Brenikki R. Floyd
Brenikki R. Floyd is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Floyd has over ten years of experience conducting HIV prevention research with an emphasis on increasing health equity among underserved populations. Her research interests focus on the effects of early violence exposure on dating abuse and unsafe sex as well as the effectiveness of innovative health communication strategies (i.e., new media and technology) to reduce HIV/STI risk. Dr. Floyd is also a co-founder of Black Alphabet, a non-profit organization whose premiere program is the Black Alphabet Film Festival, Chicago’s first Black LGBTQ+ film festival. Additionally, Dr. Floyd serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for PrimeCare Community Health, Inc., a federal qualified health center (FQHC), committed to providing accessible, compassionate, and culturally respectful health care to communities throughout Chicago’s West and Northwest sides.
Emmanuel Garcia is a Latino LGBTQ+ journalist, youth mentor and respected community leader in Chicago. He was born in Cicero in January 1982, and has spent his entire life—and the past fifteen years as an activist—in the city. In 2013 Garcia created “Vives Q,” an innovative series of LGBTQ+ events aimed at encouraging intergenerational dialogue between LGBTQ+ youth and adults. This public programming highlights the contributions of LGBTQ+ trailblazers of color and showcases the artistic resilience of youth. Garcia also served as a co-chair of the March on Springfield, where he brought his leadership role to the fore in organizing a bus of more than seventy-five LGBTQ+ youth who traveled from Chicago to Springfield to lobby for marriage equality, he has also service on the boards of the ElevArte Community Studio in Pilsen and the Crossroads Fund, and co-founded the Alvarado/Garcia scholarship for the Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA), which for 10 years awarded two college scholarships to Latino gay, bi, queer youth.
Lisa Gilmore, LCPC, M.Ed.
Lisa Gilmore is principal and founder of Illinois Accountability Initiative (IL-AI), which strives to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in their self-determined efforts to create and sustain accountability practices in local communities, among individuals, and within systems and institutions. IL-AI believes that community accountability practices can increase safety and reduce harm in the lives of LGBTQ people, transforming communities and directly challenging social conditions that support oppression and violence in many forms. Previously, Lisa served as director of education and victim advocacy at Center on Halsted, Chicago’s LGBTQ community center. While at the Center from 2005 – 2013, Lisa provided victim services and guided the work of the Anti-Violence Project; the Legal Program; professional training and technical assistance; and the implementation of the Center’s formal systems-level advocacy efforts—all aimed at reducing the impact of bias in the lives of LGBTQ people. Lisa has served on the Governance Committee of the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs since 2010. Before dedicating herself to LGBTQ-specific anti-violence efforts, Lisa worked for several years with adults dually diagnosed with developmental disabilities and mental illness
Jocelyn Hare is a post-graduate urban fellow under the Richard M. Daley Distinguished Senior Fellowship Program at the Harris School for Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago (UChicago). As a fellow much of her work is focused on The Gary Project, an initiative established between Chicago Harris and the city of Gary, Indiana where graduate students from UChicago gain hands-on urban policy experience. In that capacity Hare has worked with local government, tech groups and hundreds of volunteers in Gary to lead and pioneer a mobile phone survey app, designed to map levels of housing conditions in the city. From the data collected through the survey, she worked with the city of Gary to win over $6.6 million in grant funding for large-scale demolition of the most dangerous properties and the repurposing of those lots. Hare has served as a board member of the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance for six years, where she worked with policymakers at the local, state and national level to design/organize for/pass Safe Schools legislation. In 2015, Hare ran for alderman of Chicago’s 5th
Megan Kashner is a self-proclaimed “Ticked-Off Social Worker” who loves to turn conversations, programs and approaches on their heads. A seasoned impact sector leader, Megan is a clinical assistant professor in Kellogg’s Public-Private Interface and director of social impact. Megan is also the founder of Benevolent – a platform using bleeding-edge technology and leveraging donor proclivities to fill gaps in the safety net for low-income families. Megan holds an MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, has a Master’s from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and a B.A. in Public Policy from Brown University. She has spoken at the White House and at national conferences on social innovation, philanthropy and entrepreneurship. She has been featured on CNN, in FastCompany, Mashable, MSNBC, the New Yorker and more. Megan, her partner and their two teenagers live in Evanston.
Ray Koenig, a partner at the law firm Clark Hill PLC, is the Managing Member of the firm’s Chicago office, an elected member of the firm’s Executive Committee, and a member in the firm’s Litigation Practice Group. He practices in the areas of trust, estate and guardianship litigation and has represented individuals, families, financial institutions, medical institutions, and governmental organizations in all areas of his practice. Ray has deep involvement in the community, including a long history of service to many charitable, professional, and political organizations. When all is said and done, Ray would like to be remembered less from his accomplishments as a lawyer and more for what he did to help make the world a better place for his daughters and humanity. He is grateful to serve on the Pride Action Tank Advisory Board.
Lisa Marie Kouba
Lisa Marco Kouba is an owner of Marco Supply Company, Inc., where she oversees all operations. Formerly a partner at the law firm Clausen Miller, P.C., Lisa is a past director of the Appellate Lawyers Association and was a co-chair of the Chicago Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Section on Appellate Law. She served for eight years as a member of the Board of Education of Elementary School District 101, with the last four years as its vice president. Lisa is a past chair of the Lyons Township Legislative Council, where she was invited by the governor to address the Illinois General Assembly at an historic meeting of the whole on the issue of education funding reform. She was also corresponding secretary for the Lyons Township Parent & Community Network, which annually sponsored Parent University and educational sessions for the western suburbs. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, with distinction and her Juris Doctor degree from Loyola Law School, cum laude, where she was lead article editor of the Loyola Law Journal.
Phoenix Matthews, PHD
Phoenix Matthews is a Professor and clinical psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago with more than 25 years of experience in examining determinants of cancer-related health inequalities among racial/ethnic minorities and other under-served populations. Their recent research focuses on the use of community-based health promotion interventions to reduce cancer risk factors including smoking cessation. Phoenix has served as the PI of five NIH grants and co-investigator for several others. Currently, Phoenix is the co-director of the Center for Translational Science’s Recruitment and Retention Program and the co-investigator for three NIH funded pipeline development grants aimed at reducing health inequalities.
John is a social impact leader with more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit, government and consulting organizations. He is a Partner at Open Door Advisors, a consultancy focused on helping social impact organizations achieve greater scale, sustainability and impact. Previously, John served as First Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services; CEO of Inspiration Corporation; COO of Chicago Cares; Chief Development Officer of Chicago House; Director of Individual Philanthropy at Feeding America; and Senior Consultant with KPMG LLP. John holds a BA in Economics from Northwestern University and an MPA from Columbia University. He serves as board secretary of the Center for Housing and Health at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and previously served as a member of the Board of Directors of the Chicago Low Income Housing Trust Fund, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, and Reeling, the Chicago LGBTQ+ International Film Festival.
For over thirty years Julio has been involved in a number of community projects and/or organizations. He is one of the founders and current board president one of the few Latino gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning non-for-profit organizations in the Midwest, The Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action (ALMA). ALMA has been around since 1989 and has been at the forefront of issues impacting the LGBT community locally and nationally. Julio has served on a number of other local, state and national boards as well as the Chicago Commission on Human Relations. Julio currently works for the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, as the deputy director of office of employment and training.
Jane M. Saks
Jane M. Saks is an arts producer, curator, creative collaborator, writer and educator who has worked to challenge and champion issues of gender, sexuality, human rights, race and power within the worlds of arts and culture, politics and civil rights, academia and philanthropy. She is President and Artistic Director of Project&, an arts entity focused on cultural production with social impact. Previously, she was the founding Executive Director of the Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media. She serves on several boards including Chicago’s Cultural Advisory Council, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Friends of South Africa Constitutional Court Architecture and Arts Programme Committee, and Radio Diaries. She has been a Visiting Critic at Yale University, a Judge for the White House Fellows program and will be a Visiting Professor at Harvard University. She has received numerous awards, including: Business and Professional People for the Public Interest “40 Who Have Made a Difference Award,” Impact Award, Chicago Foundation for Women, a 2011-2013 Fellow, International Leadership Program, National Arts Strategies and an Inductee of the City of Chicago’s LGBT Hall of Fame; Visionary Award: Rape Victim Advocates (2010); BeyondMedia Education: Media Justice Award (2010); Pride Index Leadership Award In recognition of her partnership with and support of the African American LGBT communities (2013). As a published poet and writer, Saks collaborates with artists including Kerry James Marshall, Jim Hodges and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle. Recent larger scale creative initiatives under her leadership include: “Working in America,” MacArthur fellow, photographer, Lynsey Addario, “This is Reading OUT/Let,” with Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage, “Lost Languages: Visibility/Invisibility” with MacArthur Fellow/musician, Claire Chase and “Truth Booth,” with artist Hank Willis Thomas. She has served as the Producer, Co- Producer, Creative Advisor and Series Producer on many original creative works in various media and art forms including “Sweet Tea: Gay Black Men of the South,” “MILKWEED,” “Congo: Women Portraits of War,” Daniel Alexander Jones and JOMAMA JONES, *RADIATE, and the award-winning international radio series in partnership with Chicago Public Media and National Public Radio “Gender, Human Rights, Leadership and Media.”
Alison Stanton is chief problem solver at Stanton Ventures. She focuses on business intelligence reporting, product measurement, process improvement through automation and technical training. She adds value by making data accessible, discoverable and actionable for operations teams, product managers and other stakeholders. Currently, her main languages are SQL, Python and LookML. She loves knitting and using technology to empower audacious ideas.
Laura Stempel, PhD
Laura Stempel is an independent consultant, a writer, and an organizer who has spent thirty-plus years in various kinds of academic jobs. She is the former co-chair of the LBTQ+ Giving Council of the Chicago Foundation for Women and is especially concerned about issues concerning the queer community, women, and young people experiencing housing instability and homelessness. She is part of the Chicago Community Bond Fund; a Legal Observer for the National Lawyers Guile; the convenor of PAT’s working group on supporting college students experiencing housing instability; and a member of Chicago Restroom Access Project (CRAP).
Kelly Suzanne Saulsberry
Kelly Suzanne Saulsberry is a proud Chicago native who is passionate about civic engagement and advocacy. She is the Director of Policy and Outreach at the Chicago Comission on Human Relations, the City’s civil rights department. In her role, she works on policy, education and public engagement initiatives. Prior to joining the Commission, she was the Deputy Policy Director in the Mayor’s Office. Kelly is honored to serve as co-chair of PAT’s Advisory Council and share her passion for advocacy and community building. She also serves on the board of She100 and the Leadership Advisory Council of Affinity Community Services. Kelly earned a BA from Wellesley College and a Master of Public Policy (MPP) from the University of Chicago’s Harris School of Public Policy. She lives in Bronzeville with her wife Traci and their two dogs, Bella and Ozzie.
Jasmine L. Thurmond
Jas Thurmond is a feminist, educator, youth advocate and social change agent for the LGBTQ+ community. She currently serves as a resident principal in Chicago Public Schools, as well as on the board of directors for Affinity Community Services as treasurer. She is also a member of SHE100, a giving circle comprised of women on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Jas is most passionate about ensuring all students have a culturally responsive, high-quality education with individualized supports for holistic success. Her presence in Chicago’s LGBTQ+ community includes co-hosting G-Spot Radio Show (2009-2011), co-founding Chicago State University’s first Gay-Straight Alliance (HERO) and receiving The Windy City Times’ 30 under 30 Award. She utilizes her love of the arts and history to educate and empower today’s youth as tomorrow’s leaders. Jas is excited about the positive contributions Pride Action Tank will make to improve the lives of those within LGBTQ+ communities.
Alicia Tellez Vega
Alicia Tellez Vega has over 20 years of experience working as a Public Service Leader in a diverse array of environments and executive level positions. Ms. Vega has deep roots in improving the lives of Illinois children and youth, serving in multiple community leadership roles such as Illinois Children’s Justice Task Force, the Illinois Child Death Review Team, and led a collaboration to create and implement the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services On-Line Mandated Reporter Training. In addition, she drafted and successfully passed amendments to the Illinois Adoption Act to protect child sexual abuse victims. She is currently leading collaborations between nonprofits, community organizations and the faith community to develop services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ+) youths and their families on the South and West sides of Chicago.Ms. Vega is the recipient of multiple awards including the 2015 United Voices for Children Bishop DeWitt Award, 2013 Damen Award from Loyola University Chicago. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Psychology and a Master of Jurisprudence in Child Law from the Loyola University Chicago as well as being the 2014 Loyola University Chicago Commencement Speaker. She is also a 2016 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow.
Serena Worthington is the director of national field initiatives at (SAGE) Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders, where she oversees the SAGE affiliate network, facilitates state-based policy advocacy on LGBT aging issues and enhances the capacity of partner organizations across the country to work effectively on behalf of LGBT+ older people. A veteran in aging services and advocacy, she frequently presents at national conferences, sharing her passion and expertise on LGBT aging issues. She blogs for SAGE and tweets under her own name, @SerenaWorthy. Serena’s most recent position was as the senior director of public programs with the Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBT community center. Before joining Center on Halsted, Serena served as the life enrichment director at Norwood Crossing, a non-profit assisted living and long-term care facility where she founded a comprehensive expressive arts program.