MEMBERS

Lisa Turner, Chair

Lisa Turner

Lisa Turner (she/her) is the Executive Director of LPAC, the premier national committee supporting LGBTQ+ women candidates running for political office. Prior to becoming the Executive Director, she was the National Political Director. In this role, she created LPAC’s award-winning IE operation which helped elect U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin and Kyrsten Sinema, as well as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Turner also led the launch of the committee’s non-profit arm Project LPAC, which has produced groundbreaking data on LGBTQ+ women’s civic engagement and electoral participation, as well as research on how supporters of equality can best communicate their support for transgender rights and individuals.

Turner served in the Obama Administration as a political appointee at USDA and HHS. She has worked on the national political scene for many years as a campaign consultant to numerous federal, state, and local candidates, campaign committees, and progressive donors. Her work as a national strategist and media advisor has led to long-term social justice change. Among the many accomplishments from her 30-year political career include serving as the DLCC’s first political director; serving as a strategic adviser to billionaire philanthropist Jon Stryker; and working as a campaign consultant to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, Gill Action, and HRC.

Turner is a graduate of Old Dominion University and the UVA Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership. She was appointed to the Governor’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board in July 2021.

Michael Thorne-Begland, Vice Chair

Michael Thorne-Begland

Michael (he/him) came out at the age of 18, in 1989, and found his voice as a gay rights activist in the early 1990s, protesting against anti-LGBTQ+ leaders. Michael spent much of 1993 traveling the country and advocating for an end to the military's ban on queer service members. With his now husband, a naval flight officer, Michael attended dozens of rallies and events aimed at overturning the military's ban, and raising money for the Human Rights Campaign, Service Members’ Legal Defense Network and Lambda Legal Defense Fund. In 1998, after attending law school at the University of Richmond, Michael became the first openly gay attorney at the 800-lawyer law firm, Hunton & Williams and spent the next six years practicing international corporate law. He also volunteered a significant amount of time representing individuals seeking asylum in the United States, including a challenge to the constitutionality of video-conferencing in asylum proceedings.

At the same time, he joined the board of the Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth (ROSMY, now Side by Side), the second oldest queer youth service organization in the country. He spent over a dozen years in various board leadership roles with ROSMY and created the group's youth leadership program, a program that continues to support queer youth leadership development today. In the early 2000’s, when the Virginia General Assembly sought to amend the Virginia Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriages, Michael met with legislators and public officials and testified before the House of Delegates committee considering the issue. At that time, he worked with the Washington Post on an article highlighting efforts by gay men, like he and his husband, to create families through surrogacy. In 2004, the two men welcomed twins into their lives - a daughter and son, having pioneered a pre-birth declaration of paternity in Maryland, providing both men full legal recognition of their relationships to their children at the time of birth.

In 2004, Michael joined Altria as an attorney and spent 14 years supporting, and later leading, the company’s brand protection efforts. In 2014, Michael helped found Altria's employee resource group for LGBTQ+ employees - Mosaic. He led the organization for three years, using the platform to highlight the experiences of trans women of color and other individuals from historically marginalized communities. Michael worked with leaders of other employee resource groups to advocate for change within the company and in 2018 became Altria's first Chief Transformation Officer and, later, its first Chief Inclusion Diversity and Equity Officer and its first openly LGBTQ+ executive. In his current role, Vice President and Chief Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Officer, Michael has responsibility for Altria's efforts in these spaces.

Michael currently serves on the Boards of Directors for Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, CrossOver Ministry and Children's Home Society. Michael lives in Richmond with his husband, the Honorable Tracy Thorne-Begland (the first openly LGBTQ+ judge in the Commonwealth) and their seventeen-year-old daughter and son.

Amanda Goehring, Secretary

Amanda Goehring

Amanda Goehring is an asexual advocate and organizer and has spent over ten years actively contributing to the development of the asexual community. Ze is the founder of a scholarship for students under the asexual umbrella and co-founder of professional network for working aces to connect with one another. Ze pays close attention to media representation of asexual characters and uses hir language skills to raise awareness of international LGBTQIA+ issues and contextualize them for anglophone audiences. Amanda is also deeply interested in gender-neutral language, including gender-neutral pronouns, in both hir native English and in the other languages ze speaks.

Amanda earned a B.S. in Physics and East Asian Studies from the College of William and Mary and a Masters degree in Interpreting and Translating from the University of Bath, and ze currently works as a language professional. Ze spends hir spare time learning new languages at community language schools near hir home in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

Matt Banfield

Matt Banfield

Matt Banfield, Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Affairs at the University of Virginia, has responsibility for various policy and programmatic functions of the provost's office. He directs the University Seminars program, the 4-VA at UVA initiative, and coordinates efforts related to implementation of the University's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP).

Matt is the provost's office representative to the University's Policy Review Committee, and through his work with the Undergraduate and Graduate Policy Committees serves as a liaison to the schools in the creation of academic policy. Additionally, Matt represents the University in several advisory capacities before the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).

Prior to joining UVA, Matt worked as a senior public affairs advisor in Holland & Knight's Washington, D.C. office, where he worked with a wide variety of clients in pursuit of their federal legislative, regulatory, and funding priorities.

At Holland & Knight, Matt developed his federal advocacy practice around large-scale coalition style clients, institutions of higher education, and local government/municipal entities. Prior to joining Holland & Knight, Matt served in the Washington, D.C. office of U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), as well as a Washington, D.C. area public affairs firm.

Matt earned an Ed.D. from the University of Virginia and a B.A. in Theatre Arts and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Virginia Tech. Matt is a member of the Alumni Advisory Board for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences at Virginia Tech, a member of the Jamestown 4-H Educational Center Board of Directors, a member of his local political party's committee, and is a member of the William Preston Society at Virginia Tech. Matt is a 2018 graduate of the Sorensen Institute's Political Leaders Program and a 2021 participant in the Leadership in Academic Matters (LAM) program at UVA.

Michael Berlucci

Michael Berlucci

Michael Berlucchi serves on the Virginia Beach City Council as the Rose Hall District representative and is the Community and Government Relations Manager for the Chrysler Museum of Art, where he creates and implements educational and community partnerships designed to expand and diversify museum audiences, particularly among under-served constituencies. He is a former president of Hampton Roads Pride and founding co-chair of the Hampton Roads LGBTQ Public Safety Consortium and Virginia Beach for Fairness. Prior to serving on City Council, he was a member of the Virginia Beach Human Rights Commission and served on the board of directors for the Virginia Beach Community Development Corporation. Berlucchi is an active supporter of many non-profit and community organizations, including Green Run Collegiate, Hope House Foundation, CIVIC Leadership Institute, Old Beach Farmer’s Market, United Negro College Fund, Virginia MOCA, the African American Cultural Center of Virginia, and others.

Berlucchi has authored a number of articles and given presentations on a range of topics related to his work and community/civic engagement and was named as one of Inside Business’ Top Forty under 40 and as an OUTstanding Virginian by Equality Virginia. He studied Government and International Politics at George Mason University and is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and the CIVIC Leadership Institute at Old Dominion University.

Demas Boudreaux

Boudreaux Headshot

Demas Boudreaux serves as government relations manager for Virginia Housing, where he liaises and coordinates government relations activities among Virginia Housing, the Virginia General Assembly, executive branch, and congressional delegation. Prior to his work at Virginia Housing, Demas was the government relations director for the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and legislative liaison for the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations. He holds degrees from Hampden-Sydney College, Virginia Tech, and the University of Lynchburg, and is an alumnus of the Sorensen Institute’s Political Leaders Program.

Beyond his work in affordable housing, Demas is active in historic preservation, and also serves as the music director for St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Richmond. Demas is on the boards of the GERMAN Club Alumni Foundation of Virginia Tech, and Virginia21, which he chairs, an organization that empowers college students and young Virginians to be engaged citizens and advocates for issues important to them and Virginia’s future. In 2019, he was named one of Richmond’s “Top 40 under 40” by Style Weekly.

Evelyn BruMar

Evelyn Brumar

Since moving to Virginia in 2013, I realized that the human rights of many marginalized community members have been lacking, especially the LGBTQ+ community.

Since 2015 I have been volunteering with food pantries and homeless shelters, talking face to face with individuals in Prince William County about the discrimination they face and the lack of resources available which led me to be more direct with my advocacy.

In 2016 and 2017 I helped to organize Northern Virginia Pride volunteers to run festivals. In 2017 I helped organize a movement to support protections for LGBTQ+ staff and students in Prince William County’s public schools and advocated for LGBTQ+ Pride Month in Manassas and Manassas Park.
In 2018 I organized and ran the first public “Pride Bingo'' to help raise money to support the LGBTQ+ community in greater Prince William. I organized and advocated for LGBTQ+ Pride Month proclamation for the first time in Prince William County and the LGBTQ+ community added to the county’s “Hate and Bigotry Free Zone.” I was able to repeat the passing of both proclamations in 2019 through the Prince William County Human Rights Commission and Board of County Supervisors.

In 2018 when the county was being leafletted with Ku Klux Klan literature, I organized a “Community United Against Hate” rally at Conway Robinson State Forest for the public to gather with elected officials, non-profit service organizations, and the Prince William County Human Rights Commission. From this event, I helped the Human Rights Commission organize with other community leaders a “Celebrating Our Diversity in a Time of Adversity” town hall.
In 2018 and 2019, I was invited to speak at the Drug Enforcement Agency and Department of Justice Pride program, educating law enforcement agents and government directors on the need to protect the LGBTQ+ community.

In 2019 I helped organize the Network NOVA ``Women's Summit” and assisted in leading a breakout session advocating for LGBTQ+ issues. I founded Casa BruMar Foundation in October 2019, with the mission to give acceptance and assistance to, and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, helping Virginia’s LGBTQ+ youth in getting resources and shelter.

In January 2020, I received the Human Rights Award from Prince William County Human Rights Commission. In February 2020 I was officially seated as one of Prince William County’s Human Rights Commissioners making me the first Latinx Lesbian to hold that position. In June of 2020, I organized and advocated in getting LGBTQ+ Pride Month recognized and proclaimed in Prince William County Public Schools. In January 2021, I was elected Parliamentarian of the Prince William Human Rights Commission. I received Equality Virginia OUTstanding Virginian in 2021.

Currently, I am working on getting the first LGBTQ+ community center opened in greater Prince William County to serve NoVa’s LGBTQ+ community. I also do inclusive LGBTQ+ lectures and training for PWC/Manassas First Responders (911), Law Enforcement agencies and Jails/Court officers.

Charley Burton

Charley Burton

Charley Burton is a native of Charlottesville VA.

Charley is the owner of Charley Speaks. Charley conducts speaking engagements and training where through his story telling and inspirational chat involves his audience on what it is like to be a Black Transman living in the south.

He is employed as a Site Manager for WorkSource a non profit company in Charlottesville. WorkSource trains and employs adults with disabilities for employment in the work sector.

Charley is a board member of Equality VA, Board Chair for PFLAG of the Blue Ridge. Board member and Trans liaison for Cville Pride. Founder of Diversity in Recovery. A organization that was founded to provide safe spaces for the LGBTQ/BIPOC community find recovery spaces. Founder of Black Transmen Can Cook. An organization that teaches Black Transmen cooking skills by way of supporting each other through food and fellowship.

 Charley was the former National Program Director of Black Transmen Inc.

Charley is currently enrolled at Morehouse College where in March 2022, he was voted by his peers as Morehouse Man of the Month.

Charley has his life story The Boy Beneath My Skin published.  It’s story about a survivor of abuse, addiction,  mental illness, gender dysphoria.

Jonathan Dromgoole

Jonathan Dromgoole

Mexican made, Texas-raised, & DC educated, Jonathan Dromgoole is a community leader focused on increasing representation for the Latinx & LGBTQ+ community in policy & public service. Jonathan is a double first-generation graduate of Georgetown University (SFS ’16 & MPP ’19) and alumni of the Sorensen Institute's Emerging Leaders Program at UVA(’20) where he was one of three Latinx and the only out queer individual. 

Jonathan’s professional & personal achievements have focused on social good & people-centered policies that enhance diverse representation from international development practices to local activism. In his professional capacity he has worked with and advised ambassadors, executives, policymakers, elected officials, and community leaders. Jonathan also serves on the boards of several local and national partisan and non-partisan boards such as the Democratic Latino Organization of Virginia and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

An advocate for inclusive leadership, Jonathan authored “Out to Lead: Shaping Queer Leadership” focused on unique leadership abilities and advantages of the LGBTQ+ community and how, through resilience, they are the leaders we need today.

He lives with his husband, Juan, and their two dogs in Northern Virginia.

Kevin Han

Kevin Han

Kevin Han (he/him) is a second-generation Korean American born and raised in Virginia.  Kevin has gained experience with community engagement in a wide range of fields, including youth development, teaching English, and public service in the federal government. As a community health worker, he is focused on educating and connecting diverse communities with health coverage. He believes everyone deserves access to affordable healthcare, and is fully committed to helping anyone, including immigrants, LGBTQ+, women, and those with disabilities, acquire that basic human right. With an educational background in politics and foreign affairs, he is passionate about civic engagement and voting rights. Kevin is committed to representing the communities that he is a part of. In his free time, Kevin enjoys traveling, spending time with loved ones, and watching sunsets at the beach.

Aurora Higgs

Aurora Higgs

Aurora Higgs, M.Ed (she/they)  is a Black queer visionary from Richmond, Va. Aurora transitioned in 2018 and uses her platform to promote justice and equity. She’s a PhD student, speaker, performer, and producer of media that elevate queer BIPOC voices. As a board member of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, Aurora helps shape medical practice guidelines and protocols to better ensure the transgender policies are appropriate, progressive, and compassionate. Aurora specializes as a speaker and facilitator on equity, DEI work, social justice, and gender/sexuality studies. Aurora and her work were awarded a place in Richmond Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2019. Currently, Aurora serves as a governor-appointed member of the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board and works as a Program Director for Diversity Richmond, an LGBTQ Community Organization in Richmond, Va.

Rob Keeling

Bio coming soon

Joanna Keller

Joanna Keller

Joanna Keller is very active in her local LGBTQ+ community. She is on the Program Committee and in charge of the Community Clothes Closet at the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center in Staunton, she is a volunteer for Staunton Pride and a member of Shenandoah Valley Equality. Joanna is also a Moderator of Transgender Heaven.com, a safe web site to discuss, help and share resources with transgender identifying individuals.

She has served on the Red Cross Board of Directors, chairperson of the disaster committee, Big Brothers Big Sisters Board, chairperson of activities committee, and board member of the Anchorage Youth Hostel in Anchorage Alaska.

Joanna was a former Air Traffic Controller and a Maintenance Director until her retirement in 2020. 

Kyle L. Mason

Kyle Mason

Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs

Kyle values the sacredness that exists in the embodiment of identity and health, and has sought to increase equitable accessibility of healthcare with the intent of increasing utilization among marginalized populations through service, research, and scholarship. Kyle is a Health Psychology doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Their research interests include health disparities associated with systematic and interpersonal forms of erasure, discrimination, stigma, and bias; health behaviors, health decision making, and health prevention and intervention strategies. As an inaugural member of Virginia’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, they intend to support LGBTQ+ Virginians in ameliorating the harmful psychosocial impacts that contribute to deleterious health outcomes – through supporting Virginia’s executive branch in cultivating a culture of health that all Virginians are participants in.

Stephanie Merlo

Stephanie Merlo

Stephanie Merlo is an inaugural member of Virginia’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. Prior to this appointment, she served on the Board of Directors for Virginia Pride, ending her five-year tenure as the organization’s Executive Chair. Stephanie has a storied history of service and leadership positions, supporting her communities at the cross-sections of underserved, marginalized, and veteran populations.

Presently, Stephanie works with MajorClarity, an online platform that allows k-12 students to prepare for career and education readiness, where she onboards and trains school districts across the country on how to use their platform for education and career readiness. Additional experience includes management, operations, and training roles in several private organizations.

An Army veteran, Stephanie served as a logistics specialist at Dexhiem in Germany. In this role, she oversaw a multi-million-dollar portfolio of equipment operations, maintenance, and requisitions for ten Divisions.

In her free time, Stephanie serves as the regional chapter leader for the Minority Veterans of America, the nation’s largest veteran-serving organization that focuses efforts on building community and advocating on behalf of our most marginalized and underserved veteran communities. Stephanie and her wife love to spend time with friends, do wine tastings, and are constantly entertained by their three pets, Benson, Samus, and Keekee. Presently, Stephanie works with MajorClarity, an online platform that allows k-12 students to prepare for career and education readiness, where she onboards and trains school districts across the country on how to use their platform for education and career readiness. Additional experience includes management, operations, and training roles in several private organizations.

Tracey Monegain

Bio coming soon

Dr. Monica Motley

Monica Motley

Dr. Monica Motley launched “The Motley Consulting Group” in 2016 to help activists, universities, and organizations address community disparities, complex social issues (e.g. racism, homophobia, etc.) and health inequities in rural communities. As a result, Dr. Motley and TMCG were selected for Business Equality Magazine’s 2019 “LGBTQ Leaders 40 under 40” list. She has also presented their research at the 2016, 2017, and 2018 American Public Health Association National Conference. As a Research Faculty Member at Virginia Tech, she works alongside the Center Director, Dr. Kathy Hosig, to manage a five-year United States Department of Agriculture Grant entitled “Empowering Healthy Families” that will partner with more than 20 congregations across Virginia to assess the effectiveness of a family nutrition and physical activity program to reduce childhood obesity in African American families via faith-based partnerships. She received her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University in addition to two master’s degrees and a doctoral degree from Virginia Tech. Monica is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Bryan Price

Bryan Price

Bryan Price is the Owner and Founder of GTP Wellness Consulting, L.L.C. GTP Wellness Consulting takes a holistic approach to physical, mental and societal wellness through trainings, mentorships, and coaching. Bryan also works with the Office of Community Outreach and Engagement with the University of Virginia Cancer Center and the Cancer Center without Walls.  Bryan is responsible for the development, delivery, administration and evaluation of cancer and obesity-related initiatives across Southside Virginia.  A native of Danville, Virginia and currently residing in South Boston, Virginia, with his husband, Craig. Bryan studied Statistics, Mathematics and Computer Science at Virginia Tech. His passion is fitness and advocating healthy living in his community. He is a board member of The Health Collaborative, Regional Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth Southwest Advisory Board, Virginia Rural Health Association, Community Improvement Council, Inc.-Danville Head Start, Equality Virginia and the Virginia Department of Health’s Community HIV Planning Group. He is a graduate of the 2018 Class of LEAD Virginia. Bryan has been recently selected by the National Rural Health Association as a member of the 2021 Rural Health Fellows program and as a member of their Health Equity Council.

Dr. Jes Simmons

Jes Simmons

Dr. Jes Simmons is recently retired from Longwood University where she served as the first openly transsexual professor and then as the first openly transsexual administrator.

In 1997, Jes navigated the strict Harry Benjamin Standards of Care for tanssexuals and underwent gender-confirmation surgery in Montreal. Transphobia soon turned her life and career into a game of Chutes-and-Ladders--from grading essays and getting chalk dust on a tweed jacket as a tenured male associate professor in a college classroom in northwest Ohio to taking movie tickets and getting butter on her blouse as a woman working at a single-screen movie theater. In 2013, fortuitous circumstances fell into place and Jes regained her career in academe as a lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Longwood University.

Jes became a mentor and ally for LGBTQ+ students and faculty, served as advisor to Longwood Pride, and gave presentations to classes on her One Life in Two Genders. Student acceptance of Dr. Jes brought her such awards as Outstanding First-Year Advocate, Student Advocate of the Year, and Student-Athlete Advocate of the Year, as well as awards from Longwood’s time-honored student secret societies: Cahoots, Princeps, and CHI.

Dr. Jes has spoken at academic conferences and seminars throughout the Commonwealth on her transgender journey. In 2016, she advised and worked closely with Logo-TV during its LGBTQ-focused coverage of the Vice-Presidential Debate held at Longwood University.

Jes serves as a board member for Farmville Pride and for the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts. Jes has been featured in LGBTQ films and documentaries: Virginia: October 6, 2014 and The Dr. Jes Story. Currently, a Los Angeles screenwriter and filmmaker is creating a mini-series based on her life.

Dr. Jes Simmons is recently retired from Longwood University where she served as the first openly transsexual professor and then as the first openly transsexual administrator.

In 1997, Jes navigated the strict Harry Benjamin Standards of Care for tanssexuals and underwent gender-confirmation surgery in Montreal. Transphobia soon turned her life and career into a game of Chutes-and-Ladders--from grading essays and getting chalk dust on a tweed jacket as a tenured male associate professor in a college classroom in northwest Ohio to taking movie tickets and getting butter on her blouse as a woman working at a single-screen movie theater. In 2013, fortuitous circumstances fell into place and Jes regained her career in academe as a lecturer in the Department of English and Modern Languages at Longwood University.

Jes became a mentor and ally for LGBTQ+ students and faculty, served as advisor to Longwood Pride, and gave presentations to classes on her One Life in Two Genders. Student acceptance of Dr. Jes brought her such awards as Outstanding First-Year Advocate, Student Advocate of the Year, and Student-Athlete Advocate of the Year, as well as awards from Longwood’s time-honored student secret societies: Cahoots, Princeps, and CHI.

Dr. Jes has spoken at academic conferences and seminars throughout the Commonwealth on her transgender journey. In 2016, she advised and worked closely with Logo-TV during its LGBTQ-focused coverage of the Vice-Presidential Debate held at Longwood University.

Jes serves as a board member for Farmville Pride and for the Longwood Center for the Visual Arts. Jes has been featured in LGBTQ films and documentaries: Virginia: October 6, 2014 and The Dr. Jes Story. Currently, a Los Angeles screenwriter and filmmaker is creating a mini-series based on her life.

Patty Smith

Patty Smith

Patricia (Patty) Smith has been an educator for over 35 years, the last 15 at The Appomattox Regional Governor’s School for the Arts and Technology in Petersburg, VA. A longtime advocate for LGBTQ youth, she was one of the original Board members of GLSEN, back when it was still a regional organization in Massachusetts, and she coordinated the national conference for three years. Now, at ARGS, she serves as the faculty sponsor for their GSA, Spectrum. In addition to being an educator, she is also a writer, and her debut novel The Year of Needy Girls, was a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Other work includes essays that appear in the following anthologies: Something to Declare: Good Lesbian Travel Writing, (Gillian Kendall, ed.) One Teacher in Ten: LGBTQ Educators Share Their Stories; One Teacher in Ten in the New Millennium: LGBTQ Educators Speak Out About What’s Gotten Better…and What Hasn’t (Kevin Jennings, ed), and Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival (Sarah Einstein & Sandra Lambert, eds) among others.  A native New Englander, she lives with her wife in Chester, VA.

Ex-Officio Members