Community Advisory Board
Meet our Community Advisory Board!
Our Community Advisory Board is composed of 15+ members of our LGBTQ+ community in New York State. The purpose of the CAB is to provide the perspective of stakeholders within sexual and gender minority communities in the work that the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative is doing.
The CAB meets about 6 times per year, and tasks include reviewing drafts of materials and providing suggestions to make sure materials and plans are inclusive and sensitive to racial, ethnic, and cultural aspects, discussing the overall direction and goals for the grant, and successes and areas for improvement, etc. We have an open application for our CAB! If you are interested, or you know anyone who may be interested, please review this document and apply here!
Meet Our CAB
Luna (they/she/elle) aka Amanda Ureña recently joined the CAB in January of 2022 and was one of the Co-Chairs for the 2022-2023 grant year. Luna is a neurodivergent, pansexual, latinx human from New York. They have years of experience analyzing data and engaging decision makers to drive operational and organizational change. Luna started their career in supply chain operations and later transitioned into MLTC (managed long-term care) operations for an NYC-based plan. Luna is also currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Health in Urban Health with a minor in LGBT health at Drexel University. As a Breast Cancer survivor who had experienced fat phobic treatment from providers, Luna is passionate about ensuring that people at all intersections are believed and provided affirming, life-saving care. Let’s live with pride!
Wanda identifies as Lesbian, Cisgender, and Puerto Rican. Wanda was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She was one the Out Alliance (Gay Alliance) Speaker Bureau for 11 years, and is Safe Zone and Certified Train the Trainer. Wanda started the LGBTQ* at the Veterans Medical Affairs in Canandaigua NY, the Rochester Outpatient Clinic in 2009, and also later the Bath VA. She is an Advocate for the LGBTQ* Veterans, and President and CEO of the Re-lief Corporation. Wanda is a volunteer of the National Susan B Anthony Museum and House, and a volunteer in turning your community green and climate solution accelerator. She is also a trainer for the Western NY Suicide Prevention and a Member of the Board of Directors of The Partnership Ontario County, Inc.
Nia Jones served as a CAB Co-Chair in our 2021-2022 grant year. She is the Director of Residential Services at East House, considers herself classic with a twist. Dedicated to the souls that make up her community, Nia’s career is comprised of experience in mental health, chemical dependency, eating disorders, elders, developmental disabilities, and at risk youth. A balance of heart and mind and the ability to implement positive transformational change are Nia’s greatest strengths; superseding her knack for building haunted houses for Halloween. After graduating from SUNY Brockport with an undergraduate degree in Social Work, Nia went on to complete a graduate degree in Healthcare Administration from Roberts Wesleyan. She is an advocate for equity and believes in being a voice for underserved and unheard populations. Identifying as a Mom and a Black Professional LGBTQ Woman, Nia joined the CAB at its inception with the hopes of continuing her efforts to advocate for equity and put actions behind her beliefs.
Summer Light (pronouns: they/them/theirs/she/her/hers) just finished their second year as Co-Chair and was elected to the position again for the 2023-2024 grant year. Summer is a School-Based Chemical Dependency Counselor for The Center for Youth who believes in understanding the systematic barriers that affect all humans that exist within modern times. Summer joined the CAB because she believes in equal representation in understanding the unique and countless voices who will not be heard. Summer strives to represent what it means to invite a queer multi-cultural person of color at the table that DOES NOT speak for ALL people that may fit into the aforementioned demographics. To not stress you or themselves out they can be found laughing, eating, writing, listening to select podcasts, eating some more, dancing, and loving their baby – Chase – the dog that came into their life… and the story that ends with a cliffhanger.. of not knowing who saved who!
Julia Peitzer is an out and proud queer transwoman with a personal and professional background in mental health and LGBTQ advocacy. She currently works and lives in Queens, NYC. Julia believes equality and power for minority groups is taken, not asked for, and her work reflects this. In her spare time, Julia enjoys the NYC Nightlife, as well as all things nerdy.
Olivia Hillary was the CAB Chair from Fall 2019 – Spring 2021, and joined at the CAB’s start in November of 2019. She identifies as a gay cisgender black woman. She has dedicated most of her time to supporting and educating individuals on a range of health related topics. The CAB was a natural step in her journey to a more inclusive and supportive community.
Vilma Vendrell joined the CAB shortly after its commencement in January of 2020. She identifies as a bisexual, cisgender, Latinx woman with experience working in mental health in multiple levels of care. She is also has experience in care management and substance abuse services. Vilma has been active in raising awareness of the emotional and physical needs of all LGBTQ+ individuals.
Nicole Fleming joined the CAB when it began in November 2019. She identifies as a Deaf, gay, cisgender white woman. She is a pediatric nurse and joined the CAB to help bring disabled and Deaf voices to the discussion of LGBTQ+ healthcare and services. She is most interested in how intersectionality of minority identities impact health disparities.
Rudi Lott joined the LGBTQ community Advisory Board (CAB) when it started in November of 2019. She identifies as a Trans African American woman, and has experience working in Community Education for HIV, Substance Abuse counseling and is currently enrolled at the University of Rochester working on her Masters in mental health counseling. Rudi joined the CAB because she is interested in a more positive social inclusion with society. In addition, to help plan human services to be more unbiased for all LGBTQ+ people and wants to give back to her community.
Daniel identifies as queer and is mixed-raced, usually identifying as Latinx. Daniel is typically referred to by he/him/his, but is fine with all pronouns, as he is not attached to his gender. Daniel is a medical student at the University of Rochester, School of Medicine and Dentistry, and has a variety of experiences in research (from mental health to STEM education) and community service (from working with those with disabilities to those recovering from substance use). Daniel joined CAB in hopes of improving healthcare, by reducing inequities for LGBTQ+ people via advocacy, research, and education.
Tim Snider identifies as a Gay, Gender Non-Conforming white individual with Native American heritage. Tim is generally referred to by gender-neutral pronouns such as They/Them but has no designated pronouns. Tim is an Ethnic & Gender Studies, Psychology, and Social Work student at SUNY Fredonia and recently became an intern for GLYS (Growing LGBTQ+ Youth Services) in Buffalo, N.Y. Tim has had years of experience in many different fields, stretching from Higher Education to Non-Profit Organizations. The Fredonia community has recognized Tim for their work with and advocacy for underserved and underrepresented groups. Tim is trained and certified in Safe Zone/Space and Suicide Prevention and has years of experience researching and disseminating cultural and identity-related information.
Ryan is an NYS Community Mental Health Therapist and have been developing an comprehensive clinical caseload devoted toward those with chronic illness, trauma-complex disorders, and Gender-Sexual-Racial minorities. In both the upstate NY communities and state-to-state communities; Ryan has been known to be serving the expansive Trans, Gender-diverse, and Non-binary communities thus far. Ryan have been providing primary and secondary gender affirming intervention letters with ages from 13 years old to late 80s. Ryan continues to serve the community as expansively they can by running 2-3 concurrent community outreach psychotherapy groups in a 6-month period.
Cheri has worked in the mental health field for over 20 years. The majority of her time has been spent in residential and program development, creating strong teams and quality housing programs for people living with mental health/addiction issues. Cheri is a member of United Way’s 2019 LGBTQ+ Leadership Development Program, and started an Anti-Racism Learning Community at a local non-profit agency, where she also was Co-Chair of the Diversity Education Committee. She is dedicated to creating true change and making space for underserved populations’ voices to be heard and invited to the table to assist with creating this change. She is an advocate for addressing the social determinants of health for underserved populations and is dedicated to assisting to create health equity for all. Cheri is currently the owner of CRW Coaching & Consulting and specializes in life, recovery, and leadership development with a focus on marginalized communities.
Ariana Christana (she/her) is fairly new to working within the LGBTQ+ community. Through her work as a transgender care patient navigator at the University of Rochester, Ari seeks to help provide other transgender and nonbinary people with the resources and services they might desire to help them live their most authentic and happy lives. Sacrificing a good job due to discovering an anti-LGBTQ+ agenda from the company ownership, Ari felt inspired to find work that is rewarding to her personally by acting as a resource, a supportive figure, an active voice, and an active, empathetic ear to lend to those within the community who might need it. Through kindness, understanding, patience, and a smiling face, she is very passionate about and works hard to help bring an improved social perception of the transgender community. Joining the CAB was just an organic transition for her as the purpose of the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative represents the fundamental improvement of care and handling of all people within the LGBTQ+ community!
Interested in joining our CAB?
The LGBTQ+ Health Initiative invites interested New Yorkers from anywhere in the state to apply to be a member of the Community Advisory Board, or CAB. This advisory board is open to employees of the NYS HHS Network organizations and to the general public, with a strong preferance for members of LGBQ+, TGNCNB, and/or BIPOC communities. This CAB will help ensure the LGBTQ+ Health Initiative’s work is representative of all New Yorkers.