Meet Our TEAM

Mike Bensel

Executive Director he/him/his

He has been an HIV/AIDS educator, tester, advocate, and has a strong queer programming background working with Outright Vermont, SafeSpace and serving on the founding board of Pride Center of Vermont. Having a rich history with the center allows Mike to have a strong connection to the mission and values of the organization. As a queer man committed to social change, he is closely connected to the importance of HIV/AIDS prevention and education within our LGBTQ communities.  Because of the Pride Center’s collaborative culture and commitment to social justice, it has been a longtime personal objective to work toward shared success with such a dedicated team. Mike is a Tobacco Cessation Counselor.

Justin Marsh

Communications and Development Director they/them/theirs

Justin grew up in Cambridge, VT on a dairy farm. In 2012, Justin ran as an independent for Vermont House at the age of 23. They are a published editor (Tasteful Traditions, Red Barn Books, 2014), and have held or currently serve in several positions on other local non-profit or municipal boards. In 2016, they helped write the grant known as The Silo Project, which transformed two abandoned concrete silos into the largest outdoor public art installment in the state of Vermont. Justin is a previous board member of Outright Vermont and still spends time volunteering for the organization as a Friday Night Group co-facilitator in Lamoille County. 

Justin was the lead organizer for the 2018 and 2019 Pride Vermont Parade & Festival. They spend their free time performing across Vermont as Emoji Nightmare. Emoji can be found all across the state supporting LGBTQ+ events and creating intentional queer spaces in rural places. Emoji can even be seen at your local libraries leading the Vermont chapter of Drag Queen Story Hour with Nikki Champagne. A large component of the work they do professionally and personally is to advocate for the rural counties of Vermont (#theother13), moving towards giving them a voice and providing services to their area. 

Taylor Small

Health & Wellness Director she/her/hers

Taylor graduated from the University of Vermont in 2016 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development & Family Studies, and a minor in Gender Identity and Sexuality Studies. Taylor is committed to community building and youth empowerment, as seen through her previous work at the Howard Center, Spectrum Youth & Family Services, Northwestern Counseling and Support Services, and a previous Board Member at Outright Vermont. She has a clear passion and drive to support the larger LGBTQ+ community of Vermont and frequently puts on programming across the state to increase queer and trans visibility.

Taylor is a fierce activist by day, and at night she becomes the wildly entertaining Nikki Champagne. Nikki can be found all around town supporting LGBTQ+ events including First Friday, Queen City Drag Cabaret, New Queers Eve, Comedy Queens, and more! Nikki previously co-hosted The T, alongside Emoji Nightmare, a local TV production that focuses on arts and activism across the state of Vermont, and can now be seen at your local libraries doing Drag Queen Story Hour.

Skylar Wolfe

SafeSpace Director he/him/his, they/them/theirs, or Sky

Skylar is a queer, trans-masculine, and non-binary activist that is passionate about exploring the ways that LGBTQ+ people navigate balancing perception, visibility, and authenticity. Sky seeks to empower people to challenge not only themselves, but the cultures around them. He believes that if people can learn to both stretch and love themselves, they can also learn to both stretch and love the world. Skylar is cheesy, witty, and refreshingly transparent.

As a staff member, Skylar deeply values humility, lifelong learning, and remaining continually reflexive to the community’s needs. Sky simultaneously works towards holistic community mental health and collective social justice.

Gustavo Mercado Muñiz

Transgender Program Coordinator they/them/theirs

Gustavo is a queer, non-binary puertorriqueñe born and raised on the island, and they are excited to work as our Transgender Program Coordinator, supporting and uplifting a community that means so much to them. They are a recent graduate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a focus on intersectional feminism and its roots in communities of color. They are a passionate LGBTQIA+ and racial activist who wants to work on making spaces more accessible and safe for all folks in the community and the intersections of their identities.

Gustavo is always open to learning more about identities and the ways that they can be challenging and empowering for folks here in Vermont. Being very new to the state, they are looking forward to exploring a new place and meeting wonderful new people. In this role Gustavo hopes to help create networks of care and empowerment for all of us in the trans (and overall LGBTQIA+) community. Gustavo is a hugger, avid reader, Beyoncé stan, and will never say no to good vegetarian food!

Johnny Chagnon

Health & Wellness Coordinator he/him/his

Although Johnny is a native to Burlington with a degree from Champlain College, he has worked with diverse populations across the country in HIV Prevention. One of his many passions includes connecting with fellow HIV+ individuals to encourage treatment adherence, fight against HIV stigma, and offer peer support. He also has tested thousands of people for HIV over the past five years and will go above and beyond to connect a client to PrEP/PEP, or a newly diagnosed client to everything they need to be on the road to wellness.

As a GLAM coordinator, he helps produce community-building events that encourage healthy relationships for gay/bi/trans men and support positive role models in our community. The most important point is that he is a fierce coffee lover and will most always be down to meet you and chat over a cup!

Anne Moyerbrailean

SafeSpace Anti-Violence Coordinator she/her/hers 

Anne is an advocate with the SafeSpace Anti-Violence Program and has a background in building community spaces for healing and resiliency. She comes to the Pride Center after completing her master’s in Intersectional Gender Studies in Sweden.

Anne is also a coordinator for GLOW, our programming for LGBTQ+ women and women-aligned community members. Want to learn more about GLOW or get involved? Send Anne an email!

Also send Anne an email if your curious about: Advocacy and supporting LGBTQ+ survivors; trainings and workshops related to SafeSpace’s mission; creating inclusive women’s spaces; collaborating with GLOW

Reggie Condra

Health & Wellness Coordinator he/him/his 

Reggie Condra is a Health and Wellness Coordinator at the Pride Center of Vermont. A native Midwesterner, Reggie has lived in the Northeast Kingdom and Burlington for over a decade. Noting a general lack of visibility, Reggie began a podcast (“Brown ‘n Out”) highlighting LGBTQ people of color living in Vermont in 2018. Through his work at the Pride Center, Reggie aims to better serve the needs of all community members with special focus on these intersecting identities.

CENTER FACILITATORS, Interns, & Rockstars

Diana buchanan

SafeSpace Advocate

she/her/hers

DAVID FRYE

Prideability

he/him/his

Melanie Jannery

SafeSpace Advocate

they/them/theirs or she/her/hers

Jared K.

Development

he/him/his

rose martellaro

Disability Network Facilitator

she/her/hers

Anna Moore

SafeSpace

she/her/hers or they/them/theirs

paula otenti

Volunteer  & Momentum Program Coordinator

they/them/theirs

Willow Stein

SafeSpace Advocate

they/them/theirs

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

ERIN SUE carroll

Co-chair she/her/hers

Erin grew up in South Burlington and bought her own home there in 2011. She married her long-time partner, Nathalie in August of 2015. Nathalie is from Montreal so they spent the first two years of their marriage navigating the very complicated and time consuming immigration process. Their dream to share a home here in Vermont has finally come true. Erin and Nat share a love of animals and have many of them, all rescues. Their dog Puff was adopted from BETA (Beirut for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) in Lebanon. He is a special needs dog, missing his two back feet. They have also adopted from the Montreal SPCA and the Humane Society of Chittenden County. 

Erin graduated from Champlain College in 1999 and began a career in Wealth Management. At the same time she was starting her career, she began volunteering at the Women’s Rape Crisis Center (now H.O.P.E. Works). She was asked to join the WRCC/H.O.P.E. Works Board of Directors in 2005 and served as Board Chair from 2006-2012. She continued volunteering on the H.O.P.E. Works Development Committee until the summer of 2016 when presented with the opportunity to join the Board at the Pride Center of Vermont. As a former SafeSpace volunteer, she was familiar with PCVT and thrilled to get more involved.

 

KARA deleonardis kraus

Co-chair she/her/hers

Kara joined the board in Spring 2019 after a long history with this amazing organization. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in private practice in South Burlington, a queer mom of three awesome, teenage girls and two great dogs. The majority of her professional career has been in social work and social justice advocacy, specifically in the anti-violence field (domestic, sexual and hate violence), and with the LGBTQ community. She has also worked in non-profits serving the homeless, people with mental illness, youth of all identities, and people living with HIV/AIDS.

She had the honor of being the founding Executive Director of SafeSpace when it was a separate non-profit in 2000, and then helped merge SafeSpace with the Pride Center of Vermont (then RU12?) in 2006. As the Center’s Executive Director from 2006-2011, she learned how critically important our work is, how much support there is for our community, and also how many on-going needs LGBTQ community members have despite so much progress.

In this climate of increasing hate from the top down in our country over the last few years, our work is
needed more than ever, and she is proud to be a part of it. 

ARThur hull

Treasurer he/him/his

Art has a life long love of Vermont having annually visited family as a kid and having gone to college in VT. He and his partner, Wayne (a native Vermonter), met 25 years ago in Boston, first bought a home in Vermont’s Upper Valley about 20 years ago, and have been married for 10 years. Art works in banking with a focus on risk management within commercial lending.

“We moved to Burlington in 2013 and since then helped with the formation of the LGBTQIA Alliance of VT, volunteered at the Pride Center with Momentum, and volunteer/are on the steering committee for Out in the 802 often with a focus on getting various groups and organizations to come together given the belief that the combined forces of the community offer the ability to make new connections and ties, and ultimately helps make the community stronger.”

Art is honored to have joined the board of an organization that serves such a strong LGBTQI+ community. He recognizes our community is our strength, is built on the sacrifices and courage of many people over the years, and hopes to further build on that strength with the Pride Center for all the members of the LGBTQI+ community.

REX BUTT

Secretary he/him/his

The proud father of an trans daughter, Rex is an avid activist and ally. In addition to being the author of Now What? A Guidebook for Families with Transgender Children, Rex has been a long-time, passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community. Prior to moving to Vermont in 2016, Rex served on the Board of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Center and co-founded the Kingston, NY, PFLAG Chapter. He has presented workshops and trainings at conferences and organizations across the nation and has mentored hundreds of families with LGBTQ loved ones. At the Pride Center, Rex has been an integral volunteer, and through his work as facilitator for FPFATA (Families, Partners, Friends, and Allies of Trans Adults) he has assisted many individuals in learning to better support their transgender loved ones.  

Wendy beinner

she/her/hers

Wendy is a lesbian civil rights attorney and mom to two amazing teenage sons. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and English Literature from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Juris Doctorate from Boston University School of Law. She began her legal career as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, NY, specializing in domestic violence cases.  In 1992, after tiring of life as a NYC attorney (and coming out as a lesbian), Wendy discovered Vermont and moved to Burlington. She served as Executive Director of Women In Crisis in Bristol, Vermont, and was one of the founding members of the Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence.  She joined the original Right To Marry Taskforce and volunteered with the nascent Outright VT.

Wendy then returned to the practice of law, joining the Mental Health Law Project of VT Legal Aid, protecting the rights of individuals living with major mental illness.  This began her life’s work as a mental health civil rights attorney. For almost 2 decades, Wendy served as Chief Counsel to the VT Dept. of Mental Health, where her responsibilities included: supervision of DMH’s legal division, advocacy at the state and federal level, drafting and implementation of internal and statewide legislation and policy, advising the Vermont State Hospital and community mental health agencies, and working with numerous statewide committees tasked with improving Vermont’s mental health service delivery system. Wendy left DMH to head up the Vermont chapter of the National Alliance of Mental Illness VT (NAMI VT).  

It’s been a while since Wendy has been an active volunteer in the LGBTQ+ community.  She is thrilled to have the opportunity to join the Pride Center board at this critical point in the queer rights movement.  She’s looking forward to using her professional experience and skills to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ Vermonters. Wendy lives in South Burlington with her two teenage sons and a bunch of much-loved animals.

taylor evans

she/her/hers

Taylor moved to Vermont from California with her partner and two daughters in the spring of 2007 having worked for both an international outdoor clothing and equipment brand and on the financial services end of a major motorcycle company. Taylor is a Navy veteran and attended the University of Scranton majoring in Public Administration and Business. Taylor identifies as a transgender women, starting her journey to transition in June of 2017. Her involvement in the LGBTQI community and the Pride Center is driven by a passion to empower Trans and non-binary individuals and to support our community at large though empowerment workshops and by helping others to meet head on the challenges of transition in their community and workplace. Taylor currently works as a Senior Sales Manager in the business conference industry. She enjoys spending as much time as possible with her daughters and partner and is an avid traveler and outdoor adventurer.  

SARA B Johnson

she/her/hers

Sara Beth Johnson is a trans-woman and parent of three kids. She lives in Burlington, VT and has enjoyed time in Vermont for almost 30 years. Sara grew up in New Jersey and with a brother and sister and parents. Sara is the author of Becoming Beth, Stories from a Trans-Girl’s Journal. She is working on a new novel that is a sequel to Becoming Beth and is also working on a book about her life story. Her favorite place in Vermont is somewhere near the Lake Champlain.


Sara is a full-time information technology consultant, and an avid photographer, writer, baker, and student of psychology. Sara is working on completing her degrees and becoming a licensed therapist. She is currently enrolled at Northern Vermont University and is looking forward to a new career in mental health services. Sara has worked as a morning radio host and as a land surveyor. She has a personal website and is on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. 

vanessa "v" mazur

they/them/theirs

Vanessa “V” Mazur moved to Vermont in 2011 from Seattle, Washington, where they attended Cornish College of the Arts, receiving a Bachelor of Music Degree in 2007. V has been an active part of the theatre community in Burlington, performing with the Spielpalast Cabaret for 8 years, and also appearing in Neat With A Twist, and Girls Nite Out productions. Their true passion is comedy, writing, and cooking, and spends free time sharing this through their blog: sprinkleofsage.com, and sprinkleofsage Instagram posts to hopefully give the world a daily giggle. During the day V is an Ophthalmic Assistant, and by night enjoys quiet evenings with their wife, dog, and cat, or spending time with friends and family. V is delighted to be a part of Pride Center, and contributing to the LGBTQ community in whatever ways are most needed – being on the Board of Directors is a true honor. If you don’t know her already (and even if you do!) please don’t feel shy to start up conversation – V is super friendly, and loves making folks feel comfortable and listened to.

KEVIN Mcguire

he/him/his

Bio coming soon

christopher pepin-neff

he/him/his

Dr. Christopher L. Neff is an American teacher, research academic, writer, and commentator on a number of public policy issues. He received his PhD in Public Policy at the University of Sydney in 2014 and also holds a Masters Degree in Public Policy (’07) and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from James Madison University in Virginia (’99). His research looks at theories of the policy process through an analysis of emotional issues such as LGBTQ politics and the “politics of shark attacks.” Christopher’s most recent work has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Gender and Politics (2019), and he is the author (2019) of the book, “Flaws: Shark Bites and Emotional Public Policymaking.” 

corbett sionainn

she/her/hers

Corbett is married to the love of her life, Arlene. They have several fur babies, including 3 cats and 1 dog. Corbett and Arlene reside in Jeffersonville and would not give up small town living for anything.

Corbett grew up on a ranch in the Rocky Mountain West and received her MSW in Social Welfare Administration in Kansas. Corbett spent 10 years working with people with HIV and AIDS early in the AIDS epidemic, then came to Vermont in 1989 to continue that work. Corbett also worked for 7 years in minority health, which included working with communities of color and the LGBTQ community. She currently works in child protection.

Corbett believes Vermont’s LGBTQ community is a vibrant community and she is proud to be a part of it. She looks forward to serving Vermont’s LGBTQ community in her capacity as a board member for the Pride Center.

max titus

they/them/theirs

Max is a real, live, non-binary adult who lives and works in Waterbury, Vermont. They married their wife in 2009 and together they have two children. Max has over 10 years of experience working for and supporting non-profit organizations and professionally has worked in healthcare for over 15 years. They are passionate about amplifying diverse voices and advocating for underserved people and communities. 

 

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