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Thank you to our Sponsors

Presenting:

Advocate:

Champion:

Partner:

Cultivator:

Sustainer:

Builder:

Thank you to our Esteemed Host Committee

Anita Adams+  

James Anderson & David Wittkowsky+

Herbert Asher+

Susan Becker & Sue Ziegler+

William & Jessica Christ+

Dabney Conwell* & Deirdre Jones+

Chad Eggspuehler

Amanda* & Bryan Everitt

Melanie K. Falls & Tina Posey

Paul Feeney & Chad Braun+

Eileen Galvin*

Ben Garcia* & Scott Fabianek+

Lynn Greer & Stevie Walton+

Thomas Grote & Rick Neal+

Gregg Levine & Howard Epstein+

Richard E. Lorentz

Holley Fowler Martens & Robert Martens+

Joe & Nathan Matuszewski+

Melissa* & Mikael McLaren

Brett Meyer+

Brad Myers & Steve Rowlands+

John Nosek & Leon Stevens+

Jim Obergefell+

Lynn L. Readey* & Sandra Anderson+

Robin Richmond+

Giles Roblyer+

Kellie Rubesne & Ann Zofchak+

Bethany Sanders*

Timothy Schmidt & Lauren Mastin

Barb Schwan & Alise Excell

Amy Smart & Barbara Long+

Gretchen Snediker & Scott Jackson+

Levent* & Tara Talgar

Scott Thacker & Keeman Wong+

Brooke & Natalie Thomas

Michelle Tomallo

Sandy & Eric Varndell

Joseph Edward Wenger IV* & Walker Evans

Chad Williams* & Kerby Ollendieck+

Michael Wojtanowski, MD & Matthew Arnold+

*denotes Board Member

+denotes Obergefell & Arthur Society Members

Alphabetical edited listing as of Monday 10/2/23 at 3:45pm

Thank you to the Equality Ohio and Equality Ohio Education Fund Staff and Interns

listing as of Monday 10/2/23 at 3:45 pm

Katie Belanger (she/her/hers) serves as Co-Interim Executive Director at Equality Ohio, supporting the organization and team during its 2024 leadership transition. Katie owns and operates Katie B. Strategies, LLC, an openly queer woman-owned consulting business with a strong commitment to equity and representation and a mission to bring individuals and teams together to design actionable change and make that dream a reality. 

Throughout her 20+ years of social justice and political work, Katie has worked with nonprofits and for-profits, boards and staff teams, and coalitions and campaigns to align around a shared mission, build robust implementation plans, engage and develop leaders, and deliver real successes to the communities they serve. Highlights from her work include serving as the executive leadership for multiple national and state-based non-profits; developing a network of statewide, cross-movement coalitions working to counter the abuse of state preemption and strengthen local democracy; developing and refining strategic plans for national and state voting rights, LGBTQ+ equality organizations, and more; securing groundbreaking legal protections for same-sex couples and transgender individuals in her home state of Wisconsin; and, successfully fundraising for multi-million dollar grassroots campaigns and political candidates. Katie is excited to bring her expertise to Equality Ohio. 

Maya Simek, ESQ, LISW-S, MSSA, serves as the Co-Legal Director at Equality Ohio, where she developed, launched (2019), and is now supervising a state-wide legal clinic for the lesbian gay bisexual transgender queer (LGBTQ+) community.  Ms. Simek further serves as a Clinical Law Professor/Director of Case Western Reserve School of Law’s Human Trafficking Law Project. She focuses her practice on the interdisciplinary issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community and human trafficking survivors, community lawyering, and the intersections between law and social work. Ms. Simek earned her J.D.  from Cleveland State University College of Law, her M.S.S.A from Case Western Reserve’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, her B.S. from John Carroll University, and is a proud graduate of the Gestalt Training Program (GTP) at the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland (GIC). In addition, she is an Ohio Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervision designation (LISW-S).
 

Maria Bruno, Esq., is a lifelong Ohioan and has been a community advocate for more than a decade. She has worked on a variety of public policy and civic engagement initiatives related to civil rights, economic justice, criminal justice, housing access, and voting. Maria joined Equality Ohio, an education and advocacy organization dedicated to pursuing lived and legal equality for LGBTQ+ Ohioans, in August 2021. Maria directs Equality Ohio's legislative strategy and engagement for state, local, and federal public policy.

Sarah Hastings (she/her/hers) serves as the Director of Development at Equality Ohio. She received her BA in Political Science and English from Kent State University, her MA in English Literature from Cleveland State University, and all of her practical knowledge from working at a plethora of incredible nonprofits throughout her career.

MD Sitzes (p. they/she) is an accomplished Communications Manager, dedicated to driving the mission of Equality Ohio through strategic communication initiatives. With a proven track record, MD excels in shaping and disseminating compelling narratives that raise awareness, foster inclusivity, and promote positive change. In this pivotal role, MD oversees comprehensive communication strategies, managing press relations, social media campaigns, and content creation to ensure consistent messaging aligned with organizational goals. Their adept handling of LGBTQ+ issues contributes to public discourse and policy advocacy, while their commitment to diversity and inclusion fosters a positive public image for the organization. MD is a key player in galvanizing Equality Ohio's voice and advancing its mission in the dynamic landscape of LGBTQ+ rights.

(Note: "p." in the parentheses indicates pronouns.)

Jen Scott (she/her/hers) is a native Ohioan from Forest Park, Ohio. She attended Northwestern University earning a degree in Chemistry.  After returning to Ohio, she embarked on a successful career in information technology and established her own consulting firm. In 2015, she began another path in life, that of a community organizer and grassroots activist. She became very involved with the atheist and secular movement, driven by a passion for separation of religion and government. She believes strongly that an individual’s right to religious freedom should not infringe on the rights of others. In 2016, she co-organized a campaign which drew international attention to raise awareness of the anti-LGBTQ hiring practices of a tourist attraction in Williamstown, Kentucky. In 2018, she was recognized as Activist of the Year at the national convention for American Atheists, and now serves on the Chair for the Board of directors.
She also serves on the board of Cincinnati Pride as the Director of Compliance and Parade Chair and as Vice President for the Community Shares of Greater Cincinnati.  She also expresses her love of science by running Science on Tap, a science education program. Through her volunteer roles, Jen learned how to use personal passion to empower a community to make a real difference in the lives of others.  She brought this passion to Equality Ohio when she joined the team in 2019 to establish and expand our work in the southwest Ohio region and now works statewide.
Jen also serves as the acting Steward for the Equality Ohio Workers United Union.

Joseph Ze Soza (he/him/el) is an activist, creator, and community organizer with an
intersectional vision for social change.

He is incredibly passionate about the lived equity of other LGBTQ+ Latin(e) individuals. He brings this passion to his current Central Ohio Regional Organizer role with Equality Ohio. Joseph graduated from Malone University, studying history, global-international studies, and sociology. Additionally, he studied Mandarin and Chinese cultural history at the Dalian University of
Foreign Languages, where he also taught the English language.

Joseph has experience with the Ohio Legislative Service Commission Fellowship program. He
worked for Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko and later for Senator Teresa Fedor,
where he served as her legislative aide.

He is an alumnus and current Board Member of the Columbus New Leaders Council. Additionally, he serves as a board member for the Ohio League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and Avanzamos Unidos, a branch of the Young Latino Network.

In his own time, Joseph enjoys writing, cooking, and participating in creative projects, including a feature in Carlos Motta’s multichannel sound installation, The Columbus Assembly, which a Wexner Center Artist Residency Award supported. He is also a student of Capoeira.

Madelyn Smith (she/her) joined Equality Ohio in 2023 as the Northeast Ohio Organizer. Originally from Parma Ohio, she studied Religion and Classics at Hope College where she developed passions for LGBTQ+ and interfaith advocacy. She has years of experience working with religious as well as non-religious organizations doing outreach to LGBTQ+ people of faith, and is passionate about building community in Northeast Ohio and connecting more people in all parts of the region to the services, resources, and connections they need.

Kieran Robertson (they/them) joined Equality Ohio in March 2022. Originally from Cleveland, Ohio, Kieran came to Columbus to study at The Ohio State University. Here they earned a Master's Degree in Public History in 2015. Prior to joining the Equality Ohio team, Kieran was a Curator at the Ohio History Connection, where they managed the LGBTQ+ archival collection. They are excited to continue in the legacy of the many LGBTQ+ advocates that they have encountered in the archives!

Jessi Sadaka (they/them) joined the Equality Ohio team in September 2023 as Finance Administration Assistant. They are excited to provide financial support for organized advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights, equality, and belonging, by bringing to bear their expertise from the retail banking world and from prior non-profit accounting experience. Jessi received their BA from The College of Wooster.

Em Pate (they/them) is the Southwest Ohio Attorney for the Equality Ohio Legal Clinic. While in law school, Em interned with the Legal Clinic in 2021 and continued to work as a post-graduate fellow for the clinic until they were hired as the Southwest Ohio Attorney in 2023. As a young attorney, their areas of practice continue to grow with the guidance of the other attorneys in the clinic. Particularly close to their heart, though, is the ability to help provide legal name changes for trans Ohioans. Being able to help individuals live their lives and be addressed by the name that reflects them best is a particularly rewarding part of Em’s work with the clinic.

Justin Joseph (he/him) joined Equality Ohio as Northeast Ohio Staff Attorney in 2023. Now based in Cleveland, he honed his legal skills by practicing family law in Illinois after obtaining his J.D. and passing the Illinois bar in 2014. Justin's commitment to social causes is evident through his volunteer work in criminal expungements and homeless outreach. He also assists migrant families in navigating the complexities of the immigration system. As he combines his legal acumen with his values, Justin remains poised to shape a brighter future for LGBTQ+ Ohioans.

Kate Mozynski (they/them) is an attorney in the Equality Ohio Legal Clinic. They are a Dallas native but have made Ohio a second home. Kate attended the College of Wooster, where they earned a degree in International Relations, and they are a graduate from Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

Kate is an experienced litigation attorney and has frequently represented clients in discrimination cases, complex family law issues, and in numerous other case types. Kate is a passionate advocate for members of the LGBTQ+ community and is dedicated to working to extend access to justice to queer individuals across Ohio. 
 
Kate was recently named as one of the National LBGTQ+ Bar Association's 40 Best Attorneys Under 40. They are a proud member of the LGBTQ+ Bar and National Center for Lesbian Rights' Family Law Institute. Kate is a frequent presenter to legal professionals both in Ohio and nationally. They focus primarily on teaching attorneys professional skills for culturally humble, ethical, and trauma-informed representation of LGBTQ+ clients.
 
When they are not at work, Kate coaches high school policy debate—and is devoted to helping make Ohio debate a supportive educational environment for LGBTQ+ students. They are also an avid organic gardener, environmentalist, and devoted cat parent. Kate is based in the Cleveland office.

LeeAnn Massucci, Esq. (she/her) is Senior Staff Attorney with Equality Ohio's Legal Clinic. She has passionately represented LGBTQ+ families for nearly two decades. Prior to practicing law, LeeAnn was the Head Women’s Tennis Coach at The OhioState University. LeeAnn has been an Adjunct Professor at Capital University Law School, and is a past President of the Capital Law School Alumni Association Board. She currently serves on Capital Law School’s Board of Counselors. 

LeeAnn is dedicated to serving our legal community; she served two terms on the Columbus Bar Association Board of Governors, having served as the Chairperson of the Family Law Committee. She is a founding member of the United Way of Central Ohio Women’s Leadership Council and PRIDE Council as well as The Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation. 

Ms. Massucci received her Masters of Education degree from The Ohio State University, and her law degree from Capital University Law School. She received recognition as a National Pro Bono Advocate Honoree from LAMBDA Legal in 2008, and was named an Ohio Super Lawyer from 2014-2019 and was honored with the designation “Top 25 Women Lawyer in Columbus” by Ohio Super Lawyers.

Sol A. Kersey, MA, JD (they/them/theirs) is Equality Ohio Legal Clinic’s Legal Specialist. Sol’s areas of focus include negotiation/mediation, family law, and the intersection of theory & praxis, with a particular emphasis on Critical Race Theory, Black Feminist Theory, and Modern Feminism/Social Justice. Before joining Equality Ohio Legal Clinic, Sol served as a Legal Fellow at the African American Policy Forum, working under Kimberlé Crenshaw. Sol has served as Visiting Faculty at Miami University, teaching Introduction to Women’s & Gender Studies and Introduction to Critical Race & Ethnic Studies. They live in Cincinnati, with their husband and two cats.

Becky Sullivan (she/her) is a legal intern from Cleveland, Ohio. She obtained her BA in English and Political Science from Cleveland State University in 2020. Currently, she remains at Cleveland State where she is pursuing her J.D. from CM Law. Becky is committed to using her law degree for the benefit of the community. She hopes to use her legal skills to increase access and transparency in the law. When she isn't studying, Becky spends her time with friends and family, cooking, and enjoying a good sunset. Becky is excited to spend her summer working alongside LGBTQ+ advocates and continue the values she learns at Equality Ohio throughout her legal career.

Leslie Johns, Esq. (she/her)  is the Intake Specialist in the Equality Ohio Legal Clinic. In addition to her role as Intake Specialist, Leslie is a criminal defense attorney and a Magistrate at Shaker Heights Municipal Court. Leslie was born and raised in Shaker Heights, Ohio and now resides just down the road in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Leslie attended Bowling Green State University, where she earned her degree in Criminal Justice in 2011. Leslie returned to Cleveland after completing her undergraduate degree and attended Cleveland State University’s Cleveland Marshall College of Law where she graduated in 2014. When Leslie is not working and serving on boards and committees, she is soaking up precious time with her family and friends.

kim@equalityohio.org

Kim Welter (she/her/hers) is CEO of KLW Consulting, LLC which supports LGBTQ and affiliated advocacy organizations with policy expertise. Her primary client is Equality Ohio where she holds the responsibilities of Director of Finance and Special Projects after previously serving as Deputy Director and Director of Programs and Outreach while on staff. She also briefly served as interim Executive Director; with over fifteen years of experience with the organization, she is Equality Ohio’s most seasoned consultant. She joined the organization as staff in 2008 after serving as the Executive Director of Equality Toledo for over 2 years.

A graduate of University of Michigan, she got her secondary teaching certificate through the University of Findlay and her Master of Arts and Education from the University of Toledo where she taught composition for 3 years. Kim is a 2009/2010 graduate of the Center for Progressive Leadership. In 2010, Kim took a leave of absence from Equality Ohio to serve as Campaign Manager for the ONE Bowling Green Campaign in Bowling Green, Ohio which successfully defended two local non-discrimination ordinances from a ballot initiative to repeal.  In 2019, Kim completed her Capstone Project to earn a Certificate in LGBTQ Juvenile Justice as a fellow with the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform out of Georgetown University.

 

mary@equalityohio.org

Mary Zaller (she/her/hers) joined Equality Ohio in November of 2014. For the previous 3 years she was the Director of Development for the ninth quadrennial international Gay Games, which were held in Cleveland and Akron in August, 2014. She oversaw all fundraising for Gay Games 9, which were the first Gay Games in history to finish in the black and with a surplus.

Mary has worked in the LGBTQ Community in Cleveland since 2003, and is a strong advocate for social justice and systemic change. Previously she worked in the broadcast special effects industry in Europe and Los Angeles. Mary is a Cleveland native and resides in Ohio City.