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Gio Santiago

gio@equalityohio.org Giovonni Santiago (he/him/his) is a Northeast Ohio native, transgender advocate, military veteran and founder of META Center Inc, a non-profit dedicated to educating, motivating and inspiring transgender youth in need of resources and support. With a certification in Coaching and Mentoring, Santiago’s educational background aligns with his passion of empowering LGBTQ individuals and creating broader social change.  He also recently completed a degree in Public Administration from Lorain County Community College.

Santiago served in the US Air Force from 2006 to 2010 before a back injury forced him to return to civilian life. Upon his return to Northeast Ohio, Santiago received his degree in early childhood education and began teaching preschool. In 2013, Santiago started his transition at Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As his doctor’s first transgender patient, they both recognized a lack of resources and worked together to create the G.I.V.E Clinic. When the clinic opened in 2015, it became the first transgender-specific clinic in the country.

Santiago is a trusted voice in the LGBTQ+ community facilitating workshops  across the country at respected institutions including The Nature Conservancy, The Cleveland Clinic, The Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, Kent State University and more.  In 2018, Cleveland Magazine named Santiago one of their Most Interesting People and NBC Out’s honored him on their #Pride30 list celebrating LGBTQ individuals making an impact across the country in that same year. A true Jack-of-All-Trades, Giovonni also walked the runway during New York Fashion Week for dapperQ showing there’s no limit to his ability to make an impact just by being his authentic self.

As the Northeast Organizer, he will continue the progress being made on policies that ensure the safety and equality of all, strengthen coalitions, and assist in the facilitation and education of LGBTQ community members and allies toward full equality.