Speakers Bureau

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As an active athlete in the international wrestling community and Group leader for Rainbow youth alliance Akil is unlike many of his counter parts. His focus in life is making a change in the way LGBT youth are seen and the life that athletes are sometimes seen to be forced into to make. Akil works as a youth advocate when he is not on the wrestling mats trainning for the Olympics.

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Dr. Jane Rigby is an astrophysicist in the DC area, who regularly uses the Hubble space telescope and observatories in Hawaii, Arizona, and South America. She studies black holes in the hearts of galaxies, as well as galaxies that are rapidly forming new stars. As a queer woman in science, Dr. Rigby has a unique perspective on how science works, how it fails, how barriers have fallen for women and gay people in science, and the obstacles that remain. She regularly speaks to youth groups, and encourages young people from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in science and technology

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Laya Monarez is a transgender bisexual latinx artist, musician and transgender activist.  She studied art at the George Washington Corcoran School of Art and Design where she received her BFA in Fine Art focusing on Painting and Sculpture.  Laya has had many art shows through the DMV area and has worked on several murals as well.  Her artwork is inspired by science, surrealism and social justice movements.  Here activism is rooted in her need to uplift transgender people and educate the public on transgender issues.

Laya’s LGBTQ Activism started with her volunteer work with the DC Trans Coalition where she  helped to train police on Trans sensitivity.  While working with the Human Rights Campaign on their membership and operation teams Laya trained new employees on Transgender issues.  Laya has also given presentations at the bisexual Because Conference in Minneapolis, the Capital Building, Princeton University and the White House Among others.  One of her proudest moments is helping to introduce a bill to decrminalize sex work in Washington DC.  A bill she thinks will especially help keep black and brown transgender sex workers safe and healthy.

Please send her an email if you’d like to invite her to speak at your event or train your team on transgender and gender issues.  You can also view her artwork at layamonarez.com

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A Veteran who transition while on active duty, a Friend of our communities, and Advocate for LGBT+ Rights.

Mia Mason has successfully served for twenty years with the United States Navy, the United States Army, and the District of Columbia National Guard.

Throughout her career, she has served onboard USS Kitty-Hawk CV-63 for Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom for three tours of duty. She also served onboard USS Bataan LHD-5 for aid in efforts of Hurricane Katrina. Her previous units included AIMD Oceana and Mid Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center (MARMC) Calibration Center. Her daily skills of responsibilities included testing, troubleshooting, 3M repair, calibration and preventive maintenance for Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) equipment that is used with any aircraft to include the Consolidated Automated Support Systems (CASS) variants. Overall, she completed three years of oversea duty and sea duty. Her efforts awarded her the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (NAM), Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Arrowhead Device and Humanitarian Medal for her efforts.

Thus, with her broad skill set, she quickly adopted various technical expert jobs within the Army as Company Intelligence Analyst for counterinsurgency or counterinsurgency (COIN) Operations. Therefore, during mid-deployment, she focused her role toward Fire Command Controls to assist in aid of countering any Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) Emplacements with Area of Operations. With this success, she became employed as the Battalion Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO/EW) to provide Joint Tactical Operations Command training, Expert Infantry Badge (EIB) Training, and EW protection to counter against Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Devices (RCIEDs). During her two deployments to Afghanistan, SGT Mason received the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB), several Army Achievement Medals and Army Commendations, while protecting and aiding Commands with Afghan-partnerships against any IED threats.

Upon return home from deployment and discharge, she became a Contractor for the United States Coast Guard. There she served as Item Manager and Equipment Specialist to oversee and manage any C4ISR equipment to include induction, replacement, procurement, and budgeting for Long Range Enforcers.

SGT Mason joined the District of Columbia National Guard in 2013 and served as Calibration Technician with the 104th Maintenance Company before she transferred to the 352nd JAG Team Support and later to the National Guard Bureau, Legal Support Office to head up international operations.

Mia has previously run for Public Office in Maryland and supports Women rights, Poly-relationships, and anyone with disabilities.

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Alexandra is a Policy Advocate at Protect Democracy, where she leads the National Election Advocacy Team and coordinates the activities of the National Task Force on Election Crises, a cross-ideological group of over 50 civil society leaders who worked to ensure free and fair elections in 2020 and 2022, and now seek to prevent election crises in 2024 and beyond. Previously, Alexandra was a career national security professional for 13 years. Inspired by living in NYC as a law student through the 9/11 attacks, Alexandra started her career as an intelligence analyst in 2004. In 2006 she was the first employee ever to complete a gender transition while working at the Office of Naval Intelligence. She ultimately led the Intelligence Community analytic effort to disrupt the proliferation of WMD by sea, and supported many successful U.S. policy initiatives while working at ONI and at the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. After leaving government in 2017, Alexandra was the first openly transgender candidate to run for Congress from Massachusetts.

Alexandra enjoys providing her perspective on leadership and communication as a transgender woman, mentoring younger LGBT and national security audiences, and discussing the stakes of the U.S. and global effort against authoritarianism. She has presented on leadership, career development, LGBT and transgender issues for private corporate clients as well as the Out and Equal Executive Leadership Forum, Leadership Summit For Women in National Security, the Rainbow Families conference, Columbia University SIPA, Rutgers University, Yale University, and Capital Trans Pride.

Alexandra is a board member of GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council, and previously served on the board of Whitman Walker Health and the Steering Committee of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition. Alexandra was named by Out in National Security and New America as an Out Leader in 2021, and her writings have been published in the Washington Post, The Hill, the Yale Journal of International Affairs, and the Boston Globe. Alexandra is a graduate of Brown University with an A.B. inInternational Relations, and received her law degree from Brooklyn Law School.

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Star Peterson (ze/zir) is a non-binary, pansexual diversity trainer who is multiply neurodivergent. Star is passionate about helping healthcare workers, mental health professionals, and allies be more welcoming to the LGBTQIA+ and neurodivergent communities. Star gives talks on pronouns, gender-neutral language, avoiding microaggressions, and unpacking cishet privilege.

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Elise Roy lost her hearing at the age of 10 and doctors have never been able to explain why. Determined to continue to live the normal life that she had already begun, she refused to lower herself to the new sub-par standards that society began placing on her. Teaching herself using only her textbooks, Elise was accepted to Brown University. While at Brown, she was recognized as one of the nation’s elite athletes. At 24 she became one of just 44 deaf lawyers in the United States. At 25 she became an advocate working at the United Nations, where she helped to author the first international Human Rights treaty of the 21st century. Since then, she has traveled the world working with diverse groups, speaking, motivating, and advocating on their behalf. She has had her personal essays published in Curve magazine, in Eyes of Desire 2: a Deaf GLBT Reader, and has spoken at Pride events.

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Marke Meinke is founder and chair of Rainbow History Project, which works to collect, preserve, and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts, and culture relevant to sexually diverse communities in metropolitan Washington DC. Mark Meinke speaks to the history, issues, and evolution of metropolitan Washington’s LGBTQ community.

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Michael Scott is a long-time resident of Washington, DC with significant professional experience in the areas of banking regulation and banking and housing policy issues. Mr. Scott was up until May of 2010 serving as a Senior Financial Analyst at the Treasury Department.

He lost that job as the result of the legal consequences of drug addiction issues, specifically crystal methamphetamine. As such, he would like to share his experiences and insights on the power and perils of drug use and abuse and provide cautionary insights on the potential impact of drug abuse on your career and life.

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Dr. Chloe Schwenke is a Quaker human rights activist, development practitioner and academic with over three decades of international experience, nearly half of it while living in developing countries. She has worked in a senior capacity with some of the leading American development organizations, and as an independent consultant, on projects of USAID, the US State Department, the World Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. Her scholarly interests include human rights and human dignity, LGBTI issues, gender equality & female empowerment, and leadership ethics.

Chloe is also openly transsexual, and works closely with transgender activists around the world. She currently is a member of the adjunct faculty at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, and also undertakes a variety of consulting assignments in international development and human rights. In prior employment, she served as vice president for global programs at Freedom House in Washington, D.C. and earlier still as a political appointee for the Obama Administration at the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Chloe received her Ph.D. in public policy at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland at College Park, where she was chosen as Alumnus of the Year for 2013. She was also a recipient of theNational Center for Transgender Equality?s National Public Service Award in 2013. She is the parent of two children.

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