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.
Colleen Dermody is a strategic communicator, a marketing solutions counselor and a social marketing expert. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Communication and a certification from the Search Engine Academy for search engine optimization strategy. Dermody has developed and implemented highly successful research, marketing and media initiatives for a long and varied list of corporate, non-profit and government clients including Aetna, the Michael D. Palm Center, Mautner Project, the National Lesbian Health Organization, the District of Columbia Department of Health, the New York LGBT Community Center, the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline, Sunrise Senior Living, DC Tobacco Free Families campaign, and a host of others. Additionally, she has taught professional writing and management at the Master’s level for American and Central Michigan Universities.
Her 25 years of marketing and public relations experience includes serving as Vice President at Witeck-Combs Communications the nation’s premier LGBT marketing communications firm, and as Communications Director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest, one of the highest profile health and nutrition advocacy organizations in the United States.
Colleen is also well known and respected for her years of work in women?s issues and progressive advocacy communications having held senior communications posts with the Feminist Majority Foundation, the National Organization for Women and the Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International.
Dermody is an accomplished forward-thinking leader with the demonstrated drive, imagination and interpersonal skills to launch strategic communications initiatives that deliver significant gains in profit, efficiency, prestige and competitive edge. She is a success-driven change agent credited with transforming outdated communications strategies into inclusive, flexible and potent marketing campaigns. Skilled in community outreach, business case development, advertising campaigns and budget analysis, negotiating, and cultivating relationships with diverse corporate, government, NGO, trade association, and media partners. Dermody is a gifted communicator capable of quickly building trust and cooperation among internal and external groups.
Dermody is a nationally recognized diversity expert for marketing outreach to diverse markets and employee recruitment and retention efforts. She has lead efforts to develop and implement national and international strategic communications programs resulting in increased awareness, visibility, sales and brand recognition. She has lead, advised, communicated, and collaborated across divisional/geographic boundaries on behalf of executives, opinion leaders, customers, scientists, business analysts, target audiences and media.
Dana Beyer, M.D., a retired eye surgeon, is a well-known advocate for health issues as well as gender rights. She practiced medicine and surgery in D.C., Miami, Mississippi, Africa and Asia. She is currently a candidate for Maryland State Delegate, having first run in 2006. She is Vice President of Equality Maryland, former Executive Vice President of Maryland NOW, founding member of the Progressive Working Group, Maryland?s newest progressive alliance, member of the Board of Governors of the Human Rights Campaign, and board member of Mobile Med. She recently co-authored The Dallas Principles. She is currently on leave as Senior Adviser to Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg of the Montgomery County Council, to run her campaign. She lives with her two sons in Chevy Chase.
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.
Wesley Combs is a senior manager and Global Co-Lead for the Inclusion & Diversity Competency offering within the Accenture Talent & Organization management consulting practice. Wes has more than twenty-four years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies to understand how diverse segments of the population impact their organizations, helping them to holistically integrate cultural competency into their DNA. The results have helped differentiate his clients from their competitive set.
Prior to joining Accenture, for the past 18 years Wes had been the President and Co-Founder of Witeck-Combs Communications, the nation’s premier public relations and marketing communications consulting firm specializing in how inclusion and diversity is an accelerator when integrated into business strategies.
Wes is one of the nation?s leading subject matter experts on LGBT issues facing corporations, non-profits and government agencies. He pioneered development of market research tools with the global firm Harris Interactive that have become the leading source of LGBT segment data. Together with his business partner Bob Witeck, Combs wrote the first business book on marketing to the LGBT market entitled
Antonio Pineda is a case manager at Andromeda Health Clinic in northwestern Washington, D.C., where he specializes in helping clients who are living with HIV/AIDS. He is originally from El Salvador and has lived in Washington since 2001. In 2007, he was named the LGBT activist of the year by the Embassy of El Salvador.
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.
Brian Watson resides and works in Washington, D.C.’s Deanwood section of Ward 7. Since relocating to D.C. Brian has been a vocal and visible activist in the areas of social justice, youth, LGBT issues, and HIV/AIDS for nearly a decade. Brian is former Secretary and President of the D.C. Coalition of Black Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Men and Women, the oldest Black GLBT group in the United States. Brian presently serves as Director of Programs at Transgender Health Empowerment, Inc in Washington, D.C. where has been employed for the last 6 years. In September 2008 he started the Wanda Alston House the 1st and only GLBTQ youth homeless transitional program in the DC, MD, VA area. He has worked with various target populations on various topics such including religion, sexual minority youth, HIV positive individuals, foster children, recently incarcerated, substance abuse users, transgenders and transgender youth. Brian has been a trainer educating homeless programs, police officers, foster care agencies, and department of corrections on working with GLBT individuals and cultural competency. He has experience working in health education, HIV and HEP C counseling, testing and referral, case management, cancer in African Americans, housing coordination, and conducting formative research. Brian was appointed by Mayor Anthony Williams and Mayor Adrian Fenty to sit on boards such as the Regional Health Services HIV/AIDS Planning Council, LGBT Executive Advisory Board, and by Mayor Vincent Gray to sit on the Interagency Council on Homelessness. He is also a member of the DC HIV Planning Group and Metropolitan DC Police Critical Incidents Team. Brian is frequently called on to travel across the United States to speak on HIV/AIDS in youth, the African American GLBT community, and the black church. Brian was named a Capital Pride Hero in 2007, and received a Distinguished Service Award from GLAA in 2008 as well as American Red Cross volunteer of the year award. Has been featured in such publications as the Metro Weekly, Washington Blade, Black Pride Guide, Washington Post, and GayAgenda.com. He has appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, WPFW?s ?Inside Out? radio show, Fox 5 Morning News and In the Life. He is also a contributing writer for SWERV Magazine.
Sean Bugg is co-publisher and editorial director of Metro Weekly, Washington, D.C.’s gay and lesbian news magazine. A founding writer for the 14-year-old publication, Bugg took the editorial helm in 2000. During his tenure, Metro Weekly has grown into a major voice for the LGBT community, winning numerous awards for writing, design and community service. In addition to his journalism career, Bugg has worked in social marketing and HIV prevention programs for the Whitman-Walker Clinic and the National Alliance of State & Territorial AIDS Directors. A member of the D.C. chapter of the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, Bugg received his journalism degree in 1989 from Washington & Lee University in Virginia.
I have been a fierce advocate for social justice and civil liberties issues for 5 very creative years. A sample of issues I have organized around include the reproductive health needs of queer women, sexuality within disabled communities and queer people of color politics. I am a co-founder of American University’s Students for Choice and have served as Treasurer for our queer group Queers & Allies.