If you’d like to contact the board, you can reach them at CenterBoard@lgbtqcenter.org

James Walker (he/him)

Interim Co-President

James Walker, Jr. is a Vice President, Portfolio Manager Director, Senior Investment Management Counselor, Financial Advisor and partner of The Walker/Gaffney Group with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

James Walker, Jr. is a Vice President, Portfolio Manager Director, Senior Investment Management Counselor, Financial Advisor and partner of The Walker/Gaffney Group with Morgan Stanley Wealth Management.

He attended Clark College in Atlanta, and began his career in the financial services industry in 1982 with Goldman Sachs working in their Wall Street headquarters.

In 1983 James joined Merrill Lynch, and had various responsibilities with the firm over his 26 year career.  He was head of Operations in their White Plains office prior to transferring to the Poughkeepsie, NY office as a Financial Advisor.  James was the Sales Manager of the Greater New York Complex of offices for nine years.  He served as a mentor to the Merrill Lynch trainees, and gave motivational lectures at Merrill Lynch’s Princeton Headquarters on successful business development to the up and coming Financial Advisors.

James has been actively involved in the community. He has served in various volunteer roles with the United Way of Dutchess County’s Board of Directors, Catherine Street Community Center, The Poughkeepsie Journal, The City of Poughkeepsie Schools Youth Outreach, and Project Thunder.  In 2008 he was honored with the Merrill Lynch Diversity Award for outstanding stewardship in the community and the financial industry.

In April of 2009, James joined Morgan Stanley where he continues to serve his clients and the community. James lives with his wife and children in Dutchess County, NY

Phoenix Kawamoto (they/them)

Interim Co-President

Phoenix has spent their career focusing on diversity and building community collaboration to enhance and support empowerment, mental health, recovery from addiction, and well-being.  They are a powerful advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and bring a new vision and direction to the position.

Phoenix has spent their career focusing on diversity and building community collaboration to enhance and support empowerment, mental health, recovery from addiction, and well-being.  They are a powerful advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and bring a new vision and direction to the position.

Tamara Ehlin (she/her)

Vice President

Tamara brings 15 years of diverse development and special event experience to the LGBTQ  Center board.  In addition to being well versed in all aspects of fundraising, she is an inspired and passionate event expert who has brought to life and grown numerous galas, conferences, and other memorable events.

Tamara brings 15 years of diverse development and special event experience to the LGBTQ  Center board.  In addition to being well versed in all aspects of fundraising, she is an inspired and passionate event expert who has brought to life and grown numerous galas, conferences, and other memorable events.

She is the owner and serves as head innkeeper and chef at The Forsyth B&B in Kingston.  In addition, Tamara is a consultant with Growth for Good which provides strategic planning, fundraising, government relations, marketing and communications expertise to nonprofit organizations.

Tamara has served as Director of Development, Director of Major Gifts and Special Events Director at NYC nonprofits including The American Cancer Society, Mount Sinai, and Partnership with Children.

Prior to working in the not for profit sector, she was Senior Vice President at The Equity Group Inc., an investor relations and financial public relations firm in New York City.  She holds a BA in English and Communications from Rutgers University, a Grand Diplome from the French Culinary Institute, and was a United Way Fellow.

A lover of historic house renovation, Tamara owns the two-hundred year old Forsyth B&B in Kingston, NY and a (relatively) new 1908 home in Brooklyn.

Orlando Reece (he/him)

Secretary

As Ex-Chief Executive Officer for Pride Media, Orlando Reece was the steward of the world’s largest media company dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community.

As Ex-Chief Executive Officer for Pride Media, Orlando Reece was the steward of the world’s largest media company dedicated to serving the LGBTQ+ community. He was responsible for expanding brands like The Advocate and Out beyond their print titles into digital , social and events while maximizing revenue growth across all of the company’s businesses units. His strategic vision for the company focused on three pillars: great creative content, innovative use of technology and expanding the brands to a larger audience with a “queer” lens. Prior to taking on the CEO role, he served as the Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer growing revenue over 26%.

Before joining Pride Media Orlando was a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer of Swoup, a fast-growing shopping and saving mobile app. He played a key role in growing the app’s user base and developing the state-of-the-art app, which allows consumers to save money on everyday purchases and repurpose the saved money for higher education expenses, charitable donations, savings and retirement.

Throughout his career, Orlando has developed a reputation for transforming and disrupting business models at major media and entertainment companies, with a proven history of success in corporate growth, revenue maximization, strategic planning and cross-media sales and marketing.

From 2013-17 Orlando was Vice President of Advertising for the Game Show Network, where he oversaw all aspects of sales and marketing for the cable television and digital games divisions and was responsible for annual advertising revenue and management for the sales teams. He played a key role in increasing revenue for the cable division by 31% and the games division by 18% in 2016 while championing GSN’s visibility among clients and advertising agencies.

Before, Orlando served as Vice President, Head of Broadcast and Digital Video for Everyday Health Inc. He created new revenue streams and achieved revenue growth by successfully launching Everyday Health into the video/broadcast arena. Orlando also worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, where he was Senior Vice President of Broadcast and Radio. Orlando was responsible for the sales, marketing and branded entertainment programs for the MSLO Broadcast properties and developed a new pricing, planning and revenue control model to maximize sales inventory.

Earlier in his career Orlando was Executive Director, Sales and Marketing Strategy at Yahoo!, where he increased sales and revenue growth by implementing new strategies for the sales teams. In addition, Orlando was Vice President of Disney ABC Unlimited, a new division he spearheaded that drove incremental media and marketing resources across television, radio, print, digital, studio and theme parks. Prior he worked at MTV Networks/Viacom, International Communications Group and NBC as a page.

Orlando is an active member of the New York Advertising community. In 2007 he was the first recipient of the Innovator Award by AdColor, the premier organization that celebrates and advocates for diversity in the creative and technology industries. Orlando also serves on the Board of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.

Orlando graduated from the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia and lives in New York City with his husband.

Ginny Apuzzo (she/her)

Founding President, Permanent Member of the Board

Ginny Apuzzo is a native New Yorker whose professional political experience and decades of activism for LGBT causes made her the ideal founding leader for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center….

Ginny Apuzzo is a native New Yorker whose professional political experience and decades of activism for LGBT causes made her the ideal founding leader for the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center. Her experience includes executive service in New York City, New York state and Federal government roles, as well as in the White House itself. Ginny became the first openly gay person to be confirmed by the New York State Senate as a Commissioner. During her tenure in Washington, she was appointed Assistant to the President of the United States, and became the highest-ranking openly gay person ever to serve at the White House.

Ginny has over 35 years’ experience and activism in the LGBTQ community. She served as first Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and as a founding member of numerous national and local LGBTQ organizations, including the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan. She is a graduate of the College of New Paltz, State University of New York (B.S. in Urban Education); and has advanced education toward her doctorate in Urban Education at Fordham University in New York. She has also been awarded an Honorary Doctor of Law from Queens College of the City University of New York.

During Ginny’s five-year tenure as Board President, the Center achieved non-profit status, purchased and opened its Uptown Kingston headquarters, and hired its first staff. In 2011, Ginny was named Founding President of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center, an office which ensures her a permanent seat, with vote, on the Board. She also currently serves as co-chair for the Membership Committee.

Barbara Hill (she/her)

Barbara Hill is one of the founders of the Center and has been volunteered in various capacities over the past 15 years.

Barbara Hill is one of the founders of the Center and has been volunteered in various capacities over the past 15 years.  She was recently hired to be the Senior Director of Innovation for CBHS IPA (Coordinated Behavioral Health Services) which consists of 30 behavioral health partners in the Hudson Valley. Barbara has over 40 years of experience in the field of health and behavioral health care administration, strategy, performance improvement and policy.  Barbara has provided financial, operational and strategic advisement and programmatic assistance to over 40 health, behavioral health organizations, unions, HIV organizations (including clinics, hospitals, community based organizations) both on staff and as a consultant.   She has a Masters in Public Administration (Health Planning and Policy) from NYU and a Masters of Social Work from the Hunter School of Social Work.  She holds a LCSW-R designation.

Barbara knows many of the CEOs and EDs of health-related organizations in the Hudson Valley from her previous employment with WMCHealth PPS (includes Health Alliance), Family Services, HVCS, Step One and HRHCare.  She has in-depth knowledge of the behavioral, health, and social services in Ulster County both as an administrator and as the caregiver for her brother who has mental health challenges.

Barbara loves the outdoors and explores the beautiful Hudson Valley that we live in as often as possible.  She adores having fun.  Barbara is married to Rachel Evans, who is also a founder of the Center.  She has two cats, Happy Face and Bluebell.

Duffy Violante (he/him)

Duffy Violante worked in the health field starting in 1962, spending his last 32 years as a licensed massage therapist, working with patients from every scope of life, something his parents taught him to do many years ago….

Duffy Violante worked in the health field starting in 1962, spending his last 32 years as a licensed massage therapist, working with patients from every scope of life, something his parents taught him to do many years ago.
Working with patients with AIDS in the middle of the AIDS crisis really helped to shape Duffy’s future in helping those who were affected by the disease.

Part of his background includes working with the Boy Scouts of America, his local school board, environmental groups, the America Massage Therapy Association and other civic groups. He is also proud to be a board member of the LGBTQ Center.

Residing in Clintondale, NY for the past 46 years, he has a wonderful husband, Ted, is a caretaker for his 94 year old mother, is blessed with two wonderful grown children and three remarkable grandchildren.

Ellen Pendegar (she/her)

Ellen L. Pendegar has been the CEO of the MHA in Ulster County, New
York for over 20 years. She is the Board Chairperson for the MHANYS & is a Board
Member of the NY statewide Association for Community Living (ACL).

Ellen L. Pendegar has been the CEO of the MHA in Ulster County, New York for over 20 years. She is the Board Chairperson for the MHANYS & is a Board Member of the NY statewide Association for Community Living (ACL).  The MHA in Ulster County provides education, advocacy and direct services in many different forms/types.  The MHA strives for optimal mental health for everyone and advocates for improvements in the mental health system.  Ellen has been involved in Ulster County’s SPEAK, Suicide Prevention Coalition, since its beginning.  Ellen is a Certified ASIST, SafeTALK, SuicideTALK and Connect Trainer.

Lauren Sheeley, Esq. (she/her)

Lauren Sheeley has been an attorney for 12 years, eight of which she spent at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) providing free civil legal services to low income individuals and . . .

Lauren Sheeley has been an attorney for 12 years, eight of which she spent at Legal Services of the Hudson Valley (LSHV) providing free civil legal services to low income individuals and families throughout the Hudson Valley. Lauren became the Attorney in Charge of the Ulster County office in 2015, where she managed staff members and oversaw all other operations on a daily basis. During her time at LSHV, Lauren forged an excellent working relationship with the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center which has expanded and continues to date. She and her LSHV Ulster County colleagues initiated many programs and services at the Center, including but not limited to Pro Se Name Change and Gender Marker Change Clinics, and Information/Know Your Rights Sessions.

As of September 2019, Lauren began working as the First Assistant County Attorney for Ulster County where she is now practicing municipal/government law.

In her free time, Lauren loves spending time with her family and riding her horses, and she remains dedicated to advocating for justice for all.

Lisa Cannisatraci (she/her)

I am a longtime resident of Greenwich Village and owner of Henrietta Hudson which was opened in 1991.

I am a longtime resident of Greenwich Village and owner of Henrietta Hudson which was opened in 1991.

I have been a full board member of CB 2 for 14 years. I take my activism seriously supporting and fundraising for LGBT and other local organizations for over 3 decades.

I was fortunate to be an integral part of the marriage equality movement and served as Vice President of Marriage Equality USA when DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Since Marriage Equality passed I have been focusing my efforts on LGBT youth and elders while serving on the Social Services committee of CB 2. I also serve on Arts & Institutions.

I love being engaged with my community and hope to remain on the board for many years to come.

I am a longtime resident of Greenwich Village and owner of Henrietta Hudson which was opened in 1991.

I have been a full board member of CB 2 for 14 years. I take my activism seriously supporting and fundraising for LGBT and other local organizations for over 3 decades.

I was fortunate to be an integral part of the marriage equality movement and served as Vice President of Marriage Equality USA when DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court.

Since Marriage Equality passed I have been focusing my efforts on LGBT youth and elders while serving on the Social Services committee of CB 2. I also serve on Arts & Institutions.

I love being engaged with my community and hope to remain on the board for many years to come.

Ron VanWarmer (he/him)

Ron VanWarmer has been a resident of the Hudson Valley for over 35 years and has been involved in the community from the start….

Ron VanWarmer has been a resident of the Hudson Valley for over 35 years and has been involved in the community from the start.  He began as news director at radio station WDST in 1980.  He also spent four years at the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley working with hundreds of the food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the region.  He continues to be involved though his work with Family of Woodstock, UlsterCorps and the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center.