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MEET OUR STAFF & BOARD

MEET OUR STAFF & BOARD​

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Interim Executive Director
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Deputy Director of People Power & National Partnerships
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Director of Advocacy
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Director of Administration
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Mental Health & Wellness Manager
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Communications & Social Coordinator
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Employment & Education Coordinator
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Development Coordinator
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Support Services manager
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Advocacy manager
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Wellness Coordinator
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Inside Member Support Coordinator
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Youth Fellow

board of directors

The Board of Directors engages in collective strategic decision-making for Black & Pink National in order to advance the organization’s mission and vision. In line with Black & Pink National’s values, the Board is composed of folks that hold the lived experiences and identities of people most reflected in the work.

Co-Chair
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Co-Chair
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TENA HAHN-RODRIGUEZ (she/her/hers) - Interim Executive Director

Tena (she/her) is a community organizer, educator, and entrepreneur. North Omaha is her home and the people her community. Prior to Black & Pink National, Tena served as a founding member of REVEL, a cornerstone of the Omaha LGBTQIA2S+ inclusive-space scene. With Heartland Pride, she created space for Omaha to invite in national talent. Most recently, Tena’s work with Inclusive Communities led to more accessible educational programming. Always looking to expand her skillset, Tena recently completed the American Express Converge Academy and is in the current Nonprofit Executive Institute. Tena brings a wealth of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion experience to Black & Pink National. She is excited to bring her passion for trans and queer youth of color to this role, and expand services for system-impacted youth on a national level!

ANDREW ALEMAN (he/him/his) - Deputy Director of People Power & National Partnerships

Andrew Aleman, PLCSW (He|Him|His) is a Clinical Social Worker and Independent Consultant from Omaha, NE. Andrew’s local and national work is always based in dismantling systems of power and creating spaces for those who lack access and privilege. His professional experiences include: Supporting LGBTQ+ youth and young adults, mental health therapy, case management for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, supporting system impacted youth, policy and advocacy work surrounding sexual health and domestic/sexual violence, community based training and sexual health education, and teaching in the Grace Abbott School of Social Work. 

To ensure his work is always connected to community efforts, Mr. Aleman serves on multiple boards and committees. These roles include Co-Chair for the GLSEN Omaha Board of Directors, Board Member for SIECUS Sex Ed for Social Change, Policy Committee Member for ALCU Nebraska, and member of the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group. In response to his community-based work, Mr. Aleman has been recognized by his community with the 2018 Heartland Pride Brad Fuglei Impact Award, 2019 Young, Black, and Influential Award for Advocacy, and the 2019 Ten Outstanding Young Omahans Award.

JASMINE TASAKI (she/her/hers) - Director of Advocacy

Jasmine Tasaki (she|hers) is a staunch advocate and community organizer for transgender women and issues affecting trans rights, health, and housing. Through her work, intersectionality has become very important to her. Jasmine has worked as a PrEP navigator, an HIV counselor, Sexual Health Educator, and Cultural Competency Facilitator for the Memphis Police Department. She was also the first leader of trans experience in the National Urban League of Young Professionals (Health Literacy and Advocacy Chairperson, Memphis Chapter), and an Ambassador for the Black AIDS Institute. Ms. Tasaki is also the Executive Director of the first trans-led organization, WeCareTN, in Memphis. Jasmine works closely with the community to meet the needs identified by the community. She has been featured on the cover of Focus magazine, and wishes to bring even more attention to the needs of the community. Jasmine believes that “support is the foundation you stand on, values are the directions you walk by, and relationships are the garden in which you grow.”

NIKOLA HALCYONE ZAPOROWSKI (she/her/hers) - Director of Administration

Niki Zap is a cis-ish fat white queer Nichiren Buddhist woman who acquired a disability through a chronic pain condition as an adult.
 
Niki’s 20 years in activism, advocacy, and education started in high school when she held signs outside a polling place opposing a DOMA initiative, and has focused on Trans & Queer rights and liberation, including facilitating the Equal Omaha leadership team who successfully added gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation to the City of Omaha’s non-discrimination ordinance. Her greatest passion is embracing youth in radical love, celebration, and support which she has had the opportunity to in her personal life, for several years as a Proud Horizons facilitator, and in professional capacities.
 
In February 2020 she moved to occupied Kumayaay land/Southern California to live with her family after deciding 37 winters in occupied Umonhon land/Omaha was enough. Niki strongly believes Jean-Luc Picard is the greatest starship captain (don’t @ me), spoils her tuxedo cat Louis Meriadoc Zaporowski, and is hoping to rig tank tracks to her manual wheelchair (Percy; they/them) so she can better enjoy the beaches of her new home.

ACE DEVLIN (no/any pronouns) - Mental Health & Wellness Manager

Ace, MS, PLMHP (no | any pronouns) is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Omaha, NE who is able to provide mental health services in English and Spanish, as well as some services in ASL. Ace approaches mental health from a collaborative stance, joining clients in discovering what health and wellness means to them in order to best support their journey. Ace works from a systems perspective; considering how the family, community, workplace, and larger systems can play a role in suffering and healing.

Ace has focused their career primarily on partnering with and serving individuals, families, and communities holding the following identities and experiences—Trans, Queer, youth, Spanish-speaking, Latinx, Indigenous, interpersonal violence, incarceration, immigration, and psychiatric detention—with particular attention to the intersection of these identities and experiences. They strongly affirm all genders, all sexualities, all consensual sexual practices, and all ethical relationship types. Ace is deeply committed to an ongoing practice of transparency about and accountability to the power and privilege granted by whiteness.

AJANI WALDEN (he/they) - Communications & Social Coordinator

Ajani Walden is a queer, Black, trans rights advocate & tech enthusiast. Before
joining the staff at Black & Pink National, he delivered LGBTQ sensitivity workshops to educators, school administrators, healthcare professionals and students. He has appeared on several panels talking about trans rights and health issues and has also developed and led workshops for trans youth. Ajani is now behind the scenes making an impact in communications and social media. “I believe that LGBT youth should be able to see themselves in their advocates. Representation matters. I just want to be the person I needed when I was younger. I want a trans kid to look at me and see my scars and know they can survive because that’s what scars are…a sign of survival.”

RACQUEL HENDERSON (she/her/hers) - Employment & Education Coordinator

Racquel is a Young Professional of the Year Urban League of Nebraska Award Recipient, Young Black and Influential Award recipient, a MORE Women Award Recipient, and Founder of #TheBeProject—a movement based on bringing awareness to various jobs and resources to community members.

Racquel earned a Bachelor’s of Science from University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she studied Criminal Justice and Psychology and was inducted into the National Honors Society of Criminal Justice. Racquel has spent over eight years in serving her community by providing second chances in re-entry programs and uplifting youth in higher education opportunities.

Racquel currently serves as a College Success Navigator at Metropolitan Community College, where she works with a scholarship program that focuses on the retention of first-generation and under-represented students by providing intrusive academic support and guidance with the nonprofit organization, Avenue Scholars.

Racquel also serves as the Employment & Education Coordinator for Black & Pink National—the nation’s largest prison abolitionist organization. Racquel believes that with the right resources, opportunities, and support, change is inevitable.

ANDREA KSZYSTYNIAK (they/them/theirs) - Development Coordinator

Andrea Kszystyniak (they/them) is a person living, learning, and growing in the so-called heartland of the so-called United States of America.

Much of their work focuses on bringing people together and aligning them for a common good. They have previously been a reporter, a social worker and a pizza maker but their passion is based in organizing, writing and zines. They are the co-founder of Omaha Zine Fest and a member of the Rowdy Boys Zine Collective. They bring their passion for connecting people with words to their role as the newsletter editor and member support coordinator.

When they’re not taking glamour shots of their cat, Scout, they’re studying Bruce Springsteen’s fashion circa 1978, watching bad horror movies, or reading extensively about mental health, abolition and trauma.

JO'VON ISAIAH (he/him/his) - Support Services Specialist

Jo’Von (he/him) is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, earning a BMS in Women and Gender Studies, minoring in Black Studies and Public Health. Jo’Von identifies as a Queer Black Cis Male with He/Him/His pronouns. He has always been dedicated to providing direct services and aid to the folks in his LGBT community/family. Jo’Von is always asking questions because there are never enough sufficient answers for why the LGBT community experiences such disproportionate abuse and oppression. He aims and strives to be the healthiest version of Jo’Von Isaiah he can be for himself and his community.

KENNA BARNES (she/they) - Advocacy Coordinator

Kenna (she/they) is an LGBTQ+ activist in Nebraska who works to support the livelihood and growth of the trans and queer community.  Kenna’s work has been geared toward bringing joy and understanding to the trans and queer experience.  She has worked in sexual and reproductive justice over the last 4 years and has been working on completing her Master’s thesis centering the LGBTQ+ experience with unintended pregnancy.  They have a passion for guiding and uplifting young folks to help strengthen the future of LGBTQ+ advocacy.  Kenna has done countless condom deliveries across the state and Omaha area with Midlands Sexual Health Research Collaborative, was apart of the core team of the LGBTQ+ leadership program-Huespring, and has worked on policy to help protect the trans and queer community.  When she isn’t organizing for the community, you can find her diamond painting (it’s amazing, look it up), lounging with her dog and cat, or listening to the podcast, “You’re Wrong About.”  She also cannot wait to go dancing when it’s safe to do so, but her apartment does the job for now!

BROOKE MONACO (she/her/hers) - Wellness Coordinator

Brooke is a 500RYT and Trauma-Informed Certified yoga instructor in Omaha, Nebraska who followed her love for all things health, wellness & yoga after breaking her T12 in 2015. She started at Black & Pink National as a volunteer yoga instructor in 2018 – & as the class sizes grew, Brooke came on to help build a Wellness Program. Her heart has always been with abolition, BLM, LGBTQ rights, feminism & dismantling white supremacy – & loves that her two passions in life have collided. 

DAWSON JOHNS (they/them) - Inside Member Support Coordinator

Dawson Johns, BSW (They/Them) is a recent graduate from Creighton University, currently operating out of Omaha, NE. They graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree of Social Work with a minor in Criminal Justice, hoping to find a career focused on researching and supporting affirming legislation for the LGBTQIA2S+ community. As a nonbinary, trans feminine person, Dawson enjoys devoting their time to learning more about identity and thus understanding how identities interact with systems like the government, status quo, and higher education to name a few.

They spent most of their undergraduate time dedicated to serving those in the Omaha community, volunteering their time at Lutheran Family Services, Completely Kids, and Creighton University sponsored clinics. In addition to dedicating time to the community, they also spent a majority of their educational experience researching LGBTQIA2S+ issues on a macro level. Dawson’s senior year research was specifically focused on providing services to individuals engaging in sex work, all while navigating around the heavy criminalization of the occupation. This project earned them Research of the Year, and further sparked their passion for advocating for individuals on a macro level.

YAZMEEN MAYES (she/her) - Youth Fellow

 

Yazmeen Mayes (she/her) is so excited to start as the Youth Fellow at Black and Pink. In this role, she and our Advocacy Manager, Kenna, will develop, design, and implement a youth-focused leadership program as part of ViiV’s Investing in the Leadership & Professional Development of YPLWHA (Young People Living With HIV/AIDS) Grant. Additionally, Yazmeen works with Common Good Atlanta, where she facilitates higher education courses for adults who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated in order to continue uplifting underserved voices and building community.

Meet Our Board of Directors!

Bryanna Jenkins (she/her)

Bryanna A. Jenkins serves as the Staff Attorney for TLDEF’s Name Change Project. Before joining TLDEF, Ms. Jenkins was a Civil Rights & Employment Fellow at Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll PLLC. She also served as the 2020-2021 George N. Lindsay Fellow at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Ms. Jenkins received her B.S. from Morgan State University, her M.A. from the University of Baltimore, and her J.D. from DePaul University College of Law. Ms. Jenkins also published Birth Certificate with a Benefit: Using LGBTQ Jurisprudence to Make the Argument for a Transgender Person’s Constitutional Right to Amended Identity Documents in the CUNY Law Review.

 

TAYLOR STRELEVITZ (they/them/theirs)

Taylor thrives in a good conversation about how the world works and why we do what we do. For this reason, they love their work at the Alaska Humanities Forum on the Conversation Programs team. Taylor moves from a place of trust and decolonization, with a firm belief that reconnecting to one another and the ground we stand on is fundamental to abolition. They live in Anchorage, AK with their awe-inspiring partner and two impulsive dogs.

FELICIA CARBAJAL (they/them/theirs)

Felicia is a queer Latinx, values-based community organizer, social entrepreneur, abolitionist and manifestor. They have over two decades of movement building experience within intersectional communities. As a formerly incarcerated person they know first hand the failings of the injustice system and actively work to dismantle all systems of oppression. They have been honored in The Advocate Magazine’s 40 under 40 LGBT leaders for their intersectional work in marriage equality and cannabis. In 2020 they were recognized as a Latinx LGBTQ role model by Honor 41. They’re a sought after public speaker and thought leader on the subjects of equity, abolition, economic development, marijuana/cannabis health & equity and intersectional community building.

SHARINA GORDON (she/they)

Sharina Gordon, born and raised in South Florida, is the queer child of Jamaican and Indian immigrants. While working at her college’s Student of Color and LGBTQ Centers, she became politicized after a close family member was incarcerated. For the past 10 years, Sharina has been doing social justice education consulting at K-12 schools, non-profits, community centers and corporations. They are currently completing their Masters at Teachers College, focusing on a critical, abolitionist civics curriculum at the secondary level.

Causha A. Spellman-Timmons (They/them)

Causha (They/Them) is a Black, Queer, Non-binary, polyamorous human. They are a passionate activist & visionary, social (justice) worker, abolitionist, educator, facilitator, public speaker, consultant, & officiant. After tiring of surviving the industrial complexes of our society, Causha committed to their own health & well-being, and recommitted to water, land, & community for their own personal work/life/love balance. They currently serve on the steering committee of, and as the board secretary for, Willow Permanent Real Estate Cooperative and as well as the founder of CAST CoCo, a coaching & consulting firm dedicated to a healing-centered, social justice approach to life (and work).

Seam Guerin (they/them)

Seam (they/them) is a transfemme non-binary advocate and law student. In 2023, they will graduate from Stanford Law School and return to their roots in community organizing in California. The two halves of Seam’s heart are environmental justice and trans liberation, and they understand abolition as central to both of these visions. Seam’s work aims to support impacted communities, particularly low-income communities of color, to empower themselves and succeed in their own future’s creation.

Helina Haile (she/her)

Helina Haile is an Ethiopian immigrant peace-builder interested in using a somatic trauma healing approach to public health law frameworks for prison abolition/prisoner’s rights and atrocity prevention. She views law and policy as a transformative tool for individual and communal healing especially for BIPOC communities. She is thankful for the opportunity to learn with and from folks during her term as a board member. 

Denise Cooper (she/her)

Denise Cooper is an accountant by day who resides in New Orleans LA. After being politicized during WTO organizing around police brutality, institutional racism and other issues that affect communities of color, she became a life-long advocate for social justice. Denise also enjoys movement like yoga, weight lifting, pole, and skiiing and is a 200 hour certified yoga teacher.

ALEXIS VIDA RANGEL (she/they)

Vida is a queer Latiné nonbinary trans woman. As a community organizer and policy professional, Vida’s passion is helping radical progressive movements achieve structural change that liberates marginalized communities. To that end, Vida has organized around the country in areas spanning the political spectrum, and served in legislative offices at the federal, state, county, and city levels. She got her start as a college organizer in small-town Texas working toward inclusive campus policies and against anti-queer & anti-trans legislation in the Texas legislature. Vida is currently the chair of her union, NCTE United, and works as Policy Counsel at the National Center for Transgender Equality, where she builds collaborative relationships with advocates, decision makers, and issue experts to build a society where all trans people can thrive.

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