Community Advisory Board

The Community Advisory Board at TransTech is key to the organization’s growth and success. Each volunteer works closely with the day-to-day team on the execution and planning of the programs we offer for over 5,000 members across the globe.

Christopher Williams

All Pronouns, Atlanta, GA

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Christopher has been a CAB member of TransTech since 2021, bringing 10 years of experience in Advertising, FinTech, SaaS, and Aerospace, as well as Grassroots and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). A Just Economy Institute alumni fellow and an Aspen Ideas Festival alumni fellow, Christopher is a champion of intentionally oppressed people queering every space they enter in every way possible. As a pastime, Christopher is a reoccurring guest on the British-based X-Men podcast, X of Words, where X-Men comic books are discussed from a Black-queer lens. Additionally, Christopher has been a hobbyist genealogist for over 15 years engaging in a form of “hauntology” (or the aim to understand how the social/cultural past “haunts” the present and future) by dissecting how Black family trees are innately queer and un-normed. The work Christopher does is self-dedicated to three groups of people affectionately known as “dead-folks, nerds, and sissies.”

Von Reyes

He/Him, Collingswood, NJ

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Von is a career community organizer, recovering overachiever, and lifelong member of various fandoms. He is passionate about cultivating community spaces, both online and in person, that are rooted in collective joy. He focuses his work on intersectional solidarity, building equitable systems, sustainable community, and biracial, transgender, and masculine identity navigation.

He currently serves as the Director of People & Culture at the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund and is the founder of wasp & fig | collective.

When he isn’t trying to change the world, he can almost always be found at a local coffee spot, at a pop punk or kpop concert, or pedaling it out at a spin class.

AJ Scruggs

They/He, Philadelphia, PA

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AJ Scruggs is a 35-year-old proud black man of trans experience living in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia. AJ has been a Trans Tech member since 2021, and a champion for the program opportunities that trans tech provides. Along with being an executive director of his own non-profit Visible Truth 365. AJ holds several positions and titles with and for some local and national organizations. Such as, his role at TAKE where he is the Civic Engagement fellow working with the PA coalition for trans youth, helping build a safer PA through legislation. NMAC he is a 3rd year Trainer, and certified Coach for the ELEVATE program. Locally he is apart of the Philadelphia Integral HIV planning council.

AJ is also a loving chosen father, Uncle, Brother and Son.

Skylar Wilkerson

They/Them, Seattle, WA

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Skylar is a multi-talented creative with a passion for social media management, graphic design, and community engagement from Atlanta, Ga. With 7 years of experience, they excel at creating engaging content and driving brand awareness. A strong advocate for diversity and inclusion, Skylar is committed to amplifying underrepresented voices in their work. Their eye-catching designs and impeccable attention to detail captivate audiences across various platforms. Whether managing online communities or designing creative projects, they consistently deliver excellence.

Alexandra Thornton

She/Her, Chicago, IL

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After an early careers as a journalist and video producer, Alexandra has spent the last several years as Product Manager and Project Manger in the tech industry. She has consulted at startups and enterprises alike, across fields including finance, retail, telecomm, politics and entertainment. She currently works from the great city of Chicago, managing front end experience at trans healthcare startup Plume.

Shelbe Chang

She/Her, Long Beach, CA

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Shelbe is an entrepreneur with several different business ventures, a real estate consultant, content marketer and a podcast host. She helps people who are looking to change and level up their lives and businesses with simple mindset shifts and strategies.

Shelbe embraces the opportunity to learn from others who have already forged paths to success, using their wisdom as a blueprint for her own achievements and is eager to empower others to do the same and unlock their transformative potential.

Shelbe is also an award-winning filmmaker, writing, producing, directing, and acting in an indie film called LGBT Love Stories, in 2014.

She has been heavily involved in the LGBTQ+ community in Long Beach since 2011. 

When Shelbe is not conducting business, she continues to advocate for the Trans community and its causes on The Trans-Parency Podcast Show.

Erica Vogel

She/Her, Washington, DC

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Erica Vogel is a queer transgender woman, parent, and spouse. Frequently referred to as resilient, fearless, authentic, and inviting, Erica meets people where they are with love and grace. She is passionate about improving the quality of lives around her and creating safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQIA+ people to thrive within.

Erica is an award-winning Senior Product Manager by trade in the world of financial technology. With more than 20 years of experience with design, strategy, and product management for some of the top companies in the world, Erica leads teams to success and makes the most out of strategic initiatives.

Erica is part of the national leadership team for her company’s LGBTQIA+ Business Resource Group, representing thousands of associates. In addition, she regularly participates in panel discussions, hosts events, and speaks about her experience as an LGBTQIA+ human in various forums inside and outside of her company.

Erica is married to a wonderful queer woman and is a proud wife. She is the parent of both adult and tween-aged children and two hefty cats. Her family is full of LGBTQIA+ representation as well, with members that are lesbian, gay, transgender, queer, and asexual/aromantic.

Chrystian Shepperd

He/Him, Seattle, WA

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Chrystian is a self-proclaimed “data nerd” with over 15 years’ experience in project management, data analysis, data science, and functional & systems analysis. He received his BA in Drama from the University of Washington and has an MS in Applied Data Science from Syracuse University. He currently works as a Lead Data Architect in the Office of Institutional Research at UW and is thrilled to be joining TransTech as a Community Advisory Board member. Previously his goal of wanting to have a positive impact in the world, especially for members the LGBTQ+ community, had been focused on the corporate world where he held various leadership roles within ERG’s and DEI committees.

He is an incredibly proud cat and dog dad who loves almost all animals (he is not a fan of snakes or spiders) with an especially strong affinity for bully breeds. Outside of work and volunteering, he enjoys spending time with his wife, playing video games (especially Zelda franchise games), and occasionally designing lights for Seattle theatre.

Alex Pugnali

They/Them, Washington, DC

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Alex has worked for over a decade toward improving the experiences of historically marginalized populations with technology. As a Latinx, Queer, and Nonbinary individual, they specialize in how to design and implement inclusive technology experiences that account for the unique needs, interests, and talents of intersectionally marginalized people. They have worked as a teacher, researcher, content developer, and program manager with the goal of providing people of all ages, identities, and backgrounds with the opportunity to leverage the power of technology. 

Most recently, Alex founded a consulting company, Equitable STEAM LLC, to provide expertise on diversity, equity, and inclusion to organizations focused on designing technology learning experiences for students with marginalized identities. Concurrently, they pursued an M.A. in Technology, Learning, and Leadership at the University of Maryland, which they graduated from in Spring 2023. Their master’s thesis was titled InterTECHtional – Exploring the Experiences of Intersectionally Marginalized Tech Professionals, focused on Queer and Trans+ BIPOC tech employees.

Having grown up in three countries (Brazil, Mexico, and the United States), Alex has a passion for travel, culture, music, and food from around the world. In their free time, they also enjoy spending quality time with friends, drag shows, the beach, hiking, and swimming.

Yasmene St. Georges

They/Them, Turnersville, NJ

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Yaz is a skincare enthusiast and stationery aficionado with the love of cute things. Yaz has been a member of the TransTech community since early Spring 2023 and is excited to help bring the organization to new heights. Yaz has strong passion for building community especially with other Trans people of color and wants to create resources and access so that we all may live up to our true potential.

Evolve Benton

They/Them, Atlanta, GA

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Evolve Benton, a distinguished HBCU alum of Dillard University, has made a significant mark speaking at colleges, universities, and corporate stages. With over 8 years of experience as a DEI manager at the top US medical school, the University of California San Francisco, Benton seamlessly integrates themes of diversity, equity, inclusion, and personal narratives to pioneer transformative policies and strategies. Holding a BA in Communications, an MA in Clinical Psychology, and an MFA in Creative Writing, Benton’s expertise is grounded in both communication and psychology.

A proud Los Angeles native, Benton’s achievements span various domains: they authored “SIR: poetry dedicated to boihood and black queer love,” created The BOI Documentary, and founded Speaking 4 Profit University. Here, they mentor diverse speakers and consultants in scaling to six-figure enterprises.

Benton’s “Speaking 4 Profit” podcast delves into the intersections of money, business, and wellness. Through their workshops, Benton provides a roadmap to discern and address normalized biases, always advocating for enhanced inclusivity. Benton’s deep-seated knowledge in DEI ensures organizations receive tailored strategies that nurture diversity and inclusiveness from the ground up.

Trinitee Wilson

They/Them, Philadelphia, PA

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Mx. Trinitee Wilson originally hails from Rochester, NY, where their journey in supporting BIPOC individuals, particularly those at the highest risk of HIV acquisition or their siblings living with HIV/AIDS, began. Over the past 17 years, Wilson has been dedicated to working with and advocating for the BIPOC community within the LGBTQIA+ spectrum.

After relocating to Philadelphia in 2016, Wilson continued their career path by focusing on underserved and marginalized communities, including High Risk Negatives, individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and BIPOC LGBQ & TGNC individuals. Notably, as a member of NMAC’s TGNC Constituent Advisory Panel, Wilson presented alongside Mx. Jorian Rivera at the 2023 United States Conference on HIV/AIDS in Washington, D.C., enlightening attendees about Gender Non-Conforming experiences and terminology with their talk, “Unfolding the Binary: The Wrinklefree Truth to the Binary.”

Recognizing a pressing need within their community, Wilson took the initiative to establish their grassroots organization, BLAQ5683 LLC (BLAQLOVE), in May 2021. BLAQLOVE is committed to Workforce Development, Multimedia/Graphic Design, and Sexual Wellness Consulting. Their mission is to create purposeful, safe, and inclusive spaces primarily catering to Trans Non-binary and Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) individuals, with a particular focus on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

Among their most significant achievements, Wilson proudly holds the title of the first Mx. Black Trans International 2023-2024.

David Banks

He/Him, Los Angeles, CA

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David is a data-driven marketer who strives to make as large an impact he can in as short a period of time as possible. He enjoys tackling complicated business problems, and strives to not be the smartest person in the room. He is always looking to connect with people who he thinks will gain value from the connection, and is always looking to grow his network.

In his non-work time he tries to work with organizations that can effect change starting with the most marginalized people. He strives to help create change in communities that he lives in by helping influence children and marginalized communities to become positive contributors to society and attain a “seat at the table”.

David currently runs a dispersed global team of sales and marketing professionals at Meta.

Mel Howard

He/Him, Newport News, VA

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Mel Howard was born and raised in Newport News, Virginia by two amazing southern, Christian parents that didn’t understand his lifestyle. Like most queer kids, Mel struggled with acceptance and find his true identity which led to depression, social issues, and self-love problems. In 2010, he decided to attend support groups and search to find others like him. Dealing with life lessons and searching for love in all the wrong places he put himself at risk. Mel searched for a way to enjoy life so he started his journey transiting medically in 2012 in Richmond, Virginia, due to the lack of gender affirming care available in Hampton Roads. In Richmond he was able to gain access to support groups, therapy, volunteering, mentors and building community connection.

In January 2013, he became a founding line member of Alpha Omega Kappa and begin working heavy on his self-love and continued attending support groups for transmasculine Identified individuals. Mel noticed the lack of communities of color and in 2017 starting surveying community members to find out what our community needed. Mel started reaching out to LGBT+ non profit organizations to find out why there was no representation of transmasculine communities of color and continued to volunteer and give back to community members in need like how he was taught by the Kings of AQK. As Mel became more and more stable in himself and his journey, on April 20, 2022 the creation of Thriving Transmen of Color was formed.

Mel is a vessel of love for the whole entire community and has created a space for others to feel safe and find inner love with others who have a passion for helping and giving back. Mel is a major voice and advocate of the community and through Thriving Transmen of Color (TTMOC) has worked tirelessly to make sure they provide support to community members in need and empower theirs voices. Mel is also a foster parent, as an at risk youth advocate he seeks to establish and cultivate long-term relationships with youth and adults to help them achieve success overall.

A few examples of the work Mel does is creating positive relationships with community members and the youth by educating them, helping them establish their personal goals, creating smart plans, and motivating & inspiring along side of them. Mel prides himself in helping our community members and youth become successful, educated, resourceful and independent members of society. Mel Howard is the Executive Director of Thriving Transmen of Color.

Dawn Welters

She/Her, Brooklyn, NY

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Dawn is a former educator passionate about equity, accessibility, mental health, and advocacy. She is originally from Florida but currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where she works in Ed Tech. Dawn has been a member of TransTech since 2022. Dawn is also a member of several other boards championing disability rights and social activism. Dawn enjoys photography, traveling, comic books, music, and language exchange in her spare time.

Michael Tjoelker

They/He, California

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Mike is an IT Applications Analyst with focus on accessibility and automation. His goals involve making technology more inclusive and available so historically excluded communities can access more tools to mobilize, uplift each other, create space, and thrive. He attended his first TransTech Summit in 2022, which inspired him to get more involved in the community.

Mike loves his family and friends and is a proud parent of many animal babies, including a frog, dog, and cats. He enjoys spending time in nature, playing games, programming, gardening, and creating music and art.

Gaelen Smith

They/He, Alexandria, VA

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Gaelan has shifted in and out of “official” IT positions for his entire career, often working as a bridge or translator between back-end developers or data managers and the front-end business and end users. For the past five or so years, they have worked full-time in data visualization and are always expanding their toolbox. They have more than a decade of experience in knowledge management and technical writing, areas often left out of the tech umbrella but which are critically important to the long-term success of any project. Through TransTech, he wants more visibility for folks in this space between the archetypical developer with a screen of code and the end user or business owner.

They’ve worked in a number of settings from government (NYC Dept of Education), a global bank, Big Law, and now a full stack consulting firm working on federal contracts. He is thrilled to see more tech departments and organizations intentionally reaching out to historically underrepresented communities like ours. He is excited to learn together how we can be both visible and an integrated part of the fabric of the tech world.

Connie Shearer

They/Them, Medellín, Colombia

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Connie Shearer is a UX Researcher & Designer transitioning from 10 years in education, research, and political advocacy. They’re passionate about building an equitable and accessible future for all through digital design and advocating for user needs.

Their past classroom, curriculum design, and research experience has motivated them to advocate for inclusive, respectful, and quality digital systems – where tech is a space that builds progress & representation.

Maddie Reardon

All Pronouns, Long Beach, CA

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Maddie is a senior technical writer & editor, DEI champion, and team lead. They’re also an educator, digital activist, and advocate who is passionate about the LGBTQIA+, neurodivergent, and disabled communities—and the many intersections of those communities.

An avid learner, they are currently pursuing a Masters in Education specializing in Human Rights & Social Justice and Learning Design & Technologies.

At home, Maddie enjoys spending time with their partner and dog, binging TV shows, sewing, video games, water polo, audiobooks, donuts, and SciFi.