United 2017 Conference

United 2017: Community Activism & Organizing in an Age of AltReason

Session Descriptions

OPENING PLENARY (8:50 - 9:40)

Changing the World, One Story at a Time

Sharing one's story publicly is one of the most powerful ways to change hearts and minds. It can also feel scary and exposing, and the outcome is sometimes unpredictable. Today's print, web, and radio reporters are clamoring for stories. Should you engage? Will reporters honor your specific requests? Can you share your story and protect your privacy at the same time? What about the impact on others who are close to you? How do you keep yourself safe - physically, socially, and psychologically - while putting yourself in the spotlight? Cathy Renna will discuss how to navigate the process as well as tips and techniques to successfully tell your story.

Cathy Renna is Managing Partner at Target Cue, an LGBTQ and HIV focused public interest communications firm. Prior to that, she was a founder of Renna Communications. As a consultant for over a decade, she has partnered with scores of diverse organizations and projects. In addition, Renna worked with GLAAD for 14 years and is nationally recognized as a media and communications expert and leader within the LGBT community.

POLITICAL CAROUSEL (9:50 - 10:35)

During the Political Carousel, attendees will be able to ask questions of politicians, elected officials and those who have run for office representing different levels of government. Our goal is to allow attendees to gain some familiarity and comfort with the political process that they might otherwise not have had the opportunity to develop. Congressman Frank Pallone, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn and former candidate for elected office Sue Fulton are participating. Attendees will break into small groups or roundtables and the speakers will rotate among the groups so that each person will get 10 minutes or so at a table to engage in a question and answer session with each speaker.

We are encouraging questions like:

Carousel Speakers:
  • Congressman Frank Pallone
  • Assemblyman Reed Gusciora
  • Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn
  • Former candidate for elected office Sue Fulton
  • Asbury Park School Board Member Eric Pinckney
  • Barbra "Babs" Casbar Siperstein
  • Congressman Frank Pallone

    On January 3, 2017, Frank Pallone, Jr. was sworn in for his 15th full term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Pallone represents New Jersey's Sixth Congressional District, which covers most of Middlesex County, as well as the Bayshore and oceanfront areas of Monmouth County.

    Throughout his career, Pallone has been a leader in protecting the integrity of the Medicare guarantee and Medicaid programs, making the nation's food system safer, strengthening laws to keep our air and water clean, making health care more affordable and accessible, and supporting initiatives that advance and protect the public health.

    Pallone is the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over issues pertaining to energy, environment, health care, commerce, and telecommunications.

    From 2006 to 2014, Pallone served as the top Democrat on the Committee's Subcommittee on Health. As Chairman during the 111th Congress, Pallone played a key role in authoring and passing the Affordable Care Act. The landmark law extends health care coverage to millions of Americans, while driving down health care costs and reigning in abusive tactics used by insurance companies to deny medical treatment.

    Frank Pallone, Jr., was born and raised in Long Branch, New Jersey, where he still resides. He is a graduate of Middlebury College, holds a master's degree in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and earned his law degree at Rutgers University.

    Pallone began his political career in his home city of Long Branch, getting elected to the City Council in 1982 and winning re-election four years later. In 1983, Pallone was elected to the state Senate, representing the Monmouth County coastline. He was re-elected in 1987. During his tenure in the state Legislature, Pallone distinguished himself as an advocate for environmental issues and senior citizen concerns, and prioritized providing constituent services.

    Assemblyman Reed Gusciora

    Assemblyman Reed Gusciora has represented New Jersey's 15th District in the State Legislature since he was first elected to the General Assembly in 1996. Consistently a strong, progressive voice, Assemblyman Gusciora has played a pivotal role in several of New Jersey's major policy advances in recent years, including in the introduction and passage of legislation enabling the State's medical marijuana program, as well as in the fight for marriage equality both in the legislature and in the courts. A dependable advocate for State workers' rights, unions, and New Jersey's middle class, Gusciora's portfolio includes legislation that would legally mandate quarterly pension payments. A staunch environmentalist and animal rights activist, Gusciora has spearheaded and passed legislation banning hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") and legislation calling for expanded definitions of animal cruelty and additional punishments for perpetrators.

    Representing a district of considerable diversity, Gusciora works hard to propose legislative initiatives that will be in the best interest of all of his constituents. Most notably, Gusciora's proposal to cap property taxes at 2.2% of equalized value would substantially reduce property tax burdens for all of New Jersey's citizens. By introducing and passing legislation that would expand economic development opportunities around the State, Gusciora hopes to promote small business and industry growth.

    Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn

    Deputy Mayor Amy Quinn is also an attorney for the Community Health Law Project in Eatontown. The Law Project assists the disabled poor with their legal matters. Through negotiation, litigation, and advocacy, she combats discrimination, protects rights, and preserves independence and quality of life.

    As a City Council member since July, 2013, Quinn has been seeking ways to reduce the crime rate, involve Asbury Park residents in community decisions, create transparency in government by improving communication, and support small businesses.

    In response to hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the federal government created an initiative called Rebuild by Design to promote resilience against future extreme weather events. When two teams expressed interest in Asbury Park as a model for their resiliency designs, Quinn led the way in supporting those efforts and making sure they got access to key stakeholders. She serves on the APTV, Environmental & Shade Tree Commission, and Parking Committee.

    Quinn and her wife were among the first same-sex couples married in New Jersey - the ceremony took place at midnight on October 21, 2013 on the boardwalk in Asbury Park.

    Chairwoman of the U.S. Military Academy Board of Visitors (and former candidate for elected office) Sue Fulton

    Brenda S. "Sue" Fulton is a 1980 West Point graduate, part of the first class to admit women. She was commissioned in the Army, served as a platoon leader and company commander in Germany, and was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain. In 2009, she co-founded Knights Out, the organization of LGBT West Point alumni and allies, and a year later became a founding board member of OutServe, the association of actively-serving LGBT military members; in both roles she was an active advocate for the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." As President of SPARTA, she played a leading role in lifting the military's ban on transgender service in 2013.

    In July 2011 Fulton was appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors, and became the first female USMA graduate to chair the Board in 2015. In 2017, she was appointed to the Board of Visitors for the National Defense University in Washington, DC; she was also recognized as one of 25 "Veterans to Watch" by We Are The Mighty, along with such notables as Senator Tammy Duckworth, actor Adam Driver, and Medal of Honor Recipient Florent Globerg.

    In December, 2012, after 17 years together, Fulton and her partner Penny Gnesin became the first same-sex couple to marry in the West Point Cadet Chapel. They live in Asbury Park, NJ.

    In 2016, Fulton ran for Monmouth County Freeholder, a county-wide office with both executive and legislative responsibilities.

    Asbury Park School Board Member Eric Pinckney

    Eric Pinckney has been an active member of the community for years. A journalist and editor at Gannett Co., Inc., he has been with the company since 2003. He also worked with several other publishing companies, including The Philadelphia Tribune. Pinckney has worked with hundreds of youth over the years in several capacities. He served as editor and coordinator for Gannett's Day in the Life of a High School monthly feature, where he traveled to the high schools in Monmouth and Ocean counties and worked with students to report, edit, photograph and design their school's profile in the Asbury Park Press newspaper. Pinckney also served as writing coach for the Philadelphia Young Publishers Program, where he worked with the youth in Philadelphia to help them write, edit, illustrate and publish their own children's books.

    Pinckney is the founder of the Pink Prom, an annual fundraising event held at Hotel Tides Restaurant and Spa in Asbury Park. The event raises thousands of dollars each year, and all proceeds from the event are donated to an LGBTQ organization doing great things for the community.

    He is one of the newest members of the Asbury Park School Board. In that capacity, Pinckney says he wants to help create programs that would be beneficial to the youth in the city, as well as make sure the schools' financial future is secure. He has served as a staunch advocate for Civil Rights and LGBTQ rights for many years. As an African American openly gay member of the community, Pinckney says that he wants to make certain that we continue to enjoy our freedoms.

    Barbra "Babs" Casbar Siperstein

    Barbara "Babs" Casbar Siperstein is a member of the Executive Committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Deputy Vice Chair of the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, Vice President of the bipartisan Women's Political Caucus of NJ (Middlesex) and Political Director of the Gender Rights Advocacy Association of New Jersey. She has served as Vice Chair of the DNC Eastern Caucus, President of New Jersey Stonewall Democrats, Co-Chair of National Stonewall Democrats Federal PAC Board, Vice Chair of Garden State Equality and a member of the New Jersey Civil Unions Review Commission.

    In 2004, Siperstein was a recipient of the New Jersey Personal Liberty Fund's Honors Award and was a delegate to the 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2016 Democratic National Conventions. She was New Jersey's first transgender delegate. She served on Governor-elect Jon Corzine's gubernatorial Labor and Workforce Development Policy Group after his election in 2005. In 2010, along with Gov. Jack Markell, Siperstein was honored by the Delaware Stonewall Democrats and was a recipient of Jersey City's JCLGO "Vital Voice Award."

    Siperstein was honored as a Champion of Civil rights by Passaic County Freeholder John Bartlett and by the New Leaders Council- New Jersey Chapter, receiving their "Equal Rights Award." Celebrating LGBT History Month, Newark-PROUD honored her at their Pride Awards Reception and the The Pride Network gave her their "Stonewall Legacy Award." Siperstein has been recognized and awarded by many other organizations for civil rights and political leadership.

    Siperstein owns and operates Siperstein Fords Paint Corp with her daughter Janna, and she is also a former owner and breeder of Standardbred horses. She says she enjoys a long-term bi-state relationship with a remarkable partner as well as spoiling and encouraging her four grandchildren, wishing they can enjoy a life where people learn to communicate, take responsibility for their actions or inactions, and have respect for each other.

    Session 1: Our Health, Our Birthright (10:45 - 12:15)

    LGBT Healthcare Policy

    Garden State Equality will talk about what equal access to healthcare means for LGBT New Jerseyans. We'll begin with a presentation, laying out the broad strokes -- what services exist, what services are lacking, and how we're working to change the landscape. This portion will focus on the lack of cultural and clinical competency among health care providers for the LGBT population as a whole, before focusing in on issues faced in this setting by transgender people, those living with and at risk for HIV, and LGBT older adults. After presenting an overview of the fight ahead, participants will move into one of two policy focus groups: the fight for removing exclusions to transition-related care in health insurance, and the fight for HIV decriminalization. Participants will leave with a set of concrete "next steps." Together we can end anti-LGBT discrimination in healthcare!

    Aaron Potenza is an activist, educator, and historian, and the Director of Programs at Garden State Equality. He has his MA and MPhil in American Studies from Yale University, where he did doctoral work on the history of sexuality, and taught courses in the history of science, gender and women's history, and LGBT history. At Garden State Equality he oversees programs and program staff, works on pro-LGBT policy and legislation, and provides trainings for schools, hospitals, nonprofits and corporations on working with LGBT populations and people. He identifies as a gay transgender man and uses male pronouns.

    Ben Fisher is the Health and Wellness Coordinator at Garden State Equality. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, he graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts in African Studies and Journalism. After studying abroad in Uganda, he wrote a senior research paper on the 2009 Anti-Homosexuality Bill. He subsequently completed graduate coursework in feminist theory, queer theory, and critical race studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. At Garden State Equality, he coordinates projects focused on improving access to gender transition-related health care and HIV prevention and care, caring for LGBT older adults, and improving LGBT cultural and clinical competency in healthcare settings.

    HIV Activism and Advocacy

    The broader LGBTQ community needs to consistently engage in the broader health care policy debate. This has never been more critical given the political landscape we currently face. We have witnessed assaults on health care access, insurance reform and Medicaid/Medicare that provides health care coverage to over 60% of people living with HIV/AIDS. Hyacinth must partner with Jersey Pride and Garden State Equality to elevate these issues within the community and elected officials. We must all successfully recruit and train individuals to serve a critical voice in the public health policy debate that includes HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis advocacy. We must learn and disseminate lessons learned from our successful collaborations in our work regarding syringe access and Hepatitis C as we work with partners in our efforts to safeguard health care programs for our most vulnerable citizens. In the first half of our workshop we would like to elevate the current health care issues facing the majority of our constituency that is poor, live with mental illness and/or addiction, lack stable housing, suffer from co-morbidities and/or face homophobia. They are a forgotten community. Current health care policy issues facing this community include proposed federal changes to Medicaid, HIV and Hepatitis C treatment restrictions and denials at the state level and insurance reform. The second half of our workshop will include action steps and a timeline regarding the advocacy efforts needed to address the issues outlined in the workshop. This will include how to successfully engage in face to face advocacy with elected officials, how to contact elected officials, how to testify at hearings and how to join federal and state efforts to safeguard all health care programs accessed by the LGBTQ community.

    Axel Torres Marrero is the Senior Director of Public Policy and Prevention. Axel directs the organization's state and national legislative affairs, client's access to health care and legal services and the agency's community organizing projects. His twenty-year career with Hyacinth includes service on national coalitions and advisory boards, national conference planning, numerous public speaking engagements and teaching and training. He holds a BA in Sociology and Education from Rutgers University and a MA in Education from New York University.

    Kathy Ahearn-O'Brien Executive Director of Hyacinth AIDS Foundation in New Brunswick NJ, is a seasoned executive with experience in both the not-for- profit and for-profit environments. Prior to being named Executive Director in March, 2009 Kathy served as member of the senior staff for over 10 years and was instrumental in strategic conversations which pertained to client services, prevention and public policy, the cornerstones of Hyacinth's mission. During her tenure with Hyacinth, Kathy has been chiefly responsible for the administrative, human resources and financial areas of the organization. Kathy is currently the President of the Board of Trustees for New Jersey Association on Corrections, a social service agency that provides community corrections programs as well as domestic violence programs. She is also the appointed Co-Chair of the Essex County, NJ LGBTQ Advisory Board, tasked with advising the County Executive on issues relative to the LGBTQ population for residents, employees and visitors of the County. She served as a member of the board of the New Jersey Lesbian and Gay Coalition from 2000 until 2009, serving as Treasurer since 2004. She chaired the NJLGC's AIDS Task Force and helped produce the annual Honor Awards dinner. For her extensive work with the Domestic Partnership Task Force, which successfully implemented the passage of domestic partnership legislation through the New Jersey State Legislature, she was honored by NJLGC in 2005. In the early 90's she was one of the first board members of Lambda Families of New Jersey and served on its board until 1996. Kathy also helped to establish the Welcoming Congregation Committee of the Montclair Unitarian Church so that the church could attain official status in the denomination as a Welcoming Congregation for all individuals, regardless of gender identification, sexual orientation or preference. Kathy earned her Masters degree in Public Administration from Rutgers University in May, 2001, and is a 2007 Fellow of Leadership New Jersey. She is also a July, 2009 graduate of the UCLA Health Care Executive Program.

    Emotion: Understanding how emotion impacts you, others, influence and decision making

    In this engaging workshop, participants will learn about the foundations of emotion. They will learn how emotion impacts them on a cognitive, physiological, social, and behavioral level.They will also understand how emotion can impact their influential ability as well as their ability to motivate others. Participants will also gain tools on how to regulate emotion.

    Lori Tarke is a national platform speaker; specializing in HR, Diversity and Inclusion, and Learning and Development. With over 13 years of lecturing experience, and being fluent in both Spanish and English, she has been requested in a multitude of arenas. Lori has delivered over 250 topics throughout the nation and internationally. She has a BA in Psychology, M.Ed. in Learning and Technology, and is currently earning her doctorate in organizational leadership.


    Luncheon Presentation: Strategic activism - from intentions to impact (12:15 - 1:15)

    Like many other NGO's InterPride and its members are trying to find ways to improve the impact of its work on human rights. Political scientist Holzacker defined the strategy "High Profile Politics" that was introduced by Frank van Dalen as a successful strategy for social change. Frank will share do's and don'ts in order to set up a successful Human Rights strategy within existing program. Extra attention is paid how to get connection with politicians and make them act in order to obtain results. Meaningful international solidarity is also a topic.

    This workshop is for those who agree that regarding human rights it is not what you do, but what you effectively achieve to improve others peoples live.

    Frank van Dalen is vice-president operations of InterPride and co-chair of InterPrides Human Rights Committee. He is also chair of Pride United. Pride United in last years conducted the Pride Radar research for InterPride. Frank used to be chair of COC Netherlands and the Gay Pride in Amsterdam. He is chair of the LGBTI workgroup of Liberal International. For COC he developed a new strategy to increase the effectiveness of the advocacy work of the organizations. His model of high profile politics was later in an international comparison of successful advocacy strategies described as the most successful strategy.


    Session 2: The Next Generation (1:15 - 2:45)

    Young Social Entrepreneurs

    This session, showcasing the innovative non-profit, The Business of Doing Good, will take the audience on the journey of a non-profit creation to make the world a better place. Founder Michelle Julet, will share her journey and thought process for starting this project and lead interactive exercises for you to focus and put your PASSION INTO ACTION!

    The Business of Doing Good is a social entrepreneur coaching, mentoring and resource program for kids. We are determined to help youth develop the courage and passion to make the world a better place. Our program is highly individualized to meet kid's interest and skill set. We provide the exposure and tools, and every participant chooses their own topic in our summer bootcamp. Each day kids meet entrepreneurs who are making an impact. We have partnered with national start up accelerators to provide mentoring and coaching in our advanced training workshops. Additionally we work with local businesses to host POP UP events where our kids showcase their work. We provide a dynamic and engaging curriculum that will leave kids inspired to change the world. We also teach kids how to create, present, and launch their unique social entrepreneurial endeavor with an underlying theme of resilience and grit. The only question left to ask is how will your child change the world?

    Michelle Julet, Founder, has worked throughout the world developing educational materials and business opportunities for National Geographic Learning and other organizations, having executive leadership experience in educational technology at both large corporations and start-ups.

    Michelle was profoundly affected by kids she has seen - some from very poor backgrounds -- who place a high value on education and strive to learn, despite their meager surroundings. On the other hand, she has been amazed at the educational and entrepreneurial opportunities that cutting-edge technology affords. She considers herself fortunate to have met many people who have made it their job to change the world - from the youngest person to fly solo around the world, to a man who photographs animals on the verge of extinction, to people building homes in Africa and creating foster care for pets. Each one can identify the moment in their life when they found their passion - usually from meeting someone who inspired them and made them feel like they could do it. What consistently struck her is how great a role determination and grit play in achieving success, especially in a global economy. Her experiences - and being a mother - led her to start The Business of Doing Good: "I wanted to instill in my daughter the hunger of entrepreneurship - in the context of social issues and helping save the world - and solve problems in a global economy. I wanted her to have the privilege of knowing entrepreneurs who are changing the world, and to have the courage to make a large impact.

    From Within the Schools

    Come and learn about the work of GLSEN, The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, with educators, students, and communities. We'll show how you can be a part of strengthening school environments of safety and respect for all regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression. Whether you are a K-12 school staff member, a student, a parent or a concerned community member, there's a role for you in ensuring a positive climate in every school and district throughout New Jersey. We're helping young people and their teachers be supported and empowered and at the same time addressing school policy at the local, state, and federal levels.

    Attendees will gain an understanding of the current climate in New Jersey schools as it varies across the state, knowledge of steps being taken at the local and statewide level to ensure positive school environment for LGBTQ students and their allies, and tools for participating in the process of ensuring safe schools including participating in the GLSEN UP effort to impact public policy decisions.

    Carol Watchler was a leader in the Gay and Lesbian Coalition's Advisory Committee on Lesbian And Gay Adolescents from 1988 to the mid-90s. She co-chaired the National Education Association Caucus and established an NJEA Caucus working to create standing committees in both NEA and NJEA to address questions of sexual orientation and gender identity/expression in the school environment. She has served as the Co-Chair of GLSEN Central NJ since 2003 offering regular school staff trainings on LGBTQ issues and teaming with HiTOPS to develop 13 years of GSA Forum and Trans Youth Forum opportunities for youth as well as fostering GLSEN Central NJ student leadership teams.

    Trans 101: Real Talk for Parents, Family, Friends & Youth

    Are your children transitioning? You don't know where to begin? What to say? How to help them? Or maybe you just want to be informed. Join Seth Rainess as he offers wisdom from his own life in discussing the surprises, worries, joys and rewards of transitioning for youth (or adults) today. Learn some of the basic terminology; what to say and what not to say. This workshop is designed to help learn and understand the fundamental building blocks of gender transitioning. Seth encourages questions. None is too personal; none go unanswered. By knowing the truth, fear is dispelled. This 101 topic helps set the stage for those who are just beginning their journey. More importantly understanding what is involved in the choices they make. Setting a positive attitude in today's world.

    Seth Rainess is a Keynote Speaker, Author, Jersey Shore PFLAG facilitator, WPATH member & GLSEN volunteer. He is on the Jersey PFLAG board and the Advisory Board of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Gender Development and Sexuality Clinic. Educationally, he holds many degrees including an M.S. in psychology and rehab counseling. He's conducted seminars for trans youth, school assemblies and professional development for faculty in high schools and universities, He also provides workshops for the college, professional and corporate world on diversity and inclusion. Combining his 30+ years of experience working in the business sector and nonprofit organizations with his passion for helping trans youth, he can offer wisdom from his own life in discussing the surprises, worries, joys and rewards of transitioning for youth today. In his book, REAL TALK FOR TEENS: Jump-start Guide to Gender Transitioning and Beyond. Seth offers trans teens a foundation for transitioning and a unique perspective on what it takes to be successful in today's world. He draws on his rich life history, to offer youth, parents and mental health professionals an emotional road-map and physical timeline through gender transition and the exciting life that can lay beyond.


    Session 3: Community Advocacy, Activism and Organizing (2:50 - 4:20)

    The Equality March for Unity and Pride

    This session will focus on the inception and evolution of the upcoming Equality March for Unity and Pride to take place in Washington DC and around the country. Similar to the Women's March, this March will have numerous "Solidarity Events" in many towns and cities throughout the Month of June. Learn what's being done on the local, national and global levels for this March, and find out how you can get involved.

    Sue Doster has been an activist and community organizer for over 25 years. She is the Co-President of InterPride, the International Association of Pride Organizers. A membership organization that supports prides worldwide. Through this work, she has championed the PrideRadar Report, an ambitious project, that strives to list all the prides that take place around the world. To date over 1,000 Prides have been cataloged to date. Sue was recently named one of the National Co-Chairs for the Equality March for Unity and Pride that will be taking place this June. Closer to home, Sue serves on the board of NYC Pride, working to help the organization and events continually grow and thrive. In her professional life, Sue has worked for almost 30 years in the non-profit sector, the last two-decades at amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research where she holds the position of Chief

    Breaking the Silence: Addressing the needs of LGBT Seniors

    It is estimated that there are currently at least 1.5 million LGBT Seniors age 65+ in the United States, and that number is expected to rise to over 6 million in the next 10 years. These older adults are twice as likely to be single, twice as likely to live alone, and four times more likely to be without children than their heterosexual peers. Recently the Trump Administration proposed to remove LGBT elders from the NSOAACP (National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants) survey, which helps the federal government decide how to spend billions of dollars on essential services such as transportation, caregiver support and delivered meals (Meals on Wheels). Gordon Sauer will discuss what the special needs of LGBT seniors are, how they are not being currently met by caregiving agencies and what we can do about it.

    Gordon Sauer has worked with a number of LGBT organizations including, SAGE , GLSEN, GAAMC (NJ's Oldest LGBT organization) and the NJ LGBTQ Stakeholders Education Committee. He has also founded two LGBTQ discussion groups: Circles NJ and LGBT Babyboomers - A group which focuses on providing information to LGBTQ seniors. As chair of the Jersey City SAGE chapter, Gordon facilitates weekly meetings for LGBT Seniors in Jersey City and provides them with support and information on available services. He currently lives in East Hanover with his husband of 23 years and their dog Jasmine.

    Jersey City Stands: A case study

    Jersey City Stands, a community organization, was founded as a response to the current political climate. This grass roots collective organizes large scale rapid response rallies, vigils & events that aim to unify communities behind a collective cause. Using Jersey City Stands as a case study, Michael will explore community based activism.

    Michael Billy is the Colombian born adopted son of an Italian Catholic father and Austrian Jewish mother. Michael first moved to Jersey City in 2001 and since that time has been a successful businessman, advocate and community organizer. As a globally recognized broadcaster and communicator, Michael hosted the Emmy nominated series "In The Life" on PBS as well as been a cultural commentator on HLN and CNN recognized for his regular appearances on Showbiz Tonight.

    As a small business owner Michael successfully created jobs and opportunities by forging relationships between private enterprise and government. Michael founded and developed numerous small businesses such as Humanity Pride Productions, JB Talent Management and Discovery Map Hudson and understands the needs of the entrepreneur as well as the hard work required to make it successful.

    Using his skills as a communicator, Michael advanced the goals of the LGBTQ community by successfully bringing health and human services that had previously not been available. Today Michael sits on the Board of Hudson Pride Connections Center and on the Jersey City Diversity and Inclusion board where he continues to serve the community. As a response to the current political climate, Michaelfounded the grass roots collective "Jersey City Stands" which organizes large scale rapid response rallies, vigils & events that aim to unify communities behind a collective cause. Michael also co-founded The Jersey City International Television and Film Festival and co-chairs the week long Jersey City Pride festival that brings 10,000 people to downtown every August.

    CLOSING SESSION (4:30 - 5:00)

    From Selma to Stonewall

    The LGBTQ Equality movement is often called the new civil rights movement, but how true is that claim? Are the two movements similar, or are they fundamentally different? Do they have the same goals? Why are they often in conflict with one another? The documentary, "From Selma to Stonewall," explores these questions through the journey of two unlikely friends - Gil Caldwell, an 80-year-old black, straight retired preacher and civil rights leader, and Marilyn Bennet, a 52-year-old white lesbian activist and author. This talk chronicles the making of the documentary and the lessons learnerd.

    Gilbert Caldwell - Retired United Methodist minister, and a lifelong activist in the Civil Rights Movement from the 1964 Mississippi Freedom Summer to the 1968 Poor People's March. Gil is author of numerous books and blogs on social justice, including his latest collection, Something Within. Gil served several historic Black churches in the Northeast, including Union Methodist in Boston and St. Mark's in Harlem. He also served as Associated General Secretary to the General Commission on Religion and Race in Washington, D.C., and as Executive Director of the Ministerial Interfaith Association of Harlem. Gil helped found several significant organizations on the forefront of erasing bigotry within the church, including the Black Methodists for Church Renewal, the National Conference of Black Churchmen, and United Methodists of Color for a Fully Inclusive Church, which works toward equality in ordaining Methodist ministers who are gay or lesbian. He served as a national board member of PFLAG, and is a co-founder of Truth in Progress.

    Schedule at a Glance:

    Time Session
    8:00 - 8:45 Doors Open, registration and coffee with light refreshment
    8:50 - 9:00 GSE and JPI welcome
    9:00 - 9:40 Opening Plenary speaker: Cathy Renna
    9:50 - 10:35 Political Carousel
    10:35 - 10:45 Break
    10:45 - 12:15 Session 1: Our Health. Our Birthright
    12:15 - 1:15 Lunch w/guest speaker: LGBTI Human Rights Strategies
    1:15 - 2:45 Session 2: The Next Generation
    2:50 - 4:20 Session 3: Community Advocacy, Activism and Organizing
    4:20 - 4:30 Break
    4:30 - 5:00 Closing Plenary: Reverend Gil Caldwell
    5:00 - 6:00 Roundup Cocktail hour sponsored by Tito's

    United 2017 Details at a Glance

    When:   Sunday, April 30, 2017

                  8:30 am - 5 pm

    Where:  The Asbury Hotel, Asbury Park, NJ

                  210 5th Avenue

                  Asbury Park, NJ

    Cost:   $75 per person

    Click here to register.

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    Conference Organizers

    This conference is being organized in partnership by Jersey Pride, Inc. and Garden State Equality

    For more information about these organizations, click the links below.

    Jersey Pride, Inc.

    Garden State Equality

    The Asbury Hotel