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Board of Directors

Celebrating a Decade of Leadership
Board chairs of the last ten years on why The Center matters

The Center's board of directors meets together as a full group six times a year (September, October, November, February, March, April, June) for business meetings, strategic progress review and planning sessions. Board committees meet monthly to pursue the more detailed work of the organization and the board.

The public is welcome and invited to attend Center board meetings, with the exception of the small portion of the session dedicated to personnel matters (executive session.) Because the meetings are from 6:30pm to 8:30pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month, the board has ensured that the beginning of each meeting includes opportunity for public comment and questions, allowing those unable or uninterested in staying for a full meeting an opportunity to participate or offer comment without having to make a full two hour commitment.

Please feel free to contact The Center’s board of directors at  For any further information you may require, or to confirm meeting times or dates, please contact the CEO at

Board Officers

G. Joyce Rowland - CHAIR

G. Joyce Rowland is senior vice president of human resources for Sempra Energy. Prior to that, she served as vice president of human resources and chief ethics officer of Pacific Enterprises, the parent company of SoCalGas.

Joyce holds a Master's degree in business administration, with a concentration in industrial relations, and a Bachelor's degree in psychology from UCLA. A board member of the San Diego Better Business Bureau and the Equality California Institute, she is also an active member in a number of professional groups, including the Society for Human Resource Management, World at Work and Anthem Blue Cross of California's consumer relations committee.

Simonne Ruff - VICE CHAIR

Simonne Ruff is the San Diego Program Director for the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). She currently directly oversees CSH’s work in the region and directly engages in technical assistance, lending, training, and advocacy work that creates permanent housing with services to prevent and end homelessness. Prior to her relocation to San Diego, Simonne worked at Neighborhood Link/Senior Link, a multi-service agency in Toronto, Canada. In addition, Simonne has experience in community based research, organizational development and program evaluation. 

Simonne is former vice-president of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless as well as the San Diego Housing Federation. She currently sits on the San Diego Regional Continuum of Care Council Governance Board as well as the California Housing Partnership Corporation Board of Directors. She holds a Master's Degree in Anthropology and a Diploma in Refugee and Migration Studies from York University and a Certificate in Human Resource Management from the University of Toronto.

Lisa Nicole Sanders - SECRETARY

Lisa Nicole Sanders is the sales and marketing manager for Black Mountain Ranch.  An outspoken advocate in the ongoing fight for marriage equality, she has served on multiple boards and committees, including the GSDBA Charitable Foundation board of directors, the Nicky Awards Board of Governors, the No on 8 Campaign, and the Lambda Archives. Prior to her community activism, Lisa was the assistant to the campaign manager for her father Jerry Sanders’ successful mayoral campaign.  She is a graduate of The University of Redlands and is currently working towards her MBA.

Warren Ruis  - TREASURER

Warren Ruis is Director of Community Relations for San Diego Gas & Electric Company, where he manages the company’s strategic philanthropy throughout a variety of giving areas with a focus on underserved and diverse communities. Warren has worked in a variety of roles at SDG&E and Sempra Energy, within the Supply Management, Risk Management, and Public Affairs departments. He also Chairs the Supervisory Committee for California Coast Credit Union, and is a long-time volunteer for the Make A Wish Foundation of San Diego. Warren received his BA from University of San Diego, his MBA from Pepperdine University and is an Associate in Risk Management from the AICPCU.

Board Members

Dale Kelly Bankhead is the Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego-Imperial Counties Labor Council, where she leads the over 200,000 working families and 135 affiliated unions of our local labor movement.  She comes to this position after many decades working on behalf of equality and social justice, including for the LGBT community. Most notably, Dale has been active in the fight for marriage equality, serving as statewide manager for the No on 8 campaign and its predecessor Equality for All.  Her work also includes leading the fight to oust the discriminatory Boy Scouts from their free location in city-owned Balboa Park and serving on the Anti-Bullying Task Force of the San Diego Unified School District.

Dale held a number of senior policy and management positions on the staff of Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins and has played a prominent role in legislative successes on behalf of the LGBT community, such as bills which eliminated much of the expense and other hurdles associated with ensuring that a transgender person's birth and death certificates accurately reflect their gender identity. Her professional background includes eight years as the Public Affairs Director for the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties. She has been honored many times for her social justice work by organizations such as the San Diego Democratic Party, San Diego Democrats for Equality, the Metropolitan Community Church and the Tom Homann Law Association.

Eric Banks is a member of the California Public Employment Relations Board. Appointed by Governor Jerry Brown and confirmed by the State Senate, Eric is one of five members of the Board, charged with the overall administration of eight collective bargaining statutes in the state. Prior to his appointment Eric worked at the Service Employees International Union, Local 221, representing employees in San Diego and Imperial Counties. He served in numerous positions including president, advisor to the president, chief of staff and director of government and community relations.

Eric moved to San Diego from Albany, NY, where he worked as the policy associate for the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC). He spent over a decade working at the Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP), directing case management, treatment education and housing services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Gil Cabrera has been an attorney in San Diego for over eighteen years. Prior to forming The Cabrera Firm, he was a senior associate with Cooley Godward Kronish LLP and an associate with Luce, Forward, Hamilton & Scripps LLP. Since 2013, Gil has served on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Convention Center Corporation. From 2005-2010, Gil served on the San Diego Ethics Commission, which monitors and enforces the City’s governmental campaign finance and ethics laws and proposes new governmental ethics law reforms. He served as Chair of the Ethics Commission from 2007-2009, and also has served as the Chair of the San Diego Chief of Police’s Use of Force Task Force, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego and member of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America National Board of Directors.

Joanna Clark joined The Center Board in 2014. She works with Wells Fargo & Co,  Community Bank Division as a Recruiting Leader responsible for more than 11,000 hires annually. Prior to that she worked as a recruiting leader with the AT&T family of companies in various positions and lived in five cities and three states before settling here in San Diego in 2005.

Her involvement with the community really began in volunteering with her daughters' schools and working as coach in the Mira Mesa area for five years. She has also served as a Regional Champion for HISPA and a coach/mentor for Girls on the Run.

Gloria Cruz is a local activist and a lifelong advocate for LGBT and immigrant rights, being a member of both communities. She has been a community organizer, in San Diego and Los Angeles, for the past 18 years. As one of the founding members of the San Diego Dream Team and still an active member, she works closely with students and community members to improve access to legal counsel for immigrants in remote detention and to promote its Undocuqueer project. She has also worked with San Diego LGBT Pride, where she focused on structuring the festival to be welcoming to all people.

Gloria currently works at the ACLU of San Diego and Imperial Counties as an organizer, where she focuses on education equity, immigrant rights, LGBT rights and police accountability. She continues to bridge the issues of those affected by injustice with her strong dedication to the legal and advocacy vision of the ACLU.

Vernita Gutierrez is Director of Community Engagement for Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW). As part of her work, she is responsible for representing and advancing the organization’s mission by contributing to and strengthening partnerships in San Diego County through community collaboration, education and outreach.

Vernita serves on several boards and committees, including Alliance San Diego, Black Infant Health Program’s Community Council, the San Diego Refugee Forum Health Task Force, Faith-Based Action Coalition of San Diego County, and SoNo Neighborhood Alliance. She is passionate about community health, reproductive justice, youth empowerment and other social justice causes.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, Vernita studied administrative systems management at Drexel University.  She relocated to San Diego, CA in 1989.

Kafele J. Khalfani currently serves as the Dean of Student Affairs for Warren College at the University of California, San Diego.  In this role, he has oversight for residence life, student organizations and leadership opportunities, orientation, student government, judicial affairs and community development for 4,100 undergraduate students.  After receiving a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts in Advertising from Michigan State University, Kafele worked as an Account Executive at Ogilvy & Mather in New York. His clients included Cotton Incorporated and Hershey’s Chocolate USA. In 2001, Kafele relocated to California and served in a similar role at Suissa Miller Advertising where his brands included Rice-A-Roni and Dole Fresh Salads.
Kafele soon transitioned back into higher education and has worked at many institutions including Loyola Marymount University (MFA ’07), Marymount College (now Marymount California University), University of California, Riverside and the College of Staten Island.  

Kafele is completing a Doctor of Education degree from the University of Southern California.

Victor H. Ravago is General Manager for a 208 room hotel, overseeing a team of 60 associates. He has been an advocate for social and economic equality, both in and out of the workplace since 2010, when he became a founding member of the San Diego Dream Team, a youth-led immigrant rights group that works to organize and advocate social justice for immigrant communities. Since then he has been committed to fighting for social progress for immigrant and LGBTQ communities of color. Victor serves on the San Diego Steering Committee for the Human Rights Campaign, has participated in the AIDs LifeCycle, volunteered with Equality California and San Diego Pride, and was a member of the planning committee for the 5th Annual Queer People of Color Conference.

Alex Sheldon is a Research Analyst at the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a national think tank that provides rigorous research and analysis to help speed equality for LGBT people. Alex works at the intersection of data and policy, supporting MAP’s public policy and LGBT movement analysis work. Before working at MAP, she held research positions at several international non-profit organizations, including the Organization for Refuge, Asylum, and Migration (ORAM), Project Education South Sudan, and Global WASH in Kenya. She has designed trainings for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, on LGBT identity inclusion in the Middle East and South Africa, and has worked directly with LGBT communities in East Africa and the Caribbean. She holds a Master's degree in International Human Rights and a certificate in Global Health Affairs from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, where her research concentrated the promotion of health as a human right in global LGBT populations. Alex also holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Research from Whittier College and is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.

Joel Trambley, MD, PhD, is a local physician and LGBT activist. Dr. Trambley currently works for Family Health Centers of San Diego focusing on LGBT care and Hepatitis C treatment. Prior to joining FHCSD, he spent 9 years as a hospitalist and teacher at UCSD. In 2007, Dr. Trambley began working with the Human Rights Campaign San Diego Steering Committee as Political Co-Chair, and became a Steering Committee Co-Chair in 2012. He has been involved in the “No on 8” campaign, Marriage Equality USA, the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council Public Policy Advisory Committee, and electoral politics. He is a two term Chair of the City of San Diego Human Relations Commission and write the "Politically Aware" column in San Diego LGBT Weekly.

Shaun Travers, EdD, is a Diversity Officer at the University of California, San Diego and the Director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center on campus. Shaun received his Doctorate in Education in 2009, and his current practice involves the leadership of social justice educators in higher education. In addition, he lectures on self-reflection in higher education practice, and the opportunities and challenges of working in the LGBT community.

With a 1994 Psychology and Theatre degree from California Lutheran University coupled with a 1996 MS in Education from Indiana University, Shaun has experience in diversity, higher education, qualitative research, gender issues, youth and non-profit management. An active representative of the bisexual community, he frequently speaks at and participates in forums supporting the diversity of many social justice movements. He works with the San Diego LGBT Community Leadership Council, as well as the National Consortium of LGBT Directors in Higher Education. He and his partners live in the San Diego community of Hillcrest.

Andrea Villa User Experience Researcher and Designer at Qualcomm, Inc. and an acolyte Citizen Artist, she is also a native San Diegan, a proud mestiza of European and Mexican/Indigenous blood. Her maternal Granduncle opened and ran one of the country’s premier antiquarian bookshops (Wahrenbrocks) in downtown San Diego, and her paternal Grandfather helped to build, among other things, the Cabrillo Bridge in Balboa Park. Andrea began her community activism at a young age, campaigning for George Mondale for President on her elementary school bus. She came to social justice and LGBT equality activism in her 20s, quit her job to attend the LGBT March on Washington in 1987, and hasn’t looked back since.

A staunch believer in the sanctity of body, mind and language, she has served her combined communities for many years in many ways. To name just a few: as a founding member of ActUP! San Diego, co-chair of San Diego LGBT Pride, co-chair and board member of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, co-chair for the San Diego No On Proposition 8 Campaign, and proud member of the Latin@ Advisory Council at the SD LGBT Community Center.

In Memoriam

John Laird was known and loved throughout San Diego both for his big heart and generous spirit, and as a dedicated LGBT community activist and volunteer. A former Marine, in 1981 John moved to San Diego, where he met his lifetime partner and husband, Aaron Borovoy. They were legally married on July 3, 2008.

John first became involved in the San Diego LGBT community in 1981 as a volunteer for what was then known as The Gay Center. He joined The Imperial Court de San Diego in 1982 and was elected as Grey Wolf Emperor XXI in 1992. John's service to the community personally and through the Imperial Court de San Diego and Temple Emanu-El included the Lesbian Health Project Pink Ribbon Campaign, chair of Toys for Kids, the Nicky Award Board of Governors, the AIDS Memorial Task Force, the Grocery Hearts Food Pantry, the San Diego Rescue Mission Women and Children's Center, The Storefront, Standdown for Vietnam Veterans, The Interfaith Shelter Project, and many others. He was also instrumental in Temple Emanu-El becoming the first Jewish organization to march in San Diego's Pride Parade. John served as a board member of the San Diego LGBT Community Center from 2002 until his death on August 24, 2011. His enthusiasm and commitment to his community will be sadly missed.

David H. Birnbaum was an extraordinary human being who touched the lives and hearts of all of The Center's staff, board, volunteers, clients and donors. Indeed, there are few in our community who David's warmth and generosity did not touch. The passing of his booming voice, his boundless enthusiasm, his strident support of families with LGBT sons and daughters, and his enormous love for the youth in our community will be a great loss. He and his wife, Deena, have been among our community's greatest allies, staunchest defenders, and most willing supporters.

David was a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the California Society of Certified Public Accountants. Prior to retirement, he was a Senior Vice President with Bank America Business Credit. For the past five years, David has served on the board of PFLAG (Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbian and Gays) as Support/Outreach Chair. Thousands of San Diego parents and youth have spoken to David as he offered hope, encouragement and resources for them. None will forget his warmth or kindness. David also served on the board of Ohr Shalom Synagogue. He was an active volunteer speaker for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an Ambassador for City of Hope Medical Center, and a member of the Cancer Society's Action Network. He was a graduate of Queens College of the City University of New York. David joined The Center's Board of Director's in June 2001 and quickly became an active, energizing voice, advocating tirelessly for the LGBT community.

We remember and honor Ernest Green, who served on the Board from 1998 until his death on January 22, 2000. He co-chaired the Special Events Committee and was a member of the Public Relations Committee. Ernie was a lifetime title-holder in the Imperial Court. Over the years, he headed up numerous fund raisers benefiting many non-profit organizations, including The Center, and was co-chair of the Live and Let Live Alano Club from 1994 to 1997. He was a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor with Mental Health Systems in San Diego. Ernie and his work in the community will not be forgotten.

Lovel Waiters joined The Center board with an extensive understanding of non-profit organizations, and experienced knowledge regarding the importance of collaborative community organizing. Lovel had previously served as co-chair of the Ebony Pride Board of Directors, and had been an active volunteer with several San Diego area organizations, including Rolling Readers, the St. Vincent de Paul Center and READ San Diego. She had also been a volunteer with The Center’s Women’s Resource Center, including facilitating the women’s writing group.

Waiters was honored for her community service with Ebony Pride, and was named Woman of the Year by the National Council of Negro Women.