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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 seven times a year (September, October, November, February, March, April, June) for business meetings, strategic progress review and planning sessions. This year, in light of the Leadership Transition Search and Selection process, the Center’s board of directors will also meet in July and August. Board committees meet monthly to pursue the more detailed work of the organization and the board.

The public and the community are 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 current co-chairs of board of directors at board@thecentersd.org. 


 

Board Officers

 

Simonne Ruff - CO-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.

 

Joanna Clark - CO-CHAIR

Joanna Clark is a Recruiting Leader in the Community Bank Division of Wells Fargo & Co. responsible for leading teams helping 37,000 people get jobs annually. Joanna began in Talent Acquisition more than 20 years ago with AT&T because she believed there was nothing better than helping people find meaningful work for themselves while helping companies grow.  Her involvement with the community began with volunteering for her daughter’s schools and working as a soccer 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.  Joanna was born in Los Angeles and has lived in cities across the country before choosing her adopted home of San Diego, where she lives with her wife, Yvonne, and daughter Jade, and their numerous rescue animals.

 

Andrea Villa - VICE CHAIR

Andrea Villa is a Staff User Experience Researcher and Designer at Qualcomm where her insights help drive innovation in mobile technologies for billions of users globally. Her 15+ years of expertise as a UX practitioner have helped build the foundation for smartphone, Internet of Things, Automotive, Smart City, and other multi-billion-dollar international markets. She is also a leader in the company’s Diversity & Inclusion employee network programs.

Andrea is a San Diego native and, as a lifelong queer Latina activist, she has served her communities on multiple boards and committees, including as Co-Chair of San Diego Pride, two-term President of the San Diego Democratic Club (now the San Diego Democrats for Equality), and Co-Chair of the San Diego ‘No on Proposition 8’ Campaign. She has served on the San Diego LGBT Community Center Board of Directors for a non-consecutive 11 years in multiple roles, including Board Chair, as well as a founding member of the Latino Advisory Council of the San Diego LGBT Community Center.

 

Warren Ruis  - TREASURER

Warren Ruis is Director of Regional Public Affairs for San Diego Gas & Electric Company. 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.

 

Kafele J. Khalfani  - SECRETARY

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.

 

Board Members

 

Dale Kelly Bankhead is the Secretary-Treasurer of the San Diego Working Families Council, where she leads working families and affiliated unions. 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.

 

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.

 

G. Joyce Rowland is senior vice president, chief human resources officer and chief administrative officer for Sempra Energy, a Fortune 500 company where she also serves as chief ethics officer.
 
She is a board member of the San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Gas Company and the Equality California Institute. Rowland is also active in a number of professional organizations, including the Society for Human Resource Management, World at Work and Anthem Blue Cross of California’s consumer relations committee.
 
She earned her degrees at UCLA, including a master’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in industrial relations, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

 

Lisa Sanders is currently the marketing manager for the San Diego division of CalAtlantic Homes.  In 2006, she started her career in land development of the Del Sur Master Plan community.  She transitioned to new home construction in 2014, managing the marketing of over twenty CalAtlantic new home communities throughout San Diego.  A graduate of the University of Redlands in Mathematics and an MBA with an emphasis in finance, she is an outspoken advocate in the ongoing fight for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equality. Lisa has served on multiple boards and committees, including the San Diego LGBT Community Center, GSDBA Charitable Foundation board of directors, the Nicky Awards board of governors, the No on 8 Campaign, and the Lambda Archives. Lisa has a lovely wife of seven years and two beautiful daughters.

 

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.

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.