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 quarterly for all day business and strategic review and planning sessions. Board committees meet monthly (and occasionally more frequently) to pursue the 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 all day meetings, 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 day meeting an opportunity to participate or offer comment without having to make a day long commitment.
Please feel free to contact The Center’s CEO at firstname.lastname@example.org for any further information you may require.
Dr. Shaun Travers - CO-CHAIR
Dr. Shaun Travers 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, and his current research involves the leadership practice 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 partner live in the San Diego community of Hillcrest.
Andrea Villa - CO-CHAIR
Andrea Villa joins The Center board with an impressive background in social and community involvement. Andrea is currently serving on the board of the San Diego Democratic Club. She served on the board of San Diego LGBT Pride for six years and was co-chair for three years and the board of Labrys Productions, a Lesbian Theatre Company. She is Human Factors Engineer at QUALCOMM Inc.
Previously, Andrea worked for Cykic Software. She joined the Board in December, 2004.
G. Joyce Rowland - VICE 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.
Ryland Madison - SECRETARY
Ryland Madison is director of product development & marketing operations for Cox Communications San Diego, where he leads acquisition, upgrade, retention and competitive strategy through to implementation. Ryland's team led the Cox San Diego launch of high-speed Internet, digital telephone, high definition cable, and digital video recorders. In 2001, Ryland led the national Cox team in the creation of a new high-speed Internet service. He was a board member of Family Matters of San Diego for over six years and was the president for two years until it merged with The Center in 2007.
Ryland has served as a senior consultant with Oracle Corporation and worked for the Walt Disney Co. as an Imagineer. A Southern California native, Ryland graduated from UCSD with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering and business management. He is an active member of the UCSD alumni association. Ryland has been at the forefront of gay family rights in San Diego, along with his husband of more than 20 years and son.
Tom Hebrank - TREASURER
Tom Hebrank is A Certified Public Accountant as well as a Certified Insolvency and Restructuring Advisor with 30 years of experience in the financial industry, he serves as a Director on the San Diego Receivers Forum, and is a past Director on the San Diego Bankruptcy Forum, both of which serve and represent the local receivership and bankruptcy communities. Prior to founding Hebrank Consulting and joining E3 Advisors, Tom served as Senior Managing Director for the Douglas Wilson Companies. His local involvement includes serving on the City of San Diego’s Audit Committee, serving as Chairman of the Kensington Talmadge Planning Group for six (6) years as well as stepping into the role of President of the San Diego City Employee’s Retirement System (the Pension Board) during a very tumultuous time in San Diego’s history. He was honored by the City of San Diego in April 2009 with a special proclamation honoring his commitment to community service and the betterment of the City of San Diego.
Eric Banks - EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Eric Banks is a member of the California Public Employment Relations Board and strategic advisor to the president of the Service Employees International Union, Local 221, representing public employees in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Previously Eric served as the Local 221's director of government and community relations. Born into a family of trade unionists, he has a deep passion for the rights of working men and women.
Eric moved to San Diego in 2001 from Albany, NY, where he worked as the policy associate for the New York AIDS Coalition (NYAC). Based in the State Capitol of New York, he was responsible for representing more than 250 AIDS organizations across the State. Eric 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 across eight counties in Upstate New York.
Don Mullen - EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE MEMBER-AT-LARGE
Don Mullen is a principal at Common Ground San Diego. An eight year veteran of City Hall, he was formerly Councilmember Marti Emerald's chief of staff and served with two former Councilmembers. A native of Iowa, he is a 30 year resident of San Diego. Don comes from a long background in small business where he specialized in advertising, action sports retail, and small business development. He has in-depth experience in political strategy, campaigns, and community development. In addition to his duties as Chief of Staff, he advises Councilmember Emerald on redevelopment, economic development, tourism, and labor relations.
Don is a recent graduate of Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Senior Executives in State and Local Government program and holds a certificate from San Diego State University in Community Economic Development.
Linda Cory Allen is a native San Diegan and attorney who began her legal career in 1978, as the first female legal clerk hired by the Honorable Howard B. Turrentine. Following a few years in private practice, Linda left her partnership at Procopio Cory Hargreaves & Savitch for public interest work. For most of her career, she directed a walk-in legal clinic for people living with HIV/AIDS. She designed and taught the first “AIDS and the Law” course in San Diego. Linda also served for several years as house counsel for Community Health Group, a health group serving a low-income population, then returned to HIV/AIDS work as a staff attorney for the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program.
In addition to her legal career, Linda has served on several community boards, including eight years with the ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties, and is a long-time volunteer for Mama’s Kitchen.
Gil Cabrera has been an attorney in San Diego for over fifteen 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. 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.
Jeff Gattas is executive director of marketing, media relations and public affairs, UC San Diego. Prior to his current position, he served as San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' director of city council affairs. In addition he served as chief of staff to San Diego City Councilmember Toni Atkins and as district director and press secretary for California Assemblymember Denise Moreno Ducheny.
Jeff has managed and advised on several national, state and local political campaigns. Before entering the public sector Jeff worked in public relations and marketing, assisting organizations in meeting their strategic communication, community outreach and product development and placement needs. He and his partner live in the San Diego community of North Park.
Michael D. Pierschbacher, Ph.D., is president and CEO of American Life Sciences Pharmaceuticals. Previously he served Integra LifeSciences Corporation as senior vice president, R&D, and director of the Corporate Research Center. Prior to that, he served as senior vice president and scientific director of Telios Pharmaceuticals, of which he was co-founder. Before joining Telios, he was a staff scientist at the La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation, now called The Burnham Institute for Medical Research, and remained on staff there in an adjunct capacity until the end of 1995. He also served as an adjunct professor, Department of Pathology, at UCSD and is a member of the Industrial Affiliates program at the Institute for Biomedical Engineering.
Michael has served on the editorial board, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and chaired the Fibronectin Gordon Conference in 1991. He is a member of the American Peptide Society, American Society for Artificial Internal Organs, American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, American Society for Cell Biology, American Society of Biological Chemists, and The Protein Society. He is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Burn Institute in San Diego, where he serves as Vice President of Programs and Chairman of the Research Grants Committee.
Simonne Ruff is the director of the San Diego Program at Corporation for Supportive Housing. She currently directly oversees the San Diego Program’s work in Southern California, including San Diego, Imperial and Orange Counties. She directly engages in training, Technical Assistance, lending, 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 organizational development and program evaluation.
Simonne is former vice-president of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless and a current board member of the San Diego Housing Federation. 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 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.
Richard Valdez is a partner in the legal firm of Sandler, Lasry, Laube, Byer & Valdez. Over the past decade, he has represented business and property owners in over 125 cases involving claims of disability access. Richard has been a part-time instructor for USD Paralegal's Program for 13 years, and an instructor with the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. He has served on the San Diego County Bar Association's Judicial Evaluation Committee for 4 years and as a member of the California State Bar Standing Committee on Legal Services for Persons with Disabilities.
In addition, Richard is a former chair of the Center board and has served on the boards of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union and Access Centers of San Diego.
Sid Voorakkara is a nonprofit and philanthropic consultant with Ten Page Memo LLC. He's a former program officer with the California Endowment, where he focused on increasing access to culturally competent healthcare and advocating for institutional changes to workforce development systems serving vulnerable populations. He has served as a consultant for such organizations as California Consumers United and Californians for Tax Fairness. He previously served as a field director for the United Nations Foundation and as a communications advisor for Congressman Richard Gephardt.
Since relocating to San Diego in 2004, Sid has been active in working to end marriage discrimination in California, having served as a co-chair for San Diegans for Marriage Equality. Voorakkara earned his bachelor's degree in government from New York University.
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.