Bruce Converse, Rainbow Radio Executive Producer, Writer & Co-host

Bruce Converse is an Advisory Board Member, having also served on the Board of Directors for South Carolina Pride Movement for several years. Bruce has been one of the stage announcers for SC Pride for several years, and is a fulltime faculty member at Midlands Technical College. He has been the Writer and Co-host of Rainbow Radio-The Real Gay Agenda since it started back in October 2005. For the past several years, he has also been the Executive Producer of the program, which is the only gay-themed radio program in both North and South Carolina. Bruce, along with his partner of almost 30 years, have been active in the LGBT Community since arriving in South Carolina in 2002.

Breck Cronise, RCSO Liaison

Aaron Guest, Resource Guide

Aaron Guest was born in Athens, Georgia and spent most of his school-aged years in the upstate of South Carolina. He moved to Columbia in 2009 to attend the University of South Carolina, where he graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in Anthropology, with Distinction in Anthropology, and a minor in Women’s in Gender Studies. During this time his program of study was focused on queer theory and the LGBTQ community. Through his minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, Aaron was able to complete a summer internship at the Harriet Hancock Center working on the Midlands School Resource Guide. His undergraduate work culminated in his Magellan funded Senior Thesis, Gay Male Power Structures: Negotiating Gay Male Leadership within Queer Communities. He was named the 2012 Outstanding Anthropology Student by the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Carolina. Aaron is currently co-purseuing a Master’s of Social Work in Community and Organizations (Class of 2015) and a Master’s of Public Health in Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior (Class of 2015) at the University of South Carolina, where he was named one of the inaugural recipients of the Dean’s Graduate Research Assistantship in the College of Social Work. His academic interest focuses on the intersections of mobilization, advocacy, public policy, education, and dissemination around health disparities, reproductive rights, and sex & sexuality. He hopes to one day complete a Ph.D in Public Policy framed around Social Advocacy.

Dr. Laura Hein

Dr. Hein is an Assistant Professor in the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Hein’s program of research focuses on the interaction of sexual orientation/gender identity, homeless status, resilience, empowerment and experiences of violence and victimization. She has sought to investigate LGBT health disparities within a social justice and public policy paradigm. She is familiar with the LGBT community not only through her research, but through internships as a doctoral student and work as a post-doctoral fellow [intern LGBT Community Center, Nashville, TN; research intern Howard Brown Health Center, Chicago, Illinois – an LGBT Health/Research institution]. Dr. Hein has been honored with the Diversity Award, by the International Society of Psychiatric Mental-Health Nurses for leadership on LGBT health issues. She also received the Palmetto Gold Award from the South Carolina Nurses Foundation, for excellence in nursing. Laura is an expert on LGBT health disparities, and serves as the only nurse on the Board of Directors of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association.

Larry Hembree

Alex Karydi, Trans Families

Alex Karydi, Ph.D., LMFT-I, CSAC, CAC, is an internationally certified drug and alcohol counselor that has been trained in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) related issues. Alex is employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice as an evaluating psychologist, but also has been designated as the DJJ LGBT youth coordinator. She works with advocates and regional LGBT youth agencies to ensure representation of LGBTQQI youth within these community groups. Alex is a member of the SC HIV Council, the South Carolina State Alliance for Adolescent Sexual Health and a committee member on the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Against Intimate Partner Violence Task Force. Alex’s ultimate intention is to start a movement towards a healthier and more supportive community – where LGBT can find each other, learn from one another, and build a stronger support system.

OK Keyes, YOL

O.K. Keyes serves as the Youth OUTLOUD Coordinator, a safe and affirming discussion group for LGBT youth and allies. They are also an adjunct professor in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina, teaching courses in video production and media arts education. Their research focuses on youth media practices and the ways in which social media technologies can enhance learning environments rather than detract. This work has been implemented in a program called TakeBreakMake, an after-school, youth media based project for high school students in in partnership with the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center, The Nickelodeon Theatre, and USC’s Department of Women and Gender Studies. Their curriculum development centers around moving the conversation about queerness away from identity and more towards interruption. Weaving together lines of thought from queer theory, post-feminist theory, transgender studies, media history, fandom studies, and even ghost stories, they demonstrate the ways in which marginalized communities not only create new stories but also craft new ways of storytelling.

Bexx Merck, YOL

Megan Monts, Fundraising and Grants

Dr. Jodie Peeler

Jodie Peeler is Professor of Communications at Newberry College in Newberry, SC. A native of South Carolina, she holds an undergraduate degree from Lander University and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina-Columbia. Before entering academia, she worked in radio broadcasting and print journalism; she has also written two books and has published several magazine articles. At Newberry College, Dr. Peeler is Coordinator for the Communications program. She has served on numerous committees, including Faculty Council and the Tenure and Promotion Committee, and served four years as Chair of the Conduct Review Board. Her honors include being named 2008-2009 Professor of the Year by the Newberry College Student Government Association, and last year she was the Newberry College winner of the 2012 South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award. Dr. Peeler’s concern for the LGBTIQ community is reflected in her on-campus service as a Safe Zone Ally and trainer, and her current service on the College’s Diversity Committee.

Dr. Mindi Spencer

Mindi Spencer received her Ph.D. in Life‐Span Developmental Psychology from West Virginia University in 2006, with Graduate Certificates in Gerontology and Women’s Studies. She went on to complete her postdoctoral training as Kellogg Health Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh. Although much of her scholarship has focused on caregiving and American Indian Elders, she has also worked extensively in the LGBT community in both research and service. Her thesis and dissertation focused on LGBT health – specifically, how supportive “families of choice” can promote resiliency across the life span and help counter the negative effects of heterosexism. She received funding for this work through 1) the American Psychological Association (APA) Division 44 (LGBT Psychology) Research Scholarship and 2) a Brown v. Board of Education grant based on the premise that equity in education must be assessed not only in terms of minority representation, but also in an institution’s ability to provide a safe and supportive environment for its LGBT students. She has served on the Division 44 Research and Education Committee and on the West Virginia University Council on Sexual Orientation, where she used to conduct Safe Zone trainings and workshops on nonviolent protest strategies in response to visits from the Westboro Baptist Church. Before she left WV, Dr. Spencer was an invited member of the Planning Committee for the first ever WV Coalition Against Domestic Violence Summit to focus on same-sex intimate partner violence. She has published her research on LGBT health and presented at various conferences, including SAGE. Dr. Spencer is also a Fellow of the APA Minority Aging Network In Psychology and Minority Task Force, a Grantmakers in Aging Fellow, an AARP Scholar, and an NIH Health Disparities Scholar. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the USC Arnold School of Public Health and the Institute for Southern Studies, where she works with the Youth Empowered Against HIV (YEAH!) project and a number of talented doctoral students with interests in LGBT health and social justice.

Jennifer Tague, SAGE and Family Pride Coordinator

Jennifer is the Director of Operations of SC Equality and has been a LGBT activist for over 25 years. She is married to Troy Tague and has 3 children. She attended Columbia High School and Midlands Technical College where she studied Criminal Justice. Jennifer has been involved with SC Pride since it began with the first Pride March in 1989. She has worked closely with several LGBT organizations, including volunteering with PALSS and the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center. Her most recent interest has been with helping the aging LGBT community establish an advocacy group for seniors called SAGE (Service Advocacy for GLBT Seniors).

Peter Webb, Finance

Peter Webb grew up in Columbia and is the owner of WISH a ladies clothing store with 2 locations here and one in Greenville, SC, now going in to its 9th year.This summer he reopened the toy store in 5 points that closed after 17 years due the owner retiring, and it is now called Bungalow. Over the years has worked on fund raising projects for Palss and the Columbia City Ballet. “I would be honored to work on the advisory committee for the Harriet Hancock Center bringing my entrepreneurial background and strong business sense I feel could help the Center with its commitment to the community.”

Justin Wise, Outreach

Justin Wise is a graduate of OC Tech with an Associates Degree in Business and is employed by the City of Columbia Police Department. He came out to his friends and family back in 2009 and has been active in the LGBT community ever since. Justin has served as the SC Pride Parade Coordinator for the last 3 years and also serves on the advisory board for SC Pride. He is Peer Leader for YEAH! (Youth Empowered Against HIV!) and is also a member of the SC Gay and Lesbian Business Guild. Justin has shared his coming out story to many young people over the last few years. Serving on the advisory board of the Harriet Hancock LGBT Center allows him to be a voice for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community. His message to others is, be proud of who you are.