New York City

A BIT ABOUT US

The History of Gender Conference NYC

Gender Conference NYC has its roots in Gender Conference East, which began in 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland.  The seed was planted in 2008 when moms in both Maryland and New York were eager for support and community.  They found each other, and with the help of PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, PFLAG NYC, The Ackerman Institute's Gender & Family Project and Gender Spectrum, Gender Conference East was born.  After a move to Newark in 2016, GCE continued to grow.  By 2018, the increasing number of families in need resulted in the founders of GCE creating events in two locations and Gender Conference NYC was born.  GC*NYC officially launched a very successful inaugural event in May/June 2019, kicking off World Pride in NYC!  

 

MEET THE GC*NYC TEAM

SOLANGE AZOR
CONFERENCE ASSISTANT

they/them & she/her

Solange Azor is the Conference Assistant with Gender Conference NYC. After graduating Harvard in 2018 with a degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality, Solange moved to Brooklyn and has been working as a full spectrum doula, comedian, and writer. Solange has background in reproductive justice and abolitionist work and is excited to be supporting queer youth empowerment through GC*NYC. 

They can be reached at solange@genderconference.nyc

JEAN MALPAS
LEADERSHIP TEAM

he/him/his

Jean Malpas, LMHC, LMFT, is the Founder and Executive Director of the Gender & Family Project at the Ackerman Institute for the Family and a psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. He has presented nationally and internationally on topics of gender, sexuality, addiction, couple and family therapy. His work with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, couples, and families has been published in numerous books and journals. Media appearances include the TEDx Talk “The Gift of Gender Authenticity,” National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric,” and PBS Frontline: “Growing Up Trans.” Founded in 2010, the Gender & Family Project’s groundbreaking work has been recognized by the Stonewall Community Foundation 2016 Visionary Award and the American Family Therapy Academy Social Justice 2018 Award.

GRACE MAUCERI
CONFERENCE DIRECTOR

she/her/hers

Grace is currently the Conference Director for Gender Conference NYC. This is her fourth year organizing GC*NYC.  Her advocacy work includes being published in Psychotherapy Networker and she has spoken about allyship and the importance of acceptance at Gender Conference East, New York Life, Apple, to educators in New Jersey, with the NJ Devils/NHL hockey community, on CBS News, the Tamron Hall Show and with many families over hot cups of tea. She attended Colgate University and is the proud mom of two ice hockey state champions: her cisgender son, Leo and transgender son, Eli.

She can be reached at grace@genderconference.nyc

KALIMA MCKENZIE-SIMMS
LEADERSHIP TEAM

she/her/hers

Kalima McKenzie-Simms is Program Manager at PFLAG NYC and helps guide programs of support, education, and advocacy that help LGBTQ young people find welcome and affirmation in every aspect of their lives: Loving Families, Safe Schools, and Inclusive Communities. She began work with the Safe Schools Program of PFLAG NYC in 2011 while still in college. As a volunteer, a student intern, and ultimately professionally, she helped shape the PFLAG NYC Safe Schools Program to be a significant resource to help New York City schools make sure that all students can learn in environments that are welcoming and supportive. During her time as program coordinator the program expanded from reaching 20 schools to more than 60 schools annually, and in 2018-19 she helped deliver presentations to nearly 10,000 students across the five boroughs of New York City.

JANE RENNERT
LEADERSHIP TEAM

she/her/hers

Jane Rennert is the Interim Director of Development & Communications for the Gender & Family Project and has been involved with the GFP community since its inception.


Prior to joining the GFP team Jane was a special events planner, editor, full-time parent, and entrepreneur. All of these varied experiences give her a broad worldview and a wide range of skills and insight that inform her role raising awareness for GFP’s mission.


Jane is a native New Yorker and a parent of 3 children who are never far from her thoughts.

JUDY SENNESH
LEADERSHIP TEAM

she/her/hers

Judy Sennesh is the Chair of the Board of Directors of PFLAG NYC.  She founded a support group for parents after her younger child came out as transgender in 2004.  In 2011 PFLAG NYC adopted that group and the   TransFamilies Project (formerly the TransParents Project) was born. Judy still facilitates meetings and TFP has become PFLAG NYC's largest and fastest growing support group with meetings in three different Manhattan locations.  She was part of the GCE Leadership Team from its inception and is thrilled to see the conference now in her home town.  Judy's two sons and their spouses have blessed her with four grandchildren (so far!) and she knows she's the luckiest Nana on earth.

DREW TAGLIABUE
LEADERSHIP TEAM

he/him/his

Drew Tagliabue is Executive Director of PFLAG NYC, the leading family-based organization that helps lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) youth find acceptance, support, and affirmation in every aspect of their lives: Loving Families, Safe Schools, and Inclusive Communities. Drew has greatly expanded the impact of PFLAG in communities throughout New York City through a growing range of support services and the Safe Schools Program that works in close partnership with NYC schools to fight bullying and harassment, create welcoming school environments, and help every school community member learn how to support LGBTQ young people. In addition to his work with PFLAG, Drew has been a community leader and activist involved in LGBTQ advocacy and immigration since he co-founded one of the organizations that became Immigration Equality.

 

MEET THE GC*NYC
PROFESSIONAL SYMPOSIUM TEAM

JUANA PERALTA
PROFESSIONAL SYMPOSIUM LEAD

they/them

Juana Peralta/JPP is the Professional Day Lead with GC*NYC. Juana is a queer fat Latinx organizer and movement builder who dreams of finding new ways of loving, organizing, and building each other ip in a worl that hurts a lot. Juana has been educating and organizing around issues of gender, sexuality, class, reproductive justice, prison justice, and disability justice for over 16 years. JPP served as Director of Outreach & Community Engagement and co-director of the Movement Building Team at the Sylvia Rivera Project from 2014-2018 and as a collective member from 2014-2019. Most recently JPP was in the role of Director of Economic Justice Initiatives at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center in New York City. JPP is an avid home cook, novice sewer, and an abolitionist. Juana is excited to support the programming of GC*NYC’s Professional Day.

GAINES BLASDEL
MEDICAL TRACK LEAD

he/him/his

Gaines Blasdel is a transgender man interested in health justice for his community. He researchers gender affirming surgery outcomes at NYU Langone Health, and previously helped LGBTQ adolescents navigate healthcare at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. He has written educational material for community and academic audiences, and publishes resources at https://www.healthytrans.com/.

JULIAN CABEZAS
MENTAL HEALTH TRACK LEAD

he/him/his

Julian Cabezas (He/Him/His) is a Trans Chicano man who loves his friends, family and community. Julian is a psychotherapist focused on helping people of color and lgbtq+ communities heal from traumas and connect to our strengths.  Julian is also the Assistant Director of Outreach Programs at Amida Care, a not-for-profit Medicaid health plan that specializes in providing comprehensive health coverage and coordinated care to folks living with HIV, experiencing homelessness and TGBN individuals.

ANDY HALE
TRACK LEAD FOR T FOR T: AN AFFINITY SPACE FOR TGNCNB PROVIDERS

they/them

Andy Hale, LMSW is the TGNC Substance Use Coordinator at The LGBT Center in Manhattan. They work in the Adult and Youth Outpatient, and Harm Reduction programs, providing clinical Substance Use care that is specifically designed to support the unique needs of Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming, and Non-Binary people in recovery. Their experiences as a former early childhood educator, as a mental health provider for LGBT homeless youth, and their lived experience as a trans non-binary person have drawn them to the mission of the GCNYC team. Andy is passionate about not only protecting the rights of Trans, GNC, and Non-Binary youth, but about ensuring they are given the support they need to flourish and thrive.

CLARK HAMEL
EDUCATION TRACK LEAD

he/him/his

Clark Hamel is a queer transman who moved to Brooklyn after graduating from Bard College in 2017. He works for PFLAG NYC coordinating the Safe Schools Program, bringing LGBTQ education to students, teachers, and parent communities. He is passionate about transgender rights, particularly in relation to access to education and healthcare. When he's not working with PFLAG NYC, he serves on Columbia Gender Identity Clinic's Advisory Board and APICHA's Community Advisory Board, as well as working with various sexuality and wellness companies promoting trans inclusivity.

DANIELLE KING
LEGAL/POLICY/ADVOCACY TRACK LEAD

He/She/They

Danielle King is a Black Non-Binary Staff Attorney in the Community Justice Unit at The Legal Aid Society, working with community members in Queens by connecting them with legal representation and assisting them in a variety of legal issues such as LGBTQ rights, Child Support, Custody/Visitation, Birth Certificate corrections, invoking legal rights in Criminal matters and providing Know Your Rights trainings. Danielle was previously a Staff Attorney in the Juvenile Rights Practice at the Legal Aid Society, where they represented youth between the ages of 0-21 years of age in abuse and neglect proceedings and juvenile delinquency pre-petition hearings. Danielle is passionate about providing better outcomes for youth involved in the child welfare system, especially LGBTQ youth, youth with disabilities and youth of color. While in law school, Danielle was president of Seton Hall Law’s LGBTQ student group, Lambda Law Alliance and served on the law school’s Diversity Council advocating on behalf of LGBTQ students. In addition, while in law school Danielle interned at Lambda Legal, where they drafted an educational packet on the School to Prison Pipeline and an advocacy letter to encourage the Pennsylvania Attorney General and Philadelphia District Attorney to reopen the investigation into the 2002 homicide of Nizah Morris, a Black Trans woman and entertainer, and co-compiled a 50 state survey on state statutes regulating homeless youth shelters which impacted Trans, Non-binary and GNC youth. Danielle attained a J.D. from Seton Hall University School of Law (2016), a M.A. in Urban Affairs from CUNY-Queens College (2012) and a B.A. in English from Michigan State University (2009).

RODNEY LIN
MULTIDISCIPLINARY / RESEARCH TRACK LEAD

she/they

Rodney is a research assistant at the Gender and Family Project in the Ackerman Institute for the Family. They received their Bachelor's Degree in Applied Psychology and Global Public Health at New York University. Prior to their work on the Gender and Family Project, Rodney served as the project coordinator for the Transgender Identity Formation Study (TIFS), a qualitative study focused on the narratives of 27 transgender individuals in New York City. They were also a summer intern at the Gender & Sexuality Service at NYU Langone, where they assisted with research to help trans youth gain access to gender-affirming services. Rodney is determined to work towards a world where diverse gender identities are celebrated across all settings.

ETHAN ROBERTS
FAITH TRACK LEAD

he/him

Ethan Roberts is a Master of Divinity student in his final semester at Union Theological Seminary. Ethan has been a Chaplain Intern at Rikers Island for two years. He has worked in several facilities throughout the Department of Corrections with various incarcerated populations, but largely focuses on transgender and queer folks. Ethan will be a full time Clinical Pastoral Education Resident at Mount Sinai upon graduation and is excited to help organize Gender Conference NYC this year!

 

MEET THE GC*NYC
FAMILY & YOUTH DAY TEAM

ALEXIS DIAZ
YOUTH PROGRAM LEAD

they/them/theirs and she/her/hers

Alexis Diaz, LMSW, has been a social worker since 2011 and has experience working in youth development and school-based programs from early childhood through college. Alexis’s prior experience with adults includes work in street homelessness, incarceration, and mental health in primary care settings. They’re particularly passionate about working within communities of color and queer communities to elevate our voices, make visible our strengths, and celebrate our beauty and complexity. Alexis is also a trainee at the Ackerman Institute in the Clinical Externship Program in Family Therapy.

JENNA FRASIER
ELEMENTARY PROGRAM CO-LEAD

she/her/hers and they/them/theirs

Jenna Frasier is a yoga teacher and social worker who is passionate about combining their social work practice and yoga practice to foster individual and community healing. Currently, they are completing their master's degree in social work at Hunter College. When she's not in class, she teaches yoga and mindfulness classes to young people at an elementary school in Harlem.

XAELAH JARRETT
HIGH SCHOOL PROGRAM LEAD

she/her/hers

Xaelah Jarrett is a Black trans womanist whose work and interests most explicitly seek to engage notions of race, gender, sexuality, love and trauma. She holds a BA in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies from Columbia University. She primarily focuses on cultivating spaces for youth to engage with notions of social power, gender and sexuality more complexly. Xaelah serves as the Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Peer Health Exchange, a national health education non-profit that develops a near-peer population to facilitate a skills-based 14-workshop curriculum for 9th graders. She is primarily responsible for determining barriers to sustained program participation and paraprofessional development for near-peer facilitators of color and others from marginalized and underrepresented communities while coaching program staff towards achieving more sustained equitable outcomes. Additionally, she facilitates support groups for trans and gender expansive youth (5-18) at the Gender and Family Project and for adult trans women and trans feminine participants at the NYC LGBT Center.


You can catch Xaelah at home in Brooklyn as she’s a cat mom, budding plant parent and active collector of fandom paraphernalia. She enjoys animated shows that create futuristic and fantastical worlds that challenge dominant and oppressive social realities and exploring paths towards personal and communal wellness.

CHRISTOPHER JOHNSTON
ELEMENTARY PROGRAM CO-LEAD

he/him/his

Christopher Johnston received a BFA in Theatre Arts with a Minor in Education from Hofstra University and a Masters at the CUNY School of Professional Studies in Applied Theatre. He is currently pursuing an MS-Ed in Educational Leadership for Social Change at Bank Street. He has worked as a drama facilitator and arts educator for organizations such as TADA Youth Theatre, Primary Stages, Einhorn School of Performing Arts, The YMCA of Greater New York, Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, and Wingspan Arts. Currently Chris works as a Drama Teacher and Co-Coordinator of Heritage Celebrations for the Lower School at Riverdale Country Day School. In his 10 year as teacher, he has developed dozens of customized curricula that have been used in many NYC Public and Private Schools for the purpose of general education enhancement and reaching students with alternative needs. Chris has interests in establishing social emotional learning outcomes for his students and is currently investigating areas of restorative justice for early learners.establishing social emotional learning outcomes for his students and is currently investigating areas of restorative justice for early learners.

MORIKO NISHIURA-BETZ
PARENT PROGRAM CO-LEAD

she/her/hers

Moriko Nishiura-Betz studied a little bit of everything at StonyBrook University (also known as a liberal arts degree). After college she took her life long passion of figure skating and turned it into a life long career. She became the Director of Skating at Flushing Meadow Park and the Great Neck Park District from 1991-2008. Seeing that her daughter was struggling in school, Moriko turned her interests towards advocating for her transgender daughter. She was a co-founder of Stepping Stones, PFLAG from 2008-2012 and then in 2014 she joined the leadership team of Gender Conference East which has since given birth to Gender Conference NYC.

JUDY SENNESH
PARENT PROGRAM CO-LEAD

she/her/hers

Judy Sennesh is the Chair of the Board of Directors of PFLAG NYC.  She founded a support group for parents after her younger child came out as transgender in 2004.  In 2011 PFLAG NYC adopted that group and the   TransFamilies Project (formerly the TransParents Project) was born. Judy still facilitates meetings and TFP has become PFLAG NYC's largest and fastest growing support group with meetings in three different Manhattan locations.  She was part of the GCE Leadership Team from its inception and is thrilled to see the conference now in her home town.  Judy's two sons and their spouses have blessed her with four grandchildren (so far!) and she knows she's the luckiest Nana on earth.

FUTABA SHIODA
MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRAM CO-LEAD

he/him/his

Futaba Shioda (he/him/his) is the Coordinator of Social Media and Internal Communications at Gender & Family Project. Committed to supporting causes at the intersections of race, gender, and youth advocacy, he assists in developing volunteer outreach at The New York Transgender Advocacy Group and is excited to join the Gender Conference NYC team! In addition to his organizing work, Futaba is a freelance authenticity/sensitivity reader, having read for The New York Times and Penguin Random House among others, and a film, stage, and musical theatre actor  working for inclusivity in the film and theater communities. FUTABASHIODA.COM

 
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