TIES 2021 Keynote Speaker Bios
Ali Moros Taylor (they/them) is a 20 year old transgender youth activist that has worked closely with Side by Side since they came out at 14. They have had leadership training through Side by Side and thus has served on several different panels over the years. Ali has recently become a knitter with the aid of their sister. Ali also loves birds and singing and singing to the birds when the chance arises. They live at home with their parents, sister, and two dogs.
Andraya Yearwood (she/her) is an activist, athlete and current college student. As a trans student-athlete from Connecticut, she has been a fierce advocate for her right to compete which has compelled her to fight for the rights of all trans athletes across the country. Andraya has been a featured panelist at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Outsports Pride Summit at the University of California, Los Angeles, and more. No stranger to adversity, discrimination, and vitriol from opposing parents and spectators, Andraya has continued to raise her voice to advocate for her place on the track and other trans people in sport writ large. Bolstered by the support of her friends and family, Andraya is motivated by the strength of those around her to continue the fight for trans athletes to compete as their authentic selves.
Aurora Higgs, M.Ed (she/her or they/them) is a Black queer visionary from Richmond, VA. Aurora transitioned in 2018 and uses her platform to promote justice and equity. She’s a PhD student, speaker, performer, and producer of media that elevate queer BIPOC voices. As a board member of the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, Aurora helps shape medical practice guidelines and protocols to better ensure the transgender policies are appropriate, progressive, and compassionate. Aurora specializes as a speaker and facilitator on equity, DEI work, social justice, and gender/sexuality studies. Aurora and her work were awarded a place in Richmond Style Weekly’s Top 40 Under 40 in 2019. Currently, Aurora serves as a governor-appointed member of the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board and works as a Program Director for Diversity Richmond, an LGBTQ Community Organization in Richmond, VA. Website: www.AuroraHiggs.com
Charley Burton (he/him) is a native of Charlottesville VA. He is the National Program Director for Black Transmen Inc. Black Transmen Inc. is the first and only national organization solely for Black Transmen. Charley is a board member of CVILLE Pride, PFLAG of the Blue Ridge and Board chair for University of VA Trans Advisory Council. Charley was also one of the founding board members of Black Transmen Inc., and a board member for Equality VA, and has been nominated by Governor Northam for the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee. Charley also founded Diversity in Recovery which is a 12-step recovery space for people in the LGBTQ/BIPOC and their allies. He was awarded the Outstanding Virginian by Equality VA, The Community Root award by Black Pride RVA. Charley has also been recognized for a United Way of Greater Charlottesville for the Caring for the Community for Above and Beyond Voice for Equity. Charley is certified as a Safe Space and Transgender 101 trainer to train businesses and organizations to better understand diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Charley has been in recovery for 15 years and continues to stay active in his recovery community. Charley’s book will come out in early 2022 published by Transgender Publishing. He is in management with WorkSource in Charlottesville VA. WorkSource provides job training, employment, job placement assistance and support services for persons with disabilities. Charley also shares his life story of recovery and living as a Black Transman in the South. Visit his website at www.charleyspeaks.com
Justin Sykes (he/him) grew up just south of Richmond Virginia. This past May he received his undergraduate in sustainable development with a concentration for social change from Appalachian State University. His passions include rollerblading, collaging, advocating for climate justice, and advocating for the protection of trans youth. Currently, he is taking part in a service program dedicated to intentional living, spiritual growth, and racial justice work in Atlanta called The Quaker Volunteer service.
Noah Vann (he/him) grew up in Stanardsville, VA but now attends George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. He is studying criminology and psychology, with hopes to earn a master’s degree in forensic psychology. Noah is active in his university’s LGBTQ community and is passionate about human rights for all people, especially those in transgender community. In his free time, he enjoys listening to music, playing video games, and spending time with his mom and cat.
Tona Brown (she/her) is a Vocalist, Violinist, entrepreneur, and teacher with an international performance career as a violinist, Mezzo-Soprano, and has performed throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe. Ms. Brown is also an advocate for transgender issues and the arts often speaking and performing at colleges and universities. Tona Brown is the first transgender woman of color to perform the National Anthem for a sitting President at the LGBT Leadership Gala Dinner for former President Barack Obama at the Sheraton in NYC. Tona Brown was the first transgender woman to headline at Carnegie Hall performing a program of African American composers with an all-inclusive LGBT cast of performers. Ms. Brown was formally educated at the Shenandoah University and conservatory of Music studying violin performance with minors in viola, piano, and voice. Tona graduated from the Governors School for the Arts a prestigious high school for gifted and talented students. Tona Brown recorded an opera movie for Shenandoah University’s 2021 production of “Suor Angelica” playing the role of La Zia Principessa. Ms. Brown will be performing in a lead transgender role as Hannah After in the opera “As One” by Laura Kaminsky with the Lowell Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Orlando Cela in the fall of 2021. Ms. Brown was also asked to do a masterclass on Transgender Voices by the Virginia National Association of Teachers of singing and teaches private lessons to students with her company Aida Studios. She now has her own show on Twitch.TV called “Conversations with Tona Brown” and you can follow her on the “Primadonnatona” Channel!
TIES 2021 Presenter Bios
Armand Carnelian Fortin (they/he) is from the Hampton Roads area, and they currently serve as Director of Volunteers for the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia. Armand is a music teacher, recording artist, and bird enthusiast. He currently resides in the DMV area.
Asaf Orr (he/him) is a Senior Staff Attorney and Director of the Transgender Youth Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. For more than a decade, he has litigated precedent-setting cases that safeguard legal rights that ensure transgender youth can thrive. Asaf also worked helped develop transgender-inclusive policies in a wide range of areas as well as authored numerous publications.
Bary Hausrath (he/him) is a Virginia-licensed attorney in private practice. He also volunteers as the supervising attorney for the Virginia Equality Bar Association’s Name and Gender Marker Change Clinic, which has helped hundreds of trans and gender nonconforming individuals obtain appropriate identification documents.
Brooke Taylor (they/them) is a Black, queer, non-binary, social justice advocate who has dedicated their life to serving marginalized communities. Brooke is a proud Bison (Howard), Panther (VUU), and Ram (VCU) alum, and has called Richmond home for almost a decade. They have facilitated hundreds of trainings, conversations, and classes within various demographic groups and has worked directly with persons facing incarceration, discrimination, homelessness, and poverty; they also specialize in creative problem solving in professional settings. Brooke is passionate about creating inclusive spaces for BIPOC folks and is committed to breaking down barriers within the community.
CasSandra Calin (she/her) is a 28-year-old Black-Cuban social worker in Richmond, VA, who is passionate about spirit work, mental health, and indulgence and pleasure. She has been supporting her people, queer and trans and Black and Brown community, through trauma, relationships, mental health, challenges, and the struggle to love ourselves for 10 years. CasSandra enjoys writing, singing, and cooking as creative outlets. She’s excited to explore how we can take care of ourselves and each other in long-lasting and fulfilling ways!
Cedric Pulliam (he/him) serves as co-founder of ECHO VA Coalition and has been advocating for HIV and public health needs since 2009 at the community, state, and federal levels. Ensuring health equity for those at highest risk is most important in the purpose of his work and elevating Virginians living with HIV has been a center-focus of his advocacy. Cedric’s motto is that regardless of HIV status or any health status no law should target healthcare and he plans to continue to advocate and fight for this until the law reflects this.
De Sube (she/her) has been a transgender advocate and activist for 25 years. She is happily retired, which gives her ample to time to follow her passion – the transgender community. She founded the Gender Expression Movement support group almost 16 years ago and is one of the founding members of the Transgender Assistance Program of Virginia where she currently serves as Chairperson, Director of Client Services & Treasurer.
Deborah Dunn, PAC, MBA (she/her) is a family practice physician assistant and the Trans Health Coordinator of the LGBT Resource Center for Chase Brexton Health Care. In her position at Chase Brexton, Dunn provides leadership and coordination of care for 4000 transgender-identified patients, establishes best practices for medical transgender care, trains other medical providers, provides consultation to external organizations on transgender-related issues including employee transition, engages in advocacy at the state level, and identifies research and funding opportunities related to transgender care. She has presented at numerous national conferences, engaged in strategic planning with several nonprofit organizations, and volunteered throughout the local community.
Deirdre Johsnon (she/her) has lived, learned and experienced HIV on her own terms since 2000. She utilizes her sense of humor and lively personality to openly share her medicine and medical adherence journey with the world using #MedsWillMakeMeDance. Deirdre is transparent about how she is not allowing HIV to have control of her, but fearlessly taking control of HIV. Deirdre is native of Virginia, and has worked as an educator, case manager, prevention case manager and speaker, however, she is most passionate about eradicating stigma, ending criminalization of people living with HIV, combating racial injustice, health disparities, and being an active Partner in Change s the co founder of Ending Criminalization of HIV and Overincarceration in Virginia (ECHO VA), State Lead for Positive Women’s Network, USA, and Ambassador for Undetectable Equals Untransmittable (U=U)
Delton Harris (he/him) is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in NC and VA and a doctoral student at Virginia Commonwealth University. As a therapist, he specifically work with individuals of the LGBTQIA+ community, those who identify as of color, and individuals who have been diagnosed with HIV. His goal as a therapist, community mental health trainer, and student is to advocate, and empower vulnerable communities, while educating, and implementing radical change within systems to increase equity and social justice.
Dexter Davis (he/him) is a proud Black transgender man who is actively involved in uplifting his communities. His passion led him to become a facilitator for multiple transgender support groups including Transcending Empowered Aspiring Men (T.E.A.M), a support group at Nationz Foundation for men of trans experience, and founding The Men in Transition, a non profit social support organization dedicated to serving the unique needs of transgender men and transmasculine people within Hampton Roads, in Virginia. He is a dedicated member of the Alpha Colony of Alpha Omega Kappa Fraternity, Inc. (AQK), which is a non-collegiate greek lettered organization for men of trans experience focused on fellowship, service, and leadership. He is also member of Equality Virginia’s Transgender Advocacy Speakers Bureau.
Eden Heilman (she/her) joined the ACLU of Virginia as the Legal Director in June 2018, and in this role, she leads the office’s legal program, focusing on a broad array of civil rights and civil liberties issues impacting Virginia’s citizens and communities, and using integrated advocacy strategies such as impact litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. Prior to joining the ACLU of Virginia, Eden served as the Managing Attorney of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s office in New Orleans where she directed the organization’s litigation and policy advocacy efforts in Louisiana, with a specific emphasis on children’s rights, education, and juvenile justice. She previously served as a senior staff attorney and staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and a law fellow at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana.
Dr. Elyse Pine, MD (she/her) is a board-certified pediatric endocrinologist and Trans Youth Lead Physician of the Gender JOY program at Chase Brexton Health Care in Maryland, which serves over 1800 transgender and gender diverse youth ages 4-26. Dr. Pine began working with gender variant children and adolescents while serving as an assistant professor at University of Maryland Medical Center in 2011. She has published research and clinical articles related to transgender care and lectures frequently.
Rev. Emma Chattin (she/her) currently serves as the senior pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Northern Virginia (MCC NoVA), a spiritual community for all people- no exceptions, no kidding (the MCC Denomination was born that way). She is also the Executive Director of the TransGender Education Association of Greater Washington DC (TGEA), whose mission is to support trans and gender expansive individuals, their Friends, Family, and Allies, and the communities in which they live and work. Rev. Emma is a founding co-facilitator of several support and community building groups for the Trans community, including parents of Trans-youth, Trans & Gender Expansive Tweens & Teens, as well as spouses of individuals in gender transition. She lives in Northern Virginia with Heather, her wife of 25 years.
He She Ze and We (est. 2012) serves families with transgender and nonbinary loved ones (of all ages) through support, education and advocacy. Recently achieving 501c3 non-profit status, He She Ze and We (HSZW) spreads awareness about gender identity and the issues of transgender and nonbinary youth through educational trainings and advocacy work in addition to weekly support meetings. Though HSZW is based out of Richmond, they provide their services to families all over Virginia and beyond. Lear more and visit our website: heshezewe.org
Jamison Green, Ph.D. (he/him) is a writer, educator, policy consultant, legislative provocateur, and long-time advocate for transgender and non-binary people’s rights, access to quality healthcare, and social safety. He transitioned from female to male in 1988 at the age of 40, and in 2011 he became the first American transgender person elected to lead the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH). He lives in southwestern Washington state. Hs is the author of “Becoming a Visible Man” (Vanderbilt University Press, 2020; first edition 2004).
Rev. Jess Cook (they/them) is a trans/non-binary Presbyterian minister, currently serving at More Light Presbyterians, though they are in the process of starting a new worshipping community in Richmond, VA. Before joining More Light, Jess was the Youth Programs Director at Side by Side. They were the first openly non-binary person ordained in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Jess is an awkward extrovert who loves people and gets very excited talking about ways we connect with ourselves, one another , and the world around us.
Dr. Keelee MacPhee, M.D. (she/her) is a highly skilled reconstructive plastic surgeon who has been in practice for over 18 years. With a focus on gender confirmation surgery of the breast, genitals, body, and face, she is passionate about helping her patients become more confident and comfortable with their bodies. Her goal always is to provide clinical excellence,¬ while achieving beautiful, natural results. She performs surgery primarily at NC Specialty Hospital, a small private hospital with well trained staff excited to work with our patients. She also works at Duke Regional Hospital, part of the Duke University Health System. She finished her residency in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and Surgery of the Hand at UNC. She also did a residency in the Division of Plastic Surgery and the Department of General Surgery at the University of Florida. In 2005, Dr. MacPhee returned to North Carolina to open her own practice. She is board certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery and a member of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.
Nikki Easterday (they/them) is a Staff Attorney at TLDEF, with a background in challenging health insurance denials of gender affirming care. Mx. Easterday previously worked with Community Service Society of New York advocating for improved access to healthcare and with the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight on the federal implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Mx. Easterday is a graduate of CUNY School of Law and the University of California, San Diego.
Oliver Bullington-McGuire (he/him or they/them) is a queer transgender youth activist, and has been doing advocacy work for the past 2 years in Virginia. He graduated from high school in June of 2021 and will be attending University of Toronto in fall of 2022. Outside of activism, Oliver is an award winning artist and aquarium hobbyist.
Rebecca Rose (she/her) is the Crisis Counselor at the LGBT Life Center in Norfolk, Virginia. Rebecca manages the Intimate Partner Violence Program at the LGBT Life Center where she provides crisis intervention, safety, advocacy and supportive services to victims and survivors of Intimate Partner Violence within the LGBTQ+ community. Rebecca has been working within the victims services field for 5 years and has dedicated her career to her passion of advocating for others, especially those whose voices have been silenced or who are not able to advocate for themselves.
Sarah Pitney (they/them or elle/ellx) is a senior associate at Benach Collopy LLP in Washington, D.C. Their practice includes family-based, deportation defense, asylum, naturalization, and waiver cases. They have represented numerous LGBTQI+ clients in all stages of the immigration process. They serve as an advocate for LGBTQI+ practitioners within the immigration law community and gladly mentor practitioners on ways to create a more welcoming space. Sarah serves on AILA’s USCIS Field Ops Committee and the AILA DC Chapter’s Conference Committee. They were recognized as one of the LGBT Bar’s 40 Best Attorneys Under 40 in 2018.
Torrianna Foster (they/them or she/her) is a queer, Black disabled femme based in North Carolina. They are a community organizer, womanist ethicist and sex educator with a M.Div in Womanist and Feminist studies. Torrianna is beyond excited to be sharing space to talk about spirituality and wholeness as a Christian escapee and Hoodoo practitioner.
Willow Woycke (she/her) is a 58 year old transgender woman and primarily a wife, parent, and grandparent. She is President of the Transgender Education Association (TGEA) of Greater Washington, on the Board of Fairfax County Public Schools Pride (FCPS Pride), and is Emeritus Chair of her employer’s Pride Employee Resource Group. Willow is a cyber security engineer by day, and she advocates for transgender youth and figure skates by night.