Center Board of Directors

Board of Directors

John D. Allen, Ed.D., Co-President & Founder
Joshua O’Connell, Co-President
Maureen Thomas, Ph.D., Treasurer
Lindsey Pembrooke, Secretary
Nicholas Bussett
Dolores Dégagé Hopkins
Jonathan Joseph Ganjian
Richard Luedeman
Ebony McCleese
Luciana Q. McClure
Bilal Tajildeen
Tia Lynn Waters
Julie West
Patrick J Dunn, Executive Director, ex-officio

Meet Our Board of Directors

John D. Allen, Ed.D., Board Co-PresidentFounding Director, (he/him) has been with the Center since its inception in 1996 and has continually served in a variety of roles. The Center grew out of his master’s thesis, which quantified the cultural needs of the Southern Connecticut LGBT community. John currently works for the State of Connecticut and has devoted his career to supporting people with intellectual and other disabilities. Since 1998, he co-facilitates the Center’s Rainbow Support Group, which is believed to be the first of its kind to support LGBT people with intellectual disabilities. He also serves as the Chair of the Center’s Scholarship funds. John is married to Keith Hyatte, who retired after 40 seasons as the Charge Scenic Artist at Long Wharf Theatre.

Nicholas Bussett (he/him) is an experienced fundraiser and LGBTQ+ advocate. Primarily working in Regional Theatre, Nick recently served as the Corporate Giving Manager for the award winning Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT. A proud resident of New Haven for seven years, Nick serves on two Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce councils and maintains the role of ambassador to the Chamber. In addition to his work in fundraising, Nick is Associate Producer for GayTalk2.0, a local LGBTQ+ podcast, currently in its 4th year on air. Nick received his BA in Theatre Management from Western Connecticut State University.

Dolores Dégagé Hopkins (she/her) currently resides and works in Hamden, Connecticut as Director of Ballet for the Joan Lynn Dance Company.  She first served on the NHPC Board for 2013-14 resigning to care for her partner Sassie Saltimboca / Drew Mancuso who was lost to cancer August of 2015.  Dolores and Sassie were the recipients of Dorothy Award’s from the New Haven Pride Center in 2016.  “I was honored to accept for both of us in her memory.  It is something I will always treasure in its recognition of the positivity we as a couple brought to Connecticut’s LGBTQ community & beyond.  I am excited to return to the board to serve and support the vision and mission of the NHPC at this time.”  As a Photographer  Dolores Dégagé has been published in numerous publications including The Advocate, New Your Times and in the Connecticut Metroline monthly for two years running in the 1990’s.  Her child portraits of Natalie Portman were seen in her film Black Swan. Photography has been a passion of hers since High School.  A native of Texas, Dolores has been an LGBTQ activist for 45 years and speaks openly about her recent decision to transition and continues to raise awareness.  She has also served on the Board of Directors for APNH (A Place to Nurture your Health) previously known as AIDS Project New Haven.  Dolores is a strong advocate for U=U, HIV awareness, prevention and continued research to find the cure.  She recently participated in a study at YALE for 60-70 year olds for the effects of long term use of HIV medications. Dolores also volunteered with the non-profit City Lights Art Gallery assisting with Greater Bridgeport PRIDE for the past five years. She is a former member of The Imperial Sovereign Court of all Connecticut.  January of 2020 Dolores was excited to return to the Imperial Court System and joined and has become an active member of The Imperial Court of New York helping raise funds for worthy non-profit organizations that benefit the LGBTQ community.

Jonathan Joseph Ganjian (he/him), is a Connecticut based fine artist and consultant. Through his firm Jonathan Joseph Consulting, Jonathan pursues a diverse array of projects ranging from luxury womenswear, strategic planning, to advising international portfolios of client companies across half a dozen sectors. Recently he became CEO of newly formed Creekmouth Commodities, a specialty joint venture focused on global import/export sales and procurement.

Richard Luedeman (he/him) is an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law at University of Connecticut School of Law and formerly an associate at the New Haven office of Wiggin and Dana LLP. Raised in Florida, he has lived in the New Haven area since he moved here for law school in 2011. He joined the NHPC Board in 2018.

Ebony McCleese (she/her) is a lifelong resident of New Haven. She leads mainly by example, always doing her best and encouraging others to do the same. While easygoing by nature, no one doubts her authority – she is direct and decisive when he needs to be. Currently Ebony’s passion is inspiring youth and creating healthy communities. She focuses on the youth development and group maintenance piece of the center. She is a member of the New Haven Board of Education and serves as a teacher at Wilbur Cross High School.

Ebony is a graduate of Canisius College with triple major Political Science, Criminal Justice and Psychology. She holds a MA in Women Studies, a MS in Political Science and a Sixth Year Degree in Education. She is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated and Amnesty International USA where she serves as the Legislative Coordinator for CT.

Luciana Quagliato McClure (she/her) is an independent contemporary art curator, activist , educator and practicing artist. She is the founding organizer of the Nasty Women Movement in Connecticut and leads Nasty Women Connecticut.

Luciana is an immigrant of Brazil and she currently resides in Connecticut where she currently is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Women and Gender Studies at Southern Connecticut State University, where she also works as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Luciana is a board member of Artspace New Haven, a member of College Art Association and the Connecticut Regional Coordinator of The Feminist Art Project.

Joshua O’Connell (he/him), Board Co-President, started volunteering with the Center in 2006, and joined the board in 2007. For many years he served as lead facilitator for GLANCE, a group focused on 18-28 year olds at the Center. During his time on the board he served as co-president for nearly six years, and has been a Dorothy Awards co-chair for 10 years. Today he runs the Center’s board/card games group. Outside of the Center, he serves as board president for the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut. By day, he works at an ecommerce technology start-up.

Lindsey Pembrooke (they/them), joined the Board in 2018.  In addition to co-coordinating the Transgender Adult Support Group at the Pride Center, they are a facilitator for the Non-Binary group at Hartford PFLAG and active in support groups around the State.  Lindsey is a key administrator of the 9,500+ person Non-Binary Gender Pride support group on Facebook.  They are a regular panelist for the Yale residency program on the topic of transgender identities.  Lindsey was the featured interviewee for a four-part series called “Coming Out”, aimed at parents of LGBTQ+ youth, published in the Aug-Nov 2018 issues of “Raise Vegan” magazine. They presented a workshop “We Are All Genderfluid: These and Other Myths About Non-Binary People” at the 2018 Transgender Lives Conference. Lindsey took part in Facebook@Stonewall at the Stonewall Inn as a panelist as part of the 50th Anniversary, to speak about about building meaningful communities on Facebook and reflect on its impact on LGBTQIA+ activism.  They have a BS in Marketing and an MBA in Finance, and currently work as a consultant in the Insurance Software Industry.

Bilal Tajildeen (he/him) is a lifelong Waterbury, CT resident. Bilal joined the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy team in 2020 as the manager of membership and culture. His primary responsibilities will include building community and connections with members from across the state, creating opportunities for education and exploration, supporting the Council’s affinity spaces, and continuously working toward more equitable and inclusive practices across Connecticut’s philanthropic sector.

Bilal earned a master’s degree in English from Central Connecticut State University, primarily focusing on queer theory and political theory as well as LGBTQ literature. He serves as the vice president of the board of the New England Grassroots Environment Fund, a director on the board of the New Haven Pride Center, and as a national PLACES fellow through the Funder’s Network. In his spare time, Bilal continues to pursue his academic interests as an occasional guest lecturer at Central, the University of Connecticut, and community centers around the state and is funneling his passion for architecture and prowling Zillow toward getting his real estate license.

Maureen Thomas, Ph.D., Board Treasurer (she/her) is a psychologist with a main focus on helping adults and children with Developmental Disabilities. She has assisted John Allen in the support group for people with developmental disabilities who identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community for over 20 years. She have been a Board member since 2007. She also currently serves as treasurer. She is very proud of the growth in staff and services in the past 3 years in the Pride Center with Patrick Dunn as executive leader.

Tia Lynn “Bubblicious” Waters (she/her) has been performing for over 30 years – taking on stages in Connecticut, New York, and Europe. Bubblicious, or Bubbles as her friends call her, was one of the founding queens of the New Haven drag scene and has performed in every LGBTQ+ venue throughout New Haven. As an visual artist Tia’s art tells stories.

As an out and proud black transgender woman, Bubbles dedicates time and energy to bring awareness, support, and visibility to black and brown trans folk through performance and activism.

Julie West (she/her) is a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Yale New Haven Hospital’s Psychiatric Emergency Services. Previously she served as a pediatric home health nurse providing care for infants who require ventilator support for families who live in underserved areas. In 2016 Dr. West collaborated with a team of physicians and administrators to implement behavioral health services in all of New York Presbyterian Hospital’s primary care clinics in Washington Heights, New York through Medicaid’s Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment Program. Dr. West also oversaw the High Value Care Quality Improvement research initiative run by resident physicians at New York Methodist Hospital with the goal of improving care quality, specifically for the underserved in the community in multiple hospitals throughout the region. Additionally, Dr. West worked with Mailman’s School of Public Health at Columbia University’s consulting group to successfully lead the initiative to enroll the Town of Greenwich as Connecticut’s first AARP accredited aging friendly community in partnership with the town’s Commission on Ageing and the town’s Board of Selectmen.

She received her associate degree in Nursing from St. Philip’s college in San Antonio, Texas, followed by her Baccalaureate degree in Social Sciences from the University of Connecticut. She attended Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where she earned her Master’s in Health Care Administration with an award as a Mailman Public Health. She continued her education at Columbia’s School of Nursing to receive her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree as Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Dr. West has profound experiential and professional experience acquired over the past 15 years in the healthcare industry in clinical, administrative, and legislative roles. She is dedicated to comprehensively improving focused health care access and quality to patients and their families, particularly for underserved populations within the community.

Photo credit: Am Norgren.