Center Staff

Staff Directory

Click on the staff members name to read their bios. Click on the “send e-mail” link to access each staff member’s direct e-mail addresses. You can contact staff via phone using the Center’s main phone line 203.387.2252. 

Patrick J Dunn, Executive Director – send e-mail

Juancarlos Soto, Deputy Director – send e-mail

ala ochumare, Director of Youth Services– send e-mail

 

Aron Alber, Marketing and Development Coordinator – send e-mail

Laura Boccadoro, Marketing and Development Manager – send e-mail

Joseph DiMaggio, Director of Development – send e-mail

Devanté Dodgens, Grants Manager – send e-mail

Ace Ricker, Community Impact Manager – send e-mail

Freddie Swindal, Manager of Support Services – send e-mail

Vu Tran, CPA, Accountant

Programming Team

Jahnice Cajigas, Producer – send e-mail

Max Cisneros, Latinx Program Curator – send e-mail

Finn Lockwood, Trans Program Curator – send e-mail

Suyane Oliveira, Women’s Program Curator – send e-mail

Centerline Magazine

Joshua O’Connell, Editor-in-Chief – send e-mail

PRIDE New Haven

Patrick J Dunn, Producer – send e-mail

Jahnice Cajigas, Producer – send e-mail

Laura Boccadoro, Associate Producer – send e-mail

Interns & Fellows

Kylee Herold, Youth Programming Intern

Meet Our Staff

Aron Alber, Marketing and Development Coordinator

Aron (he/him) moved to New Haven, CT to pursue a Ph.D. in German Literature, which he earned from Yale University in 2020. As a freelance writing consultant and editor, he has spent the last several years helping scholars translate their research into clear and compelling narratives for various audiences. Now, as he builds a career in non-profit communications and development, he aims to use his skills to help LGBTQ+ individuals tell their stories and build communities where queer and trans people from all backgrounds can thrive and be themselves. In addition to his work at the Pride Center, he is passionate about creating and promoting authentic and inclusive portrayals of transgender experience. He is the author of FTM Transgender and Transmasculine Identities, an educational resource for trans and questioning youth forthcoming in 2022 from Mason Crest.

 

Laura Boccadoro, Marketing and Development Manager

Laura (she/her or they/them) strives to create a community where everyone is safe, secure and supported. The New Haven queer community is where she came out, figured out who she was, and found her purpose again. She moved to the New Haven area in 2015 to pressure a degree in Political Science at Quinnipiac University. She has currently been residing in New Haven for 3 years, and has enjoyed every minute of it. Coming from a conservative small town in CT, she never knew how diverse the state could actually be, and she is happy to say her new home is New Haven. This adds to her drive to create a thriving environment for the LGBTQ+ community in New Haven and greater CT. 

Laura’s past has also shaped who she is as a person today. Her passion for this work is driven by her past experiences with mental health challenges, addiction, unemployment, and houselessness. They are an advocate for sobriety, gender diversity, homelessness, and providing a safe space for queer folks. She prides herself in her ability to connect to others, listen, and not judge. She wants to continue to build a space for queer folks to be able to obtain the resources they need to live a full life.

Jahnice Cajigas, Producer

Jahnice (she/her), prior to coming to the New Haven Pride Center, was the Director of Organizing for the Citywide Youth Coalition Inc. Jahnice is a Strategy Council Member for the Perrin Family Foundation. She has also previously interned for Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, with them they successfully launched the state’s first queer camp specifically for youth of color. For Jahnice the camp is more than just a program, it’s providing a space she always wished to have offered to her. Jahnice has been a community organizer for the past seven years she has worked on issues like LGBTQ+ rights, juvenile justice reform and the miseducation of our education system, among many other issues. In total, Jahnice is a true organizer and leader in the state of Connecticut who exudes the spirit of a new generation of youth that are politically conscious and personally committed to improving the community for the better.

Max Cisneros, LGBTQ+ Latinx Program Curator

Max (he/him or el or they/them) is a Queer, cis-gender, gay man born in Acapulco, Mexico and now living in occupied Algonquin lands called, Connecticut in the United States. Max started his community activism after being diagnosed with HIV in 2012. After five years working at an AIDS Service Organization, he moved on to working at Open Door Shelter, in Norwalk, Connecticut. At the shelter he noticed how undocumented LGBTQ+ people were treated and felt compelled to bring change to that community. The Covid – 19 pandemic struck just two weeks after being hired as the inaugural Latinx Program Curator for the New Haven Pride Center. Since that time he’s managed to provide gender affirming advocacy, popular education campaigns and community healing programming for undocumented LGBTQ+ people in Connecticut and beyond in both Spanish and in English. In 2020, Max forged a partnered between the Center and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement to support the management of Connecticut Familia with other Queer and Trans Undocumented people of color in Connecticut. Starting in 2022 Max was hired as the organizer for Border Butterflies Project, a national collaborative effort led by Transgender Law Center, Familia:TQLM and others.

Joseph DiMaggio, Director of Development

Joseph (he/him), a New Haven resident for the past ten years, has spent his entire professional career leading non-profits to success through innovative fundraising and marketing techniques, with a focus on brand management. Prior to the New Haven Pride Center, he has been a fundraiser and advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, CT Fund for the Environment/Save the Sound, United Way, and other local and national organizations. He holds a BFA degree from Central Connecticut State University. A skilled event planner, Joseph loves creating fun opportunities that engage the community and financially support the social issues he is passionate about.

In his spare time, Joseph sits on the board for the Friends of Edgewood Park, and is an actor, part-time DJ, event and development consultant, and environmental advocate

Devanté Dodgens, Grants Manager

Devanté (he/him) is a passionate advocate for LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized communities. Before joining the New Haven Pride Center, he worked for the Department of Human Services, volunteered for LGBTQIA+ organizations and campaigns in Detroit and Chicago, and served in various client-facing roles in the private sector. A New Orleans native, Devanté loves to travel and learn about different cultures and backgrounds. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Community Development and Public Relations from Central Michigan University.

Patrick J. Dunn, Executive Director

Patrick (he/him) moved to Connecticut in 2003 from Ankara, Turkey to attend the University of Hartford. He holds a bachelor’s degree in nonprofit management with additional studies in creative writing and theatre. His advocacy for the LGBTQ+ and HIV+ communities started while he was a student at UofH, serving on the Board of LGBTQ+ student-led organizations and getting involved with community groups such as Love Makes a Family, Connecticut AIDS Coalition (now Connecticut AIDS), and the Hartford Gay and Lesbian Health Collective.

Patrick has worked professionally in the nonprofit sector for over fifteen years, spending time at Hartford Stage, the National Steinbeck Museum, and the International Festival of Arts & Ideas before coming to the New Haven Pride Center in 2017. During this time, in addition to his professional work, Patrick has helped fundraise for many organizations including the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut, the New Haven Free Public Library and Y2Y New Haven. Patrick has also helped organize and produce major public events including the Wooster Square Cherry Blossom Festival and Mayor Toni Harp’s Inaugural Ball.

Patrick currently sits on the board of directors for the New Haven Free Public Library Foundation, is Vice-President of the board of the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut, and is an Advisory Board Member of Y2Y New Haven. He is also one of the Co-Chairs of the Greater New Haven Regional Alliance to End Homelessness, an appointed member and Chair of the Connecticut LGBTQ+ Health and Human Services Network, a state subcommittee of the Connecticut Commission on Women, Children and Seniors, and a Commissioner for the City of New Haven’s Cultural Affairs Commission.

In addition to his nonprofit work, Patrick spends part of his time as professional drag artist Kiki Lucia.

Finn Lockwood, Trans Program Curator

Finn (they/them) is a trans and non-binary artist, activist, and lifelong resident of Connecticut. Having lived and worked all over the state, you may know them from their work as a hairstylist, tattoo artist, and/or event coordinator. Since diving into the New Haven arts community in 2018, Finn has found a passion for bringing people together and creating uplifting and inclusive environments all over the state. They are very excited to join the New Haven Pride Center and look forward to their new role as the Trans Program Coordinator!

 

ala ochumare, Director of Youth Services

ala’s first and most beloved label is that of mother. ala (shey/they) describes herself as a change-making, hood healing, liberation seeking, divination practicing person committed to creating Black Centered Spaces of liberation and joy, who wakes up every day and chooses to be a pro black, pro nap, pro-queer community co-creator. ala is one of the founding members and Principal Organizer of New Haven’s chapter of Black Lives Matter. She is also one of the creators and facilitators of Marsha P. Johnson Black and Brown Queer Camp also created and facilitated by Jahnice Cajigas. In addition to her work at the New Haven Pride Center, ala is an anti-bias and anti- racist Life Coach, Consultant, and founder of Liberating Us. Liberating Us has a central focus on healing, decolonization, abolition, and transformational justice. Part of that work was the creation and community offering of “ABAR 4 you,” a series of abolitionist, anti-bias, and anti-racist workshops, trainings, and consultation guides that shed light on our socialization into the systemic institutions of Racism, Capitalism, Patriarchy, Anti- blackness, and most importantly to ala, our collective transformation out of and the undoing of these systems.

ala is a graduate of the 2018 BOLD AMANDLA cohort, the CEIO Organizer’s Path, The City of New Haven Democracy School, and the Yale University and Southern Connecticut State University’s C.A.R.E. New Haven Health Leader program. ala is a recipient of the 2021 New Haven Pride Center’s Lion Award for service to her community, The 2021 Southern Connecticut State University Women and Gender Studies Conference’s Ingrid Washinawatok El-Issa Service Award, and The 2021 Southern Connecticut State University President’s Medal.

Suyane Oliveira, Women’s Program Curator

Suyane (She/They) is a queer, hard-femme dyke originally from Brazil. She moved to the States with her family when she was 6 and grew up in Danbury, CT surrounded by diverse cultures and people. As soon as they found feminism in high school, Suyane’s life began to quickly develop into the person they are today. Their interest in Intersectional Feminism promptly led them towards Queer Liberation and Class Struggle. Shortly after starting college, Suyane moved to New York City where they continued to work in the coffee industry until they got the opportunity to work as a sex educator for the queer sex shop, Babeland. Living in the city allowed Suyane to get involved in more organizing such as the 2019 NYC Dyke March where they rallied volunteers to marshall the city’s only permit-free march.

Since moving to New Haven in 2020, Suyane has taken up leatherworking, paying homage to leatherqueers, and frequently vends in the area. She enjoys spending time with her community, chosen family, dog, and, of course, plants! You can find her on the road riding their bicycle or in the kitchen baking vegan treats. With her new position as the Women’s Program Curator, Suyane hopes to continue to develop a diverse, unified, and accessable queer culture in New Haven.

Ace Ricker, Community Impact Manager

Ace (he/him) has been an educator and advocate for over fifteen years. He has worked with a wide variety of organizations, religious forums, and non-profits, and has delivered diversity and inclusion workshops and materials on topics like suicide prevention, LGBTQ+ awareness, safer sex, rape culture and sexism, religion and spirituality, and more. He plans to continue working to eliminate ignorance throughout Connecticut communities, both on his own and with others in the LGBTQ+ community.

Juancarlos “JC” Soto, Deputy Director, Director of Case Management & Support Services

Juancarlos (he/him or el) has spent the last ten years organizing in the Latinx, LGBTQ+ and Immigrant communities, having previously worked at JUNTA for Progressive Action and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Juancarlos moved to New Haven with his family – city with which he instantly fell in love with.  Juancarlos is eager to bring support, advocacy, and growth to our vibrant LGBTQ+ community and the New Haven Pride Center where he hopes to help build an inclusive, thriving community for all of Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ people.

Juancarlos is a founding member of the Black and Brown Queer Camp, a Summer Camp for LGBTQ+ Black and Brown Youth. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Dorothy Award in 2019. He is also an artist who uses his art as a tool for activism.

Freddie Swindal, Manager of Support Services

Freddie (they/them) earned their bachelor’s degree from Fordham University majoring in both theology and Spanish. One of their proudest accomplishments as an undergrad was co-founding the Queer Spirit Community, a spiritual group for LGBT students. Since graduating, Freddie has been active in both social services and community organizing in Boston. They served as a Care Navigator with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, where they connected patients with food, housing and legal resources. They also worked at the Massachusetts Voter Table as a Community Organizing Fellow and Field Coordinator, supporting grassroots organizations across the state with civic engagement initiatives. Freddie’s goal in both their career and life is to help create a safe and loving space for LGBT folks wherever they go.

Vu Tran, CPA, Accountant

Vu (he/him) graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelors and Masters in Accounting in 2010. While at the University of Connecticut, Vu also worked at the Rainbow Center as the educational outreach coordinator. Since graduating, he has worked professionally at Ernst & Young and is currently employed as a contract auditor with the federal government. Vu has also remained active in the LGBTQ+ community. He has served on the Board of True Colors, the Connecticut TransAdvocacy Coalition, and the Imperial Sovereign Court of All Connecticut. In addition, Vu teaches Zumba at various gyms and community events.

Photos curtesy Rahvisions.

Meet Our Interns

Kylee Herold, Youth Programming Intern

Kylee (she/her) recently moved to the east coast from California, where she was deeply involved with the local LGBT+ community. She is a college student and future counselor with a passion for social justice and helping others. In her spare time Kylee enjoys being outside, hiking and exploring.