Ephraim Getahun (he/him), Moderator
Director of Strategic Partnerships, Openhouse

Ciora Thomas (she/they)
Executive Director, SisTers PGH

Ciora Thomas is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, native and Executive Director of SisTers PGH. Ciora founded the nonprofit in 2013 because of her own struggles as a teenage homeless sex worker surviving within a cis-tem that feeds off of trans youth homelessness, drug addiction, and transphobia. She saw no real opportunities for herself or others to thrive independently as a Black trans adolescent.

SisTers PGH advocates for social and economic justice for TGNC (transgender and gender-nonconforming) BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) within Allegheny County and operates Pittsburgh’s only trans-owned community center. Here TGNC people can obtain tangible resources like rent and utility support, medical and mental health referrals, self-affirming groups, and a chance to enroll in the many other programs SisTers PGH offers. These include, but are not limited to, the TGNC Youth Collective, which provides a platform and resource for trans youth to organize and find fellowship, and Project T, a groundbreaking temporary housing initiative that helps TGNC people transition from unstable environments and unsupportive communities to finding avenues to support themselves while connecting with the trans community via SisTers PGH and its programming.

For over a decade, Ciora has been committed to bridging the gaps between transgender and cisgender communities while building equity and direct mutual aid platforms for trans people. She has developed a model of leadership that exemplifies the need for self-sustaining Black trans-led organizations in the region. She has traveled the country building partnerships, funding streams, and relationships that continue to broaden her leadership and the organization’s mission.

Ciora is also the founder and lead organizer of People’s Pride PGH, an alternative Pride event in Pittsburgh in protest of the former Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh, which racially segregated Pittsburgh Pride for over a decade. People’s Pride PGH was created in the spirit of Stonewall to center those most marginalized within the TLGBQ+ communities of Pittsburgh by highlighting the need for policy and legislation that defends and protects TLGBQ+ Pittsburghers and Pennsylvanians. Through this work, Ciora has garnished relationships with hundreds of organizations across the city, state, and country that are beneficial to the TLGBQ+ community of Pittsburgh. People’s Pride PGH has been featured on The Daily Show and is now an annual event.

Ciora sits in several seats locally and statewide, becoming the first Black trans woman to serve as Chair of the LGBTQIA Advisory Council of Pittsburgh and on the Pennsylvania Commission of LGBT Affairs. She was later reappointed as the Co-Vice Chair of the Pennsylvania Commission on LGBT Affairs under Governor Tom Wolf’s Leadership.

Further, Ciora is the first Black Trans woman to sit on the board of PAAR (Pittsburgh Action Against Rape), where she is currently working to protect and uplift TLGBQ+ sexual and domestic assault survivors.

She has been honored with multiple awards and recognitions, including: Pittsburgh’s 40 Under 40; LEAD Now Pittsburgh; Outstanding Service recognition from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania; NEXT: Housing; First Swissvale Borough Pride; Housing Alliance of Pennsylvania: Frontline Award; Pennsylvania Youth Congress: Generations Award; Strong Women Strong Girls: Strong Award; Vision Towards Peace: Forerunner Award; LGBT Center FAB: Movement Leadership Award, and many more.

Melissa Devereaux (she/her)
Executive Assistant to the Executive Director & Chief of Staff, Baltimore Safe Haven

Melissa Deveraux is currently the Executive Assistant to the ED & Chief of Staff of Baltimore Safe Haven. Melissa, a Baltimore transplant, has been an activist, advocate, leader and speaker on LGBTQ Issues for over 10 years and is a nationally certified facilitator on these issues . Melissa is the youngest member of the senior administration cabinet. She is also one of the Co- Founders of the Dc Trans Ball. Melissa lives by the quote of Great Dr. Marian Wright Edelman “Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time.”

Noni D. Session (she/her)
Executive Director, East Bay Permanent Real Estate Cooperative

Andrea Horne wearing a pink and purple shirt with curly hair piled on top of her head, smiling for the camera

Andrea Horne (she/her)
Community Outreach Manager, Curry Senior Center

Jupiter Peraza, a woman with long dark hair and glasses wearing a black suit, looks at the camera

Jupiter Peraza (she/her)
Outreach Coalition Manager, Openhouse

Dr. Jason Flatt, a white person with short dark hair, smiles at the camera

Dr. Jason Flatt (he/him/they/them)
Assistant Professor, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health

Jason D. Flatt, PhD, MPH (Pronouns: He/Him/They/Them) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, School of Public Health, Department of Social and Behavioral Health. Jason’s current research works to better understand concerns and needs of diverse LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual as well as additional identities or referred to as sexual and gender minorities) people living with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and their care providers.

Jason also leads efforts locally to increase opportunities for affordable and welcoming housing for the LGBTQIA+ community. Jason’s research is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute on Aging; American Federation for Aging Research; Alzheimer’s Association and The Michael J. Fox Foundation. Jason also works with several communities on http://www.theRISEregistry.org, the first NIH-funded registry for LGBTQIA+ people experiencing memory loss or caring for someone with memory loss.

Jason’s work has been featured in the NPR, U.S. News and World Report, The Advocate, Newsweek, as well as at the Alzheimer’s Association. Learn more about Jason’s research at http://www.RainbowsofAging.org. Jason and their husband live in Las Vegas, NV with their three pups, Tuna, Bowie and Elton.