Meet our 2021 Virtual Institute speakers!

 In: Announcements


We are thrilled to be hosting our 3rd annual LGBTQ+ Elder Virtual Housing Institute on September 23 and 24. Through interactive workshops, panels, and small group activities, participants will interact with a range of housing and community advocate


Dr. Woody is a internationally and nationally recognized thought leader and an advocate of women, people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/same-gender loving (LGBTQ+/SGL) people for more than 25 years. She has spoken out nationally and internationally about the circumstances of elder LGBTQ+/SGL individuals and the specific jeopardies that LGBTQ+/SGL elders of color face as they age. Dr. Woody brought these perspectives and decades of community praxis to the 2015 White House Summit on LGBTQ+ elder housing development, partnered with SAGE as a panelist in the National LGBTQ+ Elder Housing Symposium in 2019. Most recently, Dr. Woody was invited to the White House by Vice President Kamala Harris to join a small, intimate group to discuss issues that impact LGBTQ+/SGL elders. Dr. Woody retired from AARP to become a pioneer in the building of alternative housing and creating welcoming environments. She is the founder and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, (MHFOA) with the vision and commitment to serve LGBTQ+/SGL elders, experiencing housing insecurity and isolation. Dr. Woody has secured an expert board of advisors and a commitment of $1.2 million from the District of Columbia to begin construction on the first MHFOA dwelling, a 15-room communal residence in WDC and the only one in the country. Dr. Woody has been a three-term Mayoral Commissioner appointee to the DC Office of LGBTQ+ Affairs and appointed by Mayor Bowser to serve on the Global Age-Friendly Task Force. Dr. Woody was the first Program Officer for the 50+ Ministry of Metropolitan Community Churches and is the President of the Greater Brookland Intergenerational Village. Dr. Woody has a PhD in Public Service Leadership, and a Master of Human Services degree from Lincoln University. She has received many awards including Next Avenue’s 2019 Influencers in Aging, Forbes Business of Pride, and the SAGE Creating Change Advocacy Award. She created a Living Life Like It’s Golden program that empowers people to live their lives more fully through visioning. Dr. Woody lives with her wife of 20 years in Washington, DC.

Michael Adams Headshot MICHAEL ADAMS (HE/HIM):

Michael Adams is the Chief Executive Officer of SAGE (Advocacy and Services for LGBTQ+ Elders), the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBTQ+ older people and their caregivers; advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBTQ+ elders; provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBTQ+ community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBTQ+ Aging; and offers cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates across the United States. Prior to joining SAGE, Adams was the Director of Education and Public Affairs for Lambda Legal. Prior to that, he spent a decade leading cutting edge litigation that established new rights for LGBTQ+ people, first as Associate Director of the ACLU’s LGBTQ+ Project, and then as Deputy Legal Director at Lambda Legal. A graduate of Stanford Law School and Harvard College, Adams has authored numerous publications on an array of LGBTQ+ issues. He has taught law school courses on sexual orientation and gender identity and has served on advisory councils for AARP, Fortune 500 companies, leading universities, and the New York City Department for the Aging among others. Adams is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the American Society on Aging.

Juliana Bilowich Headshot JULIANA BILOWICH (SHE/HER):

As the Director of Housing Operations and Policy for LeadingAge, Juliana is primarily responsible for LeadingAge’s regulatory and operational efforts in the area of affordable housing. Working within the LeadingAge Policy process along with members, the Advocacy team and other LeadingAge leadership, Juliana develops strategies to advance affordable housing options for older adults with low incomes. In her spare time, Juliana loves doing sports, traveling, and cooking.

Cassandra Burton Headshot CASSANDRA CANTAVE (BURTON) (SHE/HER):

Cassandra Cantave (Burton) is a Senior Research Advisor in Policy, Research and International. In her tenure at AARP, she has conducted extensive research on issues affecting low-income and historically marginalized populations. Cassandra is passionate about issues that affect Black women, LGBTQ+ people, young adults, and multicultural populations. She has tackled and helped support advocacy efforts that impact older adults such as caregiving, , workplace protections, age discrimination, and livable communities. Cassandra also leads the LGBTQ+ research work at AARP and is the Chair of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. She is adept at engaging diverse audiences through her public speaking engagements. She also teaches undergraduate courses in Gerontology, Sociology and, Diversity and Aging.

Jerry Chasen HeadshotJERRY CHASEN (HE/HIM):

Jerry is the former principal of Miami-based Chasen & Associates PA, a pioneering LGBTQ+ estate planning law firm. Through that firm, he created the Advisors Project, an ongoing CLE-credentialed educational program designed to encourage and support various professional advisors in creating client relationships that are both satisfying and productive for philanthropy. In 2010, he left his practice and became vice president (and later chief operating officer) of the Alliance for Global Good and was responsible for the organization’s programs and communications. Trained and certified as a life coach, Jerry’s coaching practice focused on the challenges of reinvention and productivity for older adults looking at “the next third” of life. Jerry was a Visiting Adjunct Professor at the University of Miami Law School Graduate Programs in both Tax and Estate Planning, from which he also received an LL.M. degree in estate planning. Past president of the Miami–Dade County Planned Giving Council and longtime member of the Council’s Board of Directors, Jerry served as a member of the national Boards of Directors of Lambda Legal and SAGE before joining SAGE’s staff. He has participated in the Professional Advisory Committees of the Foundation of Jewish Philanthropies, the United Way of Miami-Dade County, and the Miami Foundation. He founded and then chaired the Miami Foundation’s LGBTQ+ Community Projects Fund Committee for 10 years.


John Edward Dallas (he/him) is the Coordinator of Interboro Community Land Trust (CLT). Interboro is the first citywide CLT in NYC and a new model for permanently affordable homeownership in NYC that creates a pathway to housing and financial stability and asset- and wealth-building for lower-income families and individuals while preserving the economic, racial, and other forms of diversity that make NYC unique and a world-class city. The first CLT in the nation with a multi-partner structure, Interboro is a collaboration between the Center for NYC Neighborhoods, Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester, the Mutual Housing Association of New York, and the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board. John Edward is the lead administrator, facilitator, and spokesperson of the CLT, representing the organization to the community and fostering a good relationship among the board of directors, the partner organizations, the households it serves, its public-sector and private-sector funders and supporters, and the general public in the boroughs in which it operates. He has over two decades of deep and diverse experience in the affordable-housing and financial-empowerment fields, always in the service of low- and moderate-income households and underserved, vulnerable, at-risk, and distressed populations.

Anne-Marie Flynn Headshot ANNE-MARIE FLYNN (SHE/HER):

Anne-Marie Flynn manages the complex inter-department relationships at Mutual Housing, ensuring the collaboration between the individual units that is necessary for the organization’s long-term sustainability through donor and programs support. Her responsibilities include oversight of Resource Development, Community Organizing, Community Development, and Resident Programs. Ms. Flynn has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management and development in the Sacramento region. As a staff person and consultant, she has helped many local organizations develop and implement their programs, train their staff and volunteers, and raise funds to support our communities. Ms. Flynn has a B.A. in Sociology from University of California at Los Angeles, and an M.S. in International Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis.


My Sistah’s Place Co-Founder Kayla Rena Gore works to help coordinate homeless services, conduct direct outreach, and advocate for the rights of TLGBQ people, especially transgender women. She studied Sociology at Southwest Community College in Memphis, TN. She also provides trainings for CBO’s, educational institutions, and healthcare organizations around trans inclusivity. Her organizing work includes fighting for housing equity for all people who are chronically homeless and advocating for the just treatment of transgender people by law enforcement.

Jennifer Hammer HeadshotJENNIFER HAMMER (SHE/HER):

Jennifer is passionate about finding ways to help people stay in their homes, exploring options for affordable housing, and building relationships with communities and companies that support the aging population across the nation. Jennifer focuses on collaborating and partnering with nonprofit and government entities. Before joining Silvernest, Jennifer assisted people overwhelmed by downsizing and moving out of their homes. She is a former 20-year Navy spouse and Ombudsman, a certified teacher, and has experience in the mortgage industry. Jennifer excels at assembling resources and developing partnerships to creatively solve problems. After her two children left for college, Jennifer began sharing her home with a housemate, giving her a very personal and unique understanding of the benefits and challenges of home-sharing.

Patricia-hernandez-NHI-virtual-institute-speakerPATRICIA HERNANDEZ (SHE/HER)

Patricia Hernandez, LCSW, has over ten years in the social work profession and is passionate about advancing strategies to address the needs of people experiencing homelessness. Patricia has experience providing clinical services and therapy to clients in inpatient, outpatient, and supportive housing settings. Patricia’s more recent experience includes developing care coordination program strategies, program development, team management, and systems integration. Patricia is the Associate Director on the Metro Team for the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH). She oversees strategy, program implementation, training, and project management across New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania to align the health, justice, aging, and housing sectors.  Patricia graduated with a Master of Social Work from New York University’s Silver School of Social Work focused on clinical practice and policy.

Tanisha Hines HeadshotTANISHA HINES (SHE/HER):

Tanisha Hines is an Assistant Director of the National LGBTQ+ Elder Housing Initiative at SAGE .She is helping to build the capacity of developers and social service providers to address the unique housing needs of LGBTQ+ elders while centering a commitment to advance racial equity within this space. Tanisha has more than 7 years’ experience in the affordable housing sector and brings with her practical experience designing programmatic initiatives through the lens of community development and social justice, supporting older adults aging in affordable housing. She has spearheaded programs to create access to housing for justice-impacted individuals and families residing in shelter and has worked to translate lessons learned from programs into policy recommendations. She is also a participating member of Enterprise Community Partners’ policy committee. Tanisha received a bachelor’s from John Jay College in Sociology. She is in process of pursing her graduate degree at The New School in Public and Urban Policy and serves as junior board member of the Osborne Association, working to support individuals, families, and communities affected by the justice system.

Mike Jacobs Headshot MICHAEL JACOBS (HE/HIM):

Michael Jacobs is a senior vice president and head of the originations group overseeing the acquisition of Low Income Housing Tax Credit properties throughout the United States. Jacobs’ acute sense of investment viability and long-term business perspective, along with his talent for collaboration helps maintain NEF’s competitive edge over other syndicators. Jacobs has more than 20 years of experience in the affordable housing industry most recently serving as vice president at The Alliant Company for a brief time. Prior to that he was the Midwest region vice president of acquisitions for NEF where worked for more than 11 years before returning in mid-2012. He was director of property and asset management at Heartland Housing in Chicago from 1994-1999 and before that acted as policy liaison for the Ann Arbor Historic District Commission in Michigan. A graduate of Eastern Michigan University with a bachelor’s of science, Jacobs also holds a masters in urban planning from the University of Michigan.


Sydney Kopp-Richardson is the Director of SAGE’s National LGBTQ+ Elder Housing Initiative, working to reshape the housing landscape nationally and increase the availability of safer LGBTQ+ elder housing through advocacy, research, and housing development. Previously, Sydney worked in Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City in direct service, organizing and advocacy, and policy analysis around affordable housing development and LGBTQ+ anti-violence education. Through an anti-racist framework, Sydney centers the needs of LGBTQ+ communities, people involved in the justice system, people living with mental health challenges, and others living in the margins. Sydney has developed anti-violence curriculum and policy recommendations for LGBTQ+ communities and survivors of violence, and infuses this into her work in housing advocacy. Sydney brings a reverence for the expertise and legacies of LGBTQ+ elders in the formation of policies and programming developed to serve them in the fight for collective liberation, and she brings this to SAGE’s national housing initiative.

Carl Kunda Headshot CARL KUNDA (HE/HIM):

Carl is a Senior Project Manager on the Real Estate Development team at Full Circle Communities, a regional nonprofit affordable housing developer, owner and management company. Carl has worked for Full Circle since 2015 and has been involved in new construction and acquisition of affordable and supportive housing in Chicago, Kalamazoo and Detroit, with an emphasis on supportive housing best-practices for populations whose intersectional identities create unique barriers to accessing housing resources. Carl has a background in community development finance, community and economic development, policy research, and financial analysis. Prior to joining Full Circle Communities, Carl was an Associate at S.B. Friedman Development Advisors in Chicago, focusing on the firm’s national New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) consulting practice for cities, non-profits, financial institutions, and developers. Prior to that, Carl was the Impact Assessment Research Analyst at the Reinvestment Fund, a community development financial institution (CDFI) based in Philadelphia. As a Graduate Research Assistant at the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), he analyzed the impact of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) in Chicago, and the disparate impact of subprime lending in Chicago communities of color.

Britta Larson Headshot BRITTA LARSON (SHE/HER):

Britta Larson is the Senior Services Director at Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s most comprehensive community center for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+) community. She is responsible for overseeing the older adult programs at Center on Halsted and the provision of case management services provided the residents of Town Hall apartments, Chicago’s first LGBTQ+-friendly senior housing. Prior to coming to Center on Halsted Britta worked at a senior living community in the areas of social services and marketing. She is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from North Park University.

Ed Miller Headshot ED MILLER (HE/HIM):

Ed is the Senior Programs Manager at the William Way LGBTQ+ Community Center where he directs the social, cultural, and educational senior programs. These programs are focused on the unique needs of LGBTQ+ elders and are designed to provide opportunities to reduce isolation, forge friendships and build community. Ed is the Center’s Sage affiliate representative where the senior programs are known nationally as Sage Philadelphia. Ed provides supportive services and advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ+ seniors living at the John C. Anderson LGBTQ+ Friendly Apartments. Intentional programming, events, and activities are designed to honor and respect the unique needs of this community. Ed is a certified SAGECare Trainer.

Earl Millet Headshot EARL MILLET (HE/HIM):

Earl Millett joined the Weinberg Foundation as a program officer in 2018, and he currently helps to manage grants in the area of health. Prior to joining the Weinberg Foundation, Earl served as the Chief Operating Officer of Civic Works, a Baltimore-based nonprofit that transforms the lives of Baltimore residents through community service and skills development. During his time at Civic Works, Earl oversaw several programs, including the Housing Upgrades to Benefit Seniors (HUBS) initiative. Earl also managed Civic Works’ Community Lot Team and Baltimore Conservation Leadership Corps, which teach young adults job skills while transforming vacant lots into community parks and gardens. In addition, he led food and farm programs, including Real Food Farm and the Baltimore Orchard Project, as well as the Baltimore Energy Challenge, which provides energy education and energy-saving retrofits throughout the City. Before joining Civic Works, Earl served with the Peace Corps in Ecuador as an environmental extension agent at the Charles Darwin Foundation. In that role, he taught environmental and science education in Spanish at five schools and worked with agricultural operators to improve agricultural production on the Galápagos Islands.

Reynaldo Mireles Headshot REYNALDO MIRELES (HE/HIM):

Reynaldo Mireles, Jr. is the Director of Coalition and Capacity Building and oversees SAGE’s national affiliate network which enhances the capacity of partner organizations across the country to catalyze more LGBTQ+ and age-friendly programs and policies in support of LGBTQ+ elders. Prior to this, Reynaldo was the affiliate leader of SAGE of the Rockies in Denver for seven years. In 2020, in the midst of the pandemic, he launched the state’s first Trans/Non-binary older adult support group. Reynaldo has been recognized by his peers as someone who is passionate about the work he does in the field of aging and promoting the well-being of others. Reynaldo earned his Bachelor of Science in Social Work from the Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2013.


Molly Pearson (any pronoun) joined the PROMO team in December 2020. In her role, she manages the LGBTQ+ Cultural Competency Training program and SAGE of PROMO Fund. Based in St. Louis, she has worked in the statewide effort to decriminalize HIV and sex work, and is a member of the What Would an HIV Doula Do? collective, which explores contemporary cultural responses to the ongoing HIV epidemic.

Ann Robison Headshot ANN ROBISON (SHE/HER):

In 1988, Ann Robison was hired to lead the 13-person behavioral health organization known then as Montrose Counseling Center. Dr. Robison has transformed that small agency with its $385,000 budget to the multi-service LGBTQ+ community center that exists today, with an annual budget exceeding $6 million. Dr. Robison’s vision to develop programs that improve the quality of life and outcomes for consumers has been instrumental in this growth. Her background as an anti-violence advocate led her to found Texas’s first domestic violence/sexual assault/hate crimes services specifically for LGBTQ+ survivors. Her Ph.D. from the University of Texas School of Public Health lends a holistic view of service to the community. That perspective led to the rescue of two struggling organizations – a 24-hour crisis hotline (the LGBTQ+ Switchboard) and the oldest LGBTQ+ youth organization in Texas (Hatch Youth) – by bringing them under the Center’s wing and providing an infrastructure and setting in which they could thrive. Under Dr. Robison’s leadership, the Center staff and volunteers have integrated behavioral health with primary care, developed senior services and youth homeless prevention services. She also saw a need for a centralized Cultural Center offering community meeting space and synergy with small LGBTQ+ non-profit partners. With Ann Robison’s leadership, the Montrose Center has flourished as a first-class LGBTQ+ center with a national reputation.

Peter Robinson Headshot PETER ROBINSON (HE/HIM):

Peter (he/him) is the founder of WorkUrban, a design consultancy that focuses on community engagement and participatory design. He is a founding board member of BlackSpace Urbanist Collective and serves on the Board of Advisors for BRACE: Building Research + Architecture + Community Exchange. Peter has also been appointed to the Board of Trustees at AIA New York | Center for Architecture. Peter Robinson was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and raised in both Kingston and New York City. He received a Bachelor of Architecture degree from Cornell University and a Master of Science in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University. Peter teaches at the Parsons School of Design and is currently a Visiting Critic at Cornell University’s Gensler Family, AAP NYC Center. Peter is the Fall 2021 Mellon Scholar at Cornell University.

Giovonni Santiago Headshot GIOVONNI SANTIAGO (HE/HIM):

Giovonni Santiago is an Akron-based transgender advocate, military veteran, and founder of META Center Inc, a non-profit dedicated to educating, motivating, and inspiring transgender youth and young adults in need of resources and support. He holds Associate degrees in Early Childhood Education, Life Coaching and Mentoring, and Public Administration all from Lorain County Community College. Starting META was something Santiago thought about for a while before taking the steps to make it happen. Being able to assist youth and young adults through their journey of transitioning in whatever form they need is the focus of META. Santiago is a trusted voice in the LGBTQ+ community facilitating workshops at TransOhio, Trans in the CLE, the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, METRO Health, Cleveland Clinic, various colleges/universities, and high schools. He also served as the diversity liaison for the inaugural Akron Pride. In 2013, Santiago started his transition at Louis Stokes Veterans Affairs Medical Center. As his doctor’s first transgender patient, they both recognized a lack of resources and worked together to create the G.I.V.E Clinic. When the clinic opened in 2015, it became the first transgender-specific clinic in the country. Assisting to open the G.I.V.E. Clinic helped ignite Santiago’s passion for creating a more inclusive and authentic patient experience for transgender individuals. Santiago was named one of Cleveland Magazine’s Most Interesting People for 2018 and was featured in the photojournalism project #TransAkron. He also was nominated for and made NBC News NBCOut’s #Pride30 list, and was selected as Equality Ohio’s 2018 Advocate Honoree for Northeast Ohio. Most recently Santiago has been named the LGBTQ+ Youth Sports Director for Studio West 117th, which is a part of the West 117th Foundation. When he’s not busy collecting sneakers, Santiago enjoys traveling with his family and playing board games.

Lala Zannell Headshot LALA ZANNELL (SHE/HER):

LaLa Holston-Zannell leads the ACLU’s advocacy and organizing work to support and empower transgender and nonbinary people. LaLa spoke at the White House for the first Women’s History Month briefing that included transwomen, the last briefing on transgender people under the Obama administration, and also testified at the first Congressional forum on violence against transgender people. In 2015, LaLa was featured on the Advocate’s Trans 100 list. As chair of the policy and working group committee for Communities United for Police Reform (CPR), LaLa was part of passing Intro 541 which addresses unconstitutional searches by the NYPD. Recently, LaLa created the first Trans Discrimination Survey in New York City to collect data on trans people’s experiences in employment. The findings were released in City Hall Park alongside City Council officials and TGNC leaders. She was previously Lead Organizer at the New York City Anti-Violence Project (AVP) where she led AVP’s public community organizing work by doing advocacy, outreach, and networking on behalf of LGBTQ+ New Yorkers who have experienced violence.

To learn more about the Virtual Institute and to sign up, visit