ABOUT US

Equality Michigan Action Network has been working for nearly three decades to achieve full equality and respect for all Michigan residents regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Michigan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people are working to achieve basic fairness and equality in our state.

 

We want to live in safe communities, take care of our families, and contribute to our social, cultural, political, and economic lives and wellbeing. EQMI Action Network is a social justice entity that educates and advocates around a host of issues disproportionately impacting LGBTQ lives, from HIV criminalization to transgender murders. Our general political work includes, but is not exclusive to:

 

  • Advocating for LGBTQ inclusion and protections under Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act and the Ethnic Intimidation Act;
  • Supporting pro-LGBTQ local human rights ordinances throughout Michigan;
  • Promoting policies supporting equal LGBTQ health care access and cultural competency;
  • Defending marriage equality and LGBTQ families against “religious exemption” and anti-LGBTQ adoption bills and laws;
  • Working toward the enforcement of state and federal anti-bullying policies to prevent the violence, harassment, and discrimination experienced by in-school LGBTQ youth;
  • Actively working for the enforcement of federal laws protecting incarcerated LGBTQ individuals from sexual assault and hate violence in jails and prisons; and,
  • addressing anti-LGBTQ bias, violence, harassment and discrimination across the state, particularly for Michigan’s uniquely vulnerable transgender communities.

MEET THE ACTION NETWORK STAFF

Stephanie White
Executive Director - swhite@equalitymi.org

Stephanie White is the Executive Director for Equality Michigan and Equality Michigan Action Network. Her career spans over two decades of leading collective action from US Army Commander to Political Director for the Michigan Democratic Party and the Schauer for Governor Campaign.

 

White first moved to Michigan in 2002 when she served as the Campaign Manager for the Ypsilanti Campaign for Equality and subsequently worked for the Michigan Environmental Council. She then spent six years in Washington DC working on federal policy issues, including serving as the Managing Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).

 

White currently serves as the Treasurer of the Board for NCTE. She holds a B.A. from Texas Christian University where she was a Distinguished Military Graduate. She originally grew up in Kansas and lived in Texas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. before settling in Ann Arbor, MI with her wife, son, dog, cat and picket fence.

Serena A. Johnson, MSJA
Director of Victim Services - sjohnson@equalitymi.org

Serena A. Johnson has devoted over 10 years of her professional career to advocacy and social service work. Throughout her esteemed career, she has dedicated herself to impacting the lives of the disenfranchised and underrepresented by insuring they have a civic voice and the tools of self-empowerment.

 

Ms. Johnson has served in various key public service and advocacy positions with the State of Michigan Department of Corrections, The Department of Health and Human Services, and as the Domestic Violence Legal Victim’s Advocate at the 36th District Court. The latter she credits with strengthening both her technical abilities and passion for victim’s advocacy in the Greater Detroit Metro community.

 

Ms. Johnson obtained her undergraduate degree in Family Studies and Child Development from Western Michigan University, holds a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and is currently working on a Masters in Social Work from Widener University. Ms. Johnson is a proud Detroit native who resides in Detroit, Michigan.

Nathan Triplett, MA, JD
Director of Policy and Political Action - ntriplett@equalitymi.org

Nathan Triplett, MA, JD is the Political Director of Equality Michigan and has worked in various capacities as an organizer, policy advocate, and elected official throughout his 15 years of LGBTQ advocacy and public service. For eight of those years, Triplett served on the East Lansing City Council and in 2013 was elected as the city's youngest Mayor.

 

During his Council tenure, Triplett championed numerous pro-LGBTQ initiatives, including an Equal Benefits Ordinance, Domestic Partner Registry, and Other Eligible Individual Benefits Policy for municipal employees. Triplett's work earned East Lansing back-to-back perfect scores on the Human Rights Campaign's Municipal Equality Index. In addition to his work in East Lansing, Triplett served as the President of the Board of Trustees of the Michigan Municipal League and as a member of Michigan Equality, the National Stonewall Democrats, and the National Board of Directors of the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). A GLSEN's Pathfinder Award recipient and the former Director of Priorities Michigan, Triplett has arduously worked to pass comprehensive nondiscrimination ordinances in cities across Michigan.

 

An ally of the LGBTQ community, Triplett is a graduate of Michigan State University's James Madison College with degrees in Political Theory/Constitutional Democracy and Social Relations. He also holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan and a Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He lives in East Lansing with his wife and newborn son.

Erin Knott
Field Manager - eknott@equalitymi.org

Erin Knott is a progressive activist, who has dedicated herself to championing social and economic justice and equality for all. She has extensive experience working on high-impact campaigns, involving a combination of legislative, public education and organizing strategies. Erin began her career investing resources and human capital into Kalamazoo’s urban neighborhoods, and has spent the last ten years working on issue campaigns at the local, state and federal levels.

 

Erin first worked at the Vine Neighborhood Association as the Crime Prevention Organizer, before spending eight years with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). While at LISC, Erin connected residents, business owners and other stakeholders with resources to revitalize Kalamazoo’s urban neighborhoods and to improve quality of life. Community engagement was key to success, and Erin worked with community members to identify projects and to secure the resources to impact change at the block level.

 

Recently, Erin served as the Michigan State Director for Enroll America where she worked in collaboration to coordinate enrollment efforts in the Michigan Marketplace. She previously served as the Michigan Political Director for America Votes and Deputy Director for Michigan Citizen Action. She has forged and strengthened collaborative efforts with advocacy organizations, labor unions, student groups, communities of color, faith-based organizations, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities by working in coalitions across all levels.

 

Erin has made Kalamazoo her home for over twenty years. She is a graduate of Leadership Kalamazoo, and has served on a number of community and volunteer organizations. Erin is the recipient of the 2012 Progressive Leadership “Grassroots Leader” Award. She shares her home with her partner Amy Gill.

Patrick Brewis
Development Director - pbrewis@equalitymi.org

The perseverance, spirit and love of Michigan’s LGBTQ community and its allies inspires Patrick to share our powerful stories of the yearning for full dignity and equality under the law.

 

Telling our stories creates deep connection and inspires transformative action. To that end, Patrick is excited to learn more about you, but for now, here’s a little about him…

 

A professional performer by trade, Patrick is happy to be back in Detroit from New York (also happy to report that he found love here and married his husband Tony in September 2016) to utilize demonstrated skills of leading, managing and directing major fundraising, marketing and community engagement events and projects. Most recently, he directed a successful capital campaign for a $13.5M renovation/restoration of an LGBTQ-inclusive, historic church community in New York City. He also had the very cool opportunity to premier his feature-length documentary film In All Things (based on the community’s unique history of inclusion for over 130 years and its restoration) in Manhattan to an audience of over 1,000.

 

Having experienced the evolution of the LGBTQ community in New York City over the last decade and a half, Patrick is thrilled to help support equality now in his home state and to help Equality Michigan live out their mission to promote and advocate for fairness, justice and equality for all LGBTQ Michiganders.

Leila Vallarino
Finance and Development Assistant - lvallarino@equalitymi.org

Leila Vallarino is a strong LGBTQ community ally and relative newcomer to nonprofit administrative and development work. Before becoming EQMI’s Finance and Development Assistant, Ms. Vallarino worked as an assistant in the University of Michigan School of Social Work of Development and Alumni Relations and in the University of Michigan School of Social Work Office of the Dean for two years.

 

Vallarino graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Neuroscience and Gender and Health. As a part of her studies, Vallarino conducted research on substance abuse issues for the Department of Psychiatry and focused on health disparities and minority health outcomes. Accordingly, she plans to devote her career to improving the lives and health of disadvantaged populations and in the future will pursue both a Master of Public Health and Master of Public Policy. In the meantime, Leila is excited to be launching her career in advocacy and public service work with Equality Michigan.

 

The frequent traveler is a resident of Southfield, but has also lived in California and Uruguay.

Genny Maze
Lead Victim Advocate - gmaze@equalitymi.org

Geneva (Genny) Maze is a highly experienced and awarded advocate with a long history of working for non-profits including The Salvation Army, Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Ms. Maze has served as an advocate for the LGBTQ community, the homeless, domestic violence survivors, disadvantaged youth, and survivors of drunk driving crashes.

 

While holding the position of Manager of Victim Services at Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Ms. Maze advocated for victims and survivors of drunk driving crashes and advocated for changes in child endangerment laws to include children who are passengers of drunk drivers. Ms. Maze held the position of Volunteer Coordinator at Affirmations LGBTQ Community Center where she recruited, trained, and placed volunteers in various positions within the center and at community events. In that time, Affirmations received the “Best Place to Volunteer” award from the Between the Lines publication for two consecutive years. Ms. Maze also over saw the Affirmations Helpline that assisted persons within the LGBTQ community in crisis or in need of resources and received the Community Pride award for her service within the LGBTQ community.

 

Ms. Maze first came to know about the injustice and discrimination against the LGBTQ community when she was asked to receive psychological assistance or leave her position at The Salvation Army when she revealed that she was a lesbian. Her goal is to never have anyone hear those words again.

Jennifer Miracle-Best
Education & Training Consultant - jmbest@equalitymi.org

Jennifer Miracle-Best has a passion for helping people to understand the intricacies of sexual and gender identity. Formerly the Director of the LGBT Resource Center at The University of Georgia, Jennifer worked in student affairs for 13 years before leaving academia to pursue her dreams of reaching a broader audience with her personal story and her ability to engage people in difficult conversations. Between her lived experiences and her educational and professional background, Jennifer has been praised for her disarming approach to meeting people where they are and helping them to broaden their perspective. It was this diplomacy that enabled her to grow the LGBT Resource Center at The University of Georgia from a quiet, one-person office to a thriving, fully-staffed, and highly visible student-led operation that provided weekly programming and hosted campus-wide events that were recognized by the Office of Student Life as outstanding programs.

 

Over the years, Jennifer has come to understand the power of vulnerability and authentic dialogue and has witnessed the shifts that can happen for people, families, and organizations when a space is created where everyone can embrace their authentic self, truly hear and be heard, and find common ground. She is excited to have the opportunity to work with Equality Michigan to help bring this kind of positive, healing energy to her home state.

Jeynce Poindexter
Transgender Victim Advocate - jpoindexter@equalitymi.org

Jeynce Poindexter is the Transgender Victims Advocate for Equality Michigan and has worked on HIV/AIDS prevention and transgender rights issues in the Southeast Michigan region for more than 10 years.

 

Ms. Poindexter has worked in various capacities with such esteemed community groups and organizations as Men of Color, The REC Boyz, The Ruth Ellis Center, the Trans Sistas of Color Project, and the Community Health Awareness Group addressing the health and advocacy needs of marginalized and disenfranchised communities in her native Detroit. Ms. Poindexter is also the legendary House Mother of the House of Mizrahi, one of the most respected international ballroom houses among communities of color.

 

An award-winning advocate and Wayne County SAFE graduate, Ms. Poindexter proudly resides in Detroit, MI.

MEET THE ACTION NETWORK BOARD

Sen Rebekah Warren, Chair
Ann Arbor, Michigan

State Senator, District 18

Dr. Mira Krishnan, Treasurer
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Consultant

Tim Atkinson, Member-at-Large
Bay City, Michigan

Board, Perceptions

Chuck Otis
Birmingham, Michigan

Retired Marketing Executive, UPS

Gary Reed, Vice-Chair
Grand Ledge, Michigan

Partner, Kandler, Reed, Khoury & Muchmore, Inc.

Sean Rhaesa, Secretary
Wayne, Michigan

General Manger, Associated Newspapers of Michigan

Ronald Moore
Detroit, Michigan

Retired Vice President of Human Resources, Safe Horizon

WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU >>