We have brought together a diverse cross section of members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies from many walks of life. All activists in their own right, we have educators, a businesswoman, a religious leader, an author, a community healthcare provider, and, of course, former NJ students. Join us as we gather to discuss the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth, communities, and their allies. All panelists have their own unique stories and we are thankful they are willing to share with the Essex County community.
Christopher F. Cannella Is a proud educator activist who is in his 18th year as a social studies teacher. Chris has always been very involved at Cedar Grove High School, obtaining vast experiences in athletics, student government, and theatrics. One of his most meaningful directorial endeavors was The Laramie Project in 2011 because of the conversations it helped to spark in the community. Chris has been president of the Cedar Grove Education Association for over 10 years and is also active in the county and state levels. He is co-chair, along with moderator Phil McCormick, of the ECEA’s LGBTQ+ committee in its’ inaugural year. The committee has been busy planning professional development opportunities for educators as well as community events. Chris is most proud of the impact he has had on his students as an openly gay educator who helped to re-start his school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance. Chris was recently honored by the New Jersey Education Association as its’ Champion of Equality Award recipient for his LGBTQ+ advocacy work. Chris has been happily married for over 5 years to his husband Angel.
Amy Fabrikant is a Literacy Specialist Instructor and Supervisor with Columbia University Teachers College. She is a national Safe School Speaker and consultant in schools, sharing the best sustainable practices for creating caring compassionate school communities. Amy holds certifications in Mindfulness and Conflict Resolution and incorporates Mindfulness practices and Growth Mindsets that lead to positive critical self-awareness in her workshops. Amy is the author of When Kayla Was Kyle and upcoming, Paloma’s Secret, 2017. Amy believes in affirming all life and is the Co-Founder of RAE, Raising Awareness Experiences.
Anne M. Farro joined Allianz Global Investors in October 2012 as Head of Institutional Business Management, North America. Drawing on her extensive marketing and project management experience, she is responsible for the business management of Allianz Global Investors US and Canadian Institutional Business. As Head of Institutional Business Management, she works closely with members of the Sales, Consultant Relations, and Client Service teams and with functional leaders across the firm to ensure the operational and financial efficiency of the business. Anne is involved in sales steering and strategy, business planning, budgeting, expense management, business continuity planning, and internal audit coordination. She also works closely with legal and compliance, IT, and operations professionals on various initiatives. Anne currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Professional Association for Investment Communications Resources (PAICR). She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Resource Management from Upsala College.
Pat Hurley is a high school Health, Physical Education and Driver Education teacher and an advocate for equity and justice within education. He received his B.S. from Montclair State University in 1988 and his MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University in 2016. Pat has been active in GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) since 1995, has attended 2 national conferences and is a GLSEN certified trainer. He is also a member of SHAPE-America, the national professional organization for health and physical educators and has served on the state organization’s board (NJAHPERD), in several capacities. Pat has presented at a variety of conferences such as the SHAPE-America National Convention, New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) National Convention, the Eastern District Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Conference, and NJAHPERD state conference. He has also been a panel member for both the professional track and the family track at Gender Conference East and he will be a speaker at GLSEN’s TransYouth Forum in May 2017. Pat has been trained as a National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Leader and co-facilitated monthly workshops for teachers and staff within his school district where he leads explorations on race, gender, socioeconomic status, ability, and sexual orientation. He is currently working with a group of administrators in the South Orange-Maplewood school district.
Jonathan Santos-Ramos is the Director of Clinical Operations and Special Populations at of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. Recently, he was the Center Director for Community Healthcare Network, Community League Health Center, serving the underserved, uninsured and underinsured and immigrant communities of Upper Manhattan and the South Bronx, where he was responsible for the daily operation and clinical capacity expansion of Community League. Previously he held the position of Deputy Director of Business Systems and Strategy, Business Systems and Strategy Unit in the Bureau of HIV Prevention and Control of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. There, he was responsible for the solicitation and contracting process for a portfolio of close to 300 contracts, as well as the administrative staff business-side management of the eSHARE (electronic system for HIV/AIDS reporting and evaluation) system. Prior to receiving his Masters in Public Administration from the Executive program at Baruch College, School of Public Affairs and a BA in Women and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey, Jonathan spent most of his high school years at Fajardo Academy, Fajardo, Puerto Rico but graduated from Passaic High School in New Jersey.
Rev. Diana Wilcox is the Rector of Christ Episcopal Church and a Chaplain at Montclair State University. Mother Diana has a strong commitment to justice and equality, and she leads a popular seminar titled “Take Back The Bible: A Scriptural Self-Defense Class for the LGBT Community & Their Allies.” On campus, her student group was awarded the Nelson Mandela Award for Outstanding Leadership in Diversity (2014), and Mother Diana was also nominated for an Ally Award (2011). She holds a Masters of Divinity degree from Drew University and a Bachelor of Arts from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Prior to becoming an Episcopal priest, Mother Diana worked in the Information Technology Management field for over 20 years, her last position as the Vice President for Open Systems Engineering and Global Program Management for AIG. Before working at AIG, she was a management consultant for CSC Consulting, working with large multi-nationals. She is a widow and lives in Sussex County with her cat Bogart, whose catitude knows no bounds.