Our Board

Meryl C. Friedman - Broward, Co-Chair

Awakened by the Women's Movement in 1971, Meryl took her first steps as a lesbian feminist in what was to become a very rewarding yet challenging journey. In the early 1970s Meryl was a founding board member of the National Gay Task Force and also co-founded the Gay Teachers' Association.

During her career, she was a teacher and administrator in a junior high in her native Brooklyn. Meryl has been living in Fort Lauderdale since 1990. She and her partner, Pokey Anderson, spend part of each year in rural Washington State as well.

Meryl was the 2014 recipient of the Equality Florida Service and Leadership Award and has long been a member of the Broward County Steering and Host Committees.

She has spent her life fighting the negative stereotypes of LGBT people that so often lead to bigotry and discrimination. She believes that whatever the question, education is always the answer!



Jon Harris Maurer - Tallahassee, Co-Chair

Jon Harris Maurer lives in Tallahassee with his spouse Nate and their dog Pascal. A Fort Lauderdale native, Jon Harris moved to Houston, Texas, to attend Rice University. After graduating, he served as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives and then on the Annise Parker for Mayor campaign, which successfully elected the first openly LGBT mayor of a major American city. While in law school at Florida State University, he also worked as a policy intern for the Florida House of Representatives State Affairs Committee. Jon Harris now practices environmental and administrative law with Hopping Green & Sams, P.A.

He has been actively involved in all facets of Equality Florida’s work in Tallahassee, participating in Lobby Days, organizing Equality Connection events and co-chairing the Tallahassee Gala. In addition, he devotes time to various professional organizations, volunteers with Children’s Home Society and mentors Florida State University law students.



Ken Shelin - Sarasota

Ken Shelin has been a Florida homeowner for 24 years and has lived in Sarasota with his partner of 38 years, full-time since 1996. For 34 years he worked in the enforcement arm of the United States Food and Drug Administration in Philadelphia, Detroit, and Baltimore. For much of that time, he managed a number of offices in several states as well as helped to write Federal regulations and policy documents in the drug regulatory area. He received numerous awards during his Federal service including two Reinventing Government Awards and FDA's highest individual achievement award, the Award of Merit. Subsequent to his Federal career, he consulted with pharmaceutical manufacturers throughout the world on drug regulatory compliance issues. He also planned, executed and spoke at numerous pharmaceutical manufacturer conferences sponsored by the University of Rhode Island College of Pharmacy in the US and Europe for a period of ten years.

Later, Ken became involved in civic affairs in the City of Sarasota and has served on the Boards of and as an officer of a number of resident, civic and government boards including the Sarasota Planning Board for 5 years and was elected to and served on the Sarasota City Commission. While on the Commission, Ken was able to convince the Commission to provide domestic partner healthcare benefits to city employees. Ken also became involved with Equality Florida as a donor and organizer of the annual Suncoast Equality Florida Gala for several years. These Galas have grown significantly in numbers of attendees and funds raised and now rival Galas in larger cities.

For the last couple of years Ken has been working in many of southwest Florida's cities and counties to create domestic partnership registry and human rights ordinances. He has been successful in the City of Sarasota, Sarasota County, Venice, North Port, Punta Gorda, and Cape Coral. He continues his work in Lee County, Fort Myers, Naples and Collier County.

Ken is a graduate of the University of Delaware, and has two daughters, a son, six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

 



Mark Anderson - Tampa

Mark is a retired Information Technology manager residing in Tampa.  He spent his career in Telecommunications and Financial Services firms, and retired as Chief Technology Officer for Credit Suisse First Boston, overseeing the global technology organization of the New York based investment bank.  Since retiring, Mark has served on several non profit groups.  He is a past chairman and current member of the Tampa City Council Citizens Advisory Committee, which interacts with the City of Tampa to advise the Tampa City Council on Financial matters.  He is also currently Secretary/Treasurer and a Board member of the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts in Tampa.

Mark and his partner have been donors and sponsors for many arts and social reform organizations in the Tampa Bay area.  He holds a bachelors degree in Electrical Engineering and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati.



David Bloom - Miami

David Bloom is a Miami native who, as the son of former State Representative Elaine Bloom and Circuit Court Judge Philip Bloom, was born into a life of public service. David was the recipient of the 2013 Miami Gala Voice for Equality Community Service Award and currently serves on the Equality Florida Miami Steering and Host Committees. David served on the National Board of Directors of Family Equality Council (formerly the Family Pride Coalition), the national organization for LGBT parents. He single-handedly organized the first ever LGBT parenting event in South Florida in February 2002. He served on the Steering Committee for the Valuing Our Families LGBT Parenting Conference from 2004-2009. He was recognized in 1990 by the Fenway Community Health Center in Boston for his outstanding fundraising efforts.

David is the owner of PhysicalAdvertisingWorks.com, a marketing firm that supplies printing, wearables and promotional Items to businesses and non-profits. He received the Certified Advertising Specialist (CAS) designation, which has been awarded by his industry's association to only a few select professionals who have met rigorous educational requirements and demonstrate exemplary commitment to their profession. He is a graduate of Brandeis University and Harvard University.

David lives in Miami with his partner Damian McNamara and their sons Dawson and Donovan. He enjoys travelling and considers SCUBA diving the Great Barrier Reef one of his most thrilling trips followed by riding rollercoasters with his family.



Chris Rudisill - Fort Lauderdale

Chris Rudisill is the Executive Director of Stonewall National Museum & Archives, based in Fort Lauderdale. As a community leader and visionary, Chris works to preserve and share the proud culture of the LGBTQ community. Prior to joining, SNMA Chris served as Director of LGBTQ Community Center Services at METRO in Tampa Bay from 2012-2015. METRO operates 3 LGBTQ Community Centers and an LGBT Welcome Center in the Tampa Bay region, and is home to the SAGE Tampa Bay affiliate along with many other community programs and services. From 2009-2012, Chris served as Executive Director of St. Pete Pride, Florida’s largest LGBTQ pride celebration. He has been working with non-profit organizations the majority of his professional career, has participated in the American Express National Leadership Program, and is a member of Leadership Florida, Class XXXIV. Chris has extensive experience in writing, research and speaking on LGBTQ issues on a statewide and national platform, including appearances at National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conference, Florida Conference on Aging, Florida Collegiate Pride Conference, and the Lambda Legal Society of Stetson University. In addition, Chris founded and wrote “A Gay in the Life” for The Sun News, part of the McClatchy Newspaper Company from 2005-2012. Chris is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and lives with his husband in Wilton Manors, Florida.



Tricia Russell - Saint Augustine

Tricia Russell is currently VP, Business Control Manager, with Bank of America and has more than 30 years of broad banking experience. She is also a former successful small business owner.  Her educational background includes a BA in Economics and math from Kalamazoo College and an MBA in finance from the University of Michigan. 

Tricia is also broadly engaged in LGBT advocacy work.  In addition to her active involvement as a board member of Equality Florida and a member of the TransAction Florida advisory board of Equality Florida, Tricia is actively involved in various LGBT advocacy efforts in NE Florida, where she resides in Saint Augustine.  These include serving as a member of the steering team of the Jacksonville Coalition for Equality (JCE) and chair of the gender identity and expression (GIE) sub-committee of the JCE.  The focus of the JCE is on securing equal rights for LGBT people that live, work and visit in NE Florida, primarily through passage of LBGT-inclusive non-discrimination policies across NE Florida communities that provide protections in the areas of employment, housing and access to public accommodations. 

In her work with the JCE, Tricia serves as an educator and spokesperson for transgender rights and equality.  As a regular speaker at city council and commissioner meetings and with other key constituent groups within the community she shares the transgender experience on a personal level with the belief that fear of the transgender community stems from lack of understanding, and that sharing human stories builds understanding that ultimately leads to acceptance.

Tricia is also a member of the global Leadership Council of the LGBT Pride employee resource group of Bank of America.  In this capacity she is involved in charting the course of one of the largest LGBT focused employee resource groups in the country, with more than 13,000 active members.   

On a more personal note, Tricia grew up in the Midwest as Patrick Russell, has been married for 33 years, is a parent of four adult children and is an avid runner and sports enthusiast. She began her transition from Patrick to Tricia on the job in 2012 at the age of 54 with the full and continuing support of her employer, Bank of America. 



Donn Smith - Gainesville

Donn Smith is a Gainesville-area native who returned to Florida after living for many years in San Francisco. He serves on the United Church of Gainesville’s Open and Affirming committee which promotes an inclusive spiritual sanctuary for LGBTQ+ individuals by advocating for civil rights equality and the full inclusion of all people in society. UCG was recognized with the 2015 Voice for Equality Award for its continuing work on social justice and diversity issues. In addition to his continuing involvement on the Greater Gainesville Gala Steering and Host Committees, Donn serves on the City of Gainesville Human Rights Board and is actively involved in Equality Florida’s Lobby Days.

Professionally, Donn has many years of experience in healthcare administration including private medical practices, Stanford University Medical Center and, more recently, at UF Health-Shands Hospital. He also enjoys his part-time work as an adjunct medical billing and coding instructor for adult learners. Donn has a Bachelor of Health Services Administration from Florida International University in Miami.

Donn and his husband, Dr. Melvin Lopez, are actively involved with their church, family and friends and they enjoy travel and SCUBA diving adventures, particularly within Florida.



Victor Diaz-Hermann

Victor Diaz-Herman is a proud Floridian, born and raised in Miami, he studied at Florida State University and the University of South Florida.

Victor is the Executive Director at Pridelines, South Florida’s oldest LGBTQ service agency and Miami’s LGBTQ Community Center. He is also an Operations Consultant, providing services to companies such as Worth International Media, a Florida based marketing solutions company established in 1967. He is one of fifteen members of the National LGBTQ Task Force’s National Action Council.

The son of lesbian mothers, Victor has been a member of and an activist for the LGBTQ community since he marched in Washington as a toddler on his mom’s back.  His first job after college was as the Festival Coordinator and then Operations Manager at the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (now MiFo Film Festival). He served on the board of Pridelines Youth Services for three years prior to joining the organization as Executive Director in 2010. He also served as a Chairperson for the National LGBTQ Task Force’s Winter Party Festival for 5 years.

Victor is the recipient of the Miami Foundation’s Miami Leaders fellowship, the Victory Fund’s LGBTQ Movement Leaders Fellowship, and the SAVE Dade (now SAVE) Young Luminaries award.



Jeff Delmay

Jeff Delmay lives in Hollywood, Florida with his husband Todd Delmay and their son Blake. Jeff and his husband were one of the six plaintiff couples that along with Equality Florida sued for the right to marry in Florida and won! They and another couple became the first couples to marry in Florida when the judge lifted her stay a day ahead of the rest of the state. Jeff has also been involved in the community at large, working extensively with National LGBTQ Task Force and The SMART Ride for many years. Jeff is committed to a vision of equality that allows everyone to be who they truly are, and to a world made better for his son and for all children.

Professionally, Jeff and his husband own and operate Delmay Corporation, which works with event organizers to provide hotel rooms for exhibitors, vendors and attendees. Jeff is a graduate of Johnson & Wales, where he studied hospitality management. After graduating, he enjoyed a 12-year career working for a few of the finest hotels in Miami. 



Marjorie Sherwin

Marjorie Sherwin was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  She moved to Florida with her then partner, now wife in 1993. Marge's activism with the LGBTQ community began in New York with the East End Gay Organization(EEGO). She also joined the board of the fledgling Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization (LIGALY), which now has a major presence on Long Island. Additionally, Marge served as the Lesbian Representative on the Suffolk County Human Rights Commission. Her foray into Florida activism began with the Domestic Partner policy that she introduced to the city of Treasure Island.

For the past several years Marge has served on the Steering Committee for the Equality Florida St. Petersburg Gala and is honored to be serving on the Equality Florida Board.



Petra Doan - Tallahassee

Petra Doan is Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida State University. In addition to her research on planning in the developing world, she conducts research on planning issues surrounding the LGBTQ community. Most notably, she has edited two books: Queerying Planning: Challenging Heteronormative Assumptions and Reframing Planning Practice, published in 2011 by Ashgate and Planning; and LGBTQ Communities: the Need for Inclusive Queer Space, published by Routledge in 2015.

She also has published a number of related articles in Gender, Place, and Culture, Environment and Planning A, the Journal of Planning Education and Research, Progressive Planning, International Review of Urban and Regional Research, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She has been a long time supporter of the work of Equality Florida, has served as a member of the Host Committee for the Tallahassee Gala, and currently serves as a Board Member for Trans-Action. She is a past member of the Board of Directors for the Family Tree (Tallahassee’s LGBTQ Community Center) and several years ago won the Family Tree’s LGBT Educator of the Year Award. She was a co-founder of the Panhandle Transgender Alliance (PANTRA) the first transgender support group in the Tallahassee area.



Susan Bottcher - Gainesville

Susan Bottcher was raised in Ft. Lauderdale and moved to Gainesville in 1975 to attend the University of Florida. Susan became active in politics in 2004, joining the Alachua County Democratic Executive Committee and served as chair of the ACDEC Campaign Planning Committee and as State Committeewoman 2008-2012. She worked in varying capacities on political campaigns for progressive candidates for city and county commission, school board and state and congressional campaigns. In 2008, she was elected as a delegate for then Senator Barack Obama to the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Co.

In 2009, Susan joined the effort to defeat a local anti-transgender “bathroom ordinance” in Gainesville. This was her introduction to Equality Florida and the important work this organization does throughout the state. The following year she volunteered on the campaign that helped elect Gainesville’s first openly gay mayor.

Since then she has served on the Gainesville Chapter of the EQFL Steering Committee that plans the annual Gala. She also joined the EQFL PAC 2009-2010, but resigned to run for the Gainesville City Commission.

She was elected to the city commission and served one term until May 2014. At that time, she joined the State Advisory Council for Ruth’s List of Florida and in late 2015 asked to serve on the RLF Executive Board. Susan is also a life member of the NAACP and a card carrying member of the ACLU.

As a straight ally, Susan knows her support and advocacy helps to amplify the issues and voices of her family members, friends and neighbors in the LGBTQ community.



Rev. Debreita "Pastor Brei" Taylor - Orlando

Rev. Debreita “Pastor Brei” Taylor, Founder of Oasis Fellowship Ministries (2005), and 2007 Founding President/CEO of Oasis Unified Transformations Community Development Corporation, (O.U.T.), has more than 20 years of motivational speaking experience addressing audiences of diverse population, beliefs, age, profession and economic status. Pastor Brei, as she is affectionately called, has organized Oasis Fellowship and O.U.T. to serve and provide refuge and advocacy to those individuals that have found themselves socially marginalized, in one form or another, especially the LGBTQ Community of Central Florida.

Pastor Brei has, over the past 14 years, devoted most of her time and energy towards serving the LGBTQ community through religious, social equality and grassroots justice work. As a direct response to the Pulse Night Club massacre in June 2016, O.U.T. launched an initiative directed at the LGBTQ Black community of Orlando and vicinity to provide Community & Crisis Advocacy. This program was made possible by a grant from Contigo Fund, an initiative of Our Fund Foundation. On April 1, 2017 Pastor Brei was honored to become an Equality Florida Board Member. 

Among her significant positions, with education being a high priority, Pastor Brei is a 20 yr. Board Member for Tri-L Christian Academy. She has untiringly worked in the Orange County Public School system as a classroom teacher, mentor and Florida Guardian Ad Litem for Seminole County Juvenile Justice. In 2013, Pastor Brei opened OUT Care TCM Agency that serves as a mental health targeted case management advocacy agency.



Anastasia "Annie" Hiotis - St. Petersburg

Anastasia “Annie” Hiotis is the Chief Operating Officer of the law firm of Carlton Fields, a position she has held since 2001. Annie oversees the operations of the more than 300 lawyer firm, which has five offices in Florida, and offices in Atlanta, Washington DC, New York, Hartford, and Los Angeles. Annie has been openly gay at the law firm since 2008, and is an advocate for the firm’s longstanding diversity initiatives, which are recognized at a national level. Specifically, Carlton Fields consistently ranks as a top law in the country firm for Diversity by Vault, and the firm has received the distinction of “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” for eight consecutive years by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. Additionally, the firm’s efforts to promote LGBT equality in the workplace are evidenced by its offering of domestic partner benefits to attorneys and staff since 1999; establishing the firm’s LGBT Alliance; and representing LGBT individuals and families pro bono in significant same-sex marriage and adoption cases for all LGBT Floridians — including working with Equality Florida and the National Center for Lesbian Rights pro bono in Pareto v. Ruvin, which allowed same-sex couples in Miami-Dade County to receive marriage licenses.

In her personal time, Annie has been extensively involved with Equality Florida since 2009 and to date, either chairing or being an active member of the St. Petersburg Equality Florida Steering Committee. As a result of years of activism, Annie was honored to serve as a Grand Marshal at the St. Pete Pride Parade in 2016, was recognized by the Tampa Bay Business Journal as an Outstanding Voice in their 2016 Business of Pride edition, and in 2014 was presented the Voice of Equality Award from Equality Florida at its St. Petersburg Gala. Annie and her partner of 25 years, Connie Lancaster, have been staunch supporters of the Tampa International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, sponsoring its annual launch party each year since 2011. They were also significant benefactors to the St. Petersburg LGBT Welcome Center. Annie and Connie have lived in St. Petersburg’s Old Northeast neighborhood since 1992.