Our Board

Nadine Smith, Chief Executive Officer

Nadine Smith is the co-founder and CEO of Equality Florida the state's largest organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

A former award-winning journalist turned organizer, Nadine was one of four national co-chairs of the 1993 March on Washington. She was part of the historic oval office meeting between then-President Clinton -the first such meeting between a sitting President and gay community leaders. She served on the founding board of the International Gay and Lesbian Youth Organization which celebrates 30 years in 2014. 

She is s a Florida Chamber Foundation Trustee and is a boardmember for Green Florida and served on President Obama's National Finance Committee.   In 2013, was named one of the the state's "Most Powerful and Influential Women" by the Florida Diversity Council. She was also given the League of Women Voter's Woman of Distinction Award earlier this year.

She lives in St. Petersburg with her wife Andrea and son Logan.

Jim VanRiper - Tallahassee

Originally from Colorado Springs Colorado, Jim VanRiper, began organizing in 1996 in the fight against Colorado's anti-gay state constitutional amendment, which the US Supreme Court ultimately struck down in Romer vs. Evans. Jim served on the board of directors for the Pikes Peak Gay and Lesbian Community Center in Colorado Springs. During this time he also worked to help pass a domestic partner benefits program for City employees in Colorado Springs. Jim has also been the Board Chair for The Family Tree LGBT Community Center in Tallahassee, Florida, chaired the Leon County Human Relations Advisory Committee, and facilitated the passing of a human relations ordinance for Leon County which expands the 1964 civil Rights act (Title VII) by including protections for all citizens including protection from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.

Jim is currently the board chair for Equality Florida. Equality Florida is the largest civil rights organization dedicated to securing full equality for Florida’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Equality Florida works to improve the lives of the LGBT community through lobbying, grassroots organizing, education, and coalition building.

Michelle Ott - Gainesville

An Information Technology Project Manager by trade, Michelle Ott's support of the LGBT community includes serving on the board of the Stonewall Democrats of Alachua County and as spokesperson for Equality is Gainesville's Business, a political action committee formed in 2007 to defeat an amendment to the City of Gainesville's charter that would have removed protections in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodation based on sexual orientation and gender identity. She also serves as Vice Chair of the City of Gainesville's Human Rights Board and Secretary of the Alachua County Democratic Party. Michelle was named Gainesville Pride 2008's Community Person of the Year and is a 2009 recipient of Equality Florida's "Voice for Equality" award.

Chuck V. Loring - Fort Lauderdale

Chuck is the Senior Partner of the nonprofit consulting firm of Loring, Sternberg & Associates with offices in Fort Lauderdale and Indianapolis and a Senior Governance Associate for BoardSource in Washington, D.C. He holds a BA from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an MBA from the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California, and is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Chuck has consulted with such prominent institutions as the Smithsonian Museum, Special Olympics, Easter Seals, and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 

In 2008 Chuck completed six years of service on the national board of Lambda Legal and continues as a member of their National Leadership Council. He was a founder of Lamda Legal's Fort Lauderdale and Indianapolis steering committees. In Fort Lauderdale he is active donor and participant with the Gay & Lesbian Center, the Stonewall Library, SunServe, Equality Florida and local LGBT candidates. Nationally Chuck has done work with the Gill Foundation, the Stonewall Community Foundation, the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and many other LGBT organizations.

B. Rodney White - Hollywood

Originally from North Carolina and previously from Atlanta, GA, B. Rodney White has been active in the LGBT movement for the past 20+ years. As Executive Vice President and co-owner of Making Projects Work, Inc. (an Atlanta-based project management consulting firm) with his husband, Michael P. Williams, Rodney networked the access and opportunity afforded to them through both business and personal relationships to support local organizations like AID Atlanta, Project Open Hand, CHRIS Kids and P.A.L.S. and national groups including HRC, Lambda Legal, Victory Fund and GLAAD.

Now as a resident of Hollywood, FL, Rodney serves as a Board Member of Our Fund, an LGBT Community Foundation, in addition to serving on the Equality Florida Board.

Rodney and Michael continue as committed donors to Equality Florida, Our Fund, HRC, Lambda Legal, SunServe, Georgia Equality, AID Atlanta, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, The Perez Art Museum Miami, Equality Utah and Red Butte Garden and Arboretum.

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.


Vivian Rodriguez - Orlando


Vivian Rodriguez is the Constituent Field Representative for Congressman Alan Grayson (FL-9) - Osceola/Polk Counties Outreach and the Vice Chair of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee. She was the Political Director of Hispanic Outreach for FL State House Representative Joe Saunders, District 49, which contributed to the successful election of one of our first openly gay legislatures in Tallahassee. 

Vivian is on the state wide board of the GLBT Democratic Caucus and the Female Regional Director of District 3, covering several counties along the I-4 corridor in Central Florida. She is also one of the Board of Directors for the newly formed Central Florida Community Initiative, a non-profit organization which facilitate's communication and cooperation between the Office of the State Attorney of the Ninth Circuit, led by State Attorney Jeff Ashton and the community it serves. Vivian was a private consultant for the Department of Homeland Security on issues relating to intelligence and terrorism.

Vivian retired from the NYPD in August 2004, as a 1st Grade Detective, with twenty one years of service. She was assigned to several specialized units which included the Intelligence Division, Executive and Dignitary Protection Unit, the Organized Crime Control Bureau, Recruitment Section, and the LGBT Sensitivity Training Program for all incoming NYPD police cadets. She was the past President of the NYPD, Gay Officers Action League (2004), which advocated for the rights, protections, and community awareness of LGBT issues.

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.

Meryl C. Friedman - Broward

Awakened by the Women's Movement in 1971, Meryl C. Friedman took her first steps as a lesbian feminist in what was to become a very rewarding yet challenging journey. She was a founding board member of the National Gay Task Force and the co-founder of the Gay Teachers' Association. She has spent her life fighting the negative stereotypes of gays and lesbians that so often lead bigotry and discrimination. She believes that, whatever the question, education is always the answer.

Marcia Foote - Sarasota

Originally from Massachusetts, Marcia began her activism in the women’s movement in the early 1970’s and has been vigorously working for social justice ever since.

She was instrumental in forming the Florence Luscomb Women’s Center at Salem State College and also the North Shore Gay & Lesbian Alliance, one of the first lesbian and gay organizations in the Boston area.

Marcia moved to Sarasota in 1993 where she continues her advocacy and volunteer work. She has been active in education and fundraising for ALSO youth, Planned Parenthood of SWC Florida, the Sarasota County Democratic Party, and Equality Florida.

Joining the EQFL Board of Directors comes after serving on the EQFL Suncoast Host Comm., Steering Comm., and Co-chairing three Suncoast Galas.

Marcia is a graduate of the University of Connecticut with a concentration in economics and finance, and has owned and operated two small businesses.

Engaged since 1983, Marcia and her wife Dorothy Tiberii were married in Boston in October of 2014.

Michelle Stecker - Winter Park

Michelle Stecker is a faculty member at Rollins College, where she teaches business and social entrepreneurship, history, law, and women’s and gender studies courses, and serves as the director of the Lucy Cross Center for Women and Their Allies. She holds a Ph.D. and J.D. from The University of Toledo, and is a member of the Ohio bar. Michelle also earned a master of divinity degree and served as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. She is a former board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and founder of EqualityToledo, a LGBT civil rights organization in Ohio. Michelle resides in Winter Park, Florida, with her wife, Dr. Carol Bresnahan.