HVTF Breakout Sessions on Saturday, January 22nd | 12-1pm
Peer Meetup Spaces
Discussion Description: These peer meet up sessions are intended to provide an open conversation space for community members who share a common bond between their self-identification as transfemme, transmasc, non-binary/gender non-conforming, questioning, or ally. Each session will be led by a trained group facilitator.
We recognize that these categories are limited in their ability to capture the full spectrum of gender identity and that they sometimes overlap. We encourage all attendees to choose the group they feel most comfortable in. There will be an opportunity to join more than one group if yo
Discussion Format: Attendees will be placed in the Zoom breakout session of their choice. Facilitators will guide an open topic group discussion among peers.
Transmasculine meet up, facilitated by:
Shepard Verbas (they/them) joined The LOFT's team in November 2015, and currently serves as the center's Director of Programs and Services. Through this role Shepard oversees The LOFT's programming, support services and special events, including: The LOFT's Peer Support Groups, annual Hudson Valley Trans Forum conference, and Rebuilding Rainbows: LGBTQ+ survivor advocacy program, among others.
Shepard is dedicated to heightening visibility and inclusion for trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary (TGNCNB) community in every facet of their work. They have been active in LGBTQ+ activism since 2014 through volunteer and professional roles with several LGBTQ+ organizations including GLSEN Hudson Valley, WJCS Center Lane, and CANDLE Rockland Youth Pride, where they currently co-facilitate the Trans Youth Group for TGNCNB youth ages 12-18.
Shepard holds a B.S. in Early Childhood Education/Special Education from Marywood University, and oversees the center's Educational Training Team which speaks to pressing topics within the LGBTQ+ community. Shepard has spoken at hundreds of trainings, workshops, panels and interviews educating on issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community.
Transfeminine meet up, facilitated by:
Mia Edwards (she/her) has been a participant and eventual co-facilitator of the Trans-Peer Support group since 2016. Her spirit of caring and compassion has led to her becoming the Case Manager of the PROUDWST Me program at The LOFT. Her working with the TGNCNB community at The LOFT is "a dream come true!"
Prior to that, Mia worked for fifteen plus years in luxury goods (wholesale, retail and manufacturing)
She completed her bachelor’s in accounting at York College, CUNY and her MBA at Monroe College, New Rochelle.
In her free time, she loves vegetarian/vegan cooking as well as honing her baking skills. She also enjoys long drives into the countryside and golden sunsets anywhere on Cape Cod.
Kira Lingala (she/her) began participating in groups at The LOFT in 2019 and joined the team in May 2020 as a Peer Navigator for The LOFT’s PROUDWST Me program
Prior to that, Kira graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, where she concentrated in Political Science and African-American studies. While in school, Kira investigated wrongful convictions as an intern for the Invisible Institute before going on to write and edit for New America’s weekly newsletter as an intern.
Kira is passionate about prison abolition, LGBTQ+ rights, and destigmatizing mental health. She writes creatively, avidly follows film, practices yoga, and escapes to nature anytime she needs a break.
Non-binary and gender non-conforming meet up, facilitated by:
Elias Xander (he/they) is passionate about mental health and disability advocacy. Gender is Elias' favorite toy!In their spare time, they are an artist and houseplant parent.
Questioning meet up, facilitated by:
Stevie McMahon (he/they) started at The LOFT as the Community Engagement Coordinator in October-2021. They joined the LOFT as a Media Intern and Volunteer Coordinator in June of 2021. Stephen is a Westchester native and their passion for LGBTQ+ advocacy has grown throughout their time at university.
Ally meet up, facilitated by:
Dennis Richmond, Jr. (he/him) joined The LOFT’s team in December 2021. He is The LOFT’s Program Manager and his responsibilities include facilitating and managing core programs: The LOFT’s Helpline, Health Education, and Silver Connections, LGBTQ+ senior program.
Dennis holds a Bachelor of Arts in African and African American Studies from Claflin University, an HBCU (2017), and a Master of Science in Education from Sarah Lawrence College (2019).
A passionate genealogist, Dennis traced his family back hundreds of years in Westchester County and Greenwich, Connecticut. In his spare time, Dennis writes articles about the Black, Latinx, and LGBTQIA+ Community for the Yonkers Rising newspaper and YonkersTimes.Com.