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The 21-member Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs reflects the age, gender, gender identity or expression, ancestral, national origin, color, disability, religious, sex, sexual orientation, racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographic diversity of the State of Maryland. Members are required to know the issues facing the LGBTQIA+ communities and advocate for solutions to the problems facing LGBTQIA+ communities. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer member of this Commission, please see the following link to apply.

The Commission annually elects a chair and vice chair and is required to publish an annual report that includes recommendations on policies for LGBTQIA+ adults and youth to end discriminatory practices in the State.

Commissioners: From left to right: Commissioner Anthony Fox, Director Jeremy Browning, Commissioner Debb Dunn, and Commissioner Tina Jones, GOCI Executive Director Larry Walker, Commissioners Joan Bryan, Mark Ridderhoff, M Pease, Joe Toolan, and Sarah Stern


Commissioners and Officers as of January 2024

Chair: Lee Blinder (they/them), Baltimore City

Chair: Lee Blinder

Mx. Lee Blinder (they/them) is a proud, openly nonbinary, transgender, and queer Marylander, and the founding Executive Director of Trans Maryland. They are the first openly transgender chair of a Maryland Commission. They recently served on Governor Wes Moore’s transition team and they sit on LGBTQIA+ advisory boards around the State. Mx. Blinder facilitates transgender 101 and gender-affirming workplace training for government, medical organizations, and private companies. Additionally, they lead Trans Maryland’s peer-to-peer name and gender marker change program. They have worked in service to their community for over 27 years, helping launch the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at Montgomery Blair High School in 1996. They enjoy spending time with their adopted animal companions, their cat Basil Pasta Marinara, and their dogs Cupcake and Chickpea.


Vice Chair: Kijana West (she/her), Allegany County

Vice Chair: Kijana West

Kijana, a dedicated LGBTQIA+ advocate for over 30 years, has made lasting contributions to the community. Beginning as a Peer Educator in New York City in the early ’90s, she championed early trans rights, organized the first Bronx Pride, and co-founded the Ali Forney Center for LGBTQIA+ youth. Kijana has deep roots in Allegany County and grew up spending summers in the mountains of Maryland with her great-grandmother. Upon moving to Western Maryland, Kijana identified a crucial need for LGBTQIA+ services, leading to her involvement in the Cumberland Pride Festival and chairing the Allegany County NAACP’s LGBTQIA+ committee. Recognizing a significant service gap, she founded Safe Space Cumberland in June 2022—the region’s first LGBTQIA+ Youth drop-in center and social work agency.


Nicholas Augustine (he/him), Frederick County

Nicholas Augustine

Nicholas Augustine has served on the Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs since October 2021. His over 25 years of public service have involved volunteering in the fire/rescue service and his current position as an Assistant Chief of Police for Montgomery County Police. Throughout his public service career, he has advocated to build trust between the LGBTQIA+ community and public service agencies. Nicholas has a graduate degree in criminal justice from Arizona State University and is completing his second graduate degree in public safety from the University of Virginia. He resides with his husband and daughter in Frederick County.


Joan Bryan (she/her), Baltimore County

Joan Bryan

Joan is a devoted LGBTQIA+ advocate and ally with a profound passion for supporting queer and trans youth. She is actively engaged in various community roles, including with the Baltimore County Human Relations Commission, the Baltimore County Lynching Memorial Project, and previously with the Liberty Road Community Council from 2007 to 2023. Joan co-founded an Anti-Racist Discussion group with the Baltimore County Public Library in 2020 and is a member of PFLAG in Howard and Baltimore Counties. Bringing her 44 years of federal government service, coupled with her BA and MS in Human Services Administration from Notre Dame of Maryland University, Joan is uniquely qualified to contribute meaningfully to the Commission’s mission. As a widow, mother, and proud grandmother of a trans grandson, Joan brings both professional expertise and personal empathy to her advocacy work, ensuring a compassionate and informed approach. She lives with feline companions Thelma and Louise.


Josie Caballero (she/her), Montgomery County

Josie Caballero

Josie Caballero is an influential Latina transgender leader and the Director of the 2022 US Transgender Survey and Special Projects at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE). She is instrumental in the success and reach of the 2022 US Trans Survey, collaborating with researchers, academics, and activists to foster a more inclusive and respectful society for the trans community. Josie leverages her exceptional skills in coalition building, policy development, and community advocacy to enhance the visibility and understanding of transgender issues. Additionally, Josie serves as Vice President of the Transgender American Veterans Association (TAVA). She combines a six-year tenure in the Navy as a nuclear reactor operator with a decade-long expertise in political management and consulting, where she championed vital causes across the United States.


August Clayton (any pronouns), Charles County

August Clayton

Rooted in Southern Maryland, August is a resource organizer and founder of Mosaic. He began organizing in 2016 around trans student belonging and access, HIV decriminalization, and resourcing trans-led organizations. He has been deeply politicized by non-carceral alternatives, democratizing public funds, and building relationships toward local power. In his free time, August enjoys watching baseball, eating crabs at Captain Leonard’s, and spending afternoons in Piney Point with his partner and family.


Amit “Mickey” Dhir (he/him), MBA, MSN, AGNP-C, AAHIVS, Baltimore City

Amit (Mickey) Dhir

Mickey is an infectious disease Nurse Practitioner at Chase Brexton Health Care, specializing in HIV/STI management and prevention, and primary care for LGBTQIA+ populations. In his Ph.D. studies at Johns Hopkins University, Mickey is exploring the Acceptability and Impact of Long-acting (LA) Injectable Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) among same-gender loving men and transgender women in Baltimore. As a community leader and advocate, he has partnered with local organizations like the Baltimore City Health Department and U equals U (Undetectable equals Untransmissible) campaign to educate communities about HIV management and prevention. Additionally, Mickey leads efforts to address health disparities and actively involves clinicians in implementing evidence-based HIV prevention care models in the U.S. and internationally. On the Commission, Mickey works to address HIV treatment and prevention access issues, such as medication access, medical coverage, etc., and increased funding for HIV treatment and prevention services. He is dedicated to fostering positive change and ensuring equitable access to quality medical care for all.


Kurt Doan (he/him), Harford County

Kurt Doan

Dr. Kurt Doan is a higher education professional with 28 years of experience working for colleges and universities nationwide. Born and raised in rural Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he became involved in LGBTQIA+ advocacy while attending Penn State University. As a graduate student at the University of Arizona, he served as President of the LGB Graduate Student Alliance and became involved with Safe Zone—a program aimed at improving the campus climate for LGBTQIA+ students.  In Arizona, he served as a trained crisis intervention specialist for the Wingspan Domestic Violence Project—a program that works to address and end violence in the lives of LGBTQIA+ people. Kurt completed a doctorate in higher education leadership at Wilmington University in May 2021; his thesis focused on the data invisibility of LGBTQIA+ community college students. He currently serves as the President of Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride.


Deborah Dunn (she/her), PAC, MBA, Prince George’s County

Deborah Dunn

Deborah Dunn, PAC, MBA, is a distinguished family practice Physician Assistant and Trans Health Coordinator at Chase Brexton Health Care’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center. Graduating from Howard University in 1983 and holding an MBA from Johns Hopkins University, Dunn provides leadership in transgender care, establishing best practices, training medical providers, and advocating at the State level. She played a pivotal role in creating Gender: Joy (Journey of Youth), a program for trans/gender-diverse youth. Recognized as Physician Assistant of the Year in 2018 and 2021, and a Health Care Hero in 2018, she serves on various boards, including the Maryland Board of Physicians, Physician Assistant Advisory, and the American Academy of Physician Assistants DEI commission, as well as Chair of the Budget & Finance Committee of the Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs.


Anthony E. Fox (he/him), MS, PhD(c), LGPC, Prince George’s County

Anthony E. Fox

Anthony Fox, MS, PhD(c), LGPC, is the Division Chief at the DC Department of Health. He oversees the Capacity Building, Housing, and Community Partnerships Division within the HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and TB Administration.  He is a proud resident of Prince George’s County and brings 28 years of Public Health and Health Care experience to the Commission, with a focus on HIV Prevention and Care for 20 years. Previously, he served as Deputy Director for Chronic Disease at the Mississippi State Department of Health and as a Lead Trainer/Capacity Building Assistance Manager for the Mississippi Prevention Training Center and Jackson State University. Anthony is affiliated with several professional organizations and has received numerous awards for his dedication to communities. Passionate about empowering African American and LGBTQIA+ communities, Anthony volunteers extensively and advocates for mental health alongside physical well-being. In his leisure, he enjoys travel, swimming, and movies.


Dr. Nicole A. Hollywood (she/her), Wicomico County

Dr. Nicole A. Hollywood

Dr. Hollywood is a Professor in the Department of Business at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore where her areas of expertise are media uses and effects, student learning outcomes assessment, DEI, information literacy, culturally responsive practices, business education, and technological innovation. She received doctorate and master’s degrees from Columbia University and earned a post-doctorate from Tulane University. She has authored over 40 peer-reviewed journal articles, as well as three books and several book chapters, and currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Doctoral Studies. In her free time, she provides her public relations and marketing skills pro bono to several nonprofits and advocacy organizations focused on social justice and reducing violence.


Tina Grace Jones (she/her), Talbot County

Tina Grace Jones

Tina, a proud transgender, and pansexual woman who came out later in life, is the principal of Pride Advisory Services Group, LLC (PASG). PASG provides management, business development, and strategic planning services to small and medium-sized organizations. The foster parent of a nonbinary child who lost their life to suicide and a suicide survivor herself, she understands firsthand the impact of discrimination and hate. A fierce advocate for LGBTQIA+ equity, Tina is the co-founder, inaugural Chair, Secretary, and trans/nonbinary support group facilitator for Delmarva Pride Center, an Eastern Shore organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQIA+ residents. She serves on the board of FreeState Justice and in an advisory or board capacity for many other nonprofit and public organizations. In addition to her foster child, Tina is the proud parent of two adult children and lives with her wife and their three rescue dogs.


Asher Kennedy (he/him), Washington County

Asher Kennedy

Asher is a trans masculine representative from Washington County, Maryland. Born in LaPlata and raised in Hagerstown, he works towards equity and true affirmation of all Marylanders. He has served on the Board of Hagerstown Hopes since 2018, currently serving as Vice President and chair of the Trans Committee. Between his professional work as a Title I Liaison with Washington County Public Schools, his work with Hagerstown Hopes, and this esteemed panel of leaders from around the State, his dedication is to ensuring a better tomorrow for our youth and our State as a whole. 


Jabari Lyles (they/them), Baltimore City

Jabari Lyles

Jabari is an unapologetically Black, fat, queer, trans and nonbinary educator, community organizer, and servant leader with 15+ years of experience advocating for LGBTQIA+ rights in Maryland. Jabari’s former roles include Inaugural Executive Director of GLSEN Maryland, Board President and Acting Executive Director of The Pride Center of Maryland and Baltimore Pride, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Strategist at Baltimore Safe Haven, the inaugural Director and Senior Advisor of LGBTQ Affairs for the Office of the Mayor in Baltimore City, as well as a former elementary, middle and high school teacher in Baltimore’s public and independent schools. Jabari led the efforts to pass groundbreaking policies in Baltimore City, including the city’s gender-neutral bathroom law, the City Schools’ transgender student rights policy and the legislation to establish the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs. Today, Jabari operates their own consulting practice providing LGBTQ inclusion training, guest speaking, facilitation and nonprofit technical assistance services to clients across the U.S.


Dr. Stephen Martin (he/him), M.D., Baltimore City

Dr. Stephen Martin

Stephen, originally from Northern Virginia, obtained his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA. Afterward, he worked with Habitat for Humanity in Louisiana, coordinating home construction for hurricane victims. Subsequently, he moved to Washington, D.C., and earned his medical degree from the Howard University College of Medicine. Completing his residency at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Stephen joined Johns Hopkins Community Physicians (JHCP) as an obstetrician, gynecologist, and assistant professor. Within JHCP, he has been instrumental in developing programs for gender-affirming care in the field of obstetrics and gynecology. His clinical expertise extends to gender-affirming surgical care, with notable contributions in surgical technique, preventative screening, and trauma-informed care for gender-diverse patients. Stephen has received recognition for his outstanding contributions, including the Johns Hopkins Medicine Pride Month Achievers Award in 2021.


Paula M. Neira (she/her), JD, RN, FAAN, Prince George’s County

Paula M. Neira

Paula graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1985. After leaving the Navy, she became a registered nurse, specializing in emergency nursing. She was the founding Clinical Program Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health. She currently serves as the Johns Hopkins Medicine Program Director of LGBTQ+ Equity and Education. A member of the Maryland bar since 2001, Paula helped lead efforts to repeal the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law and change military regulations to allow for transgender military service. In 2020, she was inducted as a Fellow into the American Academy of Nursing in recognition of her leadership in advancing diversity and inclusion both in the United States Armed Forces and in healthcare. She is the first United States Service Academy graduate to achieve this honor in American nursing.


Wendy Novak (she/her), Carroll County

Wendy Novak

​​Wendy is a devoted parent of three and serves as a research administrator at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. With a background in Psychology from UMBC and an MS in Accounting Information Systems from UMGC, Wendy is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leadership at UMB. In addition to her role at the university, she is an active Girl Scout Leader and a dedicated church volunteer. Wendy’s advocacy work centers around promoting inclusion in local schools. Her efforts include presenting written and verbal testimonies at Board of Education meetings and to the State legislature. Wendy is passionate about creating safe and inclusive environments for all students and is committed to fostering a sense of belonging within schools.


M Valle Pease (they/she/ze), Montgomery County

M Valle Pease

M Valle Pease is a doctoral student in counseling psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park. They earned a Bachelor of Science with High Honors in psychology and minors in Asian American studies and public leadership at UMD. Supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship award, their research program broadly explores race, gender, and sexuality and how systems and experiences of oppression contribute to mental health disparities, especially for LGBTQ+ and Asian American communities. They have engaged in research-based advocacy and teaching efforts to promote social and organizational change, especially around promoting trans rights, culturally competent mental health services, and broader intersectional social justice. In the pursuit of equity, decolonization, and liberation, M’s work seeks to bridge science with advocacy and activism efforts that tangibly improve conditions for marginalized communities. 


Mark Ridderhoff (he/him), LCSW-C, Baltimore City 

Mark Ridderhoff

Mark boasts over 18 years as a dedicated psychotherapist, currently balancing roles at Congruent Counseling and his private practice, with a focus on LGBTQ+ populations. His service to the community garnered recognition from Baltimore City Mayor Brandon Scott, acknowledging his pivotal role in revitalizing PFLAG Baltimore, where he proudly serves as President. Mark’s contributions extend to the Baltimore City Office of LGBTQ Affairs and the Health and Human Services Subcommittee in the prior mayoral administration. He’s a University of Vermont graduate and received his clinical training at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Mark’s advocacy journey began in the mid-90s through agency diversity committees and later incorporating assessment, leadership, and advocacy at local and State levels. Mark remains a compassionate advocate and a vital force in fostering positive change in the community.


Sarah Stern (she/they), Baltimore City 

Sarah Stern

Sarah is a proud Two Spirit Citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma and lives on the unceded lands of the Piscataway and Susquehannock Nations (Baltimore, Maryland). Sarah obtained their honors Bachelor of Arts degree in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and a concentration in Native American Studies from Columbia University in 2016. Sarah works in public health writing to support community-based health programming and sustainable initiatives led by Indigenous cultural strengths for both the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health as well as Native American LifeLines. Sarah co-led the planning council of the inaugural Eastern Two Spirit Gathering in 2023 and in their free time enjoys cooking and connecting with nature.


Joseph Toolan (he/him), Anne Arundel County

Joseph Toolan

Joe is the Senior Manager of America the Beautiful for All Coalition Strategy and Development, focusing on conserving 30% of lands, waters, and oceans by 2030 for the benefit of frontline and communities of color. He has a background in philanthropy, community stewardship, behavior change, and capacity building. Joe earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Geographical Sciences from the University of Maryland and an Executive Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University. Born in Guatemala and adopted in the 90s, Joe, a queer, Latine, indigenous, transracial international adoptee, grew up in Maryland. He chairs Annapolis Pride, served as the first Chair of the Maryland Commission for LGBTQIA+ Affairs (2022-2023), and is actively involved in various environmental and diversity initiatives, including the Naturally Latinos Conference, Chesapeake Watershed Forum, The Environmental Leadership Program (Senior Fellow) and the Young Professionals of Color program with the Choose Clean Water Coalition. He also serves on the board of Adoptees with Guatemalan Roots and Out for Sustainability.


Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs Staff

The Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs operates with a dedicated Director who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the Commission with approval and concurrence from the Governor. Adhering to the rules and policies set forth by the Commission and under the administrative oversight of the Governor, the Director is responsible for managing the Commission’s activities and operations, including the appointment and dismissal of personnel. Situated within the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives, the Commission relies on the Director for primary staff support, alongside shared administrative support. 

Jeremy Browning (he/him), Director, Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs

Jeremy assumed his role as Director of the Maryland Commission on LGBTQIA+ Affairs in July 2022. As the sole dedicated staff member, Jeremy oversees the day-to-day operations, facilitates all Commission and Committee meetings, and offers guidance to achieve the Commission’s objectives. In his capacity, Jeremy serves as a vital advisor to the Governor’s Office, Maryland General Assembly, and across State government, sharing recommendations and best practices for LGBTQIA+ inclusion established by the Commission. 

With a background in community organizing, program development, project management, and strategic planning, Jeremy is deeply committed to fostering an equitable and affirming environment for LGBTQIA+ Marylanders. As the founder of Annapolis Pride Inc., he has championed initiatives to raise awareness of challenges faced by LGBTQIA+ individuals, advocated tirelessly for inclusive policies, and united diverse communities through events and outreach. Jeremy’s dedication to community engagement and advocacy extends through his expansive work in both nonprofit and public sectors, where he consistently strives for positive change and the uplifting of historically excluded voices. 


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