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Ricardo Martinez (he/him)

Ricardo joined Equality Texas as its CEO in December of 2019 following a national search. Ricardo is a first generation immigrant from Mexico who grew up in Brooklyn, New York and attended public schools through high school. He was the second person of his immediate family to graduate high school and the first to earn a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. Ricardo was called to a career as an advocate for equity and inclusion after participating in a program called Council for Unity in junior high school. Council for Unity focused on leadership development, self-expression, mediation, conflict resolution, mindfulness and advocacy. Ricardo credits his participation with helping him to uncover his passion and life purpose for mission-based work.
After post-secondary education, Ricardo amassed seventeen years of nonprofit fundraising, organizing, advocacy, and leadership experience with organizations like PENCIL, Summer Search, GLSEN, and Stand for Children. Most recently at Stand for Children, Ricardo lead a national organizing and constituent engagement effort for five years. Immediately prior to his tenure at Stand for Children, he spent several years with GLSEN; initially as Senior Manager of Field Services on the national team in NYC and later as the President of the Phoenix Chapter. Under Ricardo’s leadership, GLSEN Phoenix was an instrumental coalition partner in overturning Arizona’s “no promo homo” law, which prohibited K-12 schools from including LGBTQ representation, content, and history in their curriculum.
Ricardo has an undergraduate degree from Stony Brook University, and a master’s degree in nonprofit management from The New School in New York City. He was honored by the Obama Administration as an emerging LGBTQ Leader in 2012 and recently awarded the Stony Brook University’s 40 Under 40 award for the impact he has had in Civil Service and Activism since graduating from the university.

LaNaya Blackwell (she/they)

Research Associate
LaNaya joined Equality Texas as Research Associate in September 2022. She recently relocated to Houston, Texas from Sacramento, California. There she did advocacy work for community-based organizations that served people with disabilities and prior to that she advocated for foster parents, kinship guardians, and adoptive parents. LaNaya has a passion for policy and LGBTQ+ issues and is thrilled to be able to continue her advocacy work at Equality Texas.

LaNaya received her Bachelor of Arts in African American Studies with a minor in Education from University of California, Davis. During her undergraduate career she started a support group for Queer students of color at a local Sacramento high school. With a passion for mental health, she is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Lastly, with a devotion to community service, LaNaya is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, a public service organization with a primary focus on the Black community.

Nickoli Benkert (he/him)

Field Organizer
Nickoli is a Field Organizer living in Austin, Texas. He joined Equality Texas during the 87th Texas Legislative Session and has since assisted with legislative analysis, field outreach, and financial reporting efforts. Nickoli is currently attending The University of Texas at Austin where he is pursuing a degree in Political Communication Studies. Nickoli is passionate about political advocacy to achieve equality and civil protections for all LGBTQ+ Texans.

Caden Campbell (they/them)

Development Manager
Caden is Equality Texas’ Development Manager. They came to Austin by way of Eureka Springs, Arkansas where they served as the stewardship writer for a non-profit big cat rescue and sanctuary.

With a degree in English Language and Literature, Caden’s research interests have included the historical “outsider” in largely cis-heteronormative societies. Their thesis, “A Witch, Who is Not? Gender Instability and the Renaissance Witch,” explored witchcraft as not a religious crime, but the crime of transcending gender in binary England. Their most recent publication was a co-authored chapter in Genny Beeman’s Trans People in Higher Education (SUNY Press, 2019), which explored the personal experiences of a queer librarian and a trans student in a Southern women’s college, calling for more inclusive policies regarding the admittance and retention of trans students.

Today, they live in Austin with animal companions Gumbo and Rigatoni, stage name: Carbarella.

Gordy Carmona (they/them)

Community Engagement and Advocacy Strategist, DFW
Gordy is a former Equality Fellow and joined Equality Texas as Field Organizer in Collin County in March 2022. They grew up all over Texas but has called Plano home for majority of their adult life.

They began their advocacy journey after joining the board of directors of GALA in 2019 as Community Chair and volunteered with Equality Texas and community partners at Advocacy Day. They are a fierce advocate of the LGBTQIA+ community, especially when engaging trans youth. They has traveled to Austin on many occasions at a moments notice to testify at the Capitol during the 86th & 87th legislative sessions (including all three 2020 special sessions).

Gordy can usually be found volunteering with North Texas nonprofits or organizing educational panel discussions on various topics pertaining to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Naveen Farrani (they/them)

Communications Associate
Naveen is a writer, storyteller, and unapologetically loud trans person. In 2020, they traded in their snow boots for cowboy boots and moved from New York to Texas. They hold a BA in English with a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Fordham University, where they first got involved with community organizing. They also hold MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from NYU, focused on race, gender, and sexuality.

Eager to work alongside other queer and trans people, Naveen joined the Equality Texas team in February 2023 as the Communications Associate. When they're not writing newsletters or creating educational TikToks, Naveen can be found listening to an audiobook, sipping on a fun cocktail, or climbing some fake rocks. Naveen and their wife live in Austin along with their 2 companions animals—a dog named Chestnut and a cat named Jinkx.

Johnathan Gooch (he/him)

Communications Director
Johnathan is a native Texan, whose deep roots drive his passion for growth. He has fought alongside the Chagossians in their quest to return to their homeland and worked with the University of Texas School of Law to hold Russia accountable for its mistreatment of ethnic minorities in Chechnya. Having mobilized his analytical skills at both the New York Department of State and the Texas Supreme Court, he is proud to steer his skillset into the work of bettering the lives of LGBTQ Texans. He joined the Equality Texas team in April 2022 as Communications Director.

Johnathan is the former Editor-in-Chief of the Texas International Law Journal. He studied philosophy and the classics at St. John’s College, and focused on human rights law while at the University of Texas School of Law. Outside Equality Texas Johnathan volunteers with the American Red Cross and the Trevor Project. When he’s not laser-focused on the mission, you might find him hiking through a National Park or shearing alpacas in the Texas Hill Country.

Chloe Goodman (they/them)

Constituent Services Manager
Chloe began their queer advocacy in college, leading an underground support group for LGBTQ+ students at their Christian university in Arkansas. They came to Austin to join the fight for sexuality and gender equality and reproductive rights in Texas. After working in reproductive health, labor rights, criminal legal reform, and tacking on a couple of master's degrees, they have found a home at Equality Texas. As Constituent Services Manager, Chloe works to support queer individuals and their supporters and to strengthen Equality Texas’ partnerships across Texas. When not at their desk, they can be found twirling their way around a roller rink.

Angela Hale (she/her)

Senior Advisor
Angela is a Dallas native, a former Emmy Award-winning TV reporter and veteran journalist at CBS KTVT Channel 11 in Dallas Fort Worth. As the managing partner of Red Media Group, a strategic communications and public affairs company, she works as a Senior Advisor to Equality Texas. She led communications efforts for the legalization of gay marriage for the Akin Gump Law Firm and the Texas plaintiffs and has been leading lobby and communications strategy at Equality Texas since 2015.

Angela has also served in executive leadership for Speaker of the House and for the Office of the Attorney General. She led communications and lobby strategy during the 2017 legislative session for Equality Texas, and the business coalition against LGBTQ discrimination defeated the bathroom bill twice. During the 2019 legislative session, she spearheaded Equality Texas communication and lobby efforts and led the Texas Welcomes All Business Coalition that included Texas Competes, Texas Welcomes All, Tech Net and the North Texas Commission defeating dozens of discriminatory bills. Angela also served as the Equality Texas Interim CEO in the summer and fall of 2019.

Jacob Kalbfleisch (he/him)

Database Manager
Jacob was born and raised in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and has lived in Austin since moving there to attend the University of Texas. After receiving his degree in Women’s and Gender Studies, an internship in Development inspired him to pursue a career in nonprofit and political fundraising. He has used his passion for events, data, and donor relations to advocate for marginalized groups and social justice at organizations such as Annie’s List and Girls Inc. of Tarrant County.

Outside of work, Jacob spends his time playing video or board games, traveling, reading queer lit, or grabbing a drink with friends.

Elsie Kindall (she/they)

Government Affairs Associate
Elsie Kindall is Equality Texas’ Government Affairs Associate. She is a low-income first-generation college student from Dallas, Texas. Their lived experience as well as the experiences of her peers inspired her to make change in the world of education for students of multiple marginalized identities. Elsie holds a bachelor’s degree in educational studies from Colgate University and a Master of Public Policy degree in Education Policy from Vanderbilt University. During their undergraduate experience, Elsie co-started a Queer sex education program from an intersectional lens to change the institutional culture of Colgate University. During her graduate experience, Elsie worked as a Research Assistant on the PRISM project which aims to create a more inclusive STEM environment for queer students of color. Dedicated to learning, Elsie curated their own course on the intersection between education and LGBTQ politics in which they presented the project, “Multidimensional Queer” at the Out in Front conference. They have also worked with Educate Texas to improve the transfer system for marginalized students and have previously worked for Equality Texas as a Government Affairs intern. Elsie has returned to Dallas where you can find them online gaming with her longtime friends.

Miriam Laeky(she/her)

Government Affairs Director
Miriam Laeky (pronounced "Lah-kay") most recently served as the Executive Director of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus and Texas Black Caucus Foundation. Through the organization's commitment to equitable social impact in serving the highest population of African Americans in the nation, she was recently named to the inaugural 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30 Local List.

Miriam previously served as Operations Director of the Texas House Democratic Caucus and Community Engagement Coordinator for Harris County Precinct One Commissioner Rodney Ellis. Miriam is a dedicated, ambitious community organizer and government staffer who has worked on numerous grassroots campaigns in Texas and Georgia. She is a committed advocate working to ensure that our communities not only have seats at the table, but also a voice. Miriam aims to inspire other young first-generation women of color to blaze their own political trails ambitiously and audaciously in the state of Texas. She is originally from Allen, TX and is a proud first-generation Ethiopian/Eritrean-American.

Steen Major (they/she)

Operations Manager
Steen joined Equality Texas in July 2022. They are currently the Operations Manager. They are passionate about the land and people of central Texas and have called the area home since 1990. During college, Steen became involved in LGBTQ+ advocacy as a member of Trinity Church of Austin, one of the first queer-affirming churches in central Texas. After pursuing graduate work on alternative religious communities, queer studies, and literature at Boston University, Steen taught and wrote as an independent scholar while providing administrative support and consulting for a variety of justice-oriented nonprofits.

They are thrilled to embody their values of inclusion and care for all people by supporting the work of Equality Texas. Steen lives in Pflugerville with their elementary-aged child and a backyard full of rabbits, caterpillars, honeybees, and lizards.

Justin McCormick (he/him)

Development Director
Justin joined Equality Texas as its Development Director in July of 2022. As a first-generation college student and from rural Arkansas, Justin focused his undergraduate and graduate efforts studying how to give minority students access to positive educational experiences.

Justin's development and event experience began at the University of Missouri, where he advised the Multicultural Greek Council and special programing for the office of fraternity and sorority life. Most recently he served as Director of Alumni Engagement for his international fraternity and owner of one of the few LGBTQ owned event and floral companies in Arkansas.

Justin is passionate about staying involved in social justice driven initiatives in his community, serving on boards to increase awareness for LGBTQ folx and continuing the fight for equality in Texas and the United States.

When not traveling or floating a river, he and his husband, Jerred, is spending time with their son Hayden and dogs Hamish and Fitz.

Brad Pritchett (he/him)

Deputy Director
Brad Pritchett joined the staff of Equality Texas in February of 2021 as Field Director. In February 2024, he became Equality Texas' Deputy Director. Prior to Equality Texas, Brad was a Policy and Advocacy Strategist with the ACLU of Texas where he focused on electoral strategies and LGBTQ+ issues at the Texas Legislature.

Brad was one of many community organizers who helped lobby Houston City Council to pass nondiscrimination protections for all Houstonians in 2014. Brad served as Political Director of the Houston Unites Campaign to defend the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, where he managed coalition and political relationships for the campaign. Prior to the ACLU he served as Operations and Communications Manager at the Harris County Democratic Party for 5 years.

Brad is heavily involved in Houston’s LGBTQ+ community and lives in the Houston Heights with his husband and their 2 beagles.

Sofia Sepulveda (she/her)

Field Director
Sofia is a first generation Mexican American Trans-Woman, she grew up in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, and came to San Antonio to continue her studies. She has been organizing in San Antonio for the past 8 years on Healthcare and Environmental Justice, she is the lead organizer for the Healthcare for All march in San Antonio, co-founder of Trans Power San Antonio, as well as organized the Women's March in San Antonio for the last 4 years. She was recognized as one of the 25 influential women who run San Antonio in 2019 for her work in healthcare. In 2021 alongside with amazing activists and organizers in Texas she helped to pass legislation that extended Medicaid for new mothers from 2 to 6 months. She also sits in the board oof Healthcare-Now, Transgender Education Network of Texas, and Community Advisory Board for Centro Med in San Antonio.

In her free time she loves doing Yoga, hiking, cooking, and spending time with my two dogs—a Shih Tzu named Maggie and a Pug named Bella!

Matt Tan (he/they)

Digital Communications Associate
Matt is the Digital Communications Associate for Equality Texas. After moving to Texas at a young age, they spent their formative years in a small Texas town called Whitney before they began pursuing an interest in design and communications, which brought them to Austin to study graphic design at Austin Community College. They went on to work as an independent graphic and UX/UI designer in Austin for over a decade while also working various service roles at a number of local businesses before finding their way to Equality Texas.

As a second-generation Cambodian-Chinese person whose chosen family consists primarily of queer and trans folks, they are passionate about putting their skills to good use advocating for LGBTQ+ rights in Texas and across the country.
When they're out of the office, you can find them sipping on a vanilla latte at a local coffee shop, reading in bed, or cuddling up on the couch with their two dogs, Issey and Fyodor, while playing video games with friends.