Center on Halsted's team includes more than 75 professional staff members with diverse backgrounds and experiences, all dedicated to building and strengthening the LGBTQ Community.
The following list is organized by department, and includes employee name, pronouns, title, and extension (if available).
Please feel free to contact us at anytime by calling our front desk at 773.472.6469. If you are interested in joining our team, please visit our Careers & Internships page
Susan Heatherly (she/her), Director of Human Resources, EXT 264
Susan Heatherly, Human Resource Director, is responsible for all human resource functions for Center on Halsted. Her area of responsibility includes recruitment and staffing, employee relations, benefits, compensation, learning and development, leadership development and provides strategic leadership to our senior managers. An accomplished professional, she is spearheading our shared leadership program to transform our culture to align with our collaborative vision.
Jim Klein (he/him), Chief Technology and Operations Officer, EXT 246
Susan has 16 years of human resources experience in small to large organizations. She has worked in various industries including healthcare, nonprofit, staffing, telecommunications, manufacturing and distribution. Her skills includes talent acquisition (recruiting) and management, training, process improvement, performance management, career development, diversity program development, employee relations, succession planning, benefits, compensation, contract negotiation, payroll, cost savings, safety and compliance issues for salaried and hourly employees. She has worked in both union and non-union organizations.
Most recently Susan directed the Human Resources for St. Mary’s Home, a 5-star 76-bed nursing home for the elderly poor with 115 employees in Chicago, where she successfully developed HR policies and resolved employee relation issues. She implemented an employee retention program and revenue generating initiative with the IL WorkNet Center through the Illinois Dept. of Employment Security (IDES) to secure On-the-Job Training (OJT) funds for the Home.
A native of Ohio, Susan earned a Master of Education degree in Human Resource Development from the University of Minnesota and a Business Administration degree in Finance from Ursuline College in Cleveland, Ohio. Through Ursuline’s reciprocal relationship, she received a Minor in Political Science from Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
In addition, Susan volunteers with the Illinois Worknet Center to provide training, development and job readiness skills for the unemployed. She loves cooking, reality television and international travel. Her most recent trips have included St. Croix, St. Kitts, Aruba and Egypt. She also enjoys yoga, Pilates and cycling. Creative and talented Susan is known for her homemade greeting cards and one-of-a-kind recipes.
Jim attended Buena Vista University, interested in both Communication Studies, with an emphasis in Journalism and Television Production, and Computer Science. After graduating, Jim took a year off to explore photography and travelling before moving to DeKalb, IL where he attended Northern Illinois University and taught classes in Media Production while working on a Masters degree in Communication Studies.
Editha Paras (she/her), Co-Interim Chief Executive Officer & Chief Program Officer, EXT 412
In 1995, Jim moved to Chicago and began a career with Travel 2000, a travel specialty store where he served as a store manager and corporate trainer. In 1999, Jim turned down a promotion to become district manager when he learned of a career opportunity at Horizons Community Services. In March of 1999, Jim joined Horizons Community Services as Volunteer Coordinator and Information Technology (IT) Manager. Over the years, Jim assisted in several transformative initiatives for the organization, actively engaged in the growth of a small, grass roots social service agency into Center on Halsted, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ Community Center.
Over his tenure, Jim has served in a variety of progressive capacities and now serves as Chief Technology and Operations Officer, responsible for technology and building operations including infrastructure, security, reception, and operations staff at multiple sites.
Editha Paras, Chief Program Officer, has more than twenty five years of experience in financial and senior management roles in both for profit and nonprofit organizations, in various industries, organizational structures and economic environments. Editha’s professional experience includes a seventeen year career in the financial services/banking industry, holding several successive positions in credit and relationship management. As a corporate banker, Editha managed a team overseeing a portfolio of clients representing global commitments of $7.0 billion and annual income of $50 million. Most recently in her role as the Chief Financial Officer for the Vagabond Group, Editha managed the financial, administrative and human resource activities of a portfolio of companies engaged in real estate development, commercial / residential leasing and hospitality. Having mentored and led teams in start-up, growth, restructuring and turnaround situations, Editha brings leadership experience in helping organizations achieve their mission by identifying strategic, operational and financial areas of improvement, providing solutions and implementing them.
Brittany Terry (she/her), Senior Director DEI, EXT 188
Editha has a BA in Economics from the University of California, Berkeley, and a MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.
Brittany Terry has a hand in building all diversity, equity, and inclusion programming offered by Center. This includes staff trainings, culture building, and community outreach. Brittany is intentional about making sure our actions ladder up to Center’s mission, values and racial equity statements.
Brad Snyder (he/him), Co-Interim Chief Executive Officer & Chief Development Officer, EXT 479
Originally from New York, Brittany began her Chicago journey at Loyola University Chicago for graduate school, where she studied sociology. Throughout her time at Loyola, she began to create a sense of community in Chicago and post-graduation, decided to stay for the long haul. It was in Chicago where Brittany gained experience in working for Illinois’ Department of Juvenile Justice, Northrop Grumman (a government contractor for the military), and FCB Global (an international advertising agency).
Brittany and her partner recently purchased a home in the Bronzeville neighborhood of the city. She most enjoys cooking, traveling, shopping, working out, and upcycling furniture.
Brad Snyder, chief development officer, is a strategic fundraiser with 10+ years of diverse philanthropic experience across all sectors of development. During his tenure at New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center (The Center), Brad held a number of development roles including serving as senior director of development. Most recently, Brad served as The Center's director of strategic giving, providing leadership and management for the organization’s private foundation fundraising strategies and serving as a leader of several restricted fundraising campaigns.
Brad has a strong track record of cultivating major gifts and corporate sponsorship, has helped oversee planned giving and membership strategies and has worked closely with boards to achieve development goals. Brad is also the former executive director of The LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York, a bar association & related charitable foundation dedicated to serving the LGBTQ legal community and the greater public. Before beginning his career in the nonprofit space, Brad was a senior counsel in the Legal Counsel Division of the New York City Law Department where he advised NYC agencies and the mayor’s office on a variety of policy, legislative and regulatory initiatives.
He graduated from Tufts University in 1998 and the New York University School of Law in 2002. Brad lives in Lincoln Park with his husband, Chris, two children, and their sometimes-warring cat and dog.
Paul Helfen (he/him), Director of Operations and Rentals, EXT 476
Keith Butler (he/him), Executive Assistant, EXT 430
Scott Fiero (he/him), Operations Manager
Patrick Harms (he/him), Operations Coordinator
China Reid (she/her), Operations Support Staff
Tom Spinella (he/him), Receptionist
Ethel Blanchard (she/her), Data Entry Assistant
Nanica Brown (she/her), Receptionist
Nelli Vahter (she/her), Receptionist
Gerald Patrick Henderson (he/him), Operations Coordinator
Mehdi Akbar (he/him), Operations Coordinator
(she/they), Manager of the Training & Public Education Institute,
(he/him), AVP Advocate Clinician, EXT 449
(she/her), AVP Advocate Clinician, EXT 443
The Anti-Violence Project (AVP) at Center on Halsted is comprised of a team of behavioral health clinicians specializing in working with LGBTQ survivors of violence. Our team is comprised of Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Behavioral Health Interns with a combined 20 plus years of experience working with survivors of violence.
We offer a collaborative, LGBTQ affirming, and trauma-informed approach with the goal of increasing self-knowledge and expression of personal power. The AVP team is trained in a variety of approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Narrative Therapy, and Interpersonal Therapy allowing us to tailor counseling to meet each person’s unique needs and strengths. During treatment we emphasize finding relevant coping skills and explore current patterns of behavior and thinking to identify personalized solutions.
Our team has extensive experience providing trauma informed services to the LGBTQ community. We can assist with issues including anxiety, depression, interpersonal communication, healing from past trauma, exploration of gender identity and sexuality, racial and ethnic identity, and managing anger.
You may receive assistance after violence by contacting our LGBTQ Violence Resource Line: 773.871.CARE (2273) or firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit our Anti-Violence Project page
Ing Swenson (he/him), Director of Behavioral Health, EXT 267
Ing Swenson is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor specializing in working with the Trans/GNC/NB communities. He received his Master’s in Social Work at Jane Addams School of Social Work in 2002 and his training in addictions in Seattle, Washington in 2011. His clinical approach is LGBTQ affirmative, strength based, client centered, harm reduction, informed consent, and trauma informed.
Ashley Molin (she/her), Associate Director of Behavioral Health, EXT 441
Dr. Ashley Molin is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in working with the queer, kink, and polyamorous/non-monogamous communities.
She received her doctorate from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in 2014. She is also certified as a Mental Health First Aid trainer. Her clinical approach is focused on understanding how individuals make sense of their contexts and identities, with a particular focus on meaning making and the limitations we all face as humans moving through the world.
(she/her), Staff Therapist,
(they/them), Staff Therapist EXT 439
(she/her), Behavioral Health Clinical Administrator,
Gayle Thompson (she/her), Director of Cyber Center, EXT 467
Gayle is a Chicago native and long-term ally and activist for the LGBTQ community. Many call her “Mama Gayle” because of her warm demeanor and eagerness to give needed motherly advice, especially to our youth patrons. Gayle came to Center on Halsted in 2002 as a volunteer, and since then has worked in nearly every department; including reception and operations, development and finance, volunteer management, the HIV department, and even executive assistant to the CEO. Gayle started working in the computer lab as the class instructor in August 2007 and then became the full time Manager of the Cyber Center in October 2012. Prior to working at Center on Halsted, she worked as development assistant and volunteer manager for Open Hands Chicago, now known as Vital Bridges. Gayle completed her Masters of Science in Instructional Design and Technology from Western Illinois University in 2017.
(she/her), Community Programs and Senior Services Support Staff,
Jenny Urban (they/them), Director of Culinary Arts, EXT 421
Jenny Urban is an award-winning chef, culinary arts instructor and business owner. Most recently they served as the nutrition and health manager at the Broadway Youth Center. Their prior work experience includes being the head chef Instructor for the Chicago Food Depository and executive chef instructor at Inspiration Corporation/Café Too.
Jenny’s passion for teaching culinary arts has focused on social service settings working with refugees, individuals that are homeless and underemployed, senior citizens, youth, and the LGBTQ community as a whole.
In 2008, they opened the Urban Café, which was awarded “Best Neighborhood Spot in Lakeview” by The Chicago Free Press.
Jenny has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, The Chicago Tribune, Windy City Times, Time Out Chicago, PBS Newshour, and the book A Recipe for Hope, by Karen Skalitzky. Urban has been named one of “30 under 30” by Windy City Times and “30 Women to Watch Under 30” by The Chicago Sun-Times.
When not in the kitchen, or with their two teenagers, Jenny can be found playing drums with local LGBTQ hall of fame musician, Scott Free. The group’s release, “The Pink Album,” was awarded the Album of the Year by Pride in the Arts Organization. Songs from the Pink Album went to #2 on the video click list on LOGO tv. Free and Urban have performed at pride events across the country, including Chicago Midsommarfest, Chicago Market Days, The Mathew Shepard March, Milwaukee Pride Fest, and Northern Michigan Pride.
(they/them), Culinary Arts Instructor,
Brenna Quinn (she/her), Director of Foundation and Government Relations, EXT 420
Brenna Quinn, “B. Quinn,” is a Chicago-based artist, writer, educator, and development specialist. Quinn earned her double BA in Visual Arts Management and Studio Arts from Chatham College for Women and later her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC).
During her graduate studies, she began working in SAIC's Office for Institutional Advancement, supporting the Corporate, Foundation, Government, and Civic relations team. Quinn later took on the role of Assistant Director of Foundation and Government Grants at the Art Institute of Chicago. From 2018-2020 she was the Manager of Development at the Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College.
Then, she was appointed as a Fulbright Independent Scholar, eventually completing her residency in the spring of 2021 at MQ21 in Vienna, Austria. Concurrently, before joining Center on Halsted, she worked as an independent grant writer and advancement consultant—collaborating with non-profit clients to support various direct-social service and cultural missions.
(he/him), Manager of Events & Volunteers,
(he/him), Manager of Development Services,
(he/him), Corporate Relations Officer,
Bernardo Portu (he/him), Senior Staff Accountant, EXT 462
James Davies (he/him), Billing Coordinator, EXT 464
Jill Dispenza (she/her), Director of HIV & STD HUB/Hotline Resources, EXT 240
Jill joined Center on Halsted in 2003. In 2005, she became Director of the State of Illinois AIDS/HIV & STD Hotline and in 2008, Jill became the Director of HIV Testing & Prevention and developed, launched, and directed the Center's successful HIV Testing & Prevention Program. In 2017, Jill was promoted to Director of HIV/AIDS & STD Services and in 2020, she helped to design and launch the innovative Chicagoland HIV Resource HUB.
She was appointed by Mayor Emanuel to the Chicago Area HIV Integrated Services Council (CAHISC) and by Mayor Lightfoot to the Chicago Syphilis Task Force. She is also a member of the State of Illinois HIV Integrated Planning Council, the Illinois PrEP Working Group, Chicago Department of Public Health Meningococcal Committee and Hepatitis A Response Team, Illinois Get to Zero Planning Council and Work Groups, Chicagoland Service Providers Council, and was a founding member of the Chicago Bisexual Health Task Force. Jill received her Master's degree from The Juilliard School in New York City.
(she/her), Manager of HIV & STD HUB/Hotline Resources, EXT 424
(she/her/they/them), Rapid Resource Responder,
(she/her), Health Educator,
Angelina Del Valle
(she/her), Health Educator,
(they/he), Rapid Resource Responder,
(she/her), Rapid Resource Responder,
(they/them/he/him), Health Educator,
(they/them), Rapid Resource Responder, EXT 442
(he/him), Rapid Resource Responder, EXT 414
Taurean Crawford "TC"
(he/him), HUB Data Specialist, EXT 492
(she/her), Health Educator
Erica Gafford (she/her), Director of HIV Testing & Prevention Services, EXT 477
Erica Gafford joined the HIV Services staff at Center on Halsted in 2013. She has been working in the arena of HIV/STI prevention in Chicago for over 15 years, holding a variety of roles. These roles cover a wide range, including Health Educator/HIV tester, program administrator, research study coordinator and activist. In her current role as Director of HIV/STD Testing & Prevention Services, she is responsible for the oversight of HIV/HCV testing, PrEP Navigation and Linkage to Care services.
Erica Gafford has served on the Executive Committee for the Black Treatment Advocates Network since 2017, and currently serves as Chair – a role she has held since March of 2019. She is also a member of the ViiV Government Relations - Medicaid Policy RoundTable and the UIC – Project WISH Advisory Board. Through her many years of work in HIV/STI prevention, Erica Gafford has gained key insights into the prevention and health promotion needs of communities most impacted by these issues. Most important is the need to tailor prevention efforts and programs to address the specific concerns of these communities in a culturally appropriate and sensitive manner.
(he/him), Data Specialist Manager,
(they/them), Health Educator,
(she/her), Manager of Getting To Zero, EXT 461
(he/him), PrEP navigator, EXT 408
(anything respectful), HIV Health Educator, EXT 409
Edlira Simoni (she/her), IT Specialist, EXT 468
Travis Sedler, (he/him/they/them), Graphic Designer, EXT 261
For press inquiries, please email email@example.com
Britta Larson (she/her), Director of Senior Services, EXT 445
Britta Larson is the Senior Services Director at Center on Halsted where she is responsible for overseeing the older adult programs and managing the nation’s first homesharing program designed for LGBT older adults. Prior to coming to Center on Halsted Britta worked at a senior living community in the areas of social services and marketing. She is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator and holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management from North Park University. She was recently appointed by the governor to the Illinois Council on Aging.
(he/him), Senior Services Manager,
(he/him), Senior Services Case Manager, EXT 402
(she/her), Clinical Case Manager, EXT 452
David Biele (he/him), Director of Youth and Family Services, EXT 437
David Biele has been with Center on Halsted since 2017. A lifelong advocate for young people, especially LGBTQ+ youth, David has a BA in American Culture from Northwestern University and a Master of Nonprofit Management from DePaul University. David has more than 25 years of experience across the social sector at nonprofit organizations and educational institutions, including 15 years as a teacher in Washington, DC and Chicago public schools. For the past decade he has managed educational, arts, youth development, and LGBTQ affirming programs for young people at community organizations across Chicago and Cook County.
Luke Romesberg (he/him), Director of Youth Housing Program, EXT 431
Luke Romesberg has been with Center on Halsted since November on 2021. He holds a MA in Counseling and is a PhD Candidate in Counselor Education and Supervision. Additionally, he is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Alcohol and Other Drug Counselor. Luke has over 10 years of experience working with diverse communities throughout the Chicagoland area, ranging from youth to adults, in individual and group environments, and throughout schools, hospitals, and social services agencies. Luke is also a published author and regularly engages in speaking on panels, conference presentations, and media requests.
(she/they), Youth Case Manager,
(he/him), Youth Care Coordinator,
(he/him), Youth and Family Program Manager,
(she/her), Youth Development Program Manager,
Ronnie Taylor Jr.
(he/him), Youth Culture Coordinator,
Ben Dominguez (he/him), Research Assistant, EXT 417
Julia Napolitano (she/her), Research Project Coordinator, EXT 432
Justin Franz (he/him), Clinical Research Project Manager, EXT 456
Ross Baiers (he/they), Research Project Director, EXT 266
Saf Al-Salaita (they/them), Research Assistant, EXT 427
Yelena Pearson (they/she), Research Project Coordinator, EXT 403
Armando Del Bosque (he/him), Research Study Assistant, EXT 480
Jo Pazol (they/them), Research Assistant, EXT 184