All members of the Executive Board are volunteers with personal and professional experience in advocacy work and LGBTQ-centered advocacy work
Jill Schoenfuss is the Youth & Community Strategy Director at StayWell Health Center in Waterbury. She has over 25 years of experience in the health and human service field, working primarily for youth serving organizations and programs. She has a strong commitment to serving youth and others in need in the community. Jill holds a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Connecticut and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University. She lives with her husband and a misunderstood wheaten terrier in Middlebury, where they raised their two daughters. Jill’s personal interests include professional knitwear design for knitting books and magazines and being a science fiction nerd.
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers or They/Them/Theirs
Carlin Hayes organizes and coordinates the local youth LGBTQ+ Social and Support group in Waterbury, where she was born and raised. She identifies as pansexual/queer. Although she earned her Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice and Bachelor’s degree in Psychological Science, she continues to educate herself by actively listening to marginalized groups and is always accepting book, podcast, and documentary recommendations.
Robin P. McHaelen, MSW
Robin P. McHaelen, MSW is the Executive Director of True Colors, Inc. She has co-authored two books and several articles on LGBTQ youth and is a nationally recognized thought leader. Robin is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2016 CCSU Women of Influence Award, the 2014 HRC Upstander Award, the 2011 UCONN Award for Excellence in Public Engagement; 2008 National Education Association’s Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights and the 2008 Social Worker of the Year (NASW, CT Chapter). In 2017 she was named the Advocates’, 50 States; 50 Heroes for Connecticut.
Pronouns: He/Him/His or She/Her/Hers
Len Discenza is a founding member and current president of the Waterbury PFLAG Chapter; a member of Stonewall Speakers; a Co-Leader of Open Hearts LGBT ministry at St. Patricks–St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church; and a member of the greater New York City LGBT Inter-parish Collaborative. He/She identifies as pansexual, gender fluid and has three biological children and a foster son. He/She is president of an aerospace design company located in Middlebury.
Joel Gonzalez graduated from Western Connecticut State University in 2015 with a Bachelors in Social Work. While in his senior year, he interned at True Colors and facilitated the construction of the Queer Unity Empowerment Support Team (QUEST) of Waterbury, which works to educate, spread awareness, and create programs that center the lives of LGBTQ people in Waterbury. Currently, he works at StayWell Health Center in Waterbury as an HIV Prevention Navigator overseeing the outreach of PrEP and PEP for at risk populations in the community. In his spare time, he loves watching scary movies and meeting new people.
Deb is the founder of Annie C. Courtney Foundation in Waterbury. Deb manages a regional community coalition of foster care agencies and concerned community members which she has done for over 12 years. She is a proud adoptive mother of 3 boys adopted through the CT foster care system. Deb’s passion is helping older youth, particularly LGBTQ youth, find and maintain permanent connections. Deb has served as a board member for other CT community organizations and local commissions and enjoys giving back to the community
Chris Rempfer is an Assistant Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Waterbury—a college that educates, encourages, and serves 22 cities and towns from Waterbury to Danbury and the Litchfield Hills.
Chris grew up in New Canaan, Connecticut and, upon graduating with a BA in English and Economics from Connecticut College in New London, headed to New York City where he worked as an actor, singer, composer, and writer for 20 years. Chris’ affinity for writing led him to the City College of New York, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in English & Creative Writing in 2010. Since then, he has taught at City College, Quinnipiac University, in the international summer program at Yale University, and became part of the full time English faculty at NVCC in fall of 2016. At Naugatuck Valley Community College, Chris serves as Coordinator for the Liberal Arts & Sciences Degree program, is co-chair of the faculty professional development organization—Center for Teaching, Vice President of the NVCC Faculty Senate, as well as co-chair of the NVCC LGBTQ Pride Alliance Club and the Creative Writing Club.
Chris is grateful for being lifted up by the strong, resolute shoulders of LGBTQ individuals and supporters who have come before him and hopes to provide the same strong, resolute shoulders for those who will follow.
Lindsey Marr is a Connecticut native who has had an interest in healthcare since her teenage years. During her undergraduate training, she worked as a CNA in a nursing home before transitioning into her nursing career at Danbury and Yale New Haven Hospitals. She practiced in a number of different specialties, including home care, cardiology, neurology, emergency medicine, and intensive care. During grad school, she became involved in her community as the co-chair of the New Milford Substance Abuse Prevention Council. After completing grad school, she began her advanced career at Staywell Health Center in early 2017 where she is a primary care provider with a special focus on infectious diseases and the LGBTQ community. She serves on the Executive Committee for QUEST and volunteers for The Pride in the Hills Fund. She enjoys traveling and practices ballet once weekly at a local studio.