LOFT Board Bios (listed per office; directors listed in alphabetical order)
Kira Barden (President)
Kira Barden has actively volunteered in LGBT community events for many years. Starting in her undergraduate college years, she was an officer of the Lesbian Bisexual Alliance and worked for a campus group, SAFE Women, which provided medical and safe sex information to students. Her volunteer efforts continued when she relocated to New York City in 2000 and was first introduced to The LOFT.
Kira has served The LOFT in various Board capacities: Secretary of the Board of Directors (2006-2009); Vice President (2009-2010); President (2010-2012); and Director (2013-2015). In addition, she has actively volunteered as Chair of the Personnel and Executive Director search committees; facilitating the Friday night women’s group; organizing potlucks and movie nights; leading clothing/toiletry drives to help LGBT youth; displaying artwork as part of The LOFT Art Show; training facilitators and Helpline volunteers; and actively planning The LOFT’s Garden Parties and Galas in the last several years.
Kira holds a BA from Agnes Scott College with a double major in Women’s Studies and Psychology. Her Doctoral coursework in Industrial-Organizational Psychology was at CUNY, Graduate Center and Baruch College. Professionally, Kira has spent her career in HR measurement & Organizational Effectiveness roles at IBM, AXA Equitable, and Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Currently she is employed at PepsiCo as the Global Manager of Organization Management Development in the enterprise HR function.
The Hon. Selwyn Walters (Vice President)
Selwyn Walters is a United States Administrative Law Judge in the Bronx, New York.
Selwyn received his Bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences at the College of the Virgin Islands, graduating with honors in political science and history, and his Juris Doctorate from the Frederic G. Levin College of Law, University of Florida, where he was also Vice Chairman of the Justice Campbell Thornal Moot Court Board, and Constitutional Law Teaching Fellow.
Selwyn is delighted to bring this well-rounded background to The LOFT’s board of directors, and has specific training in budgeting, developing clear and usable policy and regulation, general supervision and oversight, and strategic leadership. Selwyn and his partner, Gary, live in White Plains
Jean Marie Angelo (Secretary)
Jean Marie Angelo has had 17 years of experience in non-profit work and community organizing for the LGBT community. From 2006 to 2009 she was president of The LOFT, where she worked on securing a new location and on forming various initiatives and events. She believes it is healthy to rotate LOFT service and play a different role at The LOFT for the next two years. She has previously served on The LOFT’s board in other positions, including Secretary and Director. She was also managing editor for Community News prior to joining The LOFT board.
Jean Marie is also a lay servant minister and acolyte in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. She continues to fight for full inclusion in faith communities and for full equality for LGBT people in all areas of life.
Professionally, Jean Marie is a Creative and Specialist at Apple, providing software and hardware training and advising. Previously she was online news editor for District Administration and University Business, two magazines, Websites, and e-newsletters that cover education trends and management. She also was Senior Editor with University Business, providing coverage of education and representing the publication at conferences and seminars. Jean Marie’s publishing career spans 25 years and includes staff editorial positions at Folio magazine and The Stamford Advocate.
Nicholas Zullo (Treasurer)
James L. Hyer, Esq. (Trustee)
James L. Hyer, Esq. is currently an attorney admitted to practice law in the Courts of the State of New York, Southern District of New York and Eastern District of New York, and is also a trained mediator. In private practice, James has assisted clients in a wide range of areas including discrimination and civil rights violations, matrimonial and family court actions, personal injury claims, estate planning, surrogate court matters, real estate transactions and criminal matters.
As an attorney James dedicates his pro bono efforts to provide free legal assistance to those in need, focusing upon the LGBT community and those with housing issues. Several years ago James founded a legal program in the LOFT Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender community in the Hudson Valley, providing a forum for speakers to discuss legal issues and for individuals to meet with attorneys at no cost to discuss legal concerns. James is also a member of the Westchester Residential Opportunities Attorney’s Panel where he assists individuals facing housing discrimination.
Prior to practicing law, James coordinated a fair housing project for a not-for-profit in collaboration with the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York Attorney General’s Office geared toward investigating, locating, and prosecuting fair housing discrimination. In this position James was successful in assisting in the identification of numerous real estate agencies engaged in pattern and practice housing discrimination. James worked as the
Director of Constituent Services for a Member of Congress. James has published scholarly articles on legal issues and served as an adjunct professor for several years.
James graduated from Ramapo College of New Jersey with a B.A. in Political Science and Public Policy and Pace University School of Law with a J.D. and Environmental Law Certificate. James currently serves as the Junior Governor of the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge 1460, where he coordinates community service outreach for the organization. He has also been a member of the Board of Directors of several community service organizations including, Rockland County Crime Prevention Bureau, Town of Ramapo Auxiliary Police Department, TOUCH of Rockland. As an Auxiliary Police Officer for over five years, James reached the rank of Lieutenant and received numerous commendations and was recognized as Officer of the Year on two occasions. For his efforts assisting the New York National Guard during Tropical Storm Floyd, James received a Citation for Meritorious Service from the Rockland American Legion. Earning the rank of Eagle Scout as a youth, James also spent several years as an adult volunteer leader.
John Baker (Director)
Before moving to Westchester County, John served in senior roles at two national civil rights organizations, the Equal Rights Center and the National Fair Housing Alliance located in Washington D.C. At these organizations, John was instrumental in developing new methods for identifying barriers to access in housing for persons with disabilities. Through nationwide accessibility survey investigations, identifying and reporting these barriers led directly to over $20 million in retrofitted housing for expanded accessibility, and to the establishment of a $4.2 million fund which supports structural housing modifications to increase access for people with disabilities.
John also developed, sought funding for and implemented a first of its kind civil rights testing investigation involving LGBT seniors. This matched-pair testing study measured levels of potential discrimination faced by same sex couples as they attempted to access senior housing options as compared to their straight counterparts. Conducted in 10 states, the investigation revealed significant levels of differential treatment between same sex couples and their straight counterparts. The study received more than $100,000.00 in private foundation funding and led to a continuing national education and outreach effort to senior housing providers to increase sensitivity and awareness about to LGBT seniors. John has extensive grant writing experience and has participated in many successful federal grant applications that secured significant multiyear grants for programmatic work and education and outreach efforts.
Since, December 2014, John has worked as a consultant at Westchester Residential Opportunities (WRO), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote equal affordable and accessible housing opportunities for all residents of Westchester and the lower Hudson Valley region. In May 2015, John accepted the position of Director of WRO’s Senior Housing Program, which provides counseling to seniors on a wide variety of housing related issues such as foreclosure prevention and accessing several different types of housing options for those in need. John will also work to strengthen WRO’s relationships with local Department of Aging and other government offices as well as nonprofit agencies that serve the needs of seniors.
John’s earlier work experience is extensive and varied including marketing, sales and claims resolution functions in the insurance industry. With fond memories, and also where he finely honed his people skills, sense of humor, and diplomacy, John was also a bartender at the Monster in Greenwich Village and Cherry’s in Cherry Grove, Fire Island.
A native of Washington D.C, John moved to Cortlandt Manor in northern Westchester County last year with his partner of six years Alex, so that Alex could pursue a job opportunity in Pharmacy Operations in White Plains.
In his spare time, John is a moderately enthusiastic runner, swimmer and cyclist, though this spring has been more interested in seeing what plants and flowers have come up in the garden. He and Alex are life-long servants to Tenby, Harlow and Sammy, a retired racing greyhound, a jack Russell mix and a Yorkshire terrier puppy respectively.
John has a B.A. in Political Science and an M.S. in organizational development/nonprofit management, both from the University of Maryland.
Christopher J. Caivano (Director)
Chris has been an active member of The Loft for many years, remembering our original loft on Grove Street. He has a BA from Fordham University at Rose Hill with a major in History and has a Paralegal Certificate from Mercy College, White Plains. He attained a Medical Billing & Coding Certificate with honors from Westchester Community College, Valhalla and is a member of Phi Theta Kappa. He recently attained certification from the NHA as a Medical Billing and Coding Specialist and Medical Administrative Assistant.
From 1987 to 2008, Chris was a pension plan administrator for three companies: Leaton & Huppeler Co., Inc., National Pension Service, Inc. and Danziger & Markhoff LLP, all in White Plains. He decided to change career paths at the end of 2008. Currently, he is making a living by running his own house-cleaning and pet sitting business.
Chris has co-hosted Gaymes Night for the past fourteen years, founded and co-hosts Entertainment @ 8, has served on the Board of Directors and has done volunteer work for other Loft events. He would like to continue to serve The Loft by 1) working on the membership committee and increasing our outreach to the LGBT community in Westchester and 2) working with the library and cyber-center to increase its exposure and usage by the community.
Rich Houston (Director)
Rich Houston of Mt. Vernon is a lifelong resident of New York, and is employed by Star Gas, the largest distributor of home heating oil in the country, and for whom he has worked for thirty-eight years, and in many capacities. Currently the General Manager of Customer Retention for the company’s 400,000+ customers in the Northeast, Rich has trained thousands of Star Gas employees, of whom many continue to work for the company to this day.
Rich has volunteered for several years with Camp VIVA, a program supported by Family Services of Westchester, and which is a year round program working with families infected and affected by HIV, which culminates in a week long encampment. Other duties with Camp VIVA have included coordinating the yearlong reunions to keep in touch with all the families, and producing a newsletter that was circulated to past and present members. Rich also served as President of The LOFT Benefit Bowling League. Although not a program of The LOFT, the league has donated thousands of dollars since its inception over twenty eight years ago. Rich has also spent decades with the Boy Scouts of America in local and national capacities. His desire to do volunteer work began with those early responsibilities at the Boy Scouts. Sadly, given the non-inclusive nature of the Boy Scouts of America, Rich no longer has any direct connections.
Rich’s original desire to serve on the Board of The LOFT was rooted in his desire to volunteer and be able to make a difference. Rich’s management skills, public speaking, and training skills continue to be a valuable resource for The LOFT.
Trudy Katz (Director)
Trudy has had a long career as a professional librarian. A 1974 graduate of Temple University (B.S. in Education) and 1976 graduate of the University of South Carolina (Master of Library and Information Science), Trudy began her career as a school librarian and then moved into the corporate world. Most recently, Trudy was a Vice President at MasterCard in Purchase, NY. She also taught at the graduate level for Long Island University (15 years).
A true believer that education is a life-long process, Trudy began her Ph.D studies at Long Island University. Having completed all coursework and passed her comprehensive exams, she is busy writing her dissertation.
Trudy moved from the corporate world to a staff position at The LOFT. Since retiring from this position in 2013, she continued volunteering at The LOFT and stepped in to consult when the sudden absence of support personnel.
Trudy has previously served on three Boards. Two at previous residences and on the Board of the Hudson Valley Chapter of the NYCLU.
Happily married to her wife Joann, Trudy enjoys singing in the choir at Community Unitarian Church of White Plains. Most recently, she started ukulele lessons. Her cat Natasha does not approve.
Joshua Levin, Esq. (Director)
Joshua Levin, an attorney, has worked for the Westchester County Human Rights Commission since 2006. After developing his skills in handling claims of discrimination, he co-authored the Westchester County Fair Housing Law. He is currently the Director of Fair Housing for the Commission and has been certified by the National Fair Housing Training Academy of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). He is also a 2013 recipient of the Westchester County Bar Association’s New Lawyers Leadership Award for demonstrating excellent leadership qualities in both his legal career and local community.
Mr. Levin speaks to the Westchester County community about the county’s Human Rights and Fair Housing Laws, eliminating discrimination and developing diversity, acceptance and respect.
Mr. Levin is a graduate of SUNY at Albany and Pace Law School. He is admitted to practice in the State of New York and the U.S. District Court- Southern District of New York. He is fond of chocolate.
Rob Mayetta (Director)
Rob Mayetta is a life-long resident of Westchester County and lives in Scarsdale with his husband, Mitch Goldberg. He had worked in Financial Services for over 3 decades before becoming a partner in Smart Daily Administrators LLC, a Daily Money Management firm based in White Plains, N.Y. Robert has an extensive background in Financial Operations and Organizational Management working at a number of major financial institutions. Rob has held positions in Project Management, Operational Risk Management and Strategic Planning and has worked in Consumer, Small Business and High Net Worth market segments prior to becoming a small business owner. Rob has a degree in Finance from IONA College.
Rob has held various positions on the boards of non-profits as well as business and civic groups. He has been involved in LGBT Diversity and Advocacy for almost 20 years and was a founding member of the PRIDE LGBT affinity group at JP Morgan Chase. He is a graduate of the UCLA LGBT Diversity Management Program and has supported many corporate diversity and LGBT business programs. He has worked on programs with Out and Equal, Hetrick Martin Institute, The LGBT Center and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. Most recently Rob was President of the Financial Services Industry Exchange (FSIX).
Much of Rob’s business and volunteerism has been in New York City, with a career change bringing him back to Westchester in 2008. With this change came a desire to volunteer locally and be involved in organizations closer to home and work. Rob started getting involved with The LOFT, working with them on networking events and assisting with projects. Rob would like to take a more formal step and volunteer for the board. He brings with him almost 4 decades of experience in business, networking, advocacy and development with the goal to help The LOFT continue to be a vital and relevant part of the LGBT Westchester community.
Fran Sisco (Director)
Francis (Fran) Sisco’s activities may be categorized by her three main professional goals:
(1) to help people in their business and financial lives, primarily through her personal financial advisory practice, mainly serving professionals and retired individuals for many aspects of their life and money in a holistic manner (e.g. CPA, Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Accredited Estate Planner (AEP), principal of her own registered investment advisory firm, licensed insurance agent in several states, and previously a registered representative of broker-dealer firms, and prior owner of several small businesses, including retail stores and marketing firms, and;
(2) to use her creativity to invent and develop new products and services, such as captionized music video, innovative investment-protection strategies (including a patent-pending system), board games, internet video marketing techniques, Apple iPhone accessory, and niche retail businesses and;
(3) to serve communities through her creative-expression affiliations such as being (a) a board member of the LOFT including open-mic nights and variety parties, (b) an active member of the Imperial Court of New York and a performer at many charity events sponsored by that organization (c) a co-host of a local radio show helping people in crisis, (d) a volunteer poet at long-term care facilities through the Poetry Caravan, (e) a writer of over 100 essays and 200 poems and songs and parodies on life and money and as a transgender woman in transition, and a 1,000 page book called “Left Brain, Right Brain and the Soul,” (f) performing at shows for stand-up comedy, singing and dancing and (g) advisory roles for nonprofits including the Bronxville Women’s Club.
Fran lives with her spouse and daughter in New Rochelle, NY and enjoys songwriting, collecting, inventing, videography, performing, painting, and writing.