Ally Profile: Tanya Powers

Tanya Powers_FP

Tanya Powers is a Senior Vice President, Division Sales Manager for the Georgia North Florida Division. In this role, Mrs. Powers is responsible for driving sales strategy, training and sales management effectiveness for the division. She is based in Jacksonville, Florida.  She believes that everyone has the right to be treated equally and fairly.

Mrs. Powers joined SunTrust in as a part time teller her last year of college in 1992. A 22-year veteran Tanya has had various positions within the bank; most recently she spent 12 years as an Area Manager managing the 25 banking centers within the market. In this role, Mrs. Powers focused on integrating the company’s business and sales strategy as well as achievement of revenue goals.

Mrs. Powers earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of North Florida. She is a member of the Board of Trustees for St. Johns Country Day School.

Ally Profile: Pastor Reginald Gundy

Pastor Gundy_FP

Born in Jacksonville, Pastor Gundy is a graduate of Troy State University with a BS Degree and hold two Masters Degrees, Masters of Arts in Pastoral Ministries and Master of Divinity.

He is a retired public school teacher, and is also retired from the US Army with two Meritorious Service Awards. He is the recipient of the Congressional Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community award, Jacksonville’s Florida Mayor’s Distinguish Award, Trailblazers Award, Teacher of the Year Award and many other U.S. Army Awards

He is currently the Pastor of the Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church and past Jacksonville Local Chapter and State President Florida Southern Christian Leadership Conference. He has 14 years of experience in working with Not-for-Profit organizations specializing in advocacy for Juvenile Justice and Civil Rights issues. He is married to Wallette, they have a son named Andrew and two grandchildren, Darrion and Savia. He is a pastor with 33 years ministerial experience and serves on the Boards of several Not-for-Profit Organizations.

Recently, Pastor Gundy has publicly changed his stance on the need to expand the HRO in Jacksonville.  Once a vocal opponent of amending our city’s protections, Pastor Gundy has expressed why it is important to protect the rights of everyone in our community.

It is time for me to write the letter from the “Jacksonville Jail”.  It must address the conservative evangelical and black church as a whole:

The history
The harm
The hurt
The healing
The hope

The LBGT community has a right to be heard, but also others.  The voices of change must also respect the voices of resistance.  We must also deal with the voices of fear. I see the plan to introduce the law that will address the fears, but that is not what many others see.   It is very important that Bible base-believers be heard, along with the others.   That did not happen in the first meeting and must not happen hence forth.

I have set on the new ordinance for 18-months that specifically addresses the protection of the church.  You cannot blame a culture of resistance  based on their Biblical beliefs.  My belief is tied deeply with the Bible, as it relates to all matters of sin, and all have and all sin, and all fall short.  But, thank God for Jesus, all can be saved and forgiven.  Anger and mistrust, on either side, does not allow acceptance, respect, forgiveness and reconciliation.

LBGT issues have divided churches, communities and families.  This should not be, there must be honest dialogue, disagreements and forgiveness.  The evangelicals must be part of the long-term solutions and we all must love each other, even if we do not agree:

1.  The law protects the church.
2.  The law protects housing, jobs and public access.
3.  The law protects people against discrimination.

The conversation is tough but it must be held.  Discrimination against any human being is discrimination against all humanity.

Love should not divide, but bring all of us together.

Pastor Reginald Gundy, pens An awakening to what it means not to discriminate, featured in the Orlando Sentinel on February 5, 2016

Ally Profile: Arnold Evans

Arnold Evans_FP

Arnold Evans is the Central Florida Division President for SunTrust Bank, based in Orlando. In that capacity, he leads a team that provides the full range of traditional and capital markets products and advice for privately-owned companies, and not-for-profit, educational and governmental entities. Arnold was previously SunTrust’s Regional President for Jacksonville.  Prior to his move to commercial banking, Mr. Evans spent 17 years as an investment banker, including nine years in the Equity Originations Group at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta, GA, and eight in Equity Capital Markets at J.P. Morgan in New York City.

Arnold previously served as an Air Defense Artillery Officer in the U.S. Army.  During his 5+ years on active duty, he served in roles ranging from Platoon Leader to Battery, Battalion, Brigade and General’s Staff Advisor in geographic locations including the United States, Europe and South West Asia.  He completed his military service at the rank of Captain. In addition to his work responsibilities, he currently serves as a Trustee for the Darden School Foundation (Charlottesville, VA) and as head of that entity’s Investment Committee. He and his wife Joyce have two daughters, Asha and Aaren.

Arnold believes in LGBT Equality because as a City, as a State, and as a Country, we don’t have the luxury to exclude anyone.  “Inclusion & Diversity are not only good for business, but the way good business is conducted. We don’t have the luxury to exclude anyone. By embracing and leveraging our different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives, we become more innovative, productive and profitable.

Ally Profile: The Dunham Family

Dunham Family_FP

I am coming out as a straight ally because I have two Gay Moms who love me and take great care of me.  I love them very much. –Jayda Dunham, Age 8

Michelle Caldwell and Serena Dunham met in 2001 at Holy Cross Metropolitan Church, located in Pensacola, Florida and celebrated a Holy Union in 2006. Although they could have legally wed in other states, it was important that their marriage be recognized in their home state of Florida, so they waited until that day would come. That day finally happened on January 6, 2015.

Michelle grew up near Pulaski, Tennessee, where the KKK was started. She observed first-hand the hatred of those who wore sheets to cover their shame, as they burn crosses and hurt people who were a different color, or in any other way, from them.

As a service connected disabled veteran, Michelle is the Founder and CEO of Monument to Women Veterans Foundation. Her organization is dedicated to creating a Monument that will honor and recognize the 2-million women who have served this country and have been in combat since 1948. She advocates for more empowerment of the role of women who currently make up 23% of our Armed Forces.

Serena is originally from Vermont. Coming from a large family, she had always wanted. After winning her battle with breast cancer, the possibility of having a child of her own would be a miracle. When they were given an ultrasound picture, in late 2006, and asked if they would be interested in adopting this baby at birth, they answered with a resounding YES! Serena carried the picture of the ultrasound, in her lunch box, and looked at her picture every day.

The baby was African-American and would be adopted by two white women, living in a predominantly white community. As parents who just happen to be gay, Michelle and Serena were not concerned so much for themselves, they were concerned about the possible discrimination their daughter could experience as a child whose parents are gay. Living in the conservative South, they were also concerned about the discrimination she may face, being a black child with white parents.

Like any good parent, these concerns required further introspection. Michelle and Serena hosted weekly bible study groups in their home. The group would pray over the ultrasound picture, for a healthy baby and guidance in raising their daughter. They came to understand that if God was allowing them to have this child, then God had great plans for that child.

On May 21, 2007, 8-week old Jayda Danielle joined the Dunham Family. Today Jayda is a happy, healthy third-grader who loves science, drama and, most of all, traveling. She is a great athlete, student and recently, received the award for “Terrific Kid” from her school, which, of course, we think fits pretty well! One of the things Jayda loves the most, is helping Michelle work with the homeless Veterans program at Christmas. “Home for Holidays” takes homeless veteran families off the streets and places them in a hotel for 30-days. Santa Claus comes to visit the children and Jayda gets to be Santa’s helper.

As a family, we believe in the basic principle, “To love one another as God first loved us.” We do this without judgment or prejudiced towards others and we strive to teach others by leading a good example. It is our goal to raise Jayda into a well-rounded person. We have taught her to extend God’s Love and grace to everyone, and instilled the importance of the needs of others. She has learned that, despite the world’s differences, all lives are important and matter.

We stand up for Straight Allies because we want our children to grow up in a world that is equal to all people, regardless of race, color, or sexual orientation. We must educate people and reach out across the barriers to see the rainbow inside all of us.

Ally Profile: Chevara Orrin

Chevara Orrin_FP

“Being an ally isn’t an option, it is a way of life. I recall my mother, a white Jewish woman saying to us when we were little girls, ‘It is absolutely the responsibility of those in positions of power and privilege – the oppressors (whatever form that takes) to be actively engaged in the liberation of those who are being oppressed.’ I believe that as human beings, we are inextricably bound and responsible for one another.”

With a passion for social justice, a rich legacy of civil rights, and the ability to inspire and engage, Chevara Orrin conceptualized and co-created, We Are Straight Allies in direct response to the August 2012 Jacksonville City Council vote rejecting Bill 2012-296, better known as the Human Rights Ordinance (HRO) which would have added sexual orientation to the current non-discrimination policy.

Chevara has worked in the profit and higher education sectors for more than 20 years and has served as a community advocate for more than 40 years. She is a creative consultant, writer and public speaker. Her earliest memory of activism was as a three-year old, sleeping in concrete building tubes across the street from the White House in support of the Bangladesh Liberation War and protesting famine in Pakistan.

She is the daughter of a white, Jewish civil & human rights, social justice, and women’s liberation activist and a Black father who served as a “fiery top lieutenant of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.” and a force behind many of the pivotal civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, including the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, 1965 Selma to Montgomery March and the 1966 Chicago Open Housing Movement.

It is this legacy and her personal journey of survivorship (poverty, domestic violence, fatherlessness, incest, single motherhood) that have led Chevara to champion for the marginalized.

While serving as an administrator at a university in North Carolina, Chevara co-founded the first-ever Gay-Straight Student Alliance. Seven months later, the Board of Trustees unanimously voted to add “sexual orientation” to the university’s non-discrimination policy. A first in the history of the campus. This trailblazing work caught the attention of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Chevara has collaborated with numerous LGBT organizations, including the Campaign for Southern Equality, PFLAG, and Equality Florida.

As a “soul connector,” Chevara’s personal mission is to engage and mobilize communities around issues of race, gender, justice, health, education and economic disparity. Because of her tireless efforts, Chevara has been recognized by the White House and Human Rights Campaign as an emerging leader, advocate and ally for the LGBT community. She also has become an outspoken advocate for raising awareness of, and helping to eradicate sexual violence against women and girls.  She has received numerous awards and recognition for her unwavering commitment to community.

Chevara has been an official Floridian since August 2012. Although new to Jacksonville, she has woven her thread into the fabric of the community and is actively involved with numerous nonprofit organizations. She serves as a member of the WJCT board of trustees, the Cultural Service Grants Council and was appointed to the Times-Union Editorial Board.

Chevara is also a popular and regular panelist and host/emcee for many nonprofit organizations and has been featured as a TEDx Jacksonville speaker.

Chevara has been featured in articles in The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville Free Press, Arbus Magazine, The Washington Post, Atlanta-Journal ConstitutionWinston-Salem Chronicleskirt! Magazine, Winston-Salem JournalWinston-Salem Monthly, and John Blake’s powerful, painful glimpse into the heart and soul of the Freedom Movement of the Sixties through the lens of some of its children, Children of the Movement.

Chevara was born in Washington, DC and raised in Memphis, TN. She obtained a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Memphis. Chevara is married to Marlon Hubbard and has two sons, Michael and William, and a cat named Nala.

 

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