Our Team

Meet Our Leadership Team

Displaying 1 - 12 of 12

Tina White

Executive Director

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Tina White is the Executive Director of the Blue Ridge Pride Center, a member of the board of directors for the Human Rights Campaign, and a Democratic precinct chair.

Tina entered the workforce as a white, Ivy League-educated male. She spent most of the next 30 years helping corporate executives to transform their sprawling organizations. In 2013, Tina embarked on her most ambitious transformation project yet: herself. With the support of her wife, family and colleagues, Tina finally acknowledged the gender she had worked so hard to hide.

Today, Tina’s transformation continues. She is learning how to be a community activist and a public servant. She speaks and writes on issues of social justice and personal identity. In 2015, she published Between Shadow & Sun: A Husband‘s Journey Through Gender - A Wife’s Labor of Love.

Tina holds an MBA in Strategy & Finance from the Booth School of Business and a BA in Economics from Princeton University. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina with Mary, her wife of nineteen years. From there, they watch their five children and five grandchildren take on the world.

David Perry

Director, Fundraising / Development; Member, Board of Directors

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David Perry is a native of North Carolina. He retired from federal service after 36 years in a variety of political and agency leadership positions. He was most recently Deputy Director for the US Small Business Administration (SBA) in Georgia and SBA National LGBTQ Outreach Director.

Prior to joining SBA in 1998, David served 16 years on the staff of US Congressman W.G. (Bill) Hefner (NC-8). He was appointed manager of a constituent services office at age 25 and later served as a domestic policy advisor on Capitol Hill.

As Deputy Director for Georgia from 2010 - 2016 he managed the delivery of SBA small business across the state. He developed and managed formalized partnerships with elected officials, corporate leaders and organizations representing diverse communities including African American, Hispanic, women, Veteran, seniors and LGBTQ.

As National LGBTQ Outreach Director from 2013 until 2016, David developed and managed SBA’s partnerships with national LGBT organizations, including the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the National Black Justice Coalition.   He represented SBA as part of a team that designed and executed the LGBT Business Builder, a two-year multi city initiative to increase the number of LGBT certified small businesses and raising awareness of SBA programs within the LGBTQ community.

After retiring from SBA, David worked with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce to establish its Stakeholder Engagement Initiative, a continuation of his work as SBA’s LGBTQ Outreach Director.

David is a graduate of the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. As a member of the university’s student legislature in the late 1970s, David introduced and secured passage of UNCC’s first LGBT nondiscrimination resolution and sponsored the bill chartering the school’s first Gay Student Union.

In 2019 he was recognized by Business Equality Magazine’s as one of 50 LGBTQ Legacy Leaders Over 50 in the U.S.

Amanda Wray

Director, Oral History Project; Member, Board of Directors

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I grew up in rural Kentucky, the youngest daughter of hard-working parents who knew everything about growing plants and making delicious food. I attended the University of KY, where I earned a B.A. and M.A. in English Literature (my studies focused primarily on the literature of Enslaved People). In 2007, I moved our little family to Tucson, AZ where I earned a PhD in Composition, Rhetoric and the Teaching of English from the University of Arizona (and fell in love with the desert). My dissertation drew from oral history interviews with self-proclaimed "progressive" white people to suggest various rhetorics of whiteness and assess their anti-racism potential. Colorblind rhetoric ("I don't see race"), for example, is a trope mis-associated with anti-racism outcomes, and it is invoked and defended differently based upon region and self-awareness of white privilege. In 2011, we moved to Asheville and I joined the faculty at University of North Carolina Asheville where I enjoy the privilege of teaching a wide range of courses including Professional Writing; First Year Writing; Visual Rhetoric; and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Learn more about my work here: amandabwray.com

In 2019, I partnered with Blue Ridge Pride to launch the LGBTQIA+ Archive of Western NC, an oral history study and community-based historical preservation effort. Our Lives. Our Stories. Our Way. We are a cohort of community activists, university archivists, undergraduate research interns, and project volunteers from YMCA and Blue Ridge Pride. Our oral history participants range in age from 21 to 87, a quarter of whom were born within sixty miles of Asheville, NC and sixty percent having lived in the Western NC region their entire life or more than 23 years. We are actively recruiting folks to be interviewed and to conduct interviews, and we'd love to see any physical materials related to LGBTQ+ history that you could loan or donate to the project.

Max Taintor

Director, Marketing & Communications

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Some things about me, ask me where I'm from and I can give you many cities and addresses - but I hail from North Carolina by way of birth in New Jersey. I've worked in marketing and communications for about twenty years - I know - I can't believe I look that old, either. I'm happily partnered and live out in Weaverville. My backgrounds focus on writing, graphic design, video production, social media strategy, and pretty much everything else one does for marketing. In my free time I like playing board games with friends, watching lots of Sci Fi and Horror, nerdy things, and the occasional brewski or glass of wine. I also like changing definitions, like the word "occasional" to mean "frequently." Please feel free to reach out for any questions about marketing or public relations associated with Blue Ridge Pride Center - I'll make sure to answer or contact the individual who can.

UNCA - Class of 2004 - Mass Communication

UNC-Chapel Hill - Class of 2017 - Master in Public Administration

Butch Thompson

President, Board of Directors; Director, Community Funding Programs; Director Pro Tem, Generation Plus

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Butch Thompson joined the Blue Ridge Pride Board of Directors in January 2019. Currently Butch serves as the Board of Directors President and Director of Generation Plus. He lives in West Asheville where he settled 6 years ago. He is the founder of butchOUT, a local non-profit organization. He also served with the Asheville Gay Men's Chorus and help to start the Asheville Pride Bowling League.

Butch spent most of his career in Atlanta, Georgia working for numerous HIV/AIDS organizations including AIDS Survival Project, AIDS Alliance for Faith and Health and Emory University. Starting as a fundraiser Butch soon realized his passion for program development. He built a Peer Counseling program which became utilized in many organizations in Atlanta. He helped found beautyAID, an Atlanta fundraiser for AIDS organizations. After 26 years Butch retired to Ft. Lauderdale where he volunteered for Poverello, an HIV/AIDS food pantry and initiated the formation of the Live Well Center.

As a native of SW Virginia Butch longed for the mountains and choose Asheville as a place to build a new life in retirement. Excited and knowledgeable Butch shares his skills with Blue Ridge Pride in hopes of expanding on the great success of Blue Ridge Pride and the community served. His favorite quote is “I cannot do all the work the world needs. But the world needs all the work I can do.” -Jana Stanfield

Michael Hoeben

Community Partner Fund Director; Vice President, Board of Directors

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Miami-born Michael Hoeben is a transman with a passion for minority rights and public policy advocacy.  He is also a husband and a father, which has and continues to bring him a profound sense joy and purpose.  As a Boston University graduate, he carved out a career as a freelance writer and researcher, working closely with an international community of scholars and leaders across a wide array of disciplines, cultures, and contexts.  However, his current aim is to focus his efforts on fueling progress for LGBTQ equality and equity at home by serving his local community.  Most recently, Michael had the privilege to join Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) as the Trans/HIV Bridge & Retention Coordinator, where he helps in providing individualized patient-centered care, as well as conducting trans- and HIV-centered outreach, training, and collaborations in the community.  He is committed to social justice, believing that a human rights-focus is critical to correcting the systemic wrongs that continue to impede meaningful representation and inclusion for all people.  Michael is sincerely grateful for the opportunity to join the Blue Ridge Pride Center (BRPC) team, as this organization plays a key role in continuing to pave the way forward.

Richard Morgan Swilling

Director, Events & Operations

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Our Director of Events and Operations holds five environmental certifications and works daily to keep us safe. A life-long resident of western North Carolina, Rick (Morgan to some) comes from a family with a record of distinguished public service. He dotes on his two children, who run successful businesses.

“I worry often about acceptance and security. The one time I never feel alone is when I am volunteering. I am thankful for my Pride family, ”

Our events director, a true giver and leader, is why organizations like ours exist.

Chris Tinkler

Director, Business Alliance Initiative

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North Carolina native, Chris Tinkler (he, him, them, they) moved to Asheville after spending the last twenty-five years in Tryon, North Carolina. He taught school for 10 years, created a web site design company, acted as leader/director of Tryon Summer Youth Theater, and worked in real estate. Over the course of his tenure in Tryon - he served on the boards of Upstairs ArtSpace, Tryon Little Theater, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Tuesday School. He developed and created fundraisers for all of the above organizations - ranging from simple cabaret evenings to elaborate galas. He is excited to join the Blue Ridge Pride team. 

 

Colgate Darden

Director, Movie & Mixer Program

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Nancy Sue Ellyson

Director, Entertainment

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Nancy Sue works the Pride tent with "Pride". She is our public face, selling Pride merchandise and spreading the word with a smile and free hugs!

Nancy Sue says that, being the new kid in town, she felt blessed to have met Morgan, who got her started with Blue Ridge Pride.

Nancy Sue moved to Asheville in February 2017 from Austin, Texas, not knowing a soul and yet, knowing that Asheville is where she belongs.

In Austin, Nancy Sue worked various day jobs for online technology companies including Facebook and Homeaway.com. She had the pleasure of working her dream jobs in the live-music industry, including those of radio and television personality.

Looking to the future, Nancy Sue hopes to settle into the Asheville community, becoming more involved in non-profits and, of course, Blue Ridge Pride!

Dr. Rachel Muir

Oral History Project Lead

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I am a retired scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and I continue to pursue my vocation and avocation in environmental science as a scientist emeritus working with local federal offices and private efforts to research and protect endangered species and teach at local schools and institutions about conservation. When I moved to North Carolina from Washington DC about 5 years ago I did not realize that human rights, and the rights and welfare of THE LGBTQ community, were also endangered in this state, and now, our nation. Just as diversity in the natural world supports and sustains a complex world in the face of change, diversity in the human world strengthens us and enriches our lives; it opens our eyes to the new and the possible. I want to be part of the effort to protect that diversity and the dignity OF all people. Blue Ridge Pride gives me the opportunity to combine my professional skills and my passion for justice to promote equality for all.

Butch Thompson

President, Board of Directors

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Mental Health Providers

Eric Davis  MS, LCPA, NCC, Counselor

Willow Wellness and Recovery, PC 9 All Souls Crescent  Suite B, Asheville, North Carolina 28803  Phone: (828) 490-4137 | Website I am a firm believer in empowerment and self-determination. In the past, I have worked well with folks experiencing a range of issues, such as anxiety, depression, substance-use, sleep disturbances, relationship issues, and issues unique to the LGBT community.

Scott Thomas,  Licensed Professional Counselor, MA, LPC, LCAS

Silver Lining Therapy 70 Woodfin Place  STE 21, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (828) 705-3084 | Website I believe humor can be a powerful tool for healing and seek to incorporate this into our time together. Unique to my practice is an approach that truly puts you at the center of the counseling experience, and I draw from a wide variety of techniques to help you see and experience real change in your life. To see if therapy might be a good fit, I offer free phone consultations.

James Harrison, PhD Psychologist

12 Westridge Dr , Asheville, North Carolina 28803  Phone: (828) 348-6300 | Website I enjoy helping people achieve physical and emotional intimacy whether they are young or old, straight or gay, in healthy, responsible, and mutually affirming ways. I also enjoy helping people improve their earning and manage their assets. And I like working with older people. I offer free phone consultations.

Judy Maris, Counselor, LPC, LCPC, MA, MS

Maris Psychotherapy 41 Clayton St, Suite 301, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (828) 537-4489 | Website We can explore troublesome patterns that tend to repeat themselves in your life or look at new issues that have just come up. The important thing is for us to work together to get to the bottom of your difficulties and resolve them. I will assist you in becoming more aware of what you are feeling and thinking in the present moment. The untapped wisdom within you is a powerful healing force. Let me help you gain access to your full inner resources. I offer free phone consultations.

Elizabeth Heaney, Counselor, MA, LPC 

166 E Chestnut Street, Asheville, North Carolina 28801  Phone: (520) 447-3319 | Website I work with individual adults with concerns like: family history issues, relationship concerns, life satisfaction issues (related to jobs, living situations or relationships), anxiety and depression. I’ve had a particular focus on working with couples, addressing every aspect of relationship challenges – relationship dissatisfaction/boredom, affairs, sexual/intimacy issues, etc. And I was a civilian counselor on military bases for several years, so I have a clear understanding of the unique pressures and challenges facing service members and families. I offer free phone consultations.

Siljoy Maurer

Holistic Perspectives P.O. Box 333, Enka, NC 2872  Phone: (828) 333-0103  | siljoy@me.com or  www.HolisticPerspectives.com For many years now I have been mentoring men and women from all walks of life. It continues to be my greatest joy to accompany someone from “just being ok” into thriving! As a Mentor & Healer I partner with my clients in creating authenticity, wellness and deep contentment, in whatever area of their lives they are seeking change. The combination of giving very practical, livable tools for direct “next steps” while “holding the big picture” and then manifesting that big picture often feels like this: a new client brings me their life or life situation in a jigsaw puzzle box, they lost the lid and forgot what the picture on it looked like. I am good at knowing that picture and then guiding my clients/mentees to put all the puzzle pieces together.