Shannon Brown is an Appalachian OUTreach Board of Directors officer and serves as President. Professionally, she is an LCSW therapist who opened her private practice, Psychotherapy & Forensic Services, in Blount County. She has a BA in Psychology from the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and an MSSA in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University.
She won awards for her work as an advocate and activist: Irene Sogg Gross Humanitarian Award (2007) and Achievement in Direct Practice (2018), and she was inducted into the Mandel School Hall of Achievement (2018).
Shannon is also currently serving as a member of the Board of Directors for OutCare Health. Shannon has been an advocate and activist for LGBTQ+ rights and justice since the 1990's. She is also a She is committed to conducting business and maintaining partnerships with LGBTQ+ owned and operated businesses.
Gibran Cuevas is an Appalachian OUTreach Board of Directors officer and serves as Vice President, Treasurer, and as Volunteer Coordinator. Professionally, he has a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal justice, is a retired police officer, served in the Army and is transgender. His career experience included Special Victims Unit, Narcotics, Human Trafficking, and K9 unit. Gibran activism and advocacy has been geared towards child welfare, women’s issues, and LGBTQ rights. Gibran is currently retired and volunteers as a child advocate in abuse and neglect cases.
Rhonda Cady is an Appalachian OUTreach Board of Directors officer and serves as Secretary and Administrative Coordinator. Personally, she is a strong ally for the LGBTQ+ community. I have a great deal of motivation to for helping others in the areas of human equality, LGBTQ+ issues, veterans, and homelessness. I was born on a military base in Colorado, but consider Blount County home. I am a domestic goddess extraordinaire who loves all things Betty Boop. I have 3 grown children and 1 grandson. I can usually be found at Southland Books or downstairs at The Bird and The Book.
The Reverend Heidi Parunak (pronouns she, her, hers) has been advocating for the LGBTQIA+ community since the 1980’s HIV/AIDS pandemic. She has worked in the field of hospice and end of life care since 2010. Identifying as bisexual, her call is to help those who are marginalized, impoverished, disenfranchised and/or homeless. She earned a BS in Psychology from King University, is currently enrolled in seminary, earning a continuing education certification from Princeton Theological seminary, and she is a certified Usui Reiki Master, since 1995. Reverend Parunak is currently a Licensed Local Pastor with the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, serving rural churches and chaplaincy.
Gabby Cheij is an Appalachian OUTreach Board of Directors officer and serves as Marketing and Public Information Officer. Gabby (she/her/hers) holds a M.M. in Voice Performance and Pedagogy from East Carolina University and holds B.A.'s in Music and Psychology from Maryville College. She works as a voice and piano teacher and marketing coordinator with a music studio in DC.
Having met at Maryville College, Gabby and her wife, Blaine, have happily found footing back in east TN. Excited to give back to the LGBTQ+ community, Gabby is bringing her skillset in graphic design and marketing to serve as the board's marketing and public information officer. Gabby’s passion for serving her community is evident primarily in her work through youth outreach in numerous community events, sport and music camps, and service projects.
Taylor Ford is a 27-year-old lifelong citizen of Maryville, TN. She is a professional writer with nearly a decade of experience in government proposal work, procedural documentation, and creative writing. Her most recent publication is the poem "Don't Fear the Dark, Child" in Tennessee's Best Emerging Poets: An Anthology from Z Publishing. She lives with her best friend, her best friend's 5-year-old son, and their two dogs.
If you would like to serve as a board member, the responsibilities include:
*Volunteering during events
*Promoting Appalachian OUTreach events
*Attending planning meetings
*Making a tax-deductible financial contribution to Appalachian OUTreach
In December 2015, Shannon Brown founded the Foothills LGBT Center, which was then transformed into Appalachian OUTreach in May 2019. Both the Foothills LGBT Center and Appalachian OUTreach have maintained the same goal: empower and advance our LGBTQ+ communities through programs, education, resources, partnerships, and most importantly, love, kindness and a respect for all.
Shannon is especially grateful for the following badass LGBTQ+ women who influenced, challenged, fought for, and promoted equality and rights for this amazing community: Gladys Bentley, Anne Lister, Ruth Ellis, Roberta Cowell, Audre Lorde, and of course Jane Addams.
Shannon is also very grateful for these influences: The LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland https://lgbtcleveland.org/, Jake Nash and Margie's Hope http://margieshope.org/, Case Western Reserve University https://case.edu/lgbt/, the Matthew Shepard Foundation http://www.matthewshepard.org/ and the Southern Poverty Law Center https://www.splcenter.org/
Empower, connect, & support the East Tennessee lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender & queer (LGBTQ+) people through the provision of safe & healthy, inclusively welcoming & affirming programs & respect for partnerships, which promote community building, resource development, & education for all.
Appalachian OUTreach is committed to serving all members of the LGBTQ+ communitiy in the East Tennessee region & beyond.
Our vision is to impact change for all LGBTQ+ individuals, families, children, teens, & adults living in the East Tennessee area.
Our mission & vision are carried out by passionate, philanthropic members of the LGBTQ+ community who are have a strong desire to make a difference.
If you are interested in making a difference as a board member, volunteer, or through donations, please email us!
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