President: Stephen Peters is originally from a small town outside of St. Louis, MO. Growing up in a conservative home and church as a pastor’s grandson, and graduating from a fundamentalist Christian school and two of the nation’s most conservative Christian colleges, he gained a clear understanding of the religious perspectives used to exclude and oppress LGBT people.
After college, Stephen enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and served for four years. Honorably discharged under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT), Stephen began volunteering with Servicemembers United in the successful effort to repeal DADT, and developed a passion in advocating for all military families, especially the families of LGBT service members and veterans.
With this passion, Stephen led a group of same-gender military spouses in what was then called the “Campaign for Military Partners” and turned it into the nation’s largest resource and support network for the partners, spouses, and families of America’s LGBT service members, the American Military Partner Association. Drawing upon the experiences of over 25,000 members and supporters, he is sought after as a speaker and in the media on the issues and policies impacting LGBT military spouses and their families.
Currently stationed in Washington, DC, Stephen is married to a Marine Corps officer stationed at the Pentagon. Having just moved from their last duty station at Camp Pendleton, CA, he stays in regular contact with LGBT military spouses around the country and knows well the issues and challenges impacting their lives outside of the DC beltway. As president of the Board of Directors, he guides AMPA in a strategic mission of education, advocacy, and support for our modern military families.
Stephen also serves on the 2013-2014 Military Spouse Advisory Council of the Military Officers Association of America and was elected Military Spouse Magazine’s 2014 Pentagon Spouse of the Year. He has a BA from Pensacola Christian College, an MBA in International Business from Liberty University, and an MS in International Relations from Troy University. To contact him directly, email him at email@example.com.
Director of Family Readiness: Ashley Broadway was born in Montgomery, Alabama, but as a child she moved all over the South. After settling in Columbus, Georgia, she attended Columbus State University for her undergraduate studies and then completed her masters degree at Troy University. During this time, Ashley met her spouse, Heather, who was stationed at Fort Benning. In late 1997, Ashley and Heather began their life together and spent the next 14 years under the threat of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
After 13 years in the classroom, Ashley walked away from teaching to be a stay-at-home mom. It was during this time that Ashley found the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) and later became more actively involved in 2011. It was through AMPA that Ashley found her new passion in assisting other LGBT families in working through the existing inequalities we face. Ashley feels that through her 15 years as a military spouse, she is able to combine the traditions of the Army, while moving towards its vision of tomorrow. She is honored to serve as the Director of Family Readiness where she advocates on behalf of our military spouses and their families, especially those which children. Ashley also serves on the AMPA Board of Directors.
Ashley lives near Fort Bragg, NC, where Heather is currently stationed. Besides being “Momma” to their two children, she is the 2013 Fort Bragg Spouse of the Year, volunteers with Equality NC, and serves as family readiness group treasurer for Heather’s unit. To contact her directly, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director of Research & Policy: Lori Hensic is originally from Sonoma, California. After completing her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, she earned her Doctorate of Pharmacy (PharmD) with an emphasis in Health Policy & Management from UC San Francisco. Lori has specialty clinical training in Ambulatory Care, HIV/AIDS Clinical Care, Designing Clinical Research, and provided direct patient care for several years in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Shortly after the repeal of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” (DADT), Lori relocated to be with her partner, stationed in San Diego. She found the American Military Partner Association (AMPA) after her move when struggling to figure out how to “survive military life,” and since then has been determined to give back to the organization that helped her so wholeheartedly.
Lori has over 5 years of teaching experience at medical and pharmacy schools, and currently works as a Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor at UC San Diego Skaggs School of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences. There she designs and instructs the Health Policy curriculum and serves as a research advisor for doctoral candidates. She is also the Safe Medication Practice Pharmacy Specialist for Sharp HealthCare’s Mesa Vista Hospital and Memorial Hospital locations. Lori’s wife, Shaina, is an active duty U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot and squadron department head, as well as player on the USA Women’s Eagles (USA Women’s National Rugby Team). They currently live in San Diego, California, with their energetic dog, Toby.
Lori is dedicated to critical educational efforts aimed at strengthening LGBT military families’ representation and engagement in policy changes. She is working to expand AMPA’s research platform and designing a database of vital information and statistics about our LGBT military families to ensure they are well represented within the larger military community. Lori has appeared in media interviews on local and national broadcasts, and has been invited to speak at several conferences on behalf of our LGBT military families. Her educational outreach campaigns and collaborations with other national advocacy organizations help inform LGBT military families, elected officials, and the general public about disparities in our families’ access to services and benefits – as well as how to assist with means to change them. To contact her directly, email her at email@example.com.
Director of Organizational Development: Jim Cassidy is originally from Westerly, Rhode Island. After graduating from Westerly High School, Jim enlisted in the United States Navy. Serving within the confines of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Jim had a successful career and retired as a Chief Hospital Corpsmen and settled in Southern California.
Jim’s spouse, John, is active duty in the Navy. They have been together 5 years, during of which the last 2 years John has been stationed overseas in Japan. Looking for support during the separation, Jim found the American Military Partner Association (then called the Campaign for Military Partners). Starting out first as a member of its National Steering Committee and now a member of the Board of Directors, Jim has grown progressively more involved in the work of AMPA. He actively leads the AMPA outreach efforts in helping to reach and connect LGBT military partners, spouses, and their families.
In addition to his commitment to AMPA, he has worked in non-profit management and is currently the Director of Programs and Community Resources with the largest HIV/AIDS Service Provider in San Diego. Jim was glad to see the repeal of DADT and is happy for today’s servicemembers, however, until the spouses of LGBT service members and veterans receive full benefits, support, and recognition, he will continue to fight. To contact Jim directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizational Advocate: Bianca Strzalkowski is the Senior Editor at Elva Resa Publishing. Proud Marine Corps wife of 13 years, she was named the 2011 Military Spouse of the Year by Military Spouse magazine. As a mother of three, Bianca has spent her time volunteering with various organizations, such as the National Military Family Association and the Marine Corps’ Family Readiness program. Because of her volunteerism, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General James Amos, awarded her with a Certificate of Commendation.
In July 2011, utilizing her own student experience as a reference, Bianca became an advocate for the Military Spouse Education Initiative. She believes that it is possible for spouses to achieve their own goals around the diverse obstacles of military life. To date, she has worked with officials from the Departments of Defense and Labor, Congressional leadership, and the Joining Forces Initiative to work on the increasing need of educational opportunities for her peers.
In addition to advancing programming for spouses, Bianca has appeared in media interviews, such as Fox & Friends, CNN Newsroom, and Oprah, and is a guest writer for The Huffington Post, SpouseBuzz, and Military Officers Association of America (MOAA). Currently, she is stationed at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Jacksonville, NC where she is a Consultant for Lifetime Television.
Bianca is honored to join forces with the American Military Partner Association to advocate for universal support programs for all military families who give so much in the name of freedom for this country. She actively works to highlight and advocate for the mission of AMPA. United we stand as a community of one! To contact Bianca directly, email her at email@example.com.
State and National Guard Affairs Coordinator: Chris Rowzee began her active duty career after graduating in 1984 from the US Air Force Academy. She served for 8 years (much of it pre-DADT) before leaving the active force and joining the NC Air National Guard as a traditional guardsman where she continued her service. She eventually went to work full time for the Arkansas Air National Guard, and it was there that she met her wife, who is currently an active duty guardsman for the Kentucky Air National Guard. It was also in Arkansas that she became active in advocating for LGBT rights as a founding member of Arkansans for Equality, working completely behind the scenes since DADT was still in full effect. Chris, her wife, and their toddler son currently reside in southern Indiana, near Louisville, KY.
Following her military retirement at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel after 28 years’ service, Chris became actively involved with AMPA in supporting and advocating for our military families. With expertise in National Guard affairs and a strong commitment to helping our families achieve full equality in every state, Chris puts her military knowledge and experience in Public Affairs and Personnel to good use in keeping the media and public informed of the issues LGBT military spouses and their families still face. As both a retired military member and the spouse of an active duty member, she brings unique insight to the issues our families face and she uses that knowledge in her role as the State and National Guard Affairs Coordinator. She has appeared in both print and broadcast media interviews at the local and national levels, and publicly speaks on behalf of our LGBT military spouses and their families. To contact her directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communications Assistant: Caitlin Granade comes to AMPA from our northern neighbors in Ontario, Canada, and couldn’t be happier to call Southern California her home. After marrying her wife Mari Cris, an active duty Navy LDO of 21 years, she moved down to San Diego, where they spent 4 months going through the US spousal immigration process. Currently working as a Veterinary Technician in a busy specialty practice, Caitlin also enjoys hiking, kayaking and spending time with her wife and beloved fur children (2 dogs and 4 cats).
Having already helped a handful of other LGBT military couples with their immigration questions, Caitlin felt the need to do more. As a communications intern, Caitlin hopes to be able to assist in getting our messages out into the world and show others how awesome AMPA can be as a support, social, and educational network. To contact Cait directly, email her at email@example.com.
Communications Assistant: Lance Buchanan is originally from Lake Santeetlah, North Carolina, and currently lives in the Washington D.C. metro area with his partner, Kyle Bandermann, a Clinical Psychology Resident at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD.
Lance has a passion for making other people smile and learning about other cultures. He works as a freelance photographer & as a retail associate. Lance has an Associate of Arts degree and will be pursuing his Bachelors degree next year. Two of his many hobbies include French and traveling.
Lance is looking forward to learning a great deal while interning with AMPA. He is deadline oriented, well disciplined, and has an eye for detail, which makes him a great fit for our communications team. He is ecstatic to be apart of the AMPA team, and cannot wait to help change the world. To contact Lance directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Events Coordinator: Verita Richardson, daughter of a retired Marine & Navy nurse, has traveled all over the country while growing up in a military family. While she currently attends Bradley University in Peoria, IL, during the summer months, Verita lives in Portland, OR, near her partner, Christina, who is in the Army Reserves.
During her studies in marketing and sales, she has grown to enjoy event planning, and hopes to pursue the field upon graduation in 2015. AMPA has provided support for Verita during her partner’s service to our nation, and she hopes to be able to give back by helping connect LGBT military families, while building experience as an AMPA event coordinator. To contact Verita directly, email her at email@example.com.
Veterans Affairs Coordinator: Gene Silvestri is a U.S. Army disabled transgender veteran, and he received an honorable medical discharge in 2003. Since then, Gene has been active as an advocate and serves on the board of the Sacramento Valley Veterans (SVV), his local chapter of the American Veterans For Equal Rights (AVER). He is also a member of the Disabled American Veterans (DAV). In 2009, Gene became involved with the Sacramento County veteran service organization (VCSN) as a local transgender veteran liaison. He has a wide array of knowledge on VA claims processes and benefits information. In August 2013, Gene was appointed to the role of Vice-Chair of the Committee on LGBT Veterans of the Veterans Caucus of the California Democratic Party. In November 2013, he was nominated and elected to the Executive Board of the Veterans Democratic Club of Sacramento.
Gene is very excited and honored to be a part of the AMPA team. Over the past 4 years, he has committed his life to advocating for the rights and benefits for LGBT veterans and their families. As a married transgender male veteran, he brings a unique perspective and awareness concerning VA benefits and LGBT veterans and their families. He stands committed to the core values of AMPA as well as welcomes the challenge to implement change on a larger level by connecting our veteran families with the benefits they earned and deserve. To contact Gene directly, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Military Advisory Council
- Lieutenant Colonel Heather Mack, U.S. Army
- Major Alasdair Mackay, U.S. Marine Corps
- Major Romm Gatongay, U.S. Marine Corps
- Captain Christie Jones, U.S. Air Force
- Senior Chief Petty Officer Elny McKinney, U.S. Navy
Board of Directors
- Stephen Peters, President
- Jim Cassidy
- Ashley Broadway