The Lansing Association for Human Rights is governed by a volunteer board. (Excellent headshots courtesy of Pablo Contreras.)
|Zekiye Salman, President
As someone striving to proactively and collaboratively create a more just and equitable society, Zekiye Salman believes in critically interrogating societal values—their origins and their transmission through religion, politics, and pop culture. In opening up narratives within these frameworks, we can expand opportunities for and perceptions of marginalized communities and create spaces to confront inconsistencies between values and actions. These measures can catalyst a culture shift for constituents and politicians alike and can promote transparency and establish systems of accountability within our communities.
Zekiye graduated from Vanderbilt University with a graduate degree in theological studies and certificates in Gender, Sexuality, and Religion; Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture; and Women’s and Gender Studies. Bridging the gap between theory and practice, Zekiye began organizing and volunteering for grassroots movements that responded to the immediate needs and uplift the voices of members in our community. Prior to her graduate studies, she earned dual degrees in religious studies and history at Michigan State University.
|Mario Gonzales, Social Media and Website Director
Mario Gonzales is originally a transplant from the great plains of Texas, but has been an indoctrinated Michigander since 2003. Until recently, he was a resident of the Kalamazoo region for almost 8 years, between his undergrad and early career. He returned to the Lansing area in 2016 and has become actively engaged with an assortment of local causes.
Gonzales brings with him eight years of experience both working and volunteering in various nonprofit areas ranging from youth development and community outreach, to political activism and advocacy. He is a proud AmeriCorps alum, having spent a year in service with Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan and the American Red Cross; as well as the former program director for the Hispanic American Council. He continues to work with different youth programming, helping shape minds and inspire the next generation of leaders.
He is a graduate of East Lansing High School, where he served as the president of the Gay-Straight Alliance that championed an inclusive community for all students of the diverse population. He holds a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Western Michigan University, with a minor in psychology as well as an Associate of Arts in psychology from Lansing Community College.
Erica Spitzfaden is an IT professional with more than 32 years experience as a programmer, network engineer and database administrator. She is proficient with languages such as SQL, PHP and HTML, the very building blocks of websites and databases. She gained five years of experience working in a nonprofit by serving on the Lansing's Children's Ballet Theatre Props Committee. As a board member of LAHR, her primary focus is to provide technology guidance, but she has taken on many opportunities to serve as a spokesperson for LAHR about critical contemporary issues and has written articles for the LAHR newsletter. Additionally, Erica has presented on transgender issues with PFLAG and met with the Ingham County Sheriff's office, advocating for proper language use in press releases.
Emily Dievendorf is an independent political and nonprofit consultant and the former president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights. Prior to consulting Emily served as executive director for Equality Michigan where she advocated for LGBT-friendly policies among legislators and other political leaders throughout the state and at every level of government. Previously, Dievendorf worked in the Michigan House of Representatives for Democratic state legislators for nearly a decade.
Dievendorf is a graduate of James Madison College at Michigan State University with a degree in social relations. She has been active in numerous progressive issues, particularly LGBT equality, race relations and equality, women’s rights, and HIV/AIDS. Ms. Dievendorf has worked on several campaigns ranging from gubernatorial to contentious municipal ballot issue campaigns. She was recognized by Crain’s Detroit Business as one of “Ten People to Watch in State Politics” in 2014. Emily was appointed in 2015 to the Michigan Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and is currently serving her second term on the committee.
Mike Carlson is a lifelong Michiganian who graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in biochemistry/anthropology then promptly got a job at a bookstore. He soon found a career as an environmental chemist where he’s been for the past 27 years due to an overdeveloped sense of duty.
Mike worked as a volunteer and then director of the LAHR LGBT Hotline until the internet and some degree of social acceptance of LGBT issues made the helpline unnecessary. He has been on the LAHR board for many years and currently serves and sings on the board of LansingOut Gay Men’s Chorus. He is an unrepentant queer nerd boy who loves books, comics, tabletop role playing games, and social justice. He has an addiction to podcasts and will gladly talk you to death about whatever obsession du jour his magpie monkey mind is focused on that week.
Storm Notoriano is a queer feminist and graduate from Michigan State University. Using their degree in Communications with a triple minor in Sociology, Organizational Leadership, and Women & Gender Studies, they dedicate their time to facilitating dialogue surrounding equity and healing. Storm currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada and works as a Field Instructor at a wilderness therapy program in Utah. They consider themselves to be a group-centered leader, one to take initiative, and equally invested in both task and relationship. In their free time they can be found solo traveling, drinking a cup o’ joe at a greasy spoon diner, and seeking a dance floor.
Rebecca Hayes joined the LAHR board in 2020, and is a Full Professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Social Work at Central Michigan University. Driven by their passion for social justice, their academic and life focus has been to use their voice to speak up about social injustices. Their specializations focus on inequalities in the justice system and victimology. They are intersectional and aim to empower folx through advocacy and education.
Always community minded, they began their work as a volunteer with the Red Cross when they were a college student. Then as a graduate student they became a victim advocate with the Alachua County Rape Crisis Center. After their Ph.D., they worked with the non-profit organization in St. Lucia, Positive Actions Over Secrets and Fear (PROSAF); taught a course on how to work with victims to police officers in Hungary; worked with Victim Support Europe on an evaluation of victim support programs in the E.U.; and continuously gives workshops on various social justice issues. You can find their scholarly work published in academic journals such as Feminist Criminology, Crime & Delinquency, Violence Against Women and Critical Criminology.