Board and Staff

Board and Staff

WAF is led by Executive Director, Melissa Moore and a dedicated Board of Directors. It is an organization that is sustained by youth, donors, and volunteers from the greater Charleston area. The We Are Family Youth Advisory Board (WAFYAB) is made up of group leaders ages 12-23 years old. The WAFYAB oversees the SafeSpace program and regularly meets with the Executive Director to develop topics and content for meetings.

Melissa Moore- Executive Director

Melissa Moore HeadshotMelissa, a native of Charleston, SC, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology from the College of Charleston. She currently serves as the Executive Director for We Are Family, where she engages in asset-based community development and support services for youth who have been marginalized on the basis of their real or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity. Melissa is a published writer and a founder of the Charleston Gay Pride festival. She is the 2016 recipient of the Center for Women Influential Women In Business “Rising Star” award, as well as the 2015 Alliance For Full Acceptance Advocacy Award. She has worked toward LGBT liberation for more than a decade and has held staff positions at SC Equality and Alliance For Full Acceptance.

Nijeeah Richardson, LMSW- Director of Support Programs and Case Management

Nijeeah Richardson is a young licensed masters-level social worker and activist from Charleston, SC. unnamed-9 Nijeeah completed their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in2015 and Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2017 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. As an undergraduate, Nijeeah interned at Time Out Youth, a local LGBTQ youth center in Charlotte, NC. For their graduate field experience, Nijeeah interned at the Freedom Center for Social Justice, also located in Charlotte, NC. They currently work as a behavioral interventionist at Justice Works Behavioral Care in Charleston, SC. Nijeeah is a co-founder and workshop facilitator with the Transformative Teaching Collective, a cooperative based in Charleston that provides social justice education to schools, community groups, non-profits and government organizations. In the past, Nijeeah has also worked as an assistant preschool teacher. They continue to organize and volunteer with various grassroots organization in their hometown of Charleston, SC.

Cator Sparks- Chair

Cator Sparks is the Editor in Chief of Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia Cator attended the College of Charleston where he majored in French and Cator Sparks Tintypelater the American College in London where he graduated with honors with a Fashion Marketing degree.  Since moving to New York City in 1999 Cator has worked in both beauty and fashion PR, which lead to his transition to a full time journalist. Mr. Sparks has written for, Elle Décor, T Magazine and The Huffington, Candy Magazine and Brooks Brothers first Magalogue. Cator finds writing about men’s lifestyle brands the perfect way to continue educating himself and his fellow man through everything from trips to the Scottish Highlands for a deer stalk to digging deep in designers studios for the perfect button or collar.  Cator has been featured for his own dandified style in Ike Ude’s Style File, The Daily and in Bill Cunningham’s section of The New York Times, Evening Hours. Mr. Sparks splits his time between his apartment in Harlem and his home in downtown Charleston where he escapes with his husband and Scottish Terriers for Southern sojourns and excellent cuisine.

Jessie Parks- Vice Chair

A lifelong South Carolina resident, Jessie Parks moved to Charleston after obtaining a bachelor of arts in imagephilosophy from Clemson University. She hails from a long line of strong, socially conscious Southern women and is passionate about continuing that tradition. Jessie believes that grassroots organizing is key to making her home state a more progressive and tolerant place, and she has volunteered for numerous nonprofits and social movements, including Girls Rock Charleston, and Occupy Charleston. In her spare time, she enjoys thrifting, playing dress-up, and relaxing with her fiance, Scott, and their three rescue critters.

Kris Mady – Secretary

1471950_10202991474847885_5729245000056275727_nKris hails from the north where they got their degree in social work.  They currently work as the Outreach and Follow-Up Coordinator at People Against Rape, the local rape crisis center. As a queer person living in the south, Kris loves working with traditionally underserved populations and talking about intersectionality.  Kris is incredibly passionate about creating safe spaces for all people and is focused on social and economic justice and advocacy.

Kat Morgan- Treasurer

Kat Morgan has been advocating and opening doors for others since as longKat headshot TEDx promotion as she can remember. Before “Diversity & Inclusion” was a thing, she pulled chairs up to tables, reconfigured seating, and made room for more. That passion drives her still. She currently serves as Board Treasurer for We Are Family, the Lowcountry’s LGBTQIAA youth services and advocacy organization. She is also one of the lead organizers of Charleston’s chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a national network of organizations and individuals activating white people to work as allies against racism. Kat has over three decades of nonprofit experience, focusing on LGBTQ advocacy and services, domestic violence, youth development, and intercultural communication and education. In October 2016, Kat delivered a TEDxCharleston Talk. In Silence Is Not Always Golden Kat calls folks to “Speak out loudly, especially in calling out racism. That’s the quick take-away of Kat Morgan’s compelling and heart-felt talk that we all need to hear, especially those of us who are white and may think racism isn’t ‘our issue.’ Morgan shares personal history and a powerful message, especially for a Charleston audience amidst a racially charged time still in the shadow of the Emanuel AME massacre.” Watch it here: Professionally, Kat consults primarily in the nonprofit sector. Kat founded ChangeAbility Solutions to help organizations and individuals create purposeful positive change, equity, and inclusion through training, facilitation, coaching, and organization development. From strategic planning to meeting management to interactive workshops, Kat designs processes that leave participants with clear take aways and actionable next steps. She founded Allies Take Action to cultivate, support, and train people of good will to take action as effective allies for those facing injustice.

Leigh Friar

Leigh2Leigh is a Charleston native and recent College of Charleston graduate with degrees in both Psychology and Gender Studies. Leigh volunteers with local community organizations including Carolina Youth Action Project, Charleston Alternative to Detention Initiative, and Queer Oriented Radical Days of Summer. In addition to serving on the board, they assist with Trans Love Fund and youth programming for We Are Family. They are most passionate about prison abolition, queer liberation, and improving community mental health response.

Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez

Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez was born in Celaya, Mexico and moved to the United States at the age of 5. Growing jonatan head shotup in the small town of Waynesboro Georgia, Jonatan was involved in music, theatre and dance where he was even featured in Teen Vogue Magazine and receiving recognitions such as ‘Best in Theatrical Caption” from the Georgia literacy Association. After moving to Charleston in 2014, Jonatan started working in the fashion through styling, PR, and special event planning. Some of his work includes Charleston Fashion Week, Lowcounty Live, and Bravo TV’s Southern Charm. While working with the city during special projects, Jonatan because a strong supporter of animal rights, LGBTQI rights, adult education and became one of the youngest Hispanic activist in the low country. His passion for children and to help others is his driving force to “Keep moving forward”. Social Media: @jonatanguerreroramirez

KJ Ivery

KJ is a Charleston native, and a current West Ashley resident. He KJ Headshotgraduated from the University of South Carolina in 2012 with a BA in Criminal Justice and moved back to Charleston shortly thereafter with his wife, Sam. He has been working here as a police officer, with a particular interest in improving the department’s policies and relationships with LGBTQ community members. KJ is also a dog dad to an 8 year old Jack Russell Terrier/Muppet mix, Emma, and has a wide range of interests. On any given day, you may find him either out on the water fishing and kayaking or practicing yoga. He also enjoys more low-key activities like podcasts, savoring his eighth cup of coffee for the day, and crafting.

Lee Anne Leland

Lee Anne Leland is a native Charlestonian who resides in McClellanville, SC with her wife of 18 years, 17 adopted dogs, a parrot and a pet possum. In 1974 she graduated from St. Andrews College with a degree in word literature. After college she entered the construction field and eventually became a restoration carpenter working on some of the most historic properties in the Charleston area. Currently employed as te building manager for a local private school she devotes much of her free time to her family and working for LGBTQI rights. She is co-facilitator for the Charleston Area Transgender Support group and recently was named to the board of We Are Family. Her goal is equality for all, focusing on LGBTQI youth and their struggle for acceptance.