nijeeah richardson, lmsw - executive director
Nijeeah Richardson is a young licensed masters-level social worker and activist from Charleston, SC.
They completed their Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) in 2015 and Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2017 at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC. As an undergraduate student, Nijeeah interned at Time Out Youth, a 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. Post graduate school, Nijeeah returned to Charleston to work with youth as a behavioral interventionist at Justice Works Behavioral Care and to continue their work as 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 2018, Nijeeah received the Community Pride award from Charleston Pride and was named South Carolina’s “Champion of Pride” by the Advocate. When asked what it means to be a champion, Nijeeah stated that being a champion “isn’t just about winning — when we know the race is rigged. Rather, it’s the spirit that compels us to keep fighting for the liberation of all people.”
cora webb - program director
As a recent graduate of the College of Charleston, double majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and Public Health, Cora Webb has developed a deep commitment to community advocacy and active citizenship. Throughout her college career, she assisted with designing and implementing informative events that aimed to properly represent different cultures and advance the campus community’s understanding of gender, sexuality, and identity. During her senior year, she co-facilitated a first-year Social Justice Dialogue Course that helped students navigate dense topics such as oppression and privilege. The skills she developed through these experiences prepared her to become a project leader for the College of Charleston’s Alternative Break program. Her program focused on LGBTQ+ Rights and Public Health issues in New York City, with a primary emphasis on HIV/AIDs in the LGBTQ+ community.
Her time as a project leader was the central experience that solidified her interest in working to develop comprehensive solutions that promote health education, increase awareness, reduce stigma, and build strong, supportive communities to end the HIV/AIDS crisis. Since graduation, she continues to attend community events and serve on the Charleston Area World AIDs Day Committee. Through her campus and community engagement, she has developed a passion for addressing this community’s health education needs.
Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez - Closet Case Thrift Store Manager
A graduate of the Art institute of Charleston with a BA in Fashion Design, Jonatan began his career even before moving to Charleston in 2014. Growing up in the small town of Waynesboro Georgia, Jonatan was involved in music, theatre and dance where he was featured in Teen Vogue Magazine and received recognitions such as ‘Best in Theatrical Caption” from the Georgia literacy Association. His passion for working with community members and collaborating with influencers grow his passion to bring inclusion into the world. Jonatan’s work can be seen in Charleston Fashion Week, Southern Living Magazine, Bravo TV and Nickelodeon Studios. In his free time, Jonatan shares and highlights the voices of the LGBT community by his role as editor and social media director at BEAU Magazine and connecting the LGBT community with resources and events around the South that are LGBT friendly.
Bonnie miller - volunteer coordinator
Pronouns: She/Her & They/Them
Bonnie is a native of South Carolina and was raised by non traditional parents in a traditional rural town. She attended school at Clemson University and earned a Bachelor’s in Environmental and Natural Resources with a double minor in Sustainability and Philosophy. After a period of travel, they have since found a new home and intention in the city of Charleston, SC.
In addition to their current work, they serve as Volunteer Coordinator for The Charleston YOUth Count, an initiative centered on understanding and advocating for youth experiencing basic needs insecurities. Bonnie is a lover of southern community and culture, and sees her work as transferring social power built through community connections to underserved communities. In the near future, Bonnie will be returning to school to pursue a Master’s of Social Work. Other passions include being part of a local rugby team and being mother to far too many plants.
Board of Directors
CATOR SPARKS - CHAIR
Cator Sparks is the Editor in Chief of TheManual.com. Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia Cator attended the College of Charleston where he majored in French and later 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 1stdibs.com, Elle Décor, T Magazine and The Huffington Post, style.com, VanityFair.com, nowness.com, 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 Telegraph, Stylelikeu.com 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.
ROBIN STEWART - VICE CHAIR
Robin Stewart is originally from Mt. Pleasant, SC, and graduated from Tulane University in with a Bachelor’s of Science in both Business Management and Information Systems. After college, she moved to Boston to begin a career as a Sales & Development Manager. Robin was responsible for hiring, training, and coaching entry-level employees into leadership positions. After 8 years in corporate retail, she really wanted a new career path away from a high-pressure sales environment, but that still focused on supporting and developing people.
She came back to Charleston in 2015 and found new fulfillment in helping medical students at MUSC develop their clinical and communication skills through the Center for Clinical Evaluation, Teaching, & Simulation. This great experience led to her pursuing a Master of Counselor Education degree with a concentration in Student Affairs & College Counseling. Robin is currently the Program Coordinator at the Center for Academic Performance & Persistence at the College of Charleston where she advises students who are provisionally admitted, as well as those on academic probation. She wants to motivate students to keep persisting, and understands the many challenges they face in the pursuit of higher education. Robin believes in targeted support to help remove obstacles and contribute to their overall success. Her student’s voices truly matter to her, and she always advocates on their behalf. She seeks to engage all students regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, or background.
Robin has always seen potential in those who often do not see it within themselves. She is committed to diversity, inclusion, social justice, and creating environments where individuals can truly thrive. As a board member of We Are Family, an organization at the forefront of supporting and developing LGBTQ+ youth in Charleston, she is dedicated to advocating for LGBTQ+ youth in our community who need our support more than ever.
TYLER INABINET - TREASURER
Tyler Inabinet is an accountant with a local construction company, working to help build Charleston since 2016! Born and raised in Charleston, SC by a single mother of five, he is no stranger to the need for the support of youth. He graduated from Academic Magnet High School and completed a Bachelors of Science in Accounting. He joined We Are Family in 2018 as a volunteer and became Board Treasurer in January 2019.
JACQUI FILBECK - SECRETARY
Jacqui Filbeck moved to Charleston, SC in 2005 while serving in the United States Air Force. Jacqui was honorably discharged for services, following a 10 year career. She received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Limestone College in 2012, followed by her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Southern California in 2013.
Jacqui currently serves as the Director for the Family Violence Intervention Program at Origin SC, formerly Family Services, Inc. In this exciting and new role, Jacqui supervises a small team of three and interns from time to time, provide services to both victims and batterers of domestic violence. Additionally, Jacqui is a facilitator for Mental Health First Aid, Be Proud! Be Responsible!, and has presented on numerous topics, such as, Trauma Informed Care through creating cultures of a trauma informed workplace, Domestic Violence in the LGBTQQIA community, among others. Jacqui continues to provide direct service through individual sessions, facilitation of group sessions, and macro advocacy for the unheard voices.
Laura Matthews grew up on the sandy shores of a small barrier island in Florida, the background of her youth filled with sonic booms from the shuttle and the heady fragrance of orange blossoms. She attended college in Jacksonville at the University of North Florida, graduating summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting and Drawing, minoring in photography. Following graduation, Laura worked in commercial real estate, first in marketing and graphic design, then eventually obtaining a sales associate license and working in sales and leasing. She worked primarily with national and international retailers on market expansion and ground-up development.
After moving to Charleston in 2015, Laura found a niche for her blend of creativity and project management experience in higher education. As a Communications and Operations Manager for the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina, she planned and ran mental health continuing education events for psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses and other behavioral health specialists across the greater southeast, as well as coordinating mental health fundraising campaigns. While she has moved on to a different position in higher education, her time in the mental health field left her with a profound awareness of the work the South has yet to do for weaving LGBTQ+ diversity and inclusion into all aspects of culture, mental health included. As a board member for We Are Family, Laura looks forward to expanding the dialogue around the myriad issues that LGBTQ+ youth currently face, implementing communication strategies that highlight WAF’s initiatives and executing events that financially sustain the important work of WAF.
Laura lives with her wife Paige, a pediatric nurse, and their troupe of rescue cats in a sleepy bedroom community just outside of Charleston. She can typically be found gardening, stand up paddle boarding or adventuring through kudzu somewhere, with a book or sketchpad in hand.
Marc Penna grew up in a small town on the south western border of Connecticut. He attended college just outside of Hartford at Central Connecticut State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Management Information Systems. Always having a passion for data analytics and medicine, Marc found his niche within the clinical research industry. Marc has served in various roles leading all aspects of clinical research, specifically working to bring novel and life-saving medical devices to market.
Soon after college, Marc moved to the Boston area and spent the next 15+ years building his career. Having had enough of the harsh New England winters, Marc relocated to the Charleston area in 2015, quickly assimilating to the southern lifestyle.
Growing up in a religious household in a small conservative town, Marc faced many years of reconciling faith, social acceptance and authenticity. Having come to this reconciliation later in life and being a single gay man to three children, Marc has the unique experience of seeing the world through his children’s eyes in a world that still poses so many barriers to being accepted for ones differences. Their acceptance and pure non-judgement are the driving force behind Marc’s passion to help foster a world where every child is free to express themselves in a safe and nurturing environment.
Born and raised in a foreign country, Mia Marin and her family relocated to a small town just outside of Charleston, SC when she was only 12 years old, circa the 2000’s.
With a Latin heritage and background Mia has always had a passion for helping & caring for others. Mia has not only lived but also attended school in South Carolina, where she has also been involved in many projects and helping her community. She is currently involved in a bilingual school program (as a Bilingual Program Assistant) that focuses on helping immigrant children from all over Latin America to become more comfortable and familiar with the English language and culture. Her career has always been centered at helping others as much as possible. From her Love for fashion (such as volunteering and being involved in CFW ‘Charleston Fashion’s Week) to helping in big projects in her previous job lines. Mia’s main goal has always been to help to create a “Better Future” for the youth. And now as a Board member of We Are Family, she is more than thrilled to become more and more involved with our organization, where perhaps her (and her others associates’) brilliant concepts, can positively turn into amazing actions for the LGBTQ+ youth’s community.