As the executive director of the OutCenter of Southwest Michigan (Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties), MaryJo Schnell leverages 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, primarily in Chicago organizations. She is a devotee to the health of this sector and an advocate for preserving the public’s trust in the sector and its ability to create positive change in society. She prizes diversity, equity and a commitment to high ethical standards, and understands and appreciates the need for a plurality of organizational cultures.
Since 2012 she has helped grow and diversify the organization’s revenue by 41% (pre-COVID-19) and launched initiatives with a focus on systemic change in this mostly rural area. The LGBTQ+ Safe Schools Collaborative, funded in 2017, in part, by the United Way of Southwest Michigan, and the Big Idea grant within the Frederick S. Upton Foundation, has already resulted in more than 300 policy recommendations and/or enactments in 20+ schools, has helped to save lives and family relationships, and reached over 12,000 students.
Judy Lewis is a certified LGBT Older Adult Trainer for the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging. She co-founded the Jewish Gay Network of Michigan and served as its first executive director. In 2010, she co-founded the LGBT Older Adult Coalition, which became a national SAGE affiliate, SAGE Metro Detroit, in 2015. She is currently the Training and Education Manager for SAGE Metro Detroit, traveling statewide to provide workshops, training and programs for professional care providers, administrators, and students in medicine, nursing and social work. Judy has been a keynote speaker for various conferences, including Alzheimer’s Association Statewide, HIV/STI Conference, Area Agency on Aging Statewide Conference and Mental Health and Aging Conference.
Mixhi Marquis has been a leader in creating inclusive and welcoming spaces for the LGBTQ+ community for over 25 years. As the co-founder of Mosaic, they draw from a depth of experience that includes more than 15 years in the automotive/motorsports industry, a lifetime of community organizing and many years as a healing arts professional to nurture a space where people are seen as a whole and each healing journey unique.
“As the Mosaic journey continues to unfold, I find myself a student of the experience. One lesson that continues to deepen for me is that acceptance and feeling safe are both essential to the process of healing. I find inspiration in sharing our experience of integrating these qualities with our practice while coaching others toward this integration.”