THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS - 2016
Bryan Bowser - President
Bryan Bowser joined the Center board in 2012. He is Assistant Professor and Program Director for Arts Management and Entrepreneurship at Baldwin Wallace University. Previously he served as Associate Director, External Affairs, for the BW Conservatory of Music where he managed the Community Arts, Summer Music, and Opera Programs in addition to consulting on matters of Conservatory fund raising, marketing, student recruitment and alumni relations. He has an strong record of leadership in the Cleveland arts community and is a passionate advocate for arts education and inclusion. He holds an MBA in Entrepreneurship and BME from Baldwin Wallace.
Chris Esmurdoc - Vice President, Planning
F. Christopher Esmurdoc, MDiv, MSSA, LISW-S is an experienced social worker and manager. Chris has experience in community social work, work with Veterans, children and families, HIV/AIDS, adoption/foster care, and mental health.
He is adjunct faculty for Youngstown State University in their Social Work Department. He completed his masters degree in Social Work in 2002 at Case Western Reserve University and has achieved advance training in adoption and foster care issues, cognitive behavioral therapy, and cognitive processing therapy techniques.
Chris has been a member of the Center board for 3 years and is the Vice President of Planning. He is the Chair of the Program Committee and recently Chaired the Center’s Strategic Planning process.
E. William (Bill) Podojil - Vice President, Development
An accomplished, international business builder and leader focused on driving growth through highly profitable strategic business platforms, engaging and rallying a global team, and focusing on customers and worldwide market opportunities.
Bob Sferra - Past-President, Capital Campaign Committee Chair
Bob Sferra is a culinary arts professional with experience and training in France and New York City. His company, Culinary Occasions, is well-known in the Cleveland community through Bob’s frequent engagements, television appearances and teaching. Bob joined the LGBT Center’s board in 2009 and became President in 2011, where he has been taking the leadership role as the Center implements the results of its strategic planning process.
Maria Shinn - Secretary
Maria L. Shinn is a senior partner at Shinn Lanter, LLP, a law firm specializing in estate
planning and probate administration, domestic relations and juvenile law, and nontraditional
family law throughout Northeast Ohio. She is a frequent lecturer on LGBT
issues, legal protections for seniors, and estate planning basics. Maria joined The
Center’s Board of Directors in 2013 and is serving her fourth year as Secretary of the
Tracie Longpre - VP - Special Events
Tracie Longpre is the Vice President of Supply Chain for Applied Industrial Technologies, a leading industrial distributor based in Cleveland. She oversees the organization's inventory, distribution, transportation, procurement, and master data management functions. She is also a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).
Tracie holds a BBA from the University of Massachusetts and an MBA from the University of Connecticut. She and her family reside in Solon, Ohio.
Carrie R. Burick MA, ATR, LPCC-S
I am a registered art therapist and professional clinical counselor and enjoy working collaboratively with clients to harness their own personal empowerment. I believe that self-care and wellness are a personal and professional priority. I help to teach clients how to embrace wellness techniques, while building awareness, in order to reach their own therapeutic goals. I work in a variety of areas that include working with expressive therapies/art therapy, trauma issues, sexual violence, addictions, domestic violence, mood/anxiety concerns, women's issues and caregiver concerns. I provide clinical services in the form of individual, family, and groups. I enjoy working with both adolescents and adults.
Notable Today™ recognized Carrie Burick with inclusion in the 2015 edition of the prestigious Notables of 1971 List. Burick, a Cleveland, Ohio resident, is among a number individuals born in 1971 to have demonstrated or achieved notability, as determined by the editors of Notable Today™. Recognition on a Notables List™ highlights individuals who have become worthy of attention or notice in their local communities though either through career success, demonstration of a high level of personal integrity, worthwhile volunteer contributions or other considerations.
Claire Cahoon Curtis
Claire Cahoon Curtis is an Attorney with the Federal Public Defender for the Northern District of Ohio, where she represents criminal defendants at the trial level and on appeal. She is one of less than thirty attorneys in the State of Ohio certified as an appellate law specialist. Claire jointed the LGBT Center board in 2016. She previously served on the board of directors for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Cleveland.
Garry Gross currently serves as the Director of Learning & Performance at The MetroHealth System. In this role he works with individuals and groups to maximize their engagement and effectiveness in the workplace. Garry specializes in change management, leadership development and coaching, team building, process consultation and learning facilitation.
Garry is active in various religious and community organizations and serves on the Board of Directors for Project HOPE, a charitable organization benefitting women and children in need. He is also a member of the Greater Cleveland 20/30 Professional Club and is an active member of The MetroHealth Emerging Leaders Employee Resource Group.
Fiduciary Officer/V.P. BNY Mellon Wealth Management.
In this role she works directly with clients to address their estate planning, family governance and wealth management needs in collaboration with their trusted advisers. Karen joined the firm in 2010 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Her previous experience includes serving as a client adviser for FirstMerit Bank, N.A.
Karen received a bachelor's degree from Boston College and a juris doctor from Cleveland Marshall College of Law. She is a former member of the Willoughby City Council where she was the chair of the Finance Committee. Karen currently serves on the Lake Catholic High School Endowment Board and the Lake Health Foundation Advisory Committee. She is a member of the Estate Planning Council of Cleveland, Cleveland Metropolitan, Geauga and Lake County Bar Associations.
Natalie Alexis Naumann BSEE
Natalie Naumann is a recently retired Engineer and Project Manager, and current President of The Alpha Omega Society, a private gender support group. Natalie has the personal experience of successfully transitioning to female in a professional work environment, where she had worked for over 20 years as male. She is intimately familiar with gender dysphoria and the lifelong feelings of confusion, isolation and loneliness it can produce, and is passionate about improving all aspects of Transgender support in the Cleveland area. Natalie is in her second year on the board and chairs the Center’s new Transgender Committee, where she will draw on her career skills to outline a world-class gender support program for the Center.
Carolyn Polanski has over 20 years of experience in the marketing and communication fields. She is currently the director of communications for Avery Dennison, leading the North American marketing communications activities for Materials Group. Carolyn joined the Board in 2016 and is the chair for the communication committee. She will lead the marketing plan for several key Center initiatives in the years to come.
Andrew Thomas is a Performance Measurement Analyst at KeyBank, within the Investment Operations & Wealth Management Technology division. He is responsible for the reconciliation and audit of trust account investment returns. Andrew is also the Community Investments Coordinator for Key's LGBTA Employee Resource Group. He is responsible for the group's community involvement and outreach supporting Key's local communities through charitable sponsorships and partnerships with nonprofit organizations. Andrew previously worked for The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland on the Communications Committee. He joined the Board of Directors in 2016 and also serves as Chair of the Training Committee.
Katherine E. Wensink works in the Cleveland office of McDonald Hopkins as Of Counsel in the firm’s Estate Planning Department where she focuses on counseling individuals and businesses in the areas of estate planning and administration, tax, retirement plans, and corporate law.
Wensink has extensive experience in all areas of estate planning. She counsels clients regarding retirement plan issues, and has experience drafting defined contribution plans and deferred compensation plans.