Elise Johansen, Executive Director, comes to us with over 12 years of experience in nonprofit program development, administration and direct service. She has extensive experience working with myriad systems in creating needed changes to ensure all people are treated with integrity and care. Elise is a creative, strategic, and passion-driven leader with proven ability to create new community based programs, spearhead change, and innovatively fill community gaps. She possesses a Master’s in Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University and a BA in English with a Concentration in Studies of Writing and Rhetoric from Florida Atlantic University. Elise and her wife recently moved to Maine from Florida. They live on a five-acre mini-farm with their five dogs, one cat and a soon-to-be menagerie of farm animals.
Preferred pronouns: She, her, hers
Gia Drew, Program Coordinator, is an artist, activist, and athlete, who loves to learn and travel. While she was born in Boston and grew up in large and loud family of nine, she has quietly called Maine home for twelve years. After earning a BFA from Syracuse University and a MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked as a high school art teacher and track and field coach for eighteen years. A nature lover, Gia spends much of her spare time outdoors, creating photographs, distance running, and snowshoeing.
Preferred pronouns: She, her, hers; also okay with they, their, theirs
Christopher O’Connor, Development Director, is thrilled to join us after sixteen years of working in student affairs at the University of Southern Maine. Originally from NJ, he moved to Maine several years after receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He has been an active member of the LGBT community in Portland for many years. Most recently, he provided leadership for the creation of Pride Portland!, the community-based organization that revived and expanded Portland’s annual pride celebration. Chris’ passion has always been in social justice work and he is thrilled to bring his knowledge and skills in event planning, community organizing and relationship building to EqualityMaine. When he’s not working or spending time with his dog, Chico, you can find him wearing his other hat, DJing at STYXX Nightclub in Portland.
Preferred pronouns: He, him, his
Thomas Sumner, Bookkeeper, is the owner of Sumner Bookkeeping. He has been EqualityMaine's part-time bookkeeper since April 2002. He lives in Westbrook with his partner, John, and is the proud grandfather of three children.
Preferred pronouns: He, him, his
Why do we list our preferred pronouns?
Names aren’t the only way we refer to people. We share our preferred gender pronouns, and encourage you to do the same. Preferred gender pronouns are the way you like to be referred to as: she, her, hers; they, them, theirs; he, him, his; or something else. We share these because we want to start practicing the skill of not assuming other people’s gender. You may hear people using they/them/theirs because these are some of the gender-neutral pronouns available to us. EqualityMaine is dedicated to serving all members of the LGBT community, this means being thoughtful and respectful to our transgender and gender non-conforming community members.