Chris Moore, Board Chair
Chris Moore is a writer, photographer, and community volunteer who has lived in Richmond since 1991. His work has appeared locally in Virginia Living, Style Weekly, 64 Magazine, and Richmond Family Magazine. As a community volunteer and advocate, Chris has served on the Boards of Directors of Peter Paul Development Center, Virginia Supportive Housing, VCU College of Humanities & Sciences (Advisory Board), St. James’s Children’s Center, ACTS (Area Congregations Together in Service), James River Writers, and Friends of the Richmond Public Library.
Chris and his wife, Dena, have two sons, Ben and Sam.
Luise "Cheezi" Farmer - Board Chair Emeritus
Luise Farmer joined our board in 2016. Better known as “Cheezi,” she has been an active member of the Richmond LGBT community for years. Cheezi is very active with Metropolitan Community Church Richmond and serves as the congregation’s vice moderator. She is also a leader in “Women of Essence,” an organization dedicated to bringing attention to the impact that breast cancer has on the African American community.
Keri Abrams, Vice Chair
Originally from Akron Ohio, Keri’s family moved to Richmond when she was very young. Life in her early days seemed fairly normal except with constant feelings of confusion on her gender. Keri graduated from Hermitage High School and attended Virginia Tech where she majored in architecture.
After leaving college, amongst a major economic downturn, she decided to forgo her career in architecture and instead pursued a career as a motorcycle mechanic. Motorcycles had been a passion for a very long time.
In the spring of 2010, she came out to herself and the world as a transgender female and started her transition to the woman she is today. Keri quickly became involved in the transgender community and has had the opportunity to run transgender specific programing at a local non-profit. She has been a youth facilitator at ROSMY and a lead facilitator in James River Transgender Society, a local support group.
She has also participated on many LGBT discussion panels, college classes, and has given educational presentations to area businesses. In 2015 Keri was named one of Equality Virginia's OutStanding Virginians. She has continued working with EV where she is currently a member of the Equality Virginia Transgender Speakers Bureau.
Keri is very honored to be named to the Board of Diversity Richmond, where she hopes to continue, and further the work that has already been started to be more inclusive to hers and many other minority communities.
Jean Segner, Treasurer
With a passion for fairness, equality and justice, Jean has been a volunteer and leader in a number of LGBTQ advocacy efforts beginning in 1997, as member and later president of the Central Virginia Business and Professional Guild, the area’s first LGBT Chamber of Commerce. She served as director of Equality Virginia, from 2002 until 2012. She served as interim Executive Director of EV in 2010-11. During her Board tenure she chaired the EV Commonwealth Dinner for three years from 2009-2011, and was engaged in the 2006 legislative fight for marriage equality in Virginia. Her legislative work for EV led her to become more active as a fund-raiser and host for LGBTQ allied candidates for local and statewide office in Virginia. Jean was named an OUTStanding Virginian in 2014 for her advocacy work. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of Richmond Triangle Players since 2012.
Jean manages Communications and Community Engagement for Richmond-based SunTrust Mortgage. Prior to joining SunTrust, she held leadership roles in marketing, corporate communications and investor relations at several financial services companies including Wells Fargo predecessors Central Fidelity and Wachovia; Genworth Financial and its predecessor, GE Financial.
In addition to her LGBT advocacy Jean volunteers for the Junior Achievement, Making Strides, the United Way and in 2016 co-chaired the Open Your Heart campaign of the American Heart Association Go Red for Women. She is in the 2016-7 class of Leadership Metro Richmond.
Ayana Obika-Clayborne, Governance Chair
Owner, Gratitude Rising Events
A lifelong Richmond resident, Ayana Obika is an experienced creative project manager, with a focus in networking, fundraising, event planning and community engagement. In 2011, she founded Gratitude Rising Events, creating and managing outstanding events that seek to entertain, educate and engage. She also serves as a non-profit and for-profit consultant in development and fundraising. Ayana currently serves as a board member of Project Yoga Richmond and the Richmond Business Alliance.
Ayana is a proud veteran of the U.S. Army, and served as a Flight Ops Specialist. She was voted as one of the Best of Gay Richmond in 2012 by the staff of GayRVA.com. She is the mother of four beautiful and smart grown-ups and the “Yaya” of four beautiful and smart grand-darlings, as well as “pet parent” of a very affectionate teenager cat and the cutest Chihuahua in the world. She is passionate about hiking, running and dancing, especially salsa, hoop and Zumba. Ayana loves vegan cooking and her kale salad is legendary. When not spending her time on any of those things or planning an event, she’s probably hanging out in her meditation space.
Kevin W. Allison, Ph.D., Secretary, Financial Development Co-chair
Kevin W. Allison serves as Associate Vice President for Strategy and Development with the Office of the President at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. He previously held positions as Senior Executive Director for Strategy and Administration in the Office of the President, interim vice president for Inclusive Excellence, associate dean for community activities in the College of Humanities and Sciences and as Director of Applied and Outreach Scholarship in VCU’s L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU. Dr. Allison served on senior leadership teams for the VCU Center for Cultural Experiences in Prevention, and the Clark-Hill Institute for Positive Youth Development, one of the CDC’s National Academic Centers for Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention. Dr. Allison received his Ph.D. in clinical-community psychology from DePaul University, his undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame, and completed his clinical internship at Children’s Hospital in Washington, DC. Dr. Allison joined VCU in 1996 and is professor of psychology, with a joint appointment in the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs. His research, scholarship and teaching focus on the role of culture and context in adolescent development, and the design and evaluation of school and community-based interventions to support healthy developmental trajectories for urban youth. Dr. Allison is recipient of VCU’s 2005 Reese-Melton Presidential Award for Multicultural Enrichment and was a 2016-17 American Council of Education Fellow. He is co-author with Dr. Faye Belgrave of African American Psychology: From Africa to America, now in its fourth edition. Prior to joining VCU, Dr. Allison was a faculty member in the department of psychology at Penn State University. Earlier in his career, Dr. Allison served as the Clinical Director of City Lights, a school for troubled and troubling youth in Washington, D.C.
Michael-Birch Pierce, Iridian Gallery Chair
Our newest board member is Michael-Birch Pierce. Michael is a fiber artist and assistant professor of Fashion Design at Virginia Commonwealth University. They received a BFA in Fashion Design from VCU and studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design for an MFA in Fibers. They have designed embellishment for Diane von Furstenberg and were lead stylist on André Leon Talley's Little Black Dress costume exhibition in Savannah and Paris. Michael has completed artist residencies in Hong Kong and Lacoste, France and their work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums, including the White House, Design/Miami, and Quirk Gallery.
They are the recipient of the 2016 Pollak Prize in Applied Arts. The newly elected Vice Chair of the Iridian Gallery at Diversity Richmond steering Committee, Michael has been an active member since its inception. They curated the exhibition, "Manufactured Faces, Performative Spaces" in 2015 and emceed the successful 2016 Bling it Out silent auction.
Petie Bogen-Garrett joined our board in June 2021. Petie was the founder of the GCCR Gallery, the predecessor of Diversity Richmond’s Iridian Gallery, and is a current member of the Iridian Gallery Committee.
A native of Brooklyn, Petie was immersed in the rich cultural experience of New York in the 1970s while a student at NYU Film & Television. Deeply engaged in the arts, music and the counterculture of the period, she actively engaged as a peace activist, eventually moving to Virginia as a back-to-the-lander, communal farmer and food coop board member, and helping to establish the Roanoke Coop as the economic powerhouse and community resource that it has grown into today. Returning to school at Roanoke College in 1982, she pursued a career in Graphic Design, working with ad agencies, small businesses and major corporations and teaching design at Virginia Western Community College.
Moving to Richmond to work for the Virginia Lottery in the late 1980s, she served on the Board of the Fare Share Food Coop was a founding member of the first incarnation of the Virginia Green Party with well-known activist Brandon Smith. Petie also became an advocate for the special needs of her son Eric in this period, and continues helping him navigate the perils of being differently-abled. Through most of the 1990s, Petie worked at the Library of Virginia as a Photo Archivist and Exhibition Designer with a focus on Virginia history. She earned her BA in Studio Art from Mary Baldwin University in 1996. She finished out the decade as Gallery Coordinator for the Andrews Gallery at the College of William & Mary and taught Graphic Design at John Tyler Community College until 2002. She was featured on the cover of Style Weekly in May of 2003. Then as an independent curator, Petie went on to work with many of the region’s best galleries and artists, before retiring in 2010. She continued her work as a live performance photographer and is well known in the Folk Music community. An avid art connoisseur, today Ms. Bogen-Garrett is an advisor to private collections, an artist’s coach and gallery consultant.
Joe Cox joined our board in June 2021. Before joining the board, Joe served as a volunteer with Diversity working closely with the Iridian Gallery committee and providing needed help to install shows. He also helps to coordinate our work with CapitalOne, which has been a major corporate contributor of Virginia Pride for more than 10 years
Joe has seventeen years business experience with strong focus on project, relationship, and product management. We are thrilled to have his expertise added to our board!
Ariane McKeller Crosby
Ariane McKeller Crosby is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community and is a board member of U.G.R.C. where she has assisted in curating Black Pride RVA weekend for the past two years. She is thefounder of Green Vibes RVA, a modern planetary cultivating good vibes to lift our community’s collective wellbeing through the joy of houseplants. Her leadership position at Capital One in Small Business Banking has given her the opportunity to mentor and guide the developmental growth of her team. Mentoring and leadership development are practices close to Ariane’s heart as she credits her success to those who mentored her along the way. She’s listed in OutRVA, Richmond Times Dispatch and VPM news. Ariane received a forensic science degree with a minor in biology and chemistry from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Romilda P. Smith
Romilda joined our board in June 2021 and has been a long-time volunteer with Diversity, having worked on many special events with the special events committee. “I have lived in Virginia off and on since 1980 after growing up in Boston. It’s been exciting seeing the cultural growth in Central Virginia over the years. Most of my career here has been with the State of Virginia, most recently the Department of Juvenile Justice where I believe my love of helping and educating was nurtured. In 2005 I got my real estate license and continued to “help and educating” volunteering with various housing organizations in the city. I always thought giving back had to be overt. However, looking back I have been “giving back” my whole life.” She is an Associate Broker with Keller Williams Realty.
Michael Young is a Vice President at SunTrust Banks, Inc. Prior to transitioning to the Commercial group at SunTrust, Michael worked in the Business Banking Group as a Relationship Manager. He has served the Central Virginia market since joining the Business Banking Division in April of 2003.
Michael joined SunTrust in January 1993. Prior to that, he worked for Virginia Federal Savings Bank in Charlottesville and Richmond. During his time at Virginia Federal, he worked as a Market Manager responsible for the branch network.
Michael is active with the Scott's Addition Boulevard Association, as well as various other charitable organizations in the community.