Adult Supporters

Bobby Bangert

BobbyHeadshotRYA Coordinator

Bobby Bangert is a licensed social worker in Washington, DC, and joined Rainbow Youth Alliance as Coordinator in December 2015. Originally from the Baltimore area, Bobby earned his Master's of Social Work from The Catholic University of America in 2015, and also holds bachelor's degrees in English and drama from Washington College, class of 2008. His professional interests include working with young people, the LGBT community, and people living with HIV, with a particular emphasis on health, wellness, and social justice for these populations. In his free time, Bobby enjoys theatre, travel, and meeting new people. He brings his years of experience in nonprofit and government agencies focusing on health and supporting the LGBT community to his work with RYA.

Stephanie Kreps

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RYA Co-founder

Born in Minneapolis over 60 years ago, as the second in a family of four daughters, Stephanie Kreps graduated with a BA in Film Studies from the University of Southern California followed by an MLS in Library and Information Science from Indiana University. She met Gary Kreps in San Francisco 43 years ago. They married the next year, and they stayed that way. They have lived in several areas of the US, following Gary's academic career. Since about 1993, Stephanie has found that Unitarian Universalist congregations have been her community wherever they have lived. Stephanie and Gary are parents to a daughter, Becky, and a son, David. The family has lived in Montgomery County, Maryland going on 15 years. Stephanie does part-time work for a website serving meeting planners, ConventionPlanit.com.  She is pleased to be very involved in Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Rockville activities as a Lay Minister, sitting on committees, and singing in two choirs, besides running RYA.  Stephanie was happy to have contributed in a small way to accomplishing marriage equality in the state of Maryland and hopes to continue working toward LGBTQ equality.

Cynthia Thurston

Cynthia Thurston-Shires

RYA Co-founder, Co-facilitator

RYA teens once told Cynthia she was " 60 going on 16", and it seems true! This young at heart facilitator likes gardening, singing, writing music and poetry, is a lay minister at her church and is proud to have been a co-founder of RYA. Professionally, she is a social worker, with many years of experience working with families, adolescents, couples, individuals, and geriatric clients. She and her partner of 18 years were married at UUCR in 2013, shortly after marriage equality became legal in Maryland.

Timothy Elliott

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Timothy is a licensed clinical social worker based out of the Washington, DC area. He joined the Rainbow Youth Alliance team as Coordinator in April 2012. As a Social Worker, Timothy strives to encourage and develop safe, affirming spaces for all LGBTQ youth and their allies. He obtained his bachelor's degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and his Master’s of Social Work degree from Andrews University in Michigan. In addition to coordinating and facilitating all programming for RYA, Timothy provides individual and group therapy specializing in the areas of crisis management, depression, anxiety, trauma, sexuality/sexual identity, substance use, foster care, and youth issues. His experience working within schools, outpatient mental health facilities, and government agencies has provided him with a vast knowledge and respect for how multiple systems work together. He has spoken at national conferences on various topics within mental health. In his free time, Timothy enjoys running and juggling. Most of all he enjoys getting to know people and hearing their stories.

 

Yvette Scorse

ive1Social Media Manager

Yvette's story is pure adventure. Starting out as a student journalist in Arkansas, she became a grammar geek, in both English and Spanish. Feeling a strong pull toward Spain after studying abroad and earning her bachelors in journalism and Spanish, she moved to Madrid in 2007. During five years there, she taught English to kids, joined a queer expat community and enjoyed the Spanish life. After moving to Maryland in 2012, Yvette looked for a way to work with LGBTQ youth and found RYA. Since then, she has volunteered as the social media manager for RYA. She was a program assistant for the Safe Spaces Project, where she managed social media and organized a network for LGBTQ youth-serving programs across the country. She continues to work in nonprofit communications and marketing in Washington, DC. 

Sara Howard

Sarah HowardCo-Facilitator
Sara began volunteering with the Rainbow Youth Alliance in 2012, after searching for a youth group with a focus on the LGBT community. She holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Mount Holyoke College. While at Mount Holyoke College, she was heavily involved with the college’s Pre-Orientation diversity and inclusion programs, facilitating discussions surrounding identity and community. Sara currently works as an events contractor, traveling the country helping nonprofits with their on-site production of large-scale fundraising events. Outside of work, Sara can be found literally running around the city, attempting to watch every documentary on Netflix and trying to start a dance party whenever appropriate.

Jeff Golden

Jeff GoldenCo-Facilitator, Graphic Designer
Jeff Golden is a digital artist specializing in illustration and animation. He works as a professor of art at a local college. Relishing his time working with students, he strives to help them realize their artistic visions. Jeff received his BFA in Kinetic Imaging from VCU in 2007 and his MFA in New Media art in 2012. He came to the RYA in 2013 and acts as a co-facilitator and graphic designer. Working with students and RYA youth, he hopes to foster a more open communication about diversity and a better understanding about acceptance and friendship.

Stephani Karriem

Stephani KarriemCo-Facilitator
Stephani is a person with big dreams and aspirations. Her life goal is to actively participate in ending poverty through education. Stephani is currently pursuing a Master of Education with the University of Maryland. After completing her degree, she plans to teach social studies to middle and high school students from low-income families. Stephani found RYA in February of 2013 as a way to get some hands on experience with adolescents prior to applying to grad school. She found the experience so rewarding that even after getting accepted into grad school, she couldn't give up volunteering. Aside from changing the world, Stephani loves to travel, dance without skill, and conduct impromptu social research.


Kaya Spicer

Co-Faciliator

Kaya Spicer is a lover of life. She places tremendous value on enjoying the moments. Seeking a way to support LGBTQ youth in the area, Kaya joined RYA in March 2013 while completing her undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of Maryland University College. After finishing her bachelor's of science, Kaya went on to obtain her master's of social work from the University of Southern California. In addition, Kaya teaches mindfulness and restorative yoga. She plans to become a sexologist and relationship therapist specializing in alternative relationships and lifestyles. She believes in the power of love as a tool for healing and that "compassion is soul food." As a lover of life, Kaya enjoys traveling around the world, meeting new people, eating great food, sharing the benefits of mindfulness and teaching folks the infinite healing power of love. 

 

Lisa Reed

LisaReedHeadshot cropGreeter & Snack Guru

Lisa found her way to RYA through her experience of raising three boys. As a parent, she saw first hand the importance of supporting youth. Out of this experience of parentign grew her commitment and belief that all youth deserve a fair shake at life with a supportive community and space for them to connect with each other. Wanting to make a difference for youth that might not have that space in their own families, she decided to volunteer with RYA as a greeter and snack guru - helping everyone find their way to the RYA meeting room and preparing and delivering our tasty treats. Lisa has found that RYA's mission of providing a safe, nurturing environment where youth are respected, listed to, and given information and skills aligns nicely with her own values and beliefs. Lisa grew up in the deep south (Atlanta, GA), spent several years in Boston, and finally settled in Maryland over 25 years ago. In her free time, she enoys creating things with fabric through fabric dying, sewing, and quilting. She also loves music and is a member of two choirs within her local congregation and attends annual blues and swing workshops.

 

 

James Taylor

logoCo-Faciliator
Coming Soon

 

Ginny Shires-Thurston

logoGreeter
Coming Soon