Board of Directors

Butch Thompson

President, Board of Directors; Director, Community Funding Programs

Butch Thompson joined the Blue Ridge Pride Board of Directors in January 2019. Butch lives in West Asheville where he settled 4 years ago. He currently serves as Executive Director for Asheville Gay Men’s Chorus. He is the founder of butchOUT, a local non-profit organization.

Butch spent most of his career in Atlanta, Georgia working for numerous HIV/AIDS organizations including AIDS Survival Project, AIDS Alliance for Faith and Health and Emory University. Starting as a fundraiser Butch soon realized his passion for program development. He built a Peer Counseling program which became utilized in many organizations in Atlanta. He helped found beautyAID, an Atlanta fundraiser for AIDS organizations. After 26 years Butch retired to Ft. Lauderdale where he volunteered for Poverello, an HIV/AIDS food pantry and initiated the formation of the Live Well Center.

As a native of SW Virginia Butch longed for the mountains and choose Asheville as a place to build a new life in retirement. Excited and knowledgeable Butch shares his skills with Blue Ridge Pride in hopes of expanding on the great success of Blue Ridge Pride and the community served. His favorite quote is “I cannot do all the work the world needs. But the world needs all the work I can do.” -Jana Stanfield

Danielle LeMaster

Vice President, Board of Directors

Danielle moved to Asheville in October 2015, to continue her career in Catering Sales and to fulfill her lifelong dream of living in Western North Carolina.  As a California native, Danielle longed to find a community that embraced individuality and compassion for others. Asheville has not only exceeded her greatest expectations but it's also where she met the love of her life, Kasey. Being an alumna of the University North Carolina School of the Arts, she knew Asheville would someday be the place that she calls home. When asked to join Blue Ridge Pride Board, she knew this was her opportunity to give back to a community that's embraced and loved her ever since she arrived. This will be the first board Danielle has served on. She is honored to support and serve the LGBTQ+ community in all ways possible.

Steven Franklin

Treasurer

Steven is from Waynesville, NC, and works with a local accounting firm. He graduated with Bachelor of Science degrees in Accounting and Business Administration from North Carolina Wesleyan College and a Master of Science degree in Accounting from East Carolina University. He is currently a candidate for CPA licensing, having completed three of the four examinations thus far. In his free time he loves taking hikes with his boyfriend Jesse and their dog Ranger. He is thrilled to be a member of the board and to provide his professional expertise to assist Blue Ridge Pride. It is an honor to serve the western NC LGTBQ+ community and to give back.

Bennett Lincoff

Board Member, At-Large (Former President)

As a Board member of Blue Ridge Pride, and as President for 2019, I look forward to working with Tina White, our outstanding Executive Director, and with the many volunteers who work with Tina, to expand the Blue Ridge Pride mission beyond the annual Pride Festival, to include new and inclusive programs to better serve the LGBTQ+ community of Western North Carolina.

I moved to Asheville with my husband, Konrad, in August 2016, after living in New York City for 37 years. I spent most of my career as a copyright lawyer in the music industry. Prior to that, I worked at the New York Legal Aid Society. And prior to that, I spent two years working in rural California as a volunteer with the United Farm Workers Union. Cesar Chavez was an early and strong influence on me. Cesar encouraged me to go to law school.

One compelling factor for me about living in Asheville is the many opportunities to participate in the betterment of my adopted community.

In addition to my involvement with Blue Ridge Pride, I also serve as a member of the Board of Directors of  WNCAP (the Western North Carolina AIDS Project).

I have also become certified as a Community Advisory Committee Volunteer for the NC Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program for Buncombe County. In that capacity, I inspect assisted living facilities, acting primarily as a residents’ rights advocate. I am President of the Advisory Committee for 2019.

My husband and I came to Asheville with great expectations. So far, our experience has exceeded our wildest imaginings. By every measure important to us, the quality of our lives has improved since moving to Asheville.

Elio Gonzalez

Member, Board of Directors

Elio J. Gonzalez, Owner of Gonzalez Diaz Enterprise, came to the US as a Cuban Refugee in 1968 and made North Carolina his home. He acquired a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Spanish and Latin American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1978. Elio’s passion to be involved in the community led him to create Gonzalez Diaz Enterprise; and through this business, Elio has been able to be a community advocate and assist people in need. Elio has been involved with helping the community in many varied aspects including the following events/collaborations/interpretations: Carnaval Carolina, Latin American Festival, Fiesta Latina Asheville (2012-2016), Several LAWA collaborations, worked with Blumenthal Performing Arts Center, and mostly his inspiration of MGLA was turned into a reality. Elio J. Gonzalez is the founder of MGLA Miss Gay Latina Asheville. The pageant was created to show the beauty and richness of the World’s culture through the illusion of female impersonation. The pageant started in 2008 with great support from the community and sponsors, this year we will celebrate its 12th year anniversary. On July 6, 2019 Gonzalez Diaz Enterprise is launching a new endeavor Mister Gay Latino Asheville. Elio is currently the Patient Assistance Specialist Director at the Western North Carolina Community Health Center (WNCCHS).

Iosvany Gispert

Member, Board of Directors

Iosvany Gispert moved to Asheville, NC when he was 23 years of age, and since then, he has been fighting for equitable access to medical care for minorities living in rural areas. He currently works as the Associate Executive Director for WNCAP, a local non-profit that is dedicated to preventing new cases of HIV/AIDS and promotes self-sufficiency in people living with HIV. He believes that every person should have the right to quality healthcare services.

"As a member of the LGBT+ community, I believe we should always find common ground and be united", says Iosvany.

Michael Hoeben

Member, Board of Directors

Miami-born Michael Hoeben is a transman with a passion for minority rights and public policy advocacy.  He is also a husband and a father, which has and continues to bring him a profound sense joy and purpose.  As a Boston University graduate, he carved out a career as a freelance writer and researcher, working closely with an international community of scholars and leaders across a wide array of disciplines, cultures, and contexts.  However, his current aim is to focus his efforts on fueling progress for LGBTQ equality and equity at home by serving his local community.  Most recently, Michael had the privilege to join Western North Carolina Community Health Services (WNCCHS) as the Trans/HIV Bridge & Retention Coordinator, where he helps in providing individualized patient-centered care, as well as conducting trans- and HIV-centered outreach, training, and collaborations in the community.  He is committed to social justice, believing that a human rights-focus is critical to correcting the systemic wrongs that continue to impede meaningful representation and inclusion for all people.  Michael is sincerely grateful for the opportunity to join the Blue Ridge Pride Center (BRPC) team, as this organization plays a key role in continuing to pave the way forward.

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