Join us this Sunday, February 27th at 4pm as we close out Black History Month with our virtual panel discussion, The Black in the Rainbow, Past, Present & Future. Hear from members of the Black LGBTQ+ community as they discuss Black LGBTQ History, their community service organizations, and their vision for Memphis, TN.
Meet The Panelists
Nancy Brownlee (She/Her)
Owner & Founder, Prideworks Agency LLC
Nancy Brownlee is the owner and founder of Prideworks Agency LLC. Prideworks Agency is a consulting and recruiting firm for LGBT members in Memphis, TN. Nancy also serves as an advisory board member for EndHIV901.
Neal Holmes (He/Him)
Deputy Director, OUTMemphis
Neal Holmes, LPC, NCC works with individuals and organizations from a relational and cultural therapeutic foundation to empower his clients and community. Neal has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Jackson State University, a Master of Arts in English from Jackson State University, and a Master of Science in Professional Counseling from Carlow University in Pittsburgh, PA. He also has certifications in biomedical science, drug and alcohol counseling and online instructional design from Carlow University. Neal is a Certified Licensed Professional and National Board-Certified Counselor with four years of experience as a mental health consultant, private practice therapist, and an adjunct college professor. Neal helps clients to cope with men’s issues, life transitions, chronic illnesses, conflict resolution, processing trauma, and helping parents enhance their bond with their child. Neal works with clients and organizations to help them understand how sexual orientation, race, and gender identity issues impact their personal and organizational goals. His passion lies in working with clients to improve their quality of life and their relationships with others. Neal is currently the Deputy Director for OUTMemphis, and he enjoys creating and fostering community collaborations and partnerships. Neal is often featured as a guest speaker on NPR and 90.5 WESA radio in Pittsburgh, PA discussing mental health stigma and normalizing therapy for individuals and families who might not seek therapy as a part of their self-care. Neal believes in incorporating play and laughter into his life with his husband, six godchildren, and their Caviler King Charles Spaniel named Bingo. Neal enjoys cooking, working out, meditating, reading, and traveling.
Phillis Lewis (She/Her)
CEO, Love Doesn't Hurt
Phillis Lewis was born in Chicago but raised in Memphis and a graduate of the University of Memphis with a B.A. in Criminal Justice & Criminology. Phillis comes with years of experience not only working with the LGBTQ+ Community but has many years of experience in case management, grant monitoring, trauma-informed care, housing monitoring, and facilitation. Beginning her career at the Shelby County District Attorney’s Office where she worked there for almost 9 years. She is the current President of the Memphis/Shelby Domestic & Sexual Violence Council, Committee Member for the Inclusivity Committee for Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, and LGBTQ Representative/Vice-Chair for the Governing Council for the Memphis/Shelby County Homeless Consortium. Phillis is the former Vice-President of Mid-South Pride which provides a yearly festival for the LGBTQ+ Community that is diverse, inclusive, and community-friendly to over 25,000 attendees. As the CEO of Love Doesn’t Hurt, Phillis Lewis works to help provide emergency services to victims of crime in the LGBTQ+ community, addressing barriers this population faces while seeking social services, and helping to educate providers and the community to practice cultural humility.
Cassy Morris (She/Her)
Founder, LGBTQ Dignity Project. Cofounder, A Queer Understanding
Cassy Morris was born and raised in Jamaica. At the age of 15 she came out to her family about being a lesbian. In response, they sent her to the pastor so they could pray away what was making her gay. Being in a society where being a member of the LGBTQ+ community was unacceptable, she started to realize that change was needed. She was a regular volunteer at Jamaica Aids Support which was the only organization on the island at the time that focused on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community. In her early twenties, she migrated to the United States where she earned her Undergraduate Degree in Construction Management while being an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.
Cassy worked on the 2012 Obama campaign as a member of the LGBTQ+ outreach team in Houston, Texas. Here she helped to get members of the LGBTQ+ community registered to vote and get involved in the election process. Cassy is the founder of the LGBTQ Dignity Project, & in 2020 she organized the first county-wide PRIDE event in Prince George’s County, MD.
Cassy is a member of several affinity groups which focus on Diversity and Inclusion, she is the community co-chair for the OUT Network for Comcast Beltway Region and has helped to organize several community partnership events. Cassy works with several organizations in the DMV area that focus on issues affecting the LGBTQ+ community, such Casa Ruby & LC Ministries. Notably, Cassy is a member of Prince George’s County’s first State’s Attorney LGBTQ+ Task Force. Cassy also works closely with the homeless LGBTQ+ community and will continue the fight until all are treated fairly.
In 2021, Cassy was honored to be the first non-Latina woman to receive the Women on Move award from the Latinx History Project, which recognizes and celebrates LGBTQ+ Latina & BIPOC activists who have made significant contributions to empower & increase the visibility of the LGBTQIA+ communities in the metro DC area.
Cassy lives by the philosophy that “The brave might not live forever, but the cautious don’t live at all,” (Ambrose Redmoon).
Kyra St. James Cassadine (She/Her)
Kyra St. James Cassadine is a member of the well-established Cassadine family, a nationwide network of Black LGBTQ+ individuals. Kyra is the founder of T-Aware, a newly formed organization under the Relationship Unleashed umbrella. T-Aware was created to serve the interests of Black Trans individuals, advocating for equality, safety, and an excellent quality of life.
Erin Swinney (She/Her)
MidSouth LGBTQ Chamber of Commerce
Erin Swinney is a proud Memphis native. She’s professionally touched local broadcast, service, and finance industries. She worked as a retirement savings expert for seven years, specializing in corporate and international accounts. Active in Memphis’ LGBTQ+ community for decades, Erin’s contributions include founding outreach programs for masculine of center lesbians, speaking at college Gay Student Alliances, serving as a trustee of affirming churches, and building a network of LGBTQ+ resource groups for advocacy in the corporate sector. She serves as a founding board member of the MidSouth LGBT Chamber of Commerce, the OUTMemphis Board of Directors, Local Chair of the Raymond James Pride ERG, and the board of TROO Alternatives Community Development Corporation.
Jasmine Tasaki (She/Her)
Founder and Executive Director, WeCareTN
Jasmine Tasaki is a staunch advocate and community organizer for transgender women and issues affecting trans rights, health, and housing. Through her work, intersectionality has become very important to her. Jasmine has worked as a PrEP navigator, an HIV counselor, Sexual Health Educator, and Cultural Competency Facilitator for the Memphis Police Department. She was also the first leader of trans experience in the Memphis Urban League of Young Professionals (Health Literacy and Advocacy Chairperson), and an ambassador for the Black AIDS Institute. Ms. Tasaki is also the founder and executive director of the first trans-led organization, WeCareTN, in Memphis. Ms. Tasaki is also the director of advocacy at Black and Pink, where she supports many areas. She is a support for the Black and Pink Chapters, The National LGBTQ/PLHIV Criminal Justice Working Group, Black and Pink Advisory council, and Inside member program. She works closely with the community to meet the needs identified by the community. She has been featured on the cover of Focus magazine, and features in different platforms for her advocacy and service provision work. She really wishes to bring even more attention to the needs of the community. Jasmine believes that “support is the foundation you stand on, values are the directions you walk by, and relationships is the garden in which you grow.”
Dr. Angelica Thompson (She/Her)
Founder, Data Works, LLC. Cofounder, A Queer Understanding
Dr. Angelica Thompson is the founder of Data Works, LLC a minority and woman-owned small business enterprise. Data Works helps community-based organizations better serve their clients by evaluating program effectiveness and making evidence-based recommendations for improvement.
Dr. Thompson has evaluated the effectiveness of community programs that aim to increase the self-sufficiency of residents in public housing, as well as youth leadership and employment programs aimed at improving the academic, behavioral, civic, and social outcomes of local youth.
In 2010, Dr. Thompson graduated from the University of Memphis with her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology and Research, concentrating in Educational Psychology.
For over a decade, Dr. Thompson served as a Research Advisor for her local school district, designing research projects & evaluating the effectiveness of academic and behavioral interventions. Notably, Dr. Thompson conducted a study exploring racial and gender disparities in disciplinary practices, identifying the school-level variables the district needs to address to improve equitable outcomes.
Most recently, Dr. Thompson has been working with the LGBTQ Dignity Project to identify and address inequities among queer youth in school, including bullying, harassment, & violence; sense of belongingness; & lack of access to understanding & supportive adults.
Dr. Thompson is also one of the founder of a queer understanding.
Today, I talked to Dr. Thompson about her work being a parent and coming out later in life. Welcome to the show Dr. Thompson. How are you doing today?
Rebecca Oxley (She/They)
Librarian, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System
Rebecca Oxley (she/they) is a queer femme librarian at Prince George’s County Memorial Library System in Maryland. She grew up in working-class poverty in a single-parent home on Long Island, coming out when they were 12 years old. She has always been enamored with comics and sequential art, and hitchhiked around half the country in her teens. A punk and an ex-raver, they received their BA from SUNY Albany in 2002 and worked in food and retail sales before going to library school. While at University of Maryland’s iSchool she worked as a graduate researcher with the Information Policy and Access Center, publishing several articles in peer-reviewed journals and founding the iDiversity student group before earning her MLS in 2012. They worked for Prince George’s County Public Schools as a School Librarian and Technology teacher for grades K-8, and was a library leader for cultural competency, STEAM, and intellectual access. She continues to serve on the Black Eyed Susan Book Award committees for Graphic Novels which she helped co-found. Now a library supervisor, they are a fierce advocate for the intersectional LGBTQ+ community and love working with teens. She serves on the executive board of the LGBTQ Dignity Project and received the Karen Holmes Flame Award for Trans Advocate of the Year in 2021. She remains passionately obsessed with librarianship, graphic literature, drag, social justice and anime. Their social media moniker is “The Driven Librarian,” and they live with their husband Akwasi Cato and cat Lazarus in Greenbelt, MD.