Pride Center Leadership Development Council

The Leadership Development Council

The Leadership Development Council is a diverse group of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Allied professionals dedicated to the preservation and future growth of the Pride Center of the Capital Region. The council’s mission is to develop and empower young LGBTQ and allied professionals and develop a new generation of leaders within the community.

The Pride Center is currently accepting applications for the 2016-2017 Leadership Development Council.

Read the Leadership Development Council Charter

Read the Leadership Development Council By-Laws

To apply, click here and submit your professional resume to Luke Lavera at

Application Deadline: July 29, 2016


The inaugural 2015-2016 class Leadership Development Council:

Nikki Alcala, RN, PHN, Health & Wellness Program Coordinator, Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless

Nikki Alcala, RN, PHN is an experienced nurse who is passionate about health education and advocacy. As the Health and Wellness Program Coordinator for a local homeless shelter, Nikki enjoys interacting with the guests and making a difference in their lives.

Nikki earned her Associate of Applied Science in Nursing from Hudson Valley Community College. Nikki was awarded a Public Health Nursing specialty by the University of Albany, School of Public Health and currently completing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Capella University. In the Fall Nikki will start the Master of Science, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program at the Sage College in Troy.

Education and teaching are the main focus of Nikki’s nursing practice. She teaches in the local community on topics such as Queer Sex 101 and Coming Out to Your Doctor. Most recently, Nikki was a featured workshop presenter at the 2015 Northeast Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Conference which was held at the University at Albany in Albany, NY. Nikki is also proud to be a nurse volunteer for the Pride Center of the Capital Region’s Youth in Power: Summer Leadership Camp.

Nikki resides in Troy, NY with her partner Reilly and a rambunctious Boston Terrier named Cooper. She enjoys running, listening to vinyl, arts & crafts and the Troy farmer’s market in her free time.

Kyle Brownell, Financial Services Professional, MassMutual Financial Group

Kyle J. Brownell grew up in Saratoga Springs, New York.  He currently works as a Financial Service Professional for Mass Mutual Financial Group. In this role, Kyle works with individuals providing them important financial information and resources. He is committed to his clients and ensures each one has the information and support they need to make their financial future as prosperous as it can be.

Kyle graduated from Siena College with a Bachelor of Science in Finance. While in school, he focused on company evaluation, which he furthermore published his thesis and awarded best finance paper at the Siena College Student Conference in Business 2013. After graduating, Kyle moved to Chicago and worked as a proprietary equity trader at Tower Hill Trading doing stock analysis and exercising trades. After doing that for a year, he relocated back to the Capital Region to work with Mass Mutual.

Outside of his professional realm, Kyle likes to be social and stay active. He enjoys playing soccer or playing a game of tennis. Kyle enjoys running, and hiking up in the Lake George region.

Jen Castellani, Ph.D., Director of Development, School of Social Welfare, University at Albany

jennifer castellani website photo

Jen Castellani has worked in higher education for the past 10 years, most of that time in development. After earning a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree, she was employed by her undergraduate alma mater’s annual fund for almost 5 years, advancing to Associate Director of Annual Giving. She then served as the Associate Director of the Skidmore Fund at Skidmore College from October 2011-March 2016 before moving onto to become the Director of Development for the University at Albany’s School of Social Welfare. She has extensive experience in direct mail appeals, e-philanthropy, donor challenges, crowdfunding, volunteer and personnel management, leadership-level solicitations, phonathons, and giving clubs.

Jen recently graduated from the University of Dayton’s doctoral program in Educational Leadership/Higher Education Administration. Her research focused on gender discrimination in religious colleges.

In her spare time, Jen enjoys playing the djembe with the Million Women Drummer’s Albany Branch, spending time with friends, and advocating for social justice causes. She is also the mother of the world’s cutest mini-dachshund, Maddox.

David Connors, Financial Advisor, RBC Wealth Management

Connors photo

Dave Connors has been working in the financial services industry since 1999. He provides wealth management solutions for individuals in three important phases of their life: pre-retirement, post-retirement and leaving a legacy for their heirs.

Before working as a Financial Advisor, Dave served for eight years in the U.S. Navy. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from The University of Central Florida and has his Series 6, 7, 63 and 65 registrations. He currently works as a Financial Advisor for RBC Wealth Management.

He lives with his wife and three young sons in Bethlehem, NY. Outside of work, he enjoys spending time with my family partaking in a variety of activities that include fishing, hiking, and baseball. Additionally, he likes to keep active by training in the martial arts. He spends as much time as he can helping various local veterans organizations not only by donating time and capital, but also helping to maximize their philanthropic endeavors.

Joe Curran, Senior Application Specialist, Albany Medical College

Joe Curran

Joe Curran is honored to be a part of the inaugural class of the Pride Center’s Leadership Development Council.

An Albany native and graduate of The College of Saint Rose (go Knights!); Joe is currently a Senior Application Specialist at Albany Medical Center serving as the lead clinical reporting analyst for its Faculty Practice.

His previous work includes positions with The Golub Corporation and NYS Office of Information Technology Services.  When he isn’t busy saving the world with code, Joe enjoys running, jumping rope, drinking unsafe amounts of coffee, humor, and the oxford comma.

Lauren Ford, Education Specialist, Professional Development Program, Rockefeller College


Lauren Ford is an Education Specialist with the Professional Development Program at Rockefeller College.  She delivers policy and program training’s throughout the state on behalf of the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.  Previously, Lauren served as the LGBTQ Health Specialist for the Pride Center of the Capital Region; the Nation’s oldest continuously operating community center for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer individuals and families.  She has been committed to promoting the health and wellbeing of marginalized people throughout her career.

As a Licensed Master Social Worker, Lauren has gained a variety of experience in the human service field from providing psychotherapy, to coordinating vital services for low-income people, to political advocacy, and training for future social workers.

Lauren earned her Bachelor of Art and Master of Social Work degrees from the University at Albany, State University of New York (UAlbany). Her studies were concentrated around issues of LGBTQ mental and physical health.  While a student at UAlbany, Lauren also worked as a Resident Assistant (RA), served as president of the Pride Alliance club, and as a member of the LGBTQ advisory committee.