Who

We Are

Our

Staff

Meet the dedicated staff and interns who work hard to make sure that the Pride Center operates as an inclusive safe space for necessary resources.

Executive Director

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Robert Salcido, Jr.

He/Him

has extensive experience working with issues of equity, diversity and inclusion, LGBTQ+ education, and matters of discrimination, making him a sought after consultant, speaker, and facilitator. He’s committed to civic engagement and social justice for underrepresented and historically excluded communities. Robert has been active with The Center since 2011, as a volunteer as well as the Board Chair from 2015 until 2022. He has served in his current role as the Executive Director at Pride Center San Antonio since 2015.

He is a co-director of the community based project, Strengthening Colors of Pride that resulted from his past fellowship with the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program at the University of Minnesota. The project aims to build a culture of health through community connectedness and data driven initiatives. Salcido has also held past fellowships with Freedom For All Americans and the Victory Institute Foundation.

 

Salcido serves on the board of directors for Planned Parenthood San Antonio and Planned Parenthood South Texas Surgical Centers and is an active member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committees for the Interdisciplinary Research Leaders program at the University of Minnesota and the Boys & Girls Club of San Antonio. He is a founding member and past president of Orgullo de San Antonio LGBTQ League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Council 22198. Under his leadership the council achieved District, State, and National Council of the Year in 2016. 

 

Robert was named Most Influential by Out In SA Magazine and 20 Most Captivating by the San Antonio Current in 2015. He was awarded the Alamo Area Region and the Texas State Public Citizen of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers of Texas in 2016, honored for his leadership by the National Diversity Council in 2018 and named ‘Best Community Activist’ by the San Antonio Current in 2019. Salcido is a 2020 inductee into ‘The Honor 41 List’, honoring Latino/a role models across the globe. Most recently, he was listed as one of 20 Influential Latinos in San Antonio by KSAT TV for 2021 National Latino Heritage Month. 

 

Salcido was raised in Amarillo, San Antonio has been his home since 2001. Robert and his husband, Mike, enjoy traveling and playing co-ed softball. They have one fur-baby, a PitBull/Catahoula mix named Cyxx. 

Group Therapy Facilitator & Contract Therapist

Nelson Hernández, LMFT-Associate

Nelson

He/They

Nelson is a bilingual therapist and queer immigrant/first gen. settler. He facilitates group therapy sessions at the Pride Center. 
 

Therapy creates a space for resolving issues, managing conflict, and also finding a greater understanding of your personal and relational goals and values. As you build towards solutions in the session, the work will be collaborative and tuned in to the stories you bring. Nelson’s approach to therapy centers on systems, including family (chosen, blood, etc.), cultural histories, and community. Nelson incorporates their own lived experience and healing journey into the therapy process. They also draw from strength-based therapies, such as brief, strategic, narrative, and solution-focused, as well as EMDR and Common Sense Parenting. Nelson understands that those who come to therapy are the experts of their own lives; he seeks change and resolution within the gifts and abilities that are already present.

Contract Therapist

Rebekah Torres, LMFT-A

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She/Her

Rebekah Torres is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist – Associate under supervision of Amy Birchill Lavergne, M.Ed, LMFT-S, LPC-S. 

Rebekah values the connection that individuals have with those closest to them and aims to enhance these relationships by using a solution-focused narrative approach. She also enjoys helping individuals, couples, and families rewrite their narratives, understand how the past influences the present, and learn how to navigate through various challenges of life. Rebekah enjoys working with individuals, families, and couples in helping them gain various skills that can guide them through the challenges that they face. When she isn’t working, Rebekah enjoys camping with her family and traveling to new places.

Special Interests / Experience:

  • LGBTQIA+ Affirming
  • Individual, Family, Couples Therapy
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Emotion Recognition/Regulation
  • Self-Esteem
  • Monogamous/Polyamorous Relationships

Student Counseling Intern

Sabrina Garcia, B.S., MA-MFT Student Intern

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Sabrina is finalizing her Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, with an added specialization in LGBTQIA++ Couple and Family Therapy, at Northcentral University. She is currently a member of the AAMFT, APA, APT, and TAMFT. She is supervised by Dr. Laurie Hightower, PHD, LMFT-S, LPC-S, NCC, Registered Play Therapist-S, & AAMFT Approved Supervisor.

Sabrina received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Incarnate Word here in San Antonio, Texas, where she concentrated on the scientific and theoretical foundations in the field of psychology. She attributes her training in advanced critical thinking, research, and writing to U.I.W.


Sabrina believes that mental health is a crucial and a vital part of our lives, which tends to be minimized and stigmatized by society. She believes that therapy is a collaborative effort between the client and the therapist, and her therapeutic approach allows her to personalize each client’s treatment plan according to their immediate needs throughout their journey. She is best known to use postmodern models such as Solution Focused Therapy, Narrative Therapy, and Collaborative Therapy, and may incorporate other techniques and/or models such as Solution Focused Affirmative Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, to name a few. She is a firm believer that the client’s journey is their own, each story is unique, and the client themselves hold the key for change. It is Sabrina’s hope to meet her clients where they are, support them in collaboration, set future focused goals, and walk alongside them as they achieve those goals and find solutions.

Development Intern

Antonia Taylor

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Antonia Taylor is a graduate student from El Paso, Texas. She has an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at El Paso in Public Relations and Creative Writing. 

With a passion for public service, Antonia decided to pursue a master’s degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio in public administration. In the future, she hopes to continue her work in the community through organizing and non-profit entities, emphasizing environmental justice and social equity. 

Outside of her education, Antonia is a part of numerous community organizations in San Antonio and continues her passion for our city. Antonia’s hobbies include an occasional hike, shopping, writing poetry, and reading fantasy books. Her excitement lies in learning more about San Antonio’s history, culture, and communities.

Operatins & Volunteer Management Intern

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Makaila Pipkins (she/her) is finalizing her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in African American Studies at the University of Texas at San Antonio. Makaila is a huge advocate for a growth mindset or believing it’s possible to increase intelligence levels, talents, and abilities through small changes. I feel that if students believe that they can succeed, by making simple changes to their daily routine, then that sets them up for future success.

After completing her Bachelor’s degree, Makaila plans to attend law school and eventually run her own legal practice and fight for the rights of the many minority communities. Her ultimate professional goal is to start her own practice with a tremendous track record of achieving successful results in difficult cases and even doing pro-bono work for those who can’t afford or have difficulties finding lawyers. After she’s gained experience and built connections, she sees herself as a Supreme Court Justice. Makaila’s passion to thrive and succeed in her area of interest increases her excitement and determination to do the work, not only for herself but for the community as well. Her particular interest is in protecting our constitutional rights and ensuring justice is being served on the behalf of her clients. Racial disparities in our criminal justice system are a legacy of our history. The United States has a long history of vilifying minorities and having a presumption of guilt based on the color of someone’s skin or their sexual orientation, which is why she feels that it is her duty to use her knowledge and access to help others who feel like they don’t have a voice or the space to advocate for themselves. 

 

Fun Fact: She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated

Director of Case Management (Pro bono)

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Rev. Naomi Brown, LCSW

She/They

is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience in Social Services. Naomi started her education at City College in New York, later completing her Master’s degree at Our Lady of the Lake University in Social Work Clinical and a minor in Administration. Currently working as a Hospice Social Worker, Naomi worked in Homeless services for 7 years.

She is also a poet and educator on motivational interviewing, trauma informed care, recovery orientation and LGBTQIA Safe Zone Training. Naomi works as a Trauma Therapist; her clinical hours are spent seeing many gender queer individuals who live with PTSD and other traumatic experiences. Naomi is a Certified SAGE Educator (Senior Aging in a Gay Environment) a National Training Program based in New York.

In addition, she serves on the Board of National Association Social Workers Texas for Region 8 Alamo Area representing over 600 Social Workers in 12 counties and three schools of Social Work. Naomi is a Field Instructor with University of Texas San Antonio, Army FSU, Our Lady of the Lake University, and Texas State University.

She values mentoring and challenging the next generation of Social Workers. Naomi worked as an Adjunct Professor at Our Lady of the Lake University. For the past 12 years she has been a Safe Zone trainer, speaker, and teaches LGBT sensitivity at Universities, Colleges, Corporations and most notably the San Antonio Police Department. Naomi is a Licensed and Ordained Minister and currently Clergy in Residence/Outreach Minister at Metropolitan Community Church. Naomi is a founding member and has been working with the Pride Center since 2009.

Community Health Manager

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Lex Loro

They/She

is a queer justice activist, community health educator, and mental health professional whose work focuses primarily on improving access to mental health care for LGBTQ+ individuals. 

Lex has almost ten years of experience working in sexual health education and advocacy, curriculum development, and training facilitation aimed at supporting queer and disabled youth. She is a Co-Founder of Not Your Average Sex Talk (NYAST), a peer-to-peer health advocacy network that uses a harm reduction, trauma-informed framework to discuss sex and intimacy in ways that are often neglected in traditional sex education settings. She has presented NYAST programming on college campuses and at national and local conferences across the country, with the goal of creating dialogue and resources that are sex-positive, intersectional, and catered towards marginalized people while addressing the ways that homo/bi/transphobia, ableism, and racism intertwine with attraction and intimacy. 

Lex spent a year as a Public Policy and Government Affairs Fellow at the National LGBTQ Task Force where they worked to disseminate the findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey. As a graduate student, Lex interned at the Alamo Area Rape Crisis Center and the Community Counseling Services, providing trauma-informed therapy services to couples, families, children, and teens with a specialization in LGBTQ+ affirming care. They have spent the last three years serving the Pride Center as a Community Empowerment Coordinator before moving into the role of Community Health Manager.

Lex received their BA from American University in Washington D.C., with a degree in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Journalism and their MS in Psychology- Marriage and Family Therapy from Our Lady of the Lake University. She enjoys cheering on the Spurs, searching for the best coffee in town, and uplifting the voices of her queer and trans sisters, brothers, and siblings.

Community Impact Coordinator

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Erica Alcocer

They/Them

is a queer non-binary femme living in San Antonio. Their focuses are in radical social change and self-awareness, empowering LGBTQIA+ youth, sex & gender education, inclusive language, creating community centered in liberation for colonized folk, and navigating spaces with intersectionality + inclusion in mind.

Erica currently studies at UTSA with a double major in Spanish + Mexican American Studies and a minor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Erica is a 2019 Presidential Inclusive Excellence Scholar and receiver of the Linda J. Rasmussen Memorial Annual Scholarship in Women’s Studies at UTSA. Erica is also a jewelry designer and dabbles in DJing, event production, poetry and live performance.

Development & Communications Manager

Luke Blankenship

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He/Him/His

specializes in donor relations with a background in event planning, financial strategy, magazine production, social media presence and city relations.

A Tampa Bay transplant, Luke was Executive Director of St Pete Pride, Florida’s largest Pride event with over 250,000 people attending annually. Luke excelled in the fundraising realm, increasing fundraising profits by 143%. He set records across the board for parade, festival and ancillary event attendance and participation. He served in almost every capacity of the organization, from general volunteer, parade director and development director before taking over as ED.

Luke is pursuing a Master’s in Nonprofit Leadership and Management at Arizona State and owns a Bachelor’s in Advertising from the University of South Florida’s Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communication. During his time at USF, he was awarded their LGBT scholarship for academic and advocacy achievement. He’s worked in a variety of fields including graphic arts and accounting for Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

A lifelong LGBTQ+ advocate, Luke’s served on boards and volunteered with a variety of organizations, including GLSEN Tampa Bay as a trained certified facilitator, board member of Tampa Bay’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, President of PRIDE Alliance at USF and volunteer with PFLAG Tampa Bay.

Community Health Coordinator

Bianca Puleo

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She/They

Bianca is a Texas native, originally from San Antonio. They graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and is currently a Master of Social Work candidate.

Bianca’s research focuses on understanding how minority stressors affect health. They are interested in transformative praxis to foster social change, health equity, ancestral reconnection, and restorative justice.

Bianca has been with their partner for 10 years and has an Australian Cattle dog that is the light of their lives. Bianca also loves plants, thrifting and lazy days at home.

Learn More

About Us

Board of

Directors

Chairperson

Rev. Naomi Brown, LCSW

she/they

is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 20 years of experience in Social Services. Naomi started her education at City College in New York, later completing her Master’s degree at Our Lady of the Lake University in Social Work Clinical and a minor in Administration. Currently working as a Hospice Social Worker, Naomi worked in Homeless services for 7 years.

(Full bio above)

Treasurer

Marco Treinies

he/him

is a Branch Manager at Credit Human Federal Credit Union. He received a B.S. degree in Science from Texas A&M University in Kingsville. He has lived in San Antonio for over 10 years and is a proud San Antonian. He has over 13 years of management and leadership experience in banking and has been a frequent contributor to the San Antonio community. His experience includes working with several non-profits, including the American Diabetes Association, Helping Hands for Texas and SCADA in the areas of fundraising, community involvement, training and event planning. Marco adores his family and has a passion for people in the San Antonio community and for his LGBT family.

Secretary

Belinda Trevino Cantu

She/Her

is a native to Corpus Christi Texas where her passion for helping people began before moving to San Antonio in 2016. She has been heavily involved with fundraising efforts for many non-profits to include the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation and the Children’s Advocacy Center of South Texas where she served as a Board Member and Board Secretary.

Belinda has spearheaded projects like, Kids Helping Kids, a school supply drive ran by kids for kids who came from low income families. Her most passionate project of them all, #beHuman Campaign, an organization she founded that was inspired by her, then high school son Mason, who came out to her as transgender. She created this platform to help connect other parents who were going through the same journey, to offer advice, guidance and resources. Aside from helping others, Belinda is a REALTOR with Pride Realty Group and loves to spend time with her family and friends.

Board Member

James A. Chavis

He/Him

is a native to Corpus Christi Texas where her passion for helping people began before moving to San Antonio in 2016. She has been heavily involved with fundraising efforts for many non-profits to include the Coastal Bend Wellness Foundation and the Children’s Advocacy Center of South Texas where she served as a Board Member and Board Secretary.

James relocated to San Antonio from Dallas in 2010 and found his church home at Metropolitan Community Church of San Antonio.  Currently, he serves on the church board and volunteers weekly at the food pantry.  In addition, elected in 2019, James serves on the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (Worldwide) Governing Board and is charter member and served as President of the Hill Country Optimist Club. Working with these groups along with previous non-profit work, James has gained valuable experience in the areas fundraising, event planning, governance and more. His passion for service and commitment to help and support the LGBTQ+ community and others is unwavering.

Board Member

Rick Gipprich, Jr.

He/Him

is the Director of Program Support and Campus Sexual Assault Specialist for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA). Prior to working at TAASA, Rick served as Deputy Director of Education & Development and Director of Prevention Education for The Rape Crisis Center in San Antonio. Rick started his career in the anti-sexual violence movement 20 years ago as a dedicated hospital advocate and hotline operator.

Understanding the need and the importance of education, Rick eventually started working with neighborhoods, other nonprofits, professionals, and schools by engaging them in dialogue surrounding the prevalence of sexual violence in our community and the ways we can prevent it. In addition to training on issues related to sexual assault, Rick works daily to ensure that communities across Texas understand the impact of sexual violence and its effect on the people of our state.

Board Member

Pamela Michelle Herrera

She/Her

is a very proud ally of the LGBTQIA+ community and has a strong desire to support the San Antonio community. She has twenty years of experience working in various non-profit settings, to include experience in development, fundraising and community outreach.

This experience has made it possible for her to support numerous San Antonio nonprofit organizations both as a community member and as a member of the Royal, Sovereign and Imperial Court of the Alamo Empire Inc., where she recently served as Empress 28. Herrera received her college education at San Antonio College and Palo Alto college in English and Dance. 

She absolutely loves working with youth and families in the community and is a proud employee of the San Antonio ISD, where she has been able to shape the minds of our youth and see them grown academically and emotionally.

Board Member

Lisa Martinez

She/Her

is a queer Latinx that was born and raised in Del Rio, Texas. She graduated from DePaul University with a degree in Interactive and Social Media. She currently works as a User Experience Designer at USAA where she creates solutions and interactions to help Members manage their money by simplifying their financial view regardless of where their money is held. Lisa has worked in the design industry for over 15 years and is passionate about creating websites, apps, and software that is simple, beautiful, and easy-to-use. 

Lisa has previously founded two online media publications that focused on the underrepresented parts of the LGBTQIA spectrum. She is passionate about leveraging the power of the internet and creating platforms that provide marginalized communities a safe space to come together for support, celebration, and inspiration. She also co-founded the San Antonio chapter of Lesbians Who Tech + Allies. Serving and the organization’s City Director, she hosts local MeetUps that bring queer women and allies together for visibility, networking, and support. 

In her free time, she enjoys getting out into nature, spending time with family and friends, and estate sale shopping. She is a proud parent to her tuxedo cat, Amos, and her rescue pup, Bruce Wayne. 

Board Member

Vanessa Powers

She/Her

was born in El Paso, Texas and was raised right here in San Antonio. She loves a good cup of coffee, art, the Spurs and tacos! San Antonio means so much to her because this is where her early childhood memories were created: like her dad taking their family to their first Spurs Game, hiking at Comanche Hill, riding the tram at Breckenridge Park with her sister as a kid and enjoying Fiesta with friends and family. As an adult she has come to love the expansion ofart scene, community growth, and queer friendly spaces; which are some of the reasons why she chose San Antonio to raise her own daughter. She wants her to develop similar memories that will allow her to see the beauty of this city and its community, as she has. ​

Having such strong ties to the city, she decided that she wanted to work for a company that holds the same values towards people. After doing her research, she wanted to work at Marriott International’s Global Customer Engagement Center.  She has learned a lot and has progressed with the company from making reservations and everything else in between, to becoming a subject matter expert as a trainer. She teaches new associates customer care, guest loyalty, and how to make reservations. She uses her knowledge combined with my passion for human connection, willingness to listen, and drive. Marriott is one of the best places to work in San Antonio.

Working for a company like Marriott, has allowed her the opportunity join their LGBTQA+ organization Marriott ONE in 2016. In 2018 she started serving as a Board Member for the San Antonio Chapter, as the Social Chair where she has helped the chapter get involved with some great events like; The NOH8Campaign. She has also been an active volunteer for The Center and other organizations since 2016. Assisting with many events such as National Coming-Out Day, The Emerald Ball and Pride Families events which is her favorite! She loves taking her daughter to Pride Families events because she sees the strong, kind, devoted people who make up our community. Supporting our community, our people, and their families is exactly why she wanted to become a board member for The Center.

Vice Chairperson

Cristian Sanchez

He/Him

was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. He has a lifelong commitment of service to marginalized populations especially the LGBTQ+ and immigrant community. Cristian graduated from the University of Texas School of Law in 2017. During law school he worked at the ACLU of Southern California’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. He also led a pro bono program that assisted transgender people in correcting their names and gender markers on their identity documents. Immigrants’ Rights Project. He also led a pro bono program that assisted transgender people in correcting their names and gender markers on their identity documents.

Cristian now works as a supervising attorney at RAICES in San Antonio. He leads the removal defense team, which represents clients in removal proceedings and stops them from being deported. Cristian is dedicated to providing high-quality legal and wraparound services to his immigrant clients. He is also passionate about finding novel ways to advocate for his clients in a changing immigration policy landscape. At RAICES, Cristian defends immigrants who are detained or non-detained from deportation. A focus of his work has been representing LGBTQ+ asylum seekers. He led a project assisting transgender women detained at South Texas Detention Complex with access to counsel and advocacy. Recently, he developed and ran an emergency shelter in Tijuana for a self-formed group of LGBTQ+ asylum seekers that were part of the caravan, as well as a temporary shelter for released trans women in San Antonio. Cristian enjoys horror movies, board games, and time spent with friends.

Board Member

Jamie Zapata

She/Her

is a full time REALTOR®​ at Coldwell Banker D’Ann Harper, REALTORS® where she specializes in serving the needs of the LGBTQ+ community and other diverse groups.  She’s also a member of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals and is 1 of only 5 trans real estate agents out of 2000 nationwide members.

The primary mission of NAGLREP is to advocate for fair and equal housing rights for the LGBTQ+ community.  She also serves as a Board Member at the Transgender Education Network of Texas, an organization dedicated to furthering gender diverse equality.  She co-hosts a monthly support group meeting at the Pride Center SA for LGBTQ+ folks and allies.  She is also a Community Advisory Board Member with the Pride Center SA and the Strengthening Colors of Pride LGBT+ resiliency study.  Having transitioned as a teenager in the 1980’s, she has a lifetime of experience in the need for education, employment, inclusion, and respect of trans men and women.  When she’s not working with real estate clients, she spends her free time volunteering and advocating for equality for ALL people.

Immediate Past Chair 

Richard Farias

Chair Emeritus

Joseph Garrett