OUR SAN DIEGO TEAM
Tan is a local area pharmacist that was himself a refugee that immigrated to the US in 1989. The youngest at the time, his 3 older brothers and mother took the long trek from war torn Vietnam to land in Cleveland OH.
He got his PharmD from the University of Toledo in 2011 and moved out to sunny San Diego in 2016. His previous volunteer work includes leading college students in a monthly service learning experience through Americorps at places such as Ronald McDonald Charities making food for families with kids at the hospital, Josina Lott residential facility for those with disabilities in Toledo, OH and Cherry Street Mission serving the homeless.
More recently he has dedicated his volunteer hours to student pharmacists and to the free local health events they hold. Tan hopes to be able to give back to the community more so by being involved with Casa de Luz.
Craig is a continuous advocate for those in need. Through his history of non-profit leadership, Craig has impacted numerous organizations with his drive to help those that need it most. Some examples include, the LGBT Center of Kansas City (LGBTQIA), The Epilepsy Foundation of Kansas and Missouri (Healthcare), Restart Inc (Homelessness), Save Inc. (HIV/AIDS), and Casa Loto (Homelessness). His passion for engaging others and spreading love continues to motivate others to do the same.
Founding Board Member
After moving to San Diego from Switzerland in 1998, Markus broke into the construction industry and secured his state contractor's license and opened a custom cabinetry shop. Shortly thereafter he introduced a German cabinet line to San Diego and became an exclusive dealership.
Make sure to check out Studio Europa for beautiful designs.
Big Mike Phillips
My introduction to the world was January 18, 1957, in Frankfurt, Germany. I was given up for adoption and was incredibly fortunate to be adopted by two loving and compassionate human beings, which I always consider my Mom and Dad. They raised my brother and I to become individuals who grew up to find goodness, kindness, and love for not only ourselves but to our fellow human beings. My Dad who was in the United States Air Force, was station in Paris, France. He was being transfer back to the United States, to retire at Randolph Air Force Base in 1962. We as a family settled in Universal City a suburb of San Antonio, Texas. I grew up and went to school there, came out as a big homo there and had the time of my life coming out as gay in 1975.
Fast forward, I have lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and finally ending up in San Diego to take care of my dying Friend Tino Graziano, who died of AIDS, on November 18,1989. It was losing my best friend at that time in the world that I decided in my life that I would do what I could to help raise funds for the organizations that were there to help Tino die with dignity and love. Being Alive was especially compassion in helping with his needs in those days.
Christmas morning, December 25, 1989, I started my new job working at the Brass Rail, which open the doors for me as a member of this amazing LGBTQ community. The Brass Rail gave me the resources to learn more about how to raise money for charity. The Imperial Court had fundraisers every week on Wednesdays and Sundays the entire three and a half years I worked there. I was a witnessing everyone’s generosity, including my own.
In 1993 my best friend and fellow bartender Nigel Mayer and I start a nonprofit organization called Ordinary Miracles, bringing together bartenders, waiters, restaurant owners, and finally all types of business together to donate a percentage from their tips and sells to raise money for so many needed organizations. Bringing our entire community together in the effort. With the help of the community, in five years we were able to raise over three hundred thousand dollars, which was a great amount in the 1990’s.
After Nigel bought Flicks Bar in Hillcrest and decided to no longer be involved with Ordinary Miracles because he need to focus on running his business, I decided on moving forward myself as well. It was then I found myself wanting to still be involved with my community and city I lived in. Over the last thirty years, I have proudly served on many boards including the last four San Diego Mayors and co-founded a couple other charity organizations. One being the Rob Benzon Foundation, now called the Rob Benzon/ Dan Ferbal Foundation, and With Nicole Murray Ramirez, re-founded Grocery Hearts a grocery store at Mamas Kitchen, where clients can shop for can goods and fresh food to cook at home themselves.
I have served on several charity organization boards, serving three terms as President of the San Diego Imperial Court just to name one of them. I love being able to give back, meet new people, bring awareness, and be an example of giving, sharing with compassion.
As I get older and retired from the food and beverage industry, I find myself doing a lot more photography, which I have loved doing for the last thirty years. I am so grateful for my life and all it has afforded me. Staying involved, meeting incredible people, both those I work with and those in need of our help. Every day is a good day to be alive and to be able to past goodness forward.
Benny is a lifelong San Diegan who has been actively involved in the LGBTQ+ community since he was a teenager, for over 20 years. He began his activism while a student at San Diego State University, where he got a degree in Communications. He also studied at the University of San Diego and earned a master's degree in Nonprofit Leadership & Management. His career has included a number of diverse positions including serving as the first Executive Director of the San Diego Gay Men's Chorus, the Director of Community Outreach for the San Diego LGBT Community Center, Senior Staff Reporter for San Diego LGBT News (sdlgbtn.com), and Government Affairs Coordinator for the Associated Students of SDSU.
Benny currently serves as a Community Representative and Communications Coordinator for City of San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, and can be found on the weekends working his side-job at the door at Rich's San Diego.
Benny will also assume the role of Publisher of San Diego LGBT News later this year. He is looking forward to utilizing his nonprofit leadership and communications/marketing skills to support the important work that Casa de Luz does.
Past Board President
Jack migrated to the United States from Holland in 1989 at the age of 19. He built a successful career in real estate and moved from the Midwest to California in 2008.
Jack has always played an active role in numerous nonprofit organizations including: Red Cross, Pathways Behavioral Services (a drug and alcohol treatment center), YWCA, Lions Club, Sports for Exceptional Athletes and numerous other organizations. Three years ago he became involved in Casa de Luz in Tijuana and took a leadership role in helping to raise money in order to make the program more sustainable. Jack started a 501(c)(3) and acquired the current location that Casa de Luz resides in.
His passion to help LBGTQ + refugees shows with his continued active involvement in the program and the leader ship role he has assumed within the organization.
Ed is a licensed physician, trained in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Medicine who currently works in the design, conduct and pharmacovigilance of phase 1, 2 and phase 3 clinical studies for the development of new medications. He currently is working on drug development for the conditions of pulmonary arterial hypertension, pulmonary fibrosis, and COVID-19.
Dr. Parsley has over 30 years of experience at the bedside in the care of patients, and spent 20 years teaching at the University of Texas, Houston. His experience there was as a director of medical ICU and respiratory care services at Memorial Hermann Hospital in the Texas Medical Center. His leadership experience there resulted in award winning patient care and safety advances.
Ed also is the owner and a practitioner at Aesthetica Med Spa and Wellness Clinic of San Diego, a full service medical spa for men and women, including providing services for the gay and trans population in San Diego.
Parsley has served in the past as a board member at Legacy Community Health, a full-service, Federally Qualified Health Center, Legacy identifies unmet needs and gaps in health-related services and develops client-centered programs to address those needs. A United Way-affiliated agency since 1990, we currently provide adult primary care, pediatrics, dental care, vision services, behavioral health services, OB/GYN and maternity, vaccinations and immunizations, health promotion and community outreach, wellness and nutrition, and comprehensive HIV/AIDS care.
Ed has Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and Surgery degree from Oklahoma State University, and performed residency and fellowship training at the University of Texas, Houston. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Pharmacy degree, and worked as a pharmacist prior to medical school.
Ebony Burnett Mullins
Growing up in San Diego and Alabama, I always knew that the West Coast was the place for me. The diverse community and positive energy are what drew me in. The weather is always perfect and the endless ocean is a sight to behold. Being able to serve and meet new people is something that I thrive on, especially when they have a positive outlook on life. Helping those who are less fortunate than me has always been a passion of mine. Owning my own business has taught me that customer service is the key to success. Though the first few years were tough, providing excellent service has led to loyal customers who keep coming back. Loyalty is important to me, and I bring energy wherever I go. My father has always been my inspiration, encouraging me to do my best and always telling me how proud he is of me. I want people to live their dreams without anyone holding them back or telling them they can't do it. Failure only comes when you don't try. My values are love, trust, understanding, gratitude, and empathy. I'm grateful for all the people who have helped me along the way and believe in paying it forward by sharing my story and giving back to those who need it most.
Javier Gómez is the Director of Global Affairs for Mayor Todd Gloria at the City of San Diego. As a six-year member of Gloria's assembly office and key member of his mayoral campaign, Gómez has been a vital part of Gloria’s Administration. In his previous work within the assembly office, Gómez organized community outreach events within Assembly District 78, supervised various communities and led on priority issues including homelessness, immigration, and LGBTQ issues. As the Field Director, he led the city-wide grassroots efforts for Gloria's mayoral campaign and successfully built a robust field program powered by hundreds of volunteers that assisted in sealing Gloria's historic victory.
A first-generation college graduate, Javier earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from San Diego State University. There, he served as the Vice President of External Relations, President of Phi Gamma Delta, Representative of the California State Student Association, Representative on the College Area Community Council, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity. Javier grew up in Ventura County where his parents, two sisters, and brother currently reside. Gómez currently serves on the Board of Democrats for Equality, he sits as a Board of Director for the San Diego Leadership Alliance, and is a state wide representative for the CA Democratic Party. In his free time, he enjoys sailing, playing tennis, hiking, skiing and frequenting the theater.
Founding Board Member
Michael Albo is Vice Chair and Clinical Professor in the Department of Urology at the University of California, San Diego where he has been on faculty since 1996. He graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1983 with a BA in Preprofessional Studies. He earned his medical degree in 1988 from the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, completed a residency in Urology in 1994 at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a fellowship in Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery in 1996 at the University of California.
After graduating from Notre Dame, Dr. Albo volunteered with the Holy Cross Associates working as a Program Coordinator at the Eden Youth Center, a community-based organization for underserved youth in the East Bay. The year between his residency and fellowship, he volunteered at a small hospital in the city Solala, Guatemala, to bring urologic care to the surrounding farming villages and then volunteered at the McCormick Hospital in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Washington is a Wealth Management Certified Professional for one of the largest investment banks in the world and has served clients in the Hillcrest and Mission Hills area of San Diego for the last 20 years. At the age of 15, Washington immigrated to Anchorage, Alaska from his native country of the Philippines in pursuit of the American Dream. He found that watching children’s cartoon shows after school and on the weekends made it easier for him to learn the English language. Washington decided to move to San Diego after graduating high school to pursue his finance degree at a local university.
Washington believes financial literacy is an integral component to being successful and financially independent. He enjoys educating youth on the importance of managing their finances, creating a budget, and building and maintaining strong creditworthiness. Washington spends his free time with his husband, Nick and their two Italian Greyhound dogs.
Washington also enjoys volunteering with various non-profits throughout San Diego, including the Hillcrest Business Association.
OUR TJ TEAM
Founder and director of Casa de Luz Tijuana, Irving Mondragón has an outstanding reputation advocating for and supporting LGBTQ migrant community from Central America crossing Mexico towards the United States.
Based in Tijuana, Mexico, Irving has an MA in Documentary Film Studies from Bordeaux University and a BA in Performing Arts from Paris VII, Diderot University. He organized Rainbow 17; the first caravan of trans-gay migrants from Central America; he supported and united the LGBTQ migrant community traveling in the 2018 and 2019 caravans and founded Casa de Luz in Tijuana, a collective house for LGBTQ asylum seekers and migrants.
As the director of Casa de Luz, he started the kitchen program at the border by providing food and basic needs for asylum seekers at El Chaparral camp. His everyday presence at the camp has been invaluable not only for the LGBTQ community, but for all those seeking assylum. Irving has helped hundreds of refugees successfully cross into the United States.
Co-founder and main writer at Linea 84 Collective, ethnographic journalism and community activist. Areli Palomo has a remarkable background and knowledge on Central American migration crossing Mexico towards the US. Based in Oaxaca, Mexico, Areli has an MA in Violence and Migration from UCSD and BA in International Relations from ITAM.
She has reported on regional security policies affecting migration flows on Mexico’s southern border; structural violence in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador pushing people into migration streams; migrant caravans crossing Mexico to the US and how climate change and environmental degradation push migration flows.
A Human Rights and Humanitarian Organizations field researcher, Areli documented and reported first-hand human rights violation cases of Central American migrants crossing Mexico to the US, in dangerous situations. Committed to social justice, Areli pursues activities, initiatives and actions occasioning a public critical understanding on how global political economy engenders migration flows.