CURRENT OPALGA+ BOARD:

CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS POSITIONS ENDING DECEMBER 31, 2022:

  • Kelly Sopyrch (she/her), OPALGA+ Board Co-Chair since summer 2022, Social Committee Co-Chair
  • Jim Gibson, Past Co-Chair Ex-Officio Board Member
  • Tom Gull, Treasurer, Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair
  • Greg Raub, Secretary, Scholarship Committee Co-Chair
  • Steve Angus, At-Large Member, Donut Day Chair
  • Anthony Didato, At-Large Member
  • Leah Textor, At-Large Member since summer 2022 (filled vacancy)

CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS RETURNING FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2023:

  • Rylan Martin, OPALGA+ Board Co-Chair
  • Betty Alzamora, 1st term At-Large Member, Advocacy Committee Chair
  • John Becvar, 1st term At-Large Member, Communications, Social and Sponsorship Committees Co-Chair
  • Wendy Cole, 1st term At-Large Member, Communications Co-Chair
  • Ron Roman, 1st term At-Large Member, Potluck Chair
  • Tim Silver, 2nd term At-Large Member, Gala Committee Co-Chair

 

CANDIDATES FOR 2023 OPEN OFFICER POSITIONS:

  • Kelly Sopyrch (she/her), Board Member 2021-2022, Acting Co-Chair 2022, Oak Park, Independent Consultant
      • Social Committee Co-Chair 2021-2022
      • I have worked at expanding our membership base by utilizing Facebook and Meetup platforms. I have participated in networking events and events held in the local area. I would like to continue to help grow and evolve OPALGA+ by continuing to create a welcoming environment for new and younger members. I have been an active board member who has served on other boards such as The West Suburban Families of Multiples and a theater company called The Other Theater Company. I helped fundraise and organize programs within both groups. 
  • Leah Textor (she/her), Board Member in 2022, Oak Park, Controller
      • When my wife and I moved to Oak Park 3 years ago we moved to this area to find a community that would embrace us and our young family. Oak Park has been welcoming but we struggled to find families like ours that we could socialize and network with for support, friendship, and as real-life examples to our daughter that families are extremely diverse! When we started the Playdates at the Park through OPALGA+ we had our insecurities and doubted if anyone would come, but it has been so rewarding to see so many families choosing to participate and it has brought diversity to the event offerings of OPALGA+ and expanded the OPALGA+ network. 
      • I want everyone to have the opportunity to live freely and openly be themselves and that is what OPALGA+ supports and encourages in our community. I want to be a board member so I can help create an OPALGA+ that reflects the diversity of our community through social events, community involvement and advocacy efforts. This is an important time for OPALGA+ to exist because there has been an unprecedented upsurge in discriminatory legislation across the US and the calls to roll-back LGBTQ+ rights have grown bolder. I want to be a board member so I can help guide our organization to be actively involved in advocacy efforts.
      • I have experience with finance and accounting and want to use that to assist OPALGA+ in our cash management, strategic budgeting and streamlining our reporting and compliance. I do not have prior board experience, but as an interim at-large board member of OPALGA+ in 2022, I have helped expand our event offerings with family playdates and I want the opportunity to continue to stretch OPALGA+’s reach within the community as an elected board member.
  • John Becvar (he/him), Board Member in 2022, River Forest, Retired VP at Groupon
      • Communications Committee Co-Chair 2022; Social Committee, Co-Chair 2022; Sponsorship Committee Co-Chair 2022
      • Active member of Gala and Survey Committees
      • Served as Co-chair of communications committee and helped publish the OPALGA+ survey where we identified the gap in our reach.
      • I am mid-way through my term and am applying to fill the vacancy as Secretary.  As co-chair of the Communications Committee, I maintain the OPALGA+ website, social media channels, direct mail pieces and more.  Since joining the OPALGA+ Board in January, our email base has grown 50% and we did our first ever mailing to all residents in Oak Park, River Forest and Forest Park. I was one of three people responsible for all the Pride month posters distributed around town. I also coordinated all the Gala communications including the Program Book itself.
      • I have a long history of community organizing and volunteering.  For fifteen years, I’ve served as President of the Triangle Neighbors Association where I helped raise $1.5 Million to purchase, build and maintain a community park (Space Park at 815 W Roscoe).   Prior to that, I spent several years on the executive board of Lake View Citizens’ Council where I helped expand its membership to thousands of residents and businesses and keep the community informed of zoning, safety and other quality of life issues.  With both organizations, I managed the website, monthly e-newsletters and Facebook groups.  In 2018, I was honored by Crain’s Chicago as one of Chicago’s LGBT notable executives for my work promoting LGBTQ+ awareness both at Groupon and in Chicagoland. 

CANDIDATES FOR 2023 OPEN AT-LARGE POSITIONS:

(In order of application to the 2023-2024 Board)

  • Erika Bachner (she/her), River Forest, River Forest Village Trustee
      • Curated curriculum and facilitate Race Conscious Dialogues for People of Color
      • Founded and Co-Chair the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Group to the Village of River Forest Board of Trustees
      • Wrote and passed Village of River Forest Flag Policy in 2021 that allowed the Progressive Pride flag (2021 & 2022) and Juneteenth flag (2022) to be flown at Village Town Hall.
      • Promoted and spoke at first School District 90 Inclusion & Pride Parade in River Forest where over 200 people, mainly families, rose the Progressive Pride flag together at River Forest Village Town Hall
      • Worked with Maywood Trustee Miguel Jones to write and have our two villages formally vote on and sign the Twin Village Covenant (2020) signifying the shared focus to work and live as one community.
      • Start River Forest Village Board meetings with a Land Acknowledgement in my public comments honoring indigenous people who first stewarded this space and that the land was colonized. 
      • OPALGA+ is an important community organization that is in a period of transition and I believe I have experiences and skills that could be very useful to this process. While most of my family and friends knew I am bisexual, I made this public a couple of years ago at a Village Board of Trustees meeting when speaking about the importance of representation and what it would mean to the River Forest community to raise the Pride flag during Pride month. Immediately, I received messages from other bisexual women and those in the LGBTQIA+ community in River Forest about how much it meant to them to hear publicly an elected official be out and proud. I think I can bring that intentionality and energy to OPALGA+.
      • I am currently serving on the River Forest Board of Trustees – items I previously mentioned are some of the ways I have helped the Village and Trustee Board. Previously, I have served as Board member and Treasurer for PASO – West Suburban Action Project where we significantly grew the client base and fundraising, then reworked the mission and strategy of the organization to better align with the needs of the community (especially during the pandemic). Co-Founded and was the Co-Lead of Indivisible Oak Park Area, where we grew the base of Oak park and west suburban activism and awareness of progressive issues and actions. I have a professional background in finance and client relationship management, marketing, event planning, and contract negotiations. Personally, I have been a community organizer and activist, working with volunteers, strategic planning, and maintaining relationships with other local, state and national non-profits and elected officials on several key issues, mainly around marginalization and common sense laws around gun violence.
  • Cas Scaman (she/her), Oak Park, Master’s Student at DePaul University
      • I have worked with DePaul University to include more gender and sexuality-inclusive language and education in the curriculum for future teachers. I have worked with the College of Education to allow trans students so that their preferred names can be used on all documents used within the school, including documents with the Illinois State Board of Education. Even if the documents must include the current legal name of the person, the school works to use the person’s preferred name on internal versions of those same documents. 
      • I am looking to get more involved in the Oak Park area and I have always admired the work that OPALGA+ does. As a future educator, I think the work that OPALGA+ does to uplift LGBTQ families and young adults is really important and I want to be a part of the future growth of the organization. 
      • I have never served on a non-profit board but I have worked for non-profits (mostly in theater and education) for a long time. I am used to wearing multiple hats. I have experience working in marketing, development and outreach with several different non-profits and I look forward to continuing that work with OPALGA+ if elected.
  • Steve Angus (he/him), Board Member 2020-2022, Oak Park, Director of Sales
      • I currently serve as the executive sponsor of the LGBTQ+ employee resource group (Spectrum @ Elkay) at my workplace.  I feel very strongly that DEI journeys need to be front and center, whether in the workplace or in the community.
      • Having been involved with and a member of OPALGA+ for 5+ years, I feel I have good insight into how our organization operates as well as the need for energetic and service-minded board members. 
      • In the past I have served OPALGA in various ways:
        • 2019 – 2022 Donut Day Chairperson
        • 2019 – 2020 Social Committee
        • 2020 “Oscar Party” Organizer
        • Participant in “A Day in the Village” and community holiday parades
        • Potluck Host, as well as attending most potlucks 🙂
      • I would like to bring my personal energy and serve OPALGA+; if I am elected, I would be committed to the OPALGA+ Board and attend as many board meetings as possible.
      • Besides being service-minded, I would also bring strong organization skills, and an empathetic and common-sense attitude to many issues facing our organization.  I have a professional background in sales and various forms of marketing which would be useful at times when thinking of ways to get the word out about OPALGA+ in our own community.  
  • Robert (“Bob”) Personett (he/him), Chicago, Retired Federal Employee
      • Sponsorship Committee, Co-Chair 2022
      • OPALGA+ Board Member 2017-2021
      • I have volunteered and participated in most of the OPALGA+ sponsored events.  When provided the opportunity, I introduce myself to folks (those who identify as LGBTQ+ or as an ally) and provide them information about our organization.  Usually I give out the OPALGA+ wristbands and our business cards.
      • I bring experience and enthusiasm to the board.  My previous work on the board speaks for itself.
      • I served for 30 years as a local union steward and/or officer in my previous employment.  During my tenure as an OPALGA+ board member between 2017-2021, I helped raise a substantial amount of money for the organization.
  • Kendall Alexander (she/her), River Forest, Attorney
    • I served 4 years on the board as a board member with a short stint as treasurer. I co-chaired the 2018 gala and I served as the education committee chair.
    • I created and hosted a trans education panel, which I would like to do again. I was on the panel about LGBTQ+ issues for the Nineteenth Century Club. And we live openly as a poly family.
    • I loved being on the Board. I felt closer to OPALGA+ members and to the community in general. I took 2022 off due to a foot surgery that I knew would impact my ability to be useful and available. I’d like to participate in building and growing the exciting changes happening within OPALGA+ and once again serve on the education committee. The trans panel I created is something I’d like to build on and do more often and on varying relevant topics, hopefully with a wider net, offering such opportunities more often and in more places. 
    • I served on the board of a Village in Evanston, whose purpose was to support aging in place. I served as chair of the volunteer committee, where I helped organize and refine the systems used to better utilize the volunteers’ time and to help ensure support and recognition for those who give their time to assist the elderly members in need of care. 
    • I have served for 4 years on the Illinois Massage Licensing Board, which meets several times a year to review licensing issues, continuing education, and other controversies, and decide outcomes of suspended licenses, etc. It’s been an interesting and different type of service. 
    • To those boards and to OPALGA+ I offer my enthusiasm and dedication, along with a willingness to pitch in where needed and do the work required to maintain functionality, as well as push a little harder to effect change where needed. I can contribute legal perspectives and opinions. I enjoy engaging with the local community to further the goals of OPALGA+ and spread awareness and acceptance through information, exposure, and education. Plus I am a lot of fun!

CURRENT BOARD MEMBERS RETURNING FOR CALENDAR YEAR 2023:

  • Rylan Martin, Co-Chair 2022, Board Member since 2020
      • I’d like to continue to serve on the board for a second term as I’ve enjoyed my time serving and getting to know new people, but especially because I think what we do fills an important need. Not only is the social aspect important, but I truly believe we have a chance to make even a small difference in the lives of our scholars. If people didn’t need the financial assistance, they wouldn’t apply and to me that means we have a purpose to serve.
      • The skills I bring to the board include legal knowledge (though I do not represent the board), a good ear for bouncing ideas off of, a bit of technological knowledge (the virtual silent auction, the celebrity Cameo videos), and just a strong desire to help others where I can. Thank you for the opportunity. 
  • Betty Alzamora, 1st term At-Large Member 2022-2023
      • Betty Alzamora (she/her/ella) is a program manager and writer, based out of Forest Park, IL. She is currently employed with Uber Technologies as a Strategic Program Manager, dedicated to transformational initiatives with the Community Operations Global Service Design – Experience team. A product and program management professional with expertise in corporate sales, loyalty marketing, customer service, organizational consulting, and database management, Betty previously managed B2B loyalty programs leveraged by the Worldwide Sales division at United, and was responsible for product management initiatives at British Airways, including Club World (international business class) and Concorde (supersonic aircraft). Betty holds an MBA in International Business from Lancaster University Management School in England, and remains at heart an IU Hoosier from Bloomington, IN, with a BA in Chemistry and a BA in History. Originally from Caracas, Venezuela and raised in Montreal, Canada, Betty has enjoyed living in diverse locations, such as Miami, Mexico City, London, and New York City, and has made her home in Chicago since 2004.
      • An avid reader, writer and hiker, it is not unusual to see Betty participating in or organizing local events, and advocating on behalf of social justice and human rights issues. She is passionate about her volunteer/advocacy work, especially with Immigration Justice, Democracy Protection, and LGBTQ+ Issues. Betty is a member of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation, where she participates as the Chair for Immigration Justice Team. She has managed Forest Park Forward, a political campaign, is a Diversity Commissioner for the Village, co-founded Forest Park Against Racism (a community anti-racist advocacy organization), and recently joined Indivisible Oak Park Area’s Interim Steering Committee. 
  • John Becvar, 1st term At-Large Member 2022-2023
      • My husband and I just moved to River Forest this summer and have already attended several OPALGA+ events (potluck and scholarship gala) that let me know this is an organization that I want to help grow and promote. I recently provided the Board with some opportunities to better monetize the Gala.
      • I have a long history of community organizing and volunteering. For the last fifteen years, I’ve served as President of the Triangle Neighbors Association where I helped raise $1.5 Million to purchase, build and maintain a community park (Space Park at 815 W Roscoe). Prior to that, I spent several years on the Executive Board of Lake View Citizens’ Council where I helped expand its membership to thousands of residents and businesses and keep the community informed of zoning, safety and other quality of life issues. With both organizations, I managed the website, monthly e-newsletters and Facebook groups. In 2018, I was honored by Crain’s Chicago as one of Chicago’s LGBT notable executives for my work promoting LGBTQ awareness both at Groupon and in Chicagoland.
      • A little about myself – I am semi-retired after 30 years of working for large companies like Groupon, Sears, United Airlines and Citibank in a variety of marketing and finance leadership roles. I have an MBA in Finance and Accounting from Vanderbilt and previously taught Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) at Loyola University Graduate School. With the COVID-epidemic I started teaching Business English online. I’ve been with my husband, Jim, for 20 years now. I love to travel, have been to 87 countries and have studied 9 languages that help me connect with people around the world. 
  • Wendy Cole, 1st term At-Large Member 2022-2023
      • Thank you for considering my application for board membership. I’ve been an on-again, off-again participant in OPALGA activities over the past decade or so, but a staunch advocate for our community and the causes of fairness, equal opportunity, and family protections for as long as I can remember on the East Coast and in greater Oak Park. An Oak Park resident since 1999, I (and my former partner) have been committed to increasing sensitivities in the larger community and public school system about LGBT families since my kids were toddlers. I helped launch and served as co-president of Rainbow Families of Illinois in the early- and mid- 2000s, which ensured that our kids had meaningful connections (and lots of art projects) with other families that resembled ours, drawing from all around greater Chicago. I know how to get things done.
      • Professionally, I am a longtime journalist, magazine editor, and lately, digital content writer. I strive to tell stories that inform, engage, and possibly inspire. This is especially challenging at a time when attention spans have shrunk and information sources have exploded, but the need for reliable, actionable info that breaks through the noise is as critical as ever.
      • My two toddlers (referenced above) are now in their 20s and pretty well launched (but forever bolted to my heart). So, I have more time now to give and serve. I enjoyed working with the 2021 OPALGA+ scholars in advance of the November gala. Their videos and personal appeals seemed to be an emotional high point of the event.
      • I would be happy to play a larger part in shaping the trajectory of this vital organization in our community as a board member of OPALGA+. Thanks for the consideration. 
  • Ron Roman, 1st term At-Large Member 2022-2023
      • After having served 7 years on the OPALGA+ Board from 2012 through 2018 I am now ready to return to help OPALGA+ with its mission. I retired in August after many years in Human Resources Management and now have more time. My husband, Doug Cotsamire, and I moved to Oak Park in 2008 and we joined OPALGA immediately. I joined the Board shortly after and became the Co-Chair from 2016-2017. I then served as an Ex-Officio member on the Board for one year and then left the Board but continued to be involved in the Social Committee. While on the Board I took the lead on Potluck coordination, Day in Our Village and other social functions. Happy to return! 
  • Tim Silver, 2nd term At-Large Member 2022-2023
    • Oak Park Resident who works at Ameriprise Financial Services