National Advisory Council

Photo: National Advisory Council Members, Board and staff after February 2020 annual meeting.

Established in April 2016, SNMA’s National Advisory Council (NAC) is a group of dedicated individuals with professional experience in building museums, organizations and professional relationships within the LGBTQ communities. 

They are charged with advising the Executive Director and Board of Directors on a variety of matters pertaining to SNMA’s work, mission and objectives such as:


  • How to best make SNMA’s Archives and Library available to researchers, artists, historians, scholars, and journalists so the contents can be disseminated to a wider audience.
  • How to best grow our Archives, Library, exhibition and library programs to include a more diverse population, including race, gender, class, gender expression and other personal attributes.
  • How to best collaborate with other national museums, archives libraries and LGBTQ organizations.
  • How to build a strong cultural and educational organization that is respected by professional peers.
  • How to enhance SNAM’s prominence both regionally and nationally.

Appointed by the Board of Directors for limited terms, the NAC has no fiduciary responsibility and is purely advisory to SNMA.  They meet in person annually in Fort Lauderdale in February and other times throughout the year via telephone. 

Members of the National Advisory Council
Justin Estoque (Co-Chair), Los Angeles, CA

Justin Estoque oversaw the planning, design, construction, and inaugural programs of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian with a fundraising goal of $199 million. Later Estoque directed NMAI’s Executive Planning Office, and acted as the museum’s Associate Director in charge of international engagement programs. In 2013 Estoque was appointed Executive Vice President of the Autry Museum of the American West. Previous positions held were Chief Operating Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services, and adjunct faculty, Bank Street College’s museum education graduate program.

Estoque’s board leadership experience includes the National LGBT Museum New York project, VOX Femina LA, and the Mesa Verde Foundation. He is a member of the LGBT Alliance Steering Committee of the American Alliance of Museums, Stonewall 50 Consortium, and a singing member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles where he volunteers as a fundraiser.

Alan Uphold (Co-Chair), Los Angeles, CA

Communication consultant and public speaking coach/trainer, serving executives from NBC/Universal, Viacom, Warner Brothers, Frito-Lay, Cunard/Princess Cruise Lines, Deutsche Bank, and many other notable corporations and nonprofit organizations.

Uphold is currently a college professor of public speaking and communication at Los Angeles Community College and was formerly the Development Director-West of the Point Foundation – the nation’s largest scholarship-granting organization focused on empowering, underwriting, and mentoring LGBT youth.

Uphold is a former member of the Board of Directors of Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Equality California, and former Chair of Directors of Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.

Mike Balaban, New York, NY

Mike Balaban retired from a 30 year career in international finance and consulting with focuses on Japan and China, in 2013. He has simultaneously dedicated energies to non-profit board service for the last 22 years, with an emphasis on LGBT causes.

He served on the founding boards of GLSEN (Vice Chair) and Athlete Ally (Chair) along with service to Echoing Green, Galen University (San Ignacio, Belize), NewFest, and now Stonewall National Museum & Archives’ Advisory Council.

With a co-founder, he is launching Capturing Rainbows, an LGBT history platform, that collects, preserves, and shares first person moments from our collective LGBT lives, while fostering social interaction among its members.

Dr. Warren J. Blumenfeld, Amherst, MA

A writer, LGBT historian, educator, he is the author of Warren’s Words: Smart Commentary on Social Justice, editor of Homophobia: How We All Pay the Price, and co-editor of Readings for Diversity and Social Justice.

Warren serves as an editorial blogger for the Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, and Tikkun Daily.

Deb Dagit, Washington, NJ

As Merck’s Chief Diversity Officer for 11 years, Deb was responsible for global equal opportunity, employee relations, recruiting and staffing, and diversity and inclusion. Under her leadership, the company was recognized for its exemplary work in diversity and inclusion by DiversityInc and Working Mother magazines, the Families and Work Institute, and the Human Rights Campaign. Merck also received the Department of Defense Freedom Award (veterans) and the Department of Labor New Freedom Award (people with disabilities) during her tenure.

Prior to joining Merk, Deb was the leader of Learning Communications and Diversity at Silicon Graphics and head of Strategic Cultural Initiatives for Sun Microsystems.

She played a key role in the passage of the American with Disabilities Act through her lobbying efforts in both California and Washington, D.C. and testified before the U.S. Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions committee on best practices for improving employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

In 2013 Deb started her own business delivering the consulting services and products she wished were available when she was a Chief Diversity Officer.

Rev. Mark Fowler, New York, NY

As the Deputy Chief Executive Officer for the Tanenbaum Organization for Interreligious Understanding, Rev. Fowler oversees the design and implementation of programmatic trainings at a national and international level.

Mark has been involved for over 20 years with New York City’s education community as a facilitator/trainer to teachers, students, counselors and administrators in the areas of prejudice reduction in race, gender, sexual orientation and religion.

Remington Gregg, Washington, DC

Counsel for Civil Justice and Consumer Rights, leading the fight to ensure access to justice for all people and protecting American consumers from corporate rip-offs and abuses, working on a portfolio that includes forced arbitration, class actions, and consumer safety.

Extensive experience in civil rights and civil justice. Previously served as Legislative Counsel at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), principally counseling the organization on issues related to hate crimes, criminal and racial justice, profiling, education, domestic violence, military and veterans, immigration, and foreign affairs. There, he was the principal author of a groundbreaking report exposing religious schools that sought exemptions from civil rights law to discriminate against LGBT students.

Prior to joining HRC, was Associate Counsel and Advisor for Open Government in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, advising on a range of legal and policy issues related to science, technology, and national security, and reducing legal and regulatory burdens to create a more open and accountable government. Co-wrote the nation’s first U.S. Open Government National Action Plan.

Brian McNaught, Fort Lauderdale, FL

An author and a leading corporate diversity consultant dealing with LGBT issues in the workplace, he has spent forty-two years helping audiences understand what it’s like to grow up gay and how to deal with daily challenges faced at work, home, and in their neighborhoods and churches.

His five books in print are used as college texts, and his seven educational DVDs are used in school, church, and corporate training. Named by the New York Time as “the godfather of gay sensitivity training”, Brian wrote a syndicated column in the gay press for 12 years, and has contributed to numerous national publications.

Patrick Moore, Pittsburgh, PA

As Director of The Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, PA, Patrick Moore is a museum leader focused on inclusion, digital sophistication and relevancy for the field. Patrick joined The Warhol in 2011 as Director of Development before becoming Deputy Director and Managing Director. Earlier in his career, Patrick worked as a digital producer for Yahoo! and was the Founding Director of The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS (a project of The Alliance for the Arts, New York).

Patrick has produced editions and special projects with a range of important contemporary artists including Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie, Cindy Sherman, David Hockney, and others. He is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University with degrees in theater direction and English literature.

As a writer, Patrick has published books with Beacon Press and Kensington. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, the New York Times, Newsday, and The Advocate.

Dr. Katherine Ott, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Katherine Ott is a curator and historian at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, division of medicine and science, where she focuses on the history of medicine and the human body, disability and bodily difference, and LGBTQ history.

The author of Fevered Lives: Tuberculosis in American Culture since 1870 (1996), Dr. Ott also co-edited Artificial Parts, Practical Lives: Modern Histories of Prosthetics (2002) and The Scrapbook of American Life (2006).

She serves as Associate Professorial Lecturer of American Studies at The George Washington University, and is an Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer.

Todd Sears, New York, NY

Founder and Principal of Out Leadership, a strategic advisory firm dedicated to extending equality and access to opportunity for LGBT people worldwide. In 2011, with support from six top financial institutions, he launched “Out on the Street,” an LBGT leadership and networking group aimed at senior executives on Wall Street.

Today, it counts sixty-six of the world’s most influential businesses as members, and leads four global initiatives: Out in Law, Out NEXT, Quorum and Out WOMEN. Todd began his career as an investment banker, and later moved into diversity leadership at Merrill Lynch and Credit-Suisse.

Amanda Simpson, Washington, D.C.

Formerly the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Operational Energy, U.S. Department of Defense. The first openly transgender woman Presidential appointee in U.S. history, and the highest ranking transgender appointee in the Obama Administration.

Ms. Simpson has served as executive director of the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, and as Senior Technical Adviser to the Bureau of Industry and Security at the U.S. Department of Commerce, and as Deputy Director and Senior Program Manager in the Advanced Missiles and Unmanned Systems product line for Raytheon.

Ms. Simpson has served on the boards of directors of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates, the Arizona Human Rights Fund, and the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. She is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Henry L. Thaggert, III, Washington, D.C.

Senior antitrust counsel to Northrop Grumman Corporation in Falls Church, VA. Former Attorney-Advisor to the Federal Communications Commission and Trial Attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice Antitrust Division.

Mr. Thaggert served as a Trustee to the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Corcoran College of Art and Design, and has served on the advisory boards to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, and the George Mason University School of Art.

Anthony Varona, Washington, D.C. and Fort Lauderdale, FL

Anthony is the Dean and M. Minnette Massey Professor of Law at the University of Miami School of Law. Previously, he was a Professor of Law, a Vice Dean, an Associate Dean for Faculty and Academic Affairs, and an S.J.D. Program Director at American University in Washington, D.C. Before that, Tony served as the General Counsel and Legal Director for the HRC. Earlier in his career, he was an associate at Skadden Arps and at Mintz Levin, and an honors program enforcement attorney at the Federal Communications Commission. In 2001-2002, Tony was a Harvard Law School Washington Public Interest Fellow. Tony received an LL.M. from Georgetown University in 1996, a J.D. from Boston College Law School in 1992, and an A.B. from Boston College in 1989.

He has served on the board of directors for GLAAD, HRC, the Alliance for Justice, the New York Advisory Board for the American Constitution Society, and he was founding chairperson of the AIDS Action Council’s Legal Advisory Board. He has lectured widely and has appeared as a legal commentator on major national media outlets. He was honored with the 2014 Outstanding Teaching in a Full-Time Appointment Award by American University, the 2009 Hugh A. Johnson, Jr. Memorial Award by the Washington Hispanic Bar Association, and the 2007-2008 Teacher of the Year Award by American University. In 2014, he was also named to Lawyers of Color Magazine’s “50 Under 50 List.”

Moe Vela, Gaithersburg, MD

Moe Vela is the Founding Partner and CEO of The Vela Group, LLC and MoeVela LLC, global business development consulting firms with clients in the U.S. and Latin America; and on the Board of Directors of TransparentBusiness, the market’s leading transparency and people-management software.

In addition to running his firm, Mr. Vela has previously been Of Counsel at the law firm of Stein Mitchell Beato and Missner, and a partner at the law firm, Holland & Knight. Mr. Vela’s areas of experience include business development, public policy, public relations, government relations, regulatory  affairs,  management  consulting, and Latino and LGBTQ advocacy. Mr. Vela was also an adjunct professor at American University Washington College of Law.

Mr. Vela is a longtime Washington insider. Mr. Vela’s leadership and counsel have been sought by some of the country’s top political and business leaders. Mr. Vela served in President Obama’s administration as the Director of Management and Administration, and Senior Advisor   in the Office of Vice President Joe Biden.

The stint was the second White House appointment for Mr. Vela, who served as Chief Financial Officer and Senior Advisor on Hispanic Affairs for Vice President Al Gore. Mr. Vela holds the distinction of being the first Hispanic American and gay American to serve twice in a senior executive role in the White House.

A proud Texan, Mr. Vela earned his undergraduate degree at the University of Texas at Austin and his law degree from St. Mary’s University School of Law. Mr. Vela comes from a family devoted to public service, with his father and uncle both serving as judges. His cousin, Filemon Vela, is currently a U.S. Congressman representing Texas’ 34th congressional district.

He has been featured in several national publications and has been named one of the “Top 100 Hispanics in America” by “Hispanic Business” magazine and was twice named as one of the “101 Most Influential Latinos” by “Latino Leaders” magazine, as well as, one of Washington’s Top 300 Insiders by the “National Journal.” He is the author of the bestselling book, “Little Secret. Big Dreams.”

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Stonewall is grateful to the following funders for their support of our operations and programs.

Funding for this organization is provided in part by the Board of County Commissioners of Broward County, Florida, As recommended by the Broward Cultural Council.

This project is sponsored in part by the Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, the Florida Council of Arts and Culture and the State of Florida.
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed by Stonewall National Museum & Archives, do not necessarily represent those of Florida Humanities of the National Endowment for the Humanities.