Board of Directors
Karen Kelly, Chair
Growing up in South Florida and now being a Realtor for 16 years, Karen Kelley has really experienced the growth of the Sunshine State.
Her grandparents’ families moved to Hollywood after the great depression and this is where they met and were married in the 1930’s. Karen is so thankful for her extended family and the community that she has called home for over 50 years.
After graduating from Florida State University in 1990, Karen returned to South Florida and after years of hard work, she started volunteering at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center in the mid 1990’s. Karen has held chair positions, interim director, and was the Board President when the GLCC purchased the building on Andrews Ave. She has been actively involved in our community and with local charities for years. During this time Karen and her wife, Mikol purchased a home in 1997. They still live in that home in Oakland Park.
Alan Beck, Vice Chair
Alan H. Beck joined MMP in 2015. He brings 25 years experience as a publisher and marketing professional. He has worked closely with Chambers of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureaus to create products to promote their jurisdictions. With respect to the Internet, Alan has been an early innovator and adapter to social media.
He sits on the Board of Directors of Travel Gay Canada and is a member of IGLTA, NGLCC, NGLCCNY, GSBA, GGBA, MDGLCC, Toronto Tourism, Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Francisco Travel, Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Provincetown Business Guild.
Alan Uphold, Secretary/Treasurer
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 LGBTQIA+ 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.
Harvey Abrams, Board Member
Harvey Abrams, M.D. was born in The Bronx, NY and raised in Queens, NY. After graduating from college, he went to medical school at what is now Drexel University School of Medicine in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Abrams had a forty- year career in medicine, completing training in two medical specialties. The first ten years of practice were spent as a neuropsychiatrist during which he taught medical students, interns, and residents while on the academic faculty of the Louisiana State University School of Medicine. After completing his second residency in dermatology, he moved to Los Angeles where the gay community was being ravaged by the AIDS epidemic and made the decision to devote his dermatology practice to the evaluation and treatment of Kaposi’s Sarcoma and the many other skin manifestations of HIV/AIDS. He also set up a dermatology section at the HIV/AIDS Clinic at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center to serve the underprivileged and underserved population where he voluntarily served as chief dermatologist. In 1995, the City of West Hollywood presented Dr. Abrams with its “Angels” award as its volunteer of the year.
While in Los Angeles, Dr. Abrams served on the board of directors of Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center from 1994-1997 and on many scientific advisory boards. He wrote and published numerous articles and chapters in medical textbooks on HIV/AIDS-related subjects. He retired from the practice of Medicine in 2015 and moved east with his husband, Michael, to split time between New York and Pompano Beach, Florida.
One winter, Dr. Abrams learned of the Stonewall National Museum and Archives and signed on as a volunteer, first as a researcher and presenter for the Archives Alive series and then as co-chair of the development committee. After spending most of the Covid pandemic in Pompano Beach, Dr. Abrams and Michael decided to move there permanently. Over time, his involvement, commitment, and passion for Stonewall and its mission intensified. In September 2023, he was elected to the Stonewall National Museum, Archives, & Library Board of Directors.
Ruperto Arvelo, Board Member
Ruperto Arvelo, principal and founder of ARVELO architecture & interior design, located in the Flatiron district, has over 24 years of experience in different types of projects both nationally and internationally. He has worked in several architecture firms in New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico during his professional development as an architect and interior designer. For many of those years, he worked as a designer and project manager at the New York Gensler Office. The exposure of working in all these firms gave him experience in residential, corporate and commercial projects of all scales, including ground up and adaptive re-use interior and exterior renovation projects.
Registered as in architect in New York State and in the process of being registered in Puerto Rico, he is a successful architect who can wear different hats and bring everyone together to successfully complete projects.
He has taught at various leading design colleges and universities: Syracuse University, Parsons in New York City and Berkeley College in New Jersey. He was also an Associate Editor for the Spanish language interior design magazine Casa y Hogar.
He has Bachelors degree from University of Puerto Rico and a Masters degree in architecture from Syracuse University.
On his free time he enjoys traveling, the arts and being at outdoors. He travels frequently to Puerto Rico where he has a second home at the Condado beach area. Because of his love for design and furniture, he dreams of one day opening a home furnishings store in NYC.
Julio Capo, Jr., Board Member
Professor Capó is a transnational historian whose research and teaching interests include modern U.S. history, especially the United States’s relationship to the Caribbean and Latin America. He addresses how gender and sexuality have historically intersected with constructions of ethnicity, race, class, nation, age, and ability. His first book, Welcome to Fairyland: Queer Miami before 1940 (UNC Press, 2017), highlights how transnational forces—including (im)migration, trade, and tourism—to and from the Caribbean shaped Miami’s queer past. The book has received six awards and honors, including the Charles S. Sydnor Award from the Southern Historical Association for the best book written on Southern history. His work has appeared in the Journal of American History, Radical History Review, Diplomatic History, Journal of Urban History, Journal of American Ethnic History, Modern American History, GLQ, H-Net, American Studies, and several volumes.
Capó’s research extends to his commitment to public history and civic engagement. He curated “Queer Miami: A History of LGBTQ Communities” for History Miami Museum (open from March-September 2019) and participated in a National Park Service initiative to promote and identify historic LGBTQIA+ sites and contributed a piece on Miami’s queer past for its theme study. Prior to entering graduate school, he worked as a broadcast news writer and producer, and his work has appeared in several outlets such as The Washington Post, Time, The Miami Herald, and El Nuveo Día (Puerto Rico).
Capó is the recipient of several awards including the Audre Lorde Prize from the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History and the Carlton C. Qualey Award from the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. He currently serves as the co-chair of the Committee on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender History and on the Editorial Board for the Journal of American History.
Don Oravec, Board Member
Don Oravec was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario Canada. He is married to Jim Harper and they have been together for twenty-four years. Don graduated from the University of Guelph with a split major in English and History (1980); and graduated from the Canadian Securities Course (1990). He worked in the cultural sector for over 25 years, first at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in Marketing, Customer Service and Development, then at Tafelmusik, Canada’s Baroque Orchestra as the Director of Development. While at Tafelmusik, he helped the organization establish a one-million-dollar endowment and increased their corporate and individual donors.
In 2003 Don moved to the Writers’ Trust of Canada where he was Director of Fund Development and from 2005 to 2012 Executive Director. The Writers’ Trust is a national organization dedicated to making the lives of professional Canadian writers better. In 2012 he retired and he is now splitting his time between Toronto and Fort Lauderdale; and traveling to places on his ‘bucket list’, and reading and writing voraciously. Don had a seat on the board of Toronto’s Word on the Street (a literary festival held in Toronto and across Canada every September).
He is founding member of the Board of Directors for the Carol Shields Prize for Fiction, a new North American writing prize for women. They are aggressively fundraising to establish this prize and a launch date has not been set. He is the Past-President of the Board of Directors of Project Bookmark Canada – a national charity dedicated to placing bronze plaques across Canada where important Canadian books have been set. The charity promotes, reading, writing and helps create a legacy for Canadian writers and their books. Don is a member of the Quadrangle Society at Massey College at the University of Toronto. He is a member of the Fundraising Committee for The Stonewall Center in Fort Lauderdale Florida.
Maria Lescano, Board Member
Maria has had her own law practice in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for over 20 years where she specializes in family law and immigration law. Maria has served the Broward County community by her past appointments to the Broward County Commission on the status of women, and the Broward County school board diversity committee.
Currently Maria is Mayor Jack Seiler’s appointment as the the co-chair of the City of Fort Lauderdale charter review board. Maria’s past volunteer board experience includes six years that she served on the national board of GLAAD. Maria is a first generation Cuban-American, native Floridian, who lives in Fort Lauderdale with her partner, Jean.
Ron Herron, Board Member
After 40+ years of academic and administrative experience in both public and private institutions of higher education. – including Southern Methodist University; Teachers College, Columbia University; Temple University; Keene State College; SUNY-Purchase and Southern Connecticut State University, Herron retired and moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2012. Throughout his career, he was active is state, regional, and national professional organizations. He also served on the Boards of Directors of numerous not-for-profit organizations with varying foci ranging from mental health, the arts, childhood creativity, and urban revitalization, to name a few.
Deeply committed to creating supportive learning environments which improve the educational experiences of students, Herron worked throughout his career to create imaginative programs such as the multi-institutional consortium to end racism on Westchester County College Campuses in New York. He co-authored and served as the Project Director of three major grants funded by Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) of the U.S. Department of Justice and continues, in retirement, to serve as a Peer Reviewer for the competitive grant programs of OVW.
He served on the SNMAL Board of Directors (2012-2019), during which time he served on the SNEP Committee, as Board Secretary (2012-2016) and as Board Chair (2017-2019). Ron is an Emeritus member of the Board of Directors.
Gary E. Bitner, Emeritus
Gary Bitner heads one of Florida’s leading public relations firms, The Bitner Group, with national and international clients in the gaming, retail, tourism, transportation, education and other sectors.
He is a graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications and a former staff writer at the Fort Lauderdale News (Sun-Sentinel). He also worked in the public relations department at Marriott Corporation in Washington, D.C., and is a founding partner of the Worldcom Public Relations Group, the world’s largest network of independent public relations firms.
He lives in Pompano Beach, Florida.
Fred Brugal, Emeritus
Born in Puerto Rico and trained as a nuclear physician at Cornell, Dr. Fred Brugal is a board member at SNMAL following a career in medicine and health care management. Moving into leadership positions at Merck & Co., he then became President of Pharmacy Managment at United Health Care Corp. and later moved to Glaxo SmithKline in London, launching a Global Health Care Management Division.
Fred is married to his Cuban partner of twelve years, William Breto and they reside in Palm Springs with their mini dachshunds, Samba & Rumba.
Kenneth Tewel, Honorary
Former Deputy Executive Director, High School Division, New York City Public Schools; former principal Stuyvesant High School, Franklin K. Lane High School and Westinghouse High School in New York City.
Associate Professor, Programs in Supervision and Administration, City University of New York. National consultant to philanthropic organizations working on school and system level reform. Former Program Professor in Leadership and School Reform, Doctoral Program in Child and Youth Studies, Nova Southeastern University.
Klayton Fennell, Honorary
Klayton Fennell is the Vice President of Government Affairs for Comcast providing government affairs support and guidance to Comcast’s market-based government affairs teams, and to the Headquarter based business and operations teams.
In his role, Fennell develops, coordinates, and executes Comcast’s local political and regulatory strategy in over 6,400 communities in 40 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to his Government Affairs duties, Fennell serves as Comcast’s key contact with LGBTQIA+ advocacy organizations, serves on Comcast’s Internal Diversity Council and is an Executive Champion to Comcast’s LGBTQIA+ employee resource group, OUT.
A Florida native, Fennell earned his B.A. in Political Science from Jacksonville University and a doctor of laws from The Florida State University College of Law. Fennell and his husband, Valentine Vigil-Fennell, split their time between the Philadelphia area and South Florida.
Mark Neil Silber, Ex-Officio
Born in Queens, New York, as a young boy in the early 1960s Mark Silber’s family moved to Hollywood, Florida. Mark was raised in a family that valued education, reading, music, visual arts, travel, and respect for all cultures and peoples.
Influenced by cultural change, protest to the war in Vietnam and burgeoning civil rights, Mark came out to his parents in his teens. They were “astonishingly accepting and supportive.” He graduated from Nova High School in 1972 and attended Florida Atlantic University.
He began collecting books on various gay and lesbian topics and subscribed to contemporary gay publications such as The Advocate, and advocated for gay rights in South Florida.
In 1973, Mark started the Stonewall Library. The name was to recognize what had happened at the Stonewall Inn in 1969. He was also one of the original seven founding members of Congregation Etz Chain – the Metropolitan Community Synagogue of Miami. The following year, Mark founded the first LGBTQIA+ student group at a South Florida university: the Gay Academic Union of Florida Atlantic University. He was involved in the Dade County Coalition for Human Rights during the Anita Bryant campaign, and the Broward County Coalition for Human Rights shortly thereafter.
In 1984, Mark moved to New York City to expand his horizons and to seek better new career opportunities.
However, before he left, he established a governing board for the Stonewall Library and obtained legal tax-exempt status. Fortunately, the Metropolitan Community Church of Fort Lauderdale (now the Sunshine Cathedral) offered space to the ever-growing collection.
Since then, Mark has watched the organization grow and flourish. Codified within Stonewall’s present day by-laws, Mark remains an emeritus member of the Board of Directors for life.