About

 

The Pride Network offers young LGBTQ+ leaders opportunities for personal transformation and professional development to create change within themselves and in our communities.

Emerging LGBTQ+ leaders are seeking deep, inner empowerment. They’re looking for leaders with integrity, intelligence, compassion, and the commitment required to choose the path of empowerment both within themselves and in our broader society. We call this the path of Transformative Leadership.

In every major wisdom tradition, we find that creating transformative change begins with transforming ourselves. Through engaging our heads, hearts, and hands, The Pride Network offers young LGBTQ+ leaders tools and opportunities for physical, emotional, professional, and even spiritual development.

Thanks to the sacrifices and progress of past generations, today’s LGBTQ+ young people are exposed to more opportunities for empowerment than ever before; but, when we look closely, we find that LGBTQ+ young people are still struggling to reach their full potential.

The Pride Network looks to a future where all LGBTQ+ youth have the opportunity to reach their full potential.

By and large, LGBTQ+ people are uniquely positioned to be transformative leaders in our country and our communities. Our often hard-fought journeys to self-acceptance come with lessons about empathy, creativity, perseverance, and diversity-- Qualities desperately needed in leadership today.

We are growing our network of emerging and established leaders to offer knowledge, skills, and relationships that empower all of us to reach our full potential and transform the communities we serve.

 

Executive Director

 

Jacob Rudolph made international headlines in 2013 when a video of him coming out in front of more than 300 of his classmates went viral with over 2,000,000 views on YouTube. Soon after, Jacob was featured on national TV interviews with Anderson Cooper, Thomas Roberts on MSNBC, Don Lemon on CNN, and with Joy Behar, as well as in the LA Times and other print media. Inspired to continue speaking up, Jacob successfully assisted local civil rights groups that same year in passing a state law that bans conversion therapy on LGBTQ youth in New Jersey. Since then, he has been selected for the Point Foundation Scholarship, the John Lewis Fellowship for diversity and minority rights, and was selected as the student commencement speaker at his college graduation-- University of Miami, 2017. Jacob is a loving friend, yogi, and a passionate advocate for youth empowerment as the foundation of a compassionate American socie

Board of Directors

 

Stephanie Cañas Hunnell is the owner of the Hunnell Law Firm, L.L.C., located in Belmar, New Jersey. She grew up in Southern California, and relocated to New Jersey, where she attended Rutgers University, School of Law, and graduated with honors. While in law school, Stephanie earned several academic awards and was active in moot court, as well as being an editor for the Journal of Law and Urban Policy. Stephanie currently represents a broad spectrum of clients in family court matters, including divorce, dissolution of civil unions and domestic partnerships, child custody, contested removal actions, child support, spousal support enforcement, and equitable distribution.  Stephanie also has an active estate planning practice, which focuses primarily on planning for same-sex couples. In addition to her areas of practice, Stephanie is very dedicated to the LGBT community, having served on the Executive Committee of the LGBT Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association, the Board of Directors for the Center in Asbury Park, the Advisory Board for Project Real in Asbury Park, and is a current Board Member of The Pride Network.


 

 

Gary Cosgrove began his life in public service at age 24 when he was elected as the youngest town councilman in Wood Ridge, NJ. And for the past 24 years, Gary has helped to raise public consciousness of the continuing fight against HIV/AIDS with the Imperial Court of New York. In 2000, Gary was elected as the 10th Emperor of the ICNY along with his Empress Victoria Weston. Together they traveled the United States & Canada to bring awareness to the plight of our homeless LGBTQ youth and the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Gary served 10 terms on the Board of Directors and served as Board President for 10 more years, stepping down in September 2016. In those years as President, Gary’s leadership and commitment helped the Imperial Court of New York, raise over half a million dollars in corporate sponsorships and grants. Gary legally married is partner of 22 years, Damian (Emperor 11 Damian Valentino), on July 24, 2011, being one of the first couples to marry in New York State on the day Marriage Equality was legal on the steps of NYC City Hall. They have been together for 22 years. Gary continued his fight for marriage equality joining the Board of Directors of Garden State Equality and finally helping to achieve marriage equality in New Jersey in October of 2013.

 

Anthony Crisci is a Connecticut-based LGBT activist and non-profit leader. Anthony has been engaged in grassroots organizing and capacity building with various LGBT organizations for the past ten years. He is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications at Circle Care Center, an LGBT-focused primary care medical center in Norwalk, CT. Previously, he served as the first Executive Director of Triangle Community Center, Fairfield County's LGBT community center, from 2013 - 2018. During his tenure, Crisci led the revival of Fairfield County's Pride Festival, the creation of TCC's social service navigation program and the launch of a training program to promote LGBT culturally appropriate services. Anthony recently rejoined the board of The Pride Network, an organization he helped start while attending college with its founder, Christian Fuscarino. 

 

Reni Calister has worked in television and entertainment for a decade. Currently, Reni is with an anchor team on Good Morning America, and prior to that, she was in development at HBO Documentary films. She is a graduate of Barnard College, and currently resides in New York, NY.

Dean Dafis is a councilman in Maplewood, NJ – the township's first out LGBTQ+ elected councilperson. He’s a social justice advocate having worked across the country in efforts including the fight for marriage equality, to ban conversion therapy, in bail reform and youth restorative justice, reentry, the current effort to fairly and equitably legalize adult use recreational cannabis, in law enforcement data tracking and transparency, in trans health equity, in expanding social services to LGBTQ+ youth, and combating housing insecurity. A first generation Greek American who grew up in the melting pot urbanity of 1970’s downtown Philadelphia, Dean is an attorney who began his legal career in legal aid in the criminal & family courts & then later worked at prominent law firms & on Wall Street in economic fraud & white collar crime. Dean championed NJ’s first permanent rainbow crosswalks as a welcome marker of his community’s sanctuary status & inclusivity. In his words, “For our youth in particular, those struggling with doubt or isolation & in need of affirmation, I want them to have a place where they can proudly cross or walk over their fear and shame.”

 

Sam Del Propost is a principal of Kaufmann Kozuch Del Propost Wealth Strategies in New York. He is a Certified Financial Planner TM practitioner and an Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisors (sm). Sam and his colleagues have been serving the LGBT community for over 20 years providing financial planning, retirement planning, investment advice, and asset and risk management. He is a member of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce of New York. Since 1999 Sam and his long-term partner of 36 years have lived in Maplewood, NJ, where they married in 2013 when New Jersey recognized marriage equality.

 

 

 

 

 Our History

2008: The Pride Network was founded at Hofstra University by Christian Fuscarino to create a safe, social, stronger, and more unified LGBTQ community on campus by providing educational programs and a network of students, faculty, staff, and administrators.

2009: The Pride Network forms chapters in order to apply a similar concept used at the university in communities. Chapters now are working to connect people, organizations, and companies with the LGBTQ movement by using community workshops and programs that engage individuals to be leaders.

2010: Smaller community organizations in New Jersey dissolve and join efforts with The Pride Network in order to help end bias and prejudice in schools by providing education and practical solutions to facilitate change. The Pride Network offers it’s first Gay-Straight Alliance Summit. The Hudson Pride Connections Center becomes a 501c3 fiscal sponsor of The Pride Network.

2011: The Pride Network is now offering programming in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut. A public service announcement with RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant, Carmen Carrera is produced to help raise awareness about the importance of volunteering.

2012: The Pride Network becomes an independent 501c3 non-profit organization. The Community Agent Training Program and the SPEAK Summit Program are launched.

 

Financial information: The Pride Network falls under a small tax-exempt category for the IRS. Small tax-exempt organizations are only required to file an annual electronic notice, Form 990-N, Electronic Notice (e-Postcard) for Tax-Exempt Organizations not Required To File Form 990 or 990-EZ. This filing requirement applies to tax periods beginning after December 31, 2006, and may apply to organizations that previously were not required to file returns. To inquire about the annual electronic postcard filing for The Pride Network, please email IRS@ThePrideNetwork.org