The mission of Transcend Charlotte is to promote authenticity, connection, and social justice by empowering transgender individuals and all gender diverse or gender non-conforming people impacted by oppression and/or trauma. We believe in person-centered rather than identity-centered language and do not discriminate based on sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, age, ability, mental illness/injury, or beliefs – we respect all identities.
We strive to promote authenticity, connection, and social justice by educating the public/organizations on topics that are misunderstood by a majority of the population. In doing so, we hope to reduce feelings of isolation, suicide rates, homelessness, and other poor outcomes for those struggling because of their minority status or traumatic experiences.
Laura Conner-Hughes, MSW
Laura Conner-Hughes (pronouns she/her) is a proud queer social worker working to provide trauma informed holistic mental health support, primarily with LGTBQ+ folx. Laura is an alumnus of UNC-Charlotte and received her MSW in May 2018. Laura is passionate about advocacy and education and has experience in community mental health and school social work. Laura has been working with Transcend Charlotte since 2017, starting off as an MSW intern. Laura enjoys spending time with her friends and family, doing jigsaw puzzles, reading Stephen King novels, and playing the ukulele.
Kelli Baron (pronouns they/them) is a non-binary trans femme whose professional background is split between academia and IT. They bring non-profit experience and a passion for helping marginalized communities, through multiple local charity organizations. Kelli refers to themselves as a “delayed blossom”, having only come to understand their gender identity and begin transition late in life. In addition to serving as Transcend Charlotte’s President, they also serve as Support Group facilitator, manage website operations, and is the founder and president of Queer City, a local charity that serves to connect existing organizations to leverage their individual expertise and resources to offer safe, sober, social and educational opportunities for marginalized communities, with a particular concentration on trans/gender-diverse/gender non-conforming communities and QPOC. In their “spare time”, Kelli enjoys video and board games; playing guitar, bass, and ukulele; and spending time with their wife, Kaitlyn, and son, Mason.
Adrian Chavez (pronouns he/him) served in the United States Navy as a Nuclear Machinist Mate aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt. He works as a nuclear operator at Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station, where he transitioned from female to male. His transition, being the first for Duke Energy, helped to establish the company’s gender transition policy. Adrian, along with board members for the LGBT employee resource group, helped to add transgender health coverage to the company’s existing health coverage policy. Adrian has participated in discussion panels for future and current health care and mental health providers to discuss the do’s and don’t’s of treating transgender and gender non-conforming individuals. He and his beautiful and loving wife, Silvia, have navigated transitioning and coming out, and joined Transcend Charlotte to help others on their journey to living authentically.
Basil Clark Whisenant
Basil Clark Whisenant (pronouns they/them) is a transmasculine genderqueer person currently working in retail pharmacy management. They have only been out as nonbinary for a few years, and began attending Transcend Charlotte’s support group in fall of 2018. The group inspired them to live more of their truth, starting HRT only a few months later, and their passion is bringing the acceptance and support that they found in Transcend to others. They are also Treasurer of Queer City Charities, a singer in One Voice Chorus of Charlotte, and can frequently be found assisting in Single Barrel Room’s DRAGO fundraisers, playing video games into the wee hours, and testing out different types of glitter for drag beards.
Silvia Chavez (pronouns she/her) is a Supervisor at the Duke Energy Customer Service Center. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Business Finance from California State University, San Bernardino. Silvia is the proud wife of Adrian Chavez, a transgender man. In their journey of transitioning Silvia found that there was a need in the community for support for partners and families of transgender individuals. She joined Transcend Charlotte with the intent to lead a support group for partners and families. She brings to the table a firsthand understanding of the nuances associated with the gender transition of a loved one, and is available to help navigate the challenging and often overwhelming road to transition. Her hope is to provide love and support to the transgender and gender non-conforming communities and their families to allow people to live as their authentic selves.
Jared Lowery (pronouns he/him) has 18 years experience working in the utility industry. His positions include nuclear plant operator, site change manager, performance improvement analyst, cause analyst, and project cost control. In his current role, Jared works as a regulatory compliance analyst with Duke Energy. Jared and his family wanted to be part of positive change and help anyone that is struggling for their place in this world, so he and his family became allies in the LBGTQ+ community. Jared joined Transcend Charlotte to be part of an incredible organization that is focused on acceptance and understanding.
Minister Cassandra Jones (pronouns she/her) first heard of Transcend Charlotte by way of the TransCloset program, where she began volunteering her time. She is a woman of transgender experience and has 19+ years of board experience, working with organizations that provide services to the LGBTQIA community and is proud to be a part of Transcend Charlotte. She also has 18+ years of experience working in healthcare as a Prevention Specialist, Case Manager, Counselor, Lay Responder, and Health Instruction Trainer. She holds college degrees in Management Information Systems and Clinical Psychology. She was honored and blessed to be happily married for 20 years to her soulmate, a wonderful man who loved and respected her as her authentic self. They raised five children to see beyond the labels of the physical body and to honor and love individuals for who they are. As of March 2016, she is a widow. She is a proud founding member of the Unity Fellowship Church movement under Archbishop Carl Bean where they believe that God is Love and Love is for Everyone!
Natalia Croomhill (pronouns she/her) is a member of the transgender community and the parent of a young trans man. She transitioned in the late 1990s, a time period when the doctors that treat trans people advised “going stealth” after transition, essentially hiding the fact of being transgender from one’s friends and community. After many years of living stealth and internalizing the shame that comes with hiding who you are and where you come from, her own child came out to her as transgender. While helping her son with his transition, she decided the re-join the LGBTQ community and started volunteering with the Time Out Youth organization through the Wells Fargo Volunteers program. She worked with the youth at TOY for a few years, helping chaperone and facilitate the nightly group discussions, several nights each month. Natalia heard about the Transcend Charlotte organization as Trey and Che were getting the ball rolling, and decided that she wanted to focus her efforts on serving the needs of the Charlotte transgender community. She has since joined the board of directors and is eager to find ways she can contribute her experience and expertise to transgender people and their families.
Nicole Madonna, LCSW
Nicole Madonna (pronouns she/her) received her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University. Nicole has been working in the field of trauma and higher education for over 9 years. Prior to that she was involved with mobile crisis and sexual assault intervention services in Stamford, CT. She then spent six years in college mental health in the Bronx, NY before coming to UNC Charlotte to spearhead the university’s prevention and education efforts and survivor support. She serves as the Committee Chair for the Interpersonal Violence Prevention and Education Committee which includes students, staff, faculty, alumni and community stakeholders. Nicole has spent most of her career serving individuals who are survivors of interpersonal violence in various capacities and has a passion and drive for the work she did on the UNC Charlotte campus. Nicole specializes in safety planning for survivors and enjoys teaching about interpersonal violence and sexual assault prevention by creating engaging and creative learning opportunities for students that will help guide them to help seeking for themselves or their friends. Nicole is currently the Director of Counseling Services at Johnson and Wales Charlotte campus.
Trey Greene, MSW, LCSWA
Trey Greene, MSW, LCSWA (pronouns he/him), is a transgender man and social worker who is passionate about supporting individuals who are struggling because of their identity, experiences, or beliefs. He received his MSW from UNC Charlotte with a focus of study on the LGBTQ community and trauma-informed care. Along with specializing in issues related to gender, Trey is a clinician and educator on trauma prevention and recovery, with a special focus on trauma associated with sexual assault. He practices from a trauma informed, person-centered, and empowerment-based framework.
Che teaches music and acting to students ages 2-16.. Che spent a year working as a police officer for CMPD, and then returned to school with the hopes that he could help the Charlotte community with a more one-on-one approach.