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Meet The Team

Christopher Wood

Executive Director & Co-Founder



Short Bio:

Christopher Wood is a renowned entrepreneur and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, driven by a life-changing event at 25 involving a suicide bomber. He has founded three LGBTQ+-focused non-profits, a B2B and B2C company, and has been a prominent voice in over 100 events. As the Executive Director & Co-Founder of LGBT Tech and COO of Redwood & Co, he has championed LGBTQ+ rights in technology and policy, collaborating with major tech firms and government agencies. Christopher's ventures also include the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center, addressing service gaps in Virginia. His accolades include the FOSI Award in 2015, joining Vice President Harris for the launch of ACP at the White House in 2022, and a Certificate of Achievement from Georgetown University in 2023.

Long Bio:

Christopher Wood: A Visionary Leader and Advocate for the LGBTQ+ Community

Christopher Wood is a dynamic entrepreneur, educator, and advocate who has dedicated his life to championing the rights and needs of the LGBTQ+ community. With a background that spans the realms of entrepreneurship, academia, and advocacy, Mr. Wood has made a significant impact in various sectors, from technology to social justice.


Born out of a profound personal experience, Christopher's passion for making a difference was ignited at the age of 25 when he faced a life-threatening situation involving the first suicide bomber in the US. This harrowing event served as a stark reminder of the brevity of life, propelling him to pursue his dreams with unwavering determination.


Over the years, Christopher has founded three non-profits dedicated to the LGBTQ+ community and a B2B and B2C company. He has also shared his expertise as an adjunct professor, focusing on entrepreneurship, and has been a sought-after speaker at over 100 events in the past decade.


Currently, Mr. Wood holds esteemed positions as the Executive Director & Co-Founder of LGBT Tech, the Chief Operating Officer of Redwood & Co, and the Founder and past President of the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center. His leadership at LGBT Tech has been instrumental in advocating for LGBTQ+ individuals in the realm of technology and policy. Under his guidance, the organization has collaborated with top-tier tech companies, social media platforms, and non-profits. They have also engaged with key government agencies, including the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.


In 2013, Christopher spearheaded the launch of the LGBT Tech, a pioneering organization that delves into research at the crossroads of LGBTQ+ communities and technology. His commitment to diversity and digital empowerment was further recognized when he was appointed to three FCC (Federal Communications Commission) Advisory Committees, totaling six years of service. During his latest appointment, he served as Working Group Chair of the Diversity & Equity working group.


Apart from his advocacy in the tech world, Christopher, alongside his husband, ventured into the business realm with Redwood & Co. This venture blossomed from a modest retail outlet to an international enterprise specializing in home fragrances, bath & body products, and home décor.Recognizing a gap in LGBTQ+ services in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, Christopher founded the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center and Staunton Pride in 2018. This initiative has since grown exponentially, offering invaluable support to the LGBTQ+ community across the region.


Christopher's prior roles include consulting for national LGBT organizations, particularly in transgender economic development programs, and working at Discovery Communications, where he crafted strategic marketing campaigns targeting rural and LGBT communities.In addition to his professional milestones, Christopher cherishes his journey as a foster-to-adopt parent, building a loving family with his husband. This personal achievement stands as a testament to his unwavering commitment to creating a world where love, acceptance, and understanding reign supreme.


Recent notable accolades and achievements include the FOSI (Family Online Safety Institute) Award for Outstanding Achievement in 2015, the launch of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) at the White House with Vice President Harris in 2022 and earning a Certificate of Achievement in the New Strategies Program at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business in 2023.


In every endeavor, Christopher Wood exemplifies the spirit of resilience, innovation, and compassion, making him a beacon of hope and inspiration for countless individuals across the globe.

Carlos Gutierrez

Deputy Director & General Counsel


Carlos Gutierrez is Deputy Director & General Counsel for LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute, which works to improve access, increase inclusion, ensure safety, and empower entrepreneurship for LGBTQ+ communities around technology. In his current role, Mr. Gutierrez leads the policy work for LGBT Tech and speaks extensively on the importance of existing and emerging technologies for marginalized communities with a special focus on LGBTQ+ communities. Mr. Gutierrez is an attorney with an extensive background in both business and legal affairs combined with a deep understanding of technology, telecommunications, and long-term strategic planning. Mr. Gutierrez has significant industry experience having served as an intern at the Federal Communications Commission and as a communications associate at the law firm Mintz Levin.  Mr. Gutierrez worked at Discovery Communications, where he served as V.P. of Business Operations and Strategy as well as Head of Business and Legal Affairs for the world’s first 24-hour a day 3D network, 3net. Mr. Gutierrez also interned at the White House as Assistant to the Special Counsel to the President of the United States. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.

Ellie Bessette

Director of Operations & Finance


Ellie oversees the day-to-day operations, grant management, and financial activity of LGBT Tech. A native of western Massachusetts, Ellie was born and raised in Northampton, MA, one of the nation’s most diverse, LGBTQ-friendly towns. Before joining LGBT Tech, she began her career at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and then joined the Dakin Humane Society. Ellie is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

Kristen Kelley

Director of Programs


Kristen Kelley is the Director of Programs at LGBT Tech. She oversees programming and partnerships for PATHS and PowerOn. Kristen has a background in social services and grassroots community organizing. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Cultural Studies and Women and Gender Studies. After completing her undergraduate degree, Kristen lived in Barcelona, Spain teaching English as a Foreign Language. She has extensive experience in refugee solidarity work, volunteering for grassroots projects to support refugees living in camps and shelters across Greece, France, Turkey, Lebanon, and México. She has also worked as a Housing Advocate in Chicago, working with families and youth experiencing homelessness. She has continued doing immigrant solidarity work in both Chicago and México.

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Samantha Sygier Cayax

Program Coordinator


Samantha is the Program Coordinator of the PATHS and PowerOn programs at LGBT Tech. Originally from Panajachel, Guatemala she was exposed to a melting pot of cultures and people. This immersive background guided her into her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala. While studying her bachelor’s, she worked as an English teacher for kids, teens, and adults learning English as a foreign language, which eventually led her to her role as a Program Coordinator overseeing the Adults Program. She also held a college counseling position for Guatemalan youth and young adults wanting to study their undergraduate degrees abroad, where she provided test preparation, mentorship opportunities, language preparation and more. Samantha was also actively involved in community organization and student councils in her university, where she participated and invited fellow students to civic engagement and activism on topics such as gender disparities, LGBTQ+ rights, and indigenous movements.

Board of Directors

Joseph Kapp, President - National Center for Resource Development

Yuri Sakamaki, Secretary - California State University, Bakersfield

L. Charles Keller - Wilkinson Barker Knauer, LLP

Beau Whiteman - Rivian

Dr. Imani Woody - Mary's House for Older Adults

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