Meet The Team

Christopher Wood

Executive Director & Co-Founder

He/Him/His

 

Short Bio:

A leading entrepreneur, Christopher Wood has founded three non-profits focused on the LGBTQ+ community, one for profit B2B and B2C company, taught as an adjunct professor around entrepreneurship and spoke at over 100 events in the past 10 years. His drive and passion truly took shape at 25 years old when he was taken hostage by the first suicide bomber in the US and realizing from cradle to grave, this life is short and it was on him to make his dreams come true. To date, he has grown all his non-profit or for profit ventures from a small idea to successful organizations employing over 15 people. Mr. Wood currently holds positions as the Executive Director & Co-Founder, LGBT Tech – Chief Operating Officer, Redwood & Co. – President & Founder, Shenandoah LGBTQ Center. In addition to his professional achievements, Mr. Wood’s proudest personal achievements over the past 10 years is becoming a foster to adopt parent and building a beautiful family with his husband.

Long Bio:

Christopher Wood is an entrepreneur in every sense of the word; author, speaker, adjunct professor, Executive Director & co-founder of two national non-profits, President & founder of one regional non-profit, and COO of a small international business with B2B and B2C customers.

In 2012, Mr. Wood co-founded a new non-profit, the LGBT Technology Partnership which focuses on advocacy for LGBT individuals and communities as it relates to technology and the policies that govern it. Through Mr. Wood’s leadership the organization has met with and continues to work with several Fortune top 20 technology, social media and nonprofit organizations. The organization has also met with several government agencies including the White House and the Federal Communications Commission.

In 2014, Mr. Wood led the launch of another non-profit to work with the LGBT Technology

Institute. The Institute is a tax-exempt not-for-profit organization conducting cutting edge research at the intersection of LGBT communities and technology and creates resources, tools, and programs to support LGBT communities.

In 2017, Mr. Wood was appointed to the Federal Communications Commission's Advisory

Committee on Diversity and Digital Empowerment for a two year term. Mr. Wood was appointed for a second term in 2019 and has served the committee for a total of four years.

In 2015, Mr. Wood started another company with his husband, Redwood & Co. Serving as the Chief Operating Officer, together with several employees, Mr. Wood and his husband have grown their business from a small retail storefront to an international B2B and B2C business selling home fragrance, bath & body and home décor. They are currently distributed in over 150 locations across the U.S. and have a flagship store in Staunton, VA.

In 2018, Mr. Wood noticed a serious lack of LGBTQ+ services available in the Shenandoah Valley of Central Virginia. July of 2018 he founded the Shenandoah LGBTQ Center and Staunton Pride. To date, he has lead the organization as the President and grown it into an organization with over 5 committees working from Winchester, VA to Roanoke, VA serving the LGBTQ+ community with the support they need the most.

Previously, Mr. Wood served as a consultant to national LGBT organizations on various projects including transgender economic development programs. In this capacity, Mr. Wood provided project planning and strategic guidance to groups developing programs around jobs, legal programs, intake processes, localized statistics and employer/employee training opportunities. His work has assisted several transgender communities across many US cities move transgender assistance programs to the next level.

Prior to that, Mr. Wood worked at Discovery Communications creating social media and strategic marketing campaigns directed toward rural and LGBT communities. As part of his strategic campaigns, he was responsible for directing outreach programs at various LGBT Pride festivals across the country. From this work and previous experience, Mr. Wood brings a keen understanding of the needs of local LGBT organizations and how best to connect with them.

Mr. Wood has also owned a successful marketing consulting practice with clients such as the

Washington Blade and Blackbarn Media to name a few. Mr. Wood joined his client, the Washington Blade, an LGBT newspaper, as the full-time marketing manager. In that capacity, Mr. Wood worked on creating strategic partnerships with various local and national LGBT organizations for advertising, events and outreach.

Carlos Gutierrez

Deputy Director & General Counsel

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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 Programs

She/Her/Hers

Ellie oversees all day-to-day operations of the PowerOn and PATHS programs. With a background in fundraising, Ellie leads the charge to grow programs like PowerOn, empowering LGBTQ+ individuals by providing hardware (computers, tablets, laptops and cell phones), technology education, and information about low cost broadband. Through regular communications with PowerOn partner centers and recycling partners Ellie ensures that e-waste and donated technology are doing the most good for the LGBTQ+ individuals we serve. Ellie also manages the marketing and development operations for the program and oversees the application process for new LGBTQ+ centers to join PowerOn.

 

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 started her fundraising career at the Northfield Mount Hermon School, and then joined the Dakin Humane Society. Ellie is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College.

Kristen Kelley

Programs & Communications Manager

She/Her/Hers

Kristen Kelley is the Programs and Communications Manager at LGBT Tech. She oversees programming and partnerships for PATHS and PowerOn. She also coordinates social media and communications for LGBT Tech. 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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