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Meet SpeakOUT’s 2016 Board of Directors

SpeakOUT is proud to introduce the Board of Directors for 2016. We welcome four new board members who have joined us over the last six months and will be helping to guide our work in the coming year. If you are interested in learning more about SpeakOUT and how you can become involved with the organization, please email Executive Director Ellyn Ruthstrom at

Brian Balduzzi photo croppedBrian Balduzzi is a new Board Member and Treasurer for SpeakOUT, and he is ecstatic to promote and support its mission. Brian is a former teacher, certified in English Grades 7-12, who followed his passion for advocacy to Boston University School of Law where he earned his JD and Tax LLM. There, he was active in both OutLaw, serving as Treasurer, and the Public Interest Project, serving as Co-President, among other LGBTQ advocacy and public interest organizations. Now, he works as a Tax and Estate Planning Attorney at a mid-sized law firm in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and serves as a Board Member for the Mass. LGBTQ Bar Association and Weston Friendly Society, the second oldest community theatre in the country.  In addition to directing and producing LGBTQ theatre, Brian is a reviewer with the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) and American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), and Managing Editor for ArtsImpulse, a Greater Boston theatre reviewing site.  In his spare time, he enjoys taking walks with his partner and King Charles Cavalier-Poodle, belting showtunes, and singing with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus.

Bill Barnert headshot

Bill Barnert is the most tenured member of the Board of Directors, having been speaking for SpeakOUT since 1980. He was a co-host of SpeakOUT TV (the weekly cable show produced by the organization from 1993-2007) and PrideTime for Boston cable. Bill is proud of the organizations he has helped to co-found, including the AIDS Action Committee, Brown University TBGALA, and the Cambridge Men’s Group. Bill has sung with the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, danced with the ReneGAYdes, drummed with the Freedom Trail Marching Band, and has volunteered at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School’s GSA, “Project-10 East.” Currently, he sits on the City of Cambridge GLBT Commission, and he helps run the Cambridge Men’s Group. Professionally, Bill is a User Experience Designer, and is active in BostonCHI. In what’s left of his spare time, he is an amateur actor, comedian, and playwright.

Michael Bookman headshotMichael Bookman’s attendance at SpeakOUT’s Speaker Training in 2012 inspired him to learn more about the organization and he has been volunteering and speaking for SpeakOUT ever since, joining the Board of Directors in 2014. Michael has served on the Volunteer Recognition Committee and as a disaster services instructor for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, and as the co-chair of Boston Pride’s Human Rights and Education Committee. Currently in graduate school at Emmanuel College, Michael holds a bachelor’s degree of science in psychology. He is a human resources professional and belongs to the Society of Human Resources Management. For over six years, Michael has been a proud member and executive club committee member of Toastmasters International, a non-profit educational organization that helps its members develop their public speaking and leadership skills.

Michele C-C headshotMichele Canero-Conklin has been on the SpeakOUT board since 2012. Her passion is community service, and she is especially dedicated to life preservation and meeting and connecting with people one-on-one, wherever they may be on this journey we call life. Michele is a seasoned, dedicated, compassionate, and service-oriented campus law enforcement/communications professional with a true passion for mentoring youth to become successful leaders and mentors. She’s also a mother of two adult children, coaches little league softball, and teaches self-defense and CPR/first aid classes.

Jenna ConnollyJenna Connolly is a Certified Nonprofit Professional with a strong background in volunteer management and a proud new member of the SpeakOUT board as of 2015. She has been an employee with Planned Parenthood since 2014 and is committed to reproductive & sexual justice and education in addition to LGBTQ rights. She considers herself an intersectional feminist and will receive a graduate certificate in Gender, Leadership, and Public Policy from UMass Boston in May 2016, which she hopes to use to break into the advocacy and policy sector. She is an amateur musician and writer in her spare time and currently resides in Brighton with her feline roommate, Peebee.

Jess FickJessica Fick joined the SpeakOut board in September 2015. Jessica has served in a variety of talent/organizational development focused roles throughout her career in the nonprofit sector.  She is passionate about helping organizations run well and become better places to work/volunteer, so that they can make even more of an impact. Her day job involves leading the talent function at an education consulting firm, for which she has recently taken on the role of integrating diversity and inclusion efforts into the overall recruitment and employee engagement efforts. She joined SpeakOut to learn and extend her impact beyond work. As an LGBTQ ally, Jessica is a true believer in building stronger and more inclusive communities and cultures through listening and understanding the unique perspectives and experiences of others. In her spare time, Jessica enjoys spending time outdoors (walking, hiking, biking) with her husband and dog.

George Grattan headshotGeorge Grattan’s career track and volunteer history has wound through the woods of academia, non-profits, marketing, writing, acting, public speaking, board service, environmental activism, and general “doing of stuff.” George joined the board of SpeakOUT in the fall of 2014, and prior to that was a board member of Living Routes, an environmental study-abroad program. His day gig focuses on marketing academic and social media content for Bentley University in Waltham, where he resides with his wife Mary. He has worked in the past for Earthwatch, the Urban Ecology Institute, Boston College, and the College of the Holy Cross. He has co-authored and co-edited both editions of Writing Places, a place-based composition reader for first-year college courses, and can be found every third Tuesday of the month at a “Bi Guys Bowling Night.” George is now serving as SpeakOUT’s Board Chair and is also one of our active speakers.

Jenn Guneratne joined SpeakOUT’s board in July 2014, having initially signed on as a volunteer in late 2013 to assist with the organization’s social media presence. Since then, she has watched the board grow with a number of highly talented and enthusiastic members. Jenn is excited to be involved with the Board during this time of growth and she is serving in the role of Board Clerk. Professionally, Jenn has worked in both arts organizations and educational institutions, and is currently working for the Undergraduate Affairs department at Boston University College of Communication. Jenn’s background and interests span the gamut of drama, music and musicology, photography, deaf studies, involvement with the LGBTQ community and commuting around the city on her trusty bike.

alley photo

Alley Stoughton became an LGBTQ activist in Kansas during the fight against a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution restricting marriage to one man and one woman. The amendment passed, but the process of fighting it had beneficial effects for many participants, both personal and professional. In Alley’s case, it gave her the courage to transition genders, restarting a process that had been stalled for decades; it also led to her becoming a social and political activist, taking on leadership roles in a new LGBTQ rights organization as well as in an established peace and justice organization. Alley and her wife moved to Boston in 2010. In her professional life, she’s a research computer scientist, and currently works mostly remotely for a research institute located in Madrid. She trained as a SpeakOUT speaker in the fall of 2014, and joined the SpeakOUT board in the summer of 2015. She’s also a member of WMBR, MIT’s community radio station, where she hosts a modern classical music program.