Julie K. Mesaros, President
Julie is a dedicated, thought-provoking educator and social leader.
Julie is committed to LGBT Equality Alliance’s three mission pillars: Social Connectedness and Responsibility, Education and Outreach, and Health and Wellness. Julie has a personal stake in the LGBTQ community, and she has demonstrated a strong professional commitment to socio-political causes in the U.S. and abroad.
Julie teaches English as a Second Language to international students at West Chester University. She has a Master of Education degree and ten years of teaching experience. Julie brings highly developed intercultural skills, having spent 6 years studying and working in Asia. In 1998, while earning a B.A. in Philosophy at Loyola College of Maryland, she studied a semester in Bangkok, Thailand. Since that first time abroad, she has greatly enjoyed working with people of differing worldviews.
Julie’s personal experience of limited freedom drives her to stand up to injustice and advocate for those who cannot. She brings practical experience of managing and training volunteers, and volunteer work in education, mental health, and social work fields. In Thailand, Julie worked as an international volunteer coordinator, grant writer, and interpreter for a local non-governmental organization that fights child sex and labor trafficking. She learned how critical grassroots social work is to local communities and how valuable volunteers are to a non-profit organization.
Julie also values family time and promoting wellness. Her partner Amy and Amy’s daughters are the light of her life. Amy’s stable support keeps her grounded and aiming high. Their family enjoys outdoor activities, playing games, dancing, and cooking together.
Stacey DeFreitas, Vice President
Stacey is a fun-loving and creative teacher and mother of two.
She resides in Phoenixville, PA with her wife, Faith of 16 years, and twin sons. She feels very fortunate to have a very loving and supportive family and friends that have always supported her and her family.
Stacey is currently a substitute teacher in the local school districts. She holds a Masters in Sport Management from Springfield College, MA, and a bachelors degree in Physical Education from Kean University, NJ. In addition to teaching, Stacey has over 10 years of coaching experience in field hockey and women’s lacrosse from middle school to collegiate level, as well as professional experiences in marketing and sales.
Stacey enjoys outdoor activities such as running, hiking, camping, and exploring new places with her family. She plays competitive co-ed volleyball year round and competes in various road races and triathlons throughout the year. Stacey is a strong supporter of MS research and has participated in the Bike MS: City to Shore ride for 5 years in honor of her friend that is living with MS. She is also a strong supporter of MG research and participates in their annual walk with her family and friends, in honor of her Aunt living with MG.
Stacey leads the Youth and Family Committee and our liaison for the GSA clubs in Chester County. The Youth and Family Committee had a very successful Holiday Pride Drive in December which filled 300 backpacks filled with toiletries, snacks, and winter gear for the homeless shelters to provide to their clients. In addition to the backpacks, the Youth and Family Committee were able to donate the shelters large quantities of paper products, diapers, feminine hygiene products, and winter gear. Because of Stacey’s efforts with the Youth and Family Committee, she received the LGBT Equality Alliance “Born to Lead” award in November 2016. Stacey is committed to promoting a safe and inclusive environment for the LGBTQ+ youth and families.
Jim Forrester, Treasurer
Jim is an outgoing philanthropist and community connector.
Jim currently working for Exelon as a Corporate Functional Area Manager with responsibilities for managing three core functions across three operating companies. Prior to Exelon, he held various positions over 13 years with MBNA in Delaware, south Florida, and Atlanta. Jim is a supporter of United Way, American Diabetes Association and is active with Manna in Philadelphia. Jim also is the organizer of Gays of Southeast PA Meetup group, helping to bring LGBT community together in the rural areas outside of Philadelphia.
Jim has two daughters 14 and 15. Jim’ partner of 8 years, Rory, is an advertising professional in Wilmington and they recently purchased and renovated their Chester County home together.
Michael Barbiero, Member At-Large
Michael is a well-respected litigator and trial attorney.
A Partner at the law firm Rudolph Clarke, LLC, clients benefit from Michael’s perfect mix of real-world and legal experience. Prior to returning to school for law, Michael worked for several years with troubled teens in and around Philadelphia. Helping families at their darkest times inspired him to return to school to become an attorney.
In the community, Michael is Chairman of the Abington-Rockledge Democratic Committee and in 2008, the Committee honored him with the Democrat of the Year Award. He has volunteered as Youth Aid Panel Member, soccer and baseball coach, and for Town Watch. He was appointed to the Abington Industrial Development Authority (2006-2008) and served as a Certified Arbitrator, Phila Common Pleas Court.
In 2015, Michael was inducted into the Multi-Million Dollar Advocates forum. 2013, he was invited to join Top Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers, and in 2011, invited to join the Million Dollar Advocates Forum. He was named a Pennsylvania “Rising Star – Super Lawyer,” Dec,2008, Philadelphia magazine, top 2.5 percent of attorneys 40 years old or younger in Pa. In Jan, 2007, Michael was appointed to the Advisory Panel of the American Bar Assoc..
Michael’s law firm, along with Montgomery County Register of Wills D. Bruce Hanes, made history in 2013 by issuing the first marriage licenses for gay couples in Pennsylvania. The firm and the Register of Wills continued making history through the second half of 2013 and well into 2014 by advocated for the issuance of marriage licenses in the Pennsylvania Courts, winning that legal battle in 2014.
Justin Stolte, Member-At-Large
Justin Stolte, CPA, began working in private industry in 1998. As an accounting analyst serving the chief financial officer and controller of a large, family-owned, regional supermarket business, he gained valuable insight on the daily financial and operational challenges confronting small and mid-sized businesses.
After four years on the client side, Justin moved to public accounting, where as a senior accountant for a regional firm, he provided tax compliance services for partnerships and corporations, as well as audits, reviews, and compilations for a wide range of clients. Later, working for eight years as a senior manager at a national accounting firm and four years at a regional firm, he additionally serves tax exempt organizations, estates, and high net worth individuals.
Justin joined St. Clair CPA Solutions in July 2014 because the firm’s commitment to superior personal service matched his own desire to exceed client expectations on every engagement. As an Accounting and Auditing Manager, Justin believes his client-side perspective, coupled with his significant experience as a certified public accountant, gives him a unique ability to understand and meet the needs of his clients. His goal is to become a trusted member of each client’s team, and to be proactive in providing valuable guidance that strengthens long-term relationships.
Active in professional organizations and his community, Justin is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, and the Independent Business Alliance. He also serves as a volunteer for the Greater Philadelphia Arts and Business Council and Habitat of Humanity of Montgomery County. In 2002, Justin earned his bachelor’s degree in economics and business administration, with a concentration in accounting and finance, and a minor in German, from Ursinus College. He lives in Collegeville, Pennsylvania.
Kyle Smith, Member-At-Large
Raised in a service-oriented family, the importance of helping others help themselves was ingrained in Kyle from an early age. His parents were always willing to help, and their home always had an extra place at the table, and a bed available for family friends who were in need, foreign exchange students, and other family going through troubles.
Through Kyle’s career, he has worked as a rape crisis interventionist, victim advocate, hospice and bereavement volunteer, and child welfare professional. This afforded him a lot of contact with the challenges of trauma. That experience has also helped him in work as a Masters level therapist, at inpatient and outpatient mental health programs, and in the addictions field. Over the past three years, Kyle’s training has enabled him to specialize more in LGBTQ mental health and addiction care.
Kyle’s passions include social justice (especially child welfare, and LGBTQ rights), as well as art, history, and music. As an out gay male, in addition to having travelled several paths of faith and having lived abroad, he knows what it is like to be “the other.” The ultimate goal in his work is to help people overcome that experience to reconnect with themselves and their wider community. As a board member, he believes working for and with the LGBTQ communities in Chester County is a natural continuation of that service mission.
Laura DiFrancesco, Member-At-Large
Laura is excited to have increased her involvement with LGBT beyond volunteering by being elected as a Board Member. Here is a little about Laura:
She was born in south Philadelphia but spent most of her childhood and teen years in a small suburban town named Lester (Delaware County). Her immediate family is small; her parents, one older sister and one younger brother, one niece and 3 nephews. After high school she attended Philadelphia College of Art (now named University of the Arts) in center city Philadelphia. There she earned her BS in Industrial Design with a strong focus on graphic design. After graduating from PCA, Laura attended Temple University for a year, taking classes in psychology and physics.
During the summer before her senior year at PCA she move into center city and lived there for over 12 years. Immediately after graduation from PCA she started a long career as a graphic designer specializing in logos and corporate identity. Currently she works as a senior graphic designer at Pfizer (pharmaceuticals) in Collegeville, having recently celebrated 18 years with Pfizer.
Laura is also a writer and illustrator. Most of her illustrations are a combination of watercolors and inks. When she was 12 years old (7th grade) she won her first writing award. Since then she has written poetry, essays, short stories and has developed the outline for a children’s book series and a science fiction novel. Currently she is in the process of illustrating two children’s books she has written and is working with an independent publisher, hoping to publish in 2018. She has also done extensive technical writing (SOPs, guidelines, proposals, etc.) for Pfizer and other companies for whom she has worked in the past.
In March of this year Laura moved to Phoenixville after selling her home of 11 years in Limerick. She is actively involved with 2 Phoenixville meet-ups, one for artists and one for writers. Recently she also returned to the Historic Yellow Springs Chester Springs Studio for pottery classes. You will often find Laura on the Perkiomen and Schuylkill trails where she loves to bike ride. She also volunteers at Ryerrs Farm for Aged Equines.
Laura looks forward to getting to know the other LGBT members and volunteers. She extends her thanks and gratitude to Julie and Rachel for welcoming me as part of this exciting organization.
James Kelly III, Member-At-Large
James is a sharp, expansive marketing and sales manager.
James has worked and led teams in marketing and sales, cultivating talent in the field as he created and executed a gamut of campaigns. His business acumen has always been coupled with a passion for service and desire to give back to his community, and – as he has settled in the Chester County region – he intends to use his skills to help provide safe and inclusive spaces for the local LGBTQ+ community.
James graduated Villanova University in 2014 with his B.S.B.A. in Marketing, and proceeded directly to Long Islander News – a hyper-local media organization based in Long Island, New York. He spent close to three years with the organization, serving as their Director of Sales & Marketing during his tenure.
James then recently moved to the Chester County area, now serving as a Product Marketing Manager at Bentley Systems – a global engineering that provides comprehensive architectural and engineering software solutions. He lives in King of Prussia, and has enjoyed exploring the area greatly.
James is excited to bring his expertise in sales and marketing, as well as his aptitude for strategy and leadership, to his role. He resonates strongly with the overarching mission of the organization, and looks forward to lending his talents and getting involved further in this new community he calls home.
Advisory Board Members
Rachel Stevenson, Founder
Rachel is a passionate, charismatic leader and motivator.
Rachel Stevenson is the Founder and President of LGBT Equality Alliance. In less than a year, her work has earned her positions on statewide LGBT committees, guest spots on radio shows, and articles highlighting her organization in local newspapers and media outlets. Although she appreciates the recognition, her greatest reward is the relationships she’s made and the impact she’s helped create within the suburban LGBT community.
Rachel is also a motivational speaker, author, and coach. She recently released a book, titled Reshaping Rachel: My 115-Journey to Finding Myself. Rachel speaks on how to create life-long change, find balance, promote positivity, and live an authentic life. Her company, Reshaping YOU, focuses on corporate and individual life, health and diversity coaching and consulting.
Her newest endeavor is OUTCOAST.com. As the publisher of the new Florida-based LGBT platform, Rachel amplifies business and community voices of LGBT residents throughout Florida’s gulf coast region.
Awards and Accomplishments: 2016 West Chester University Bayard Rustin Award Winner, 2016 Phoenixville Chamber of Commerce Merit Award Winner, 2015 Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce Small Business Star Award recipient, and 2014 American Heart Association Lifestyle Change Award Winner.
Frederick is a sharp and highly-sought-after financial advisor.
Frederick E. Hubler, Jr. graduated Magna Cum Laude from West Chester University and proceeded to gain his M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix. He obtained his Series 7 and Series 63 securities licenses in 2001, his Series 24 in 2007, and his Series 66 in 2011. Mr. Hubler received the Certified Wealth Strategist (CWS®) designation in February 2014.
Mr. Hubler is a multi-year NABCAP Premier Advisor (2010-2014)*, one of Main Line Today’s Top Advisors on the Main Line for 2012, and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Kiplinger’s, MainLine CEO, Philadelphia Magazine, the Philadelphia Business Journal, American Banker, and Chester County Life.
Having always had a focus on community, Mr. Hubler is a Past Chairman of the Phoenixville Area Chamber of Commerce, has previously served on the Board of Directors for the Phoenixville Senior Center as Vice-President, and is a Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Phoenixville. He is married to Elizabeth, has four year old twins James and Abigail, loves football, and his hobbies include golf, cigars, and cars.
Nikki is an energetic, strategy-minded entrepreneur and consultant.
Nikki DiCaro is Founder and CEO of DiCaro Consulting, a diversity and inclusion consulting firm. Her firm inspires unconditional equality, diversity and inclusion through client-focused training, education and employee engagement to companies large and small.
Nikki leverages her extensive career as a Senior Executive building, turning around and restarting businesses across the private and public sectors. During this time, she spent eighteen years as a partner in a successful venture capital firm. Nikki has run five companies in the telecommunications industry.
Nikki discovered her talent and passion for equality, diversity and inclusion after she successfully completed gender transition utilizing a well-developed and thoughtfully executed plan. She is an active coach and supporter of all communities including providing guidance and direction to the transgender, employer, educator, parents and caring significant others to promote understanding and acceptance. Nikki’s pragmatic and inspirational messages reach people to help them learn about who they are and why they are. In summary, she is an advocate and leader for unconditional equality and diversity.
Nikki writes inspirational pieces which she periodically publishes on her website. She has published three practical guides to gender transition for the transgender, employer, and parents. She is actively developing a gender transition guide for educators.
In her spare time, Nikki writes fiction novels. Nikki’s dream is the lead role in a movie based upon one of her eleven novels.