Ed Buechel, Kentucky
Ed received his undergraduate degree from Xavier University in Cincinnati and his law degree from the University of Kentucky. He practices law in Northern Kentucky. Ed and his wife Kathy live in Edgewood, Ky. Ed and Kathy each have a gay son, and they are very proud of both of them. Ed also has a daughter and son-in-law, and Ed and Kathy have one grandson. Ed has participated in numerous parish activities and is involved in a number of community organizations. He serves as the first lay Chair of St. Charles Care Center, Inc. Ed and Kathy host Catholics Embracing the LGBT Community, a support group for parents of LGBT individuals in Northern Kentucky.
Cathy Hoffmann, Indiana
Cathy is a lifelong resident of southern Indiana. Cathy and her husband, Chris, have been married for 28 years and have two grown sons, one straight and one gay.
Cathy received her Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting at the University of Southern Indiana in 1988 and is a Certified Public Accountant. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Indiana CPA Society. Currently, Cathy serves as the Controller the YMCA of Southwestern Indiana. Her prior professional career includes 16 years with Karen L Schenk and Associates LLC, providing accounting and tax services to individuals, small businesses, trust and estates, and not-for-profits. She also spent 10 years with Deaconess Hospital in various roles in the finance and personnel services departments.
Cathy was raised catholic and has been a member of St Wendel Catholic Church since 1993 and has served on the building committee, finance committee and as a CCD teacher. She also served as a speech and debate coach and on the PTO of St Wendel Catholic School. Cathy was a YWCA Live Y'ers mentor in Evansville, Indiana for several years.
Penny Smith-Bogert, New York
Penny Smith-Bogert lives near Albany, New York with her beloved Jack Russell Terrier, Jackie. She is a retired speech/language pathologist, a devoted yoga practitioner and the mother of a 34-year-old daughter and a 29-year-old gay son.
She participates in various local LGBT+ events and volunteers for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. Penny is a very active member of her parish, and has served as a Eucharistic Minister, Faith Formation Teacher, Confirmation Team Facilitator and Chaperone to the National Catholic Youth Conference. She currently sings alto in her church's music ministry group and considers herself blessed to be part of such vibrant secular and religious communities.
Deb Word, Tennessee
Deb, a native Memphian, is the proud mother of two and grandmother of two. Chris, her oldest son, is gay. She is the office manager for a distribution company.
Deb and her husband, Steve, have been active in parish life for more than 35 years, living in Tennessee, Kansas, Mississippi and now back in Memphis. Deb has served as president of the Women’s Guild, and Women of the Cathedral, Building Chair, Pastoral Council Chair, and Finance Council Chair. Deb and Steve are Eucharistic Ministers.
Deb is active in CALGM, the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, The Tennessee Equality Project, and HRC. She and Steve are also part of the 1st Tuesday Potluck Host Team, and Parent Support Team for the Diocesan Catholic Ministry with Gay and Lesbian Persons.
One of Deb’s favorite ways to educate people about LGBT concerns is by writing letters to newspapers, bishops, etc. She is a frequent public speaker in Memphis on the topic of "discarded" homeless gay youth.
Deb and Steve received the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center 2009 Volunteers of the Year award for welcoming homeless GLBT youth into their home, and in 2011 Deb was honored with a Memphis Women of Achievement Award in the category of “Courage” for that work as well as for her “dialogue with the bishops."
Beth Garascia, Indiana
Listening Parents Coordinator
Beth has a B.A. in elementary education from Thomas More College in Fort Mitchell, Ky., and a master's degree in human development from the University of Maryland. She currently lives in South Bend, Ind., but is originally from Erlanger, Ky.
Beth has been a teacher for thirty-two years and is currently teaching GED classes for the Adult Education Department of the South Bend Community School Corporation.
Beth and her husband, Tony, met as members of the Advent Community, a Marianist lay community, and they have both been lay members of the Marianist Family ever since.
Beth was a founding member of the Marianist Social Justice Collaborative’s GLBT Initiative and has been chair since 2008. She and Tony are the proud parents of three grown children, one straight and two gay, and have one granddaughter.
Tony Garascia, Indiana
Parent Gathering Coordinator
Tony received his master's in counseling from Indiana University at South Bend in 1986. In addition he received a master's degree in liturgical studies in 1978 from the Catholic University of America. Tony has more 25 years of experience counseling individuals, couples, families, adolescents and children. His areas of specialty include marriage and relationship issues, family difficulties, depression and anxiety, traumatic stress and bereavement work and sexual identity issues.
He works with clients from age 7 up. He is the author of the popular marriage preparation programs Before “I Do” and Catholic Remarriage (Ave Maria Press), Rekindle the Passion While Raising Your Kids (Sorin Books), and Getting Married, Living Together(Ave Maria Press). Tony is licensed in the State of Indiana as a clinical social worker.
Tony and his wife, Beth, met as members of a Marianist lay community and have been lay members of the Marianist Family ever since. Tony served as the president of the International Organization of Marianist Lay Communities from 2005 to 2009. They are the proud parents of three grown children, one straight and two gay, and have one granddaughter.
Jenny Naughton, California
Jenny has lived in California all of her life. She and her husband of 36 years, John, have resided in Diamond Bar for 27 years. They have one child, a son who is gay.
Jenny has been a catechist for more than 20 years. She is currently a Master Catechist for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 2007, she founded “Always Our Children,” a support group for parents of gay and lesbian children, answering the call to ministry called for in the USCCB pastoral letter of the same name.
In addition, she developed the Education Committee and serves on the Leadership Committee of the Archdiocesan Catholic Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Persons (CMLGP). She has been mentoring inmates at California Institute for Women since 2001.
Jenny works with extremely special needs people at Lanterman Developmental Center, bringing clients to Sunday Mass. In 2008 she was awarded the Pastors Leadership Award from her parish and in 2011 the Lumen Christi Award from the Los Angeles Archdiocese Ministry with Lesbian and Gay Catholics (now CMLGP).
Michael Duffy, Illinois
Board Associate & Equally Blessed liaison
Bio to Come
Bradley A. Leger, Louisiana
Brad is an educator, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, liturgical musician and international development consultant. He has experience with diversity and equity efforts on the university level and has worked with a number of boards and organizations that facilitate community, leadership and economic development. He holds degrees in education and pastoral studies and a certificate in social justice. The foundation of his work embraces the tenets of equity, access and opportunity for all.
Alecia Moss, Pennsylvania
Originally from Baltimore, MD, Alecia and her husband, Joseph, have lived in western Pennsylvania for the past 23 years. She is an active member of St. Vincent Basilica Parish in Latrobe, PA. She and her husband have three adult children. The youngest, their only son, is gay and is currently living in Brooklyn, NY.
Alecia received her bachelor of science in nursing from Loyola College and the University of Maryland. She was serving as a nurse on active duty in the US Air Force when she met her husband, who is a physician. They have been married for 32 years, and, their family and faith have always been at the center of their life. Alecia has lead the Children's Liturgy of the Word program in her parish for more than 20 years. She has served on the Adult Education Committee, in RCIA and in Children's Faith Formation. She continues to serve her Church as she works to start an LGBT outreach ministry, Always God's Children, within her parish and diocese. As a grandmother of two, she very much wants her grandchildren to grow up in a Church that is loving and respectful of all, particularly those marginalized by our society. She spent three years as a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) representing children in the foster care system. Currently she is active in her local PFLAG chapter as secretary and was very proud to have marched in the Pittsburgh Pride Parade for the past two years carrying the Fortunate Families Banner.
Betty Dirr, Ohio
Betty lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her husband, Mike. They have 2 children, a 32-year-old son and a 30-year-old lesbian daughter. Betty is a native of Louisville, KY where she attended Catholic schools for 16 years. After graduating from Spalding College (now University) with a BS degree in home economics, she went on to earn a master’s degree in clinical nutrition from the University of Kentucky. Betty started her career as a registered dietitian in New Haven, CT where she worked for four years before moving to Cincinnati in 1977. She retired from Good Samaritan Hospital in 2014.
Betty is active in parish life at St. John the Baptist Church as a lector, coordinator of the Fair Trade product sales and Vincentian volunteer for the St. Vincent DePaul Society Conference. Her involvement with Fortunate Families has included being a Listening Parent and assisting in the planning of a Parent Gathering in Cincinnati. She is also an active participant in local parish ministries for Parents/Families and Friends of LGBT+ Persons.
Harry Bronson, Esq.
Mary Ellen Lopata