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Our Staff

Melissa Murray, Executive Director

Pronouns: she/her

Melissa Murray is a queer mama and a social justice activist. She has worked in a variety of social justice movements, including anti-violence, racial justice, reproductive health, and queer rights. In Ohio, she worked with LGBTQ students at the Ohio State University, and provided sober support to queer women in recovery. Melissa holds a BA in Women’s Studies and a Masters in Social Work, both from the Ohio State University. Outside of work, Melissa is an avid hiker and climber and loves exploring Vermont. Melissa is excited to bring her talents to Outright Vermont to work with and on behalf of queer youth.

Five fun facts about Melissa:

  1. I have three hilarious children.
  2. I have climbed fifteen mountains in the last two years and look forward to more mountain climbing as often as possible.
  3. I am terrified of bees. Know what that phobia is called? Melissophobia.
  4. I can read a book in a day if I like it well enough (no matter how long it is). Favorite book? Probably Harry Potter (all of them).
  5. It would take me more than a month to listen to all the songs on my iPod. Best Album of all time? 69 Love Songs by the Magnetic Fields.

Contact Melissa at ed@outrightvt.org

 

 

Dana Kaplan, Director of Educationdana

Pronouns: he/him, they/them, or Dana!

As the Director of Education, I seem to wear many hats… which suits me well as a person who likes to have lots of options! I got my graduate degree in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies, and that lens of question-asker and relationship-builder is definitely woven into how I approach the world.

Five Fun Facts about Dana:

  1. I have a twin brother (Yes, I am older. By 2.5 minutes. Yes, he is also queer)!
  2. I like to ferment foods. If I ever started a business, I decided I’d call it “pickled pink”
  3. I play in an indie pop band that’s toured internationally and released 4 albums, but I’ve never actually thought of myself as a musician.
  4. In my free time, I like to give hair cuts. I’m good at table tennis. I like to make my bed every morning. I’m told I’m a phenomenal driver… on both sides of the road! And, I can be a rule-follower, but I prefer to stretch them when I can.
  5. I’d rather go up a mountain than go down it.

Dana can be reached at dana@outrightvt.org

 

Emma Makdessi, Camp Outright Coordinator

Pronouns:  She/her

Emma loves traveling, adventure, working with youth, and the camp life. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in International Studies. After graduating from college, she served for 2 years with the AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps, where she worked with numerous non-profits on the west coast. Emma has been doing diversity education and youth leadership development with Community Tampa Bay and their ANYTOWN™ program for 12 years; currently, she is their Outreach Coordinator. You can also find Emma climbing at the YMCA where she works as the Ropes Course Coordinator. Emma loves Camp Outright and is looking forward to joining the Outright team.

Five Fun Facts about Emma: 

1. You can always find me listening to music and sometimes it’s the same song on repeat.

2. I’ve been skydiving twice and want to eventually complete a solo jump.

3. I love the outdoors and the beach at night and laying in hammocks.

4. I have a puppy named Toby-he made me a dog/animal person.

5. I crave adventure and am always down to road trip or travel.

Emma can be reached at Emma@outrightvt.org

 

Amanda Rohdenburg, Director of Advocacy & Director of Events and Marketing

Pronouns: She/her

I am a rock-climbing, tarot-consulting gourmand on the search for delicious.  I earned a BA in Gender Studies and Political Science from Saint Michael’s College and have spent the past three years advocating for victims of sexual, domestic, and teen dating violence with Voices Against Violence in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.  Together with my stalwart canine side-kick Max and the magnanimous help of some other folks I know, we confront squirrels and injustice fearlessly.

5 Fun Facts About Amanda:

1. I can whistle with an acorn top!

2. And poach an egg!

3. I love adventures! Geocaching in my own neighborhood or jet setting around the world like a real fancy pants, I love it all.

4. I always ask Max how his day was

5. The two of us would be serious contenders in a Treats and Snoozin’ Olympics

Amanda can be reached at Amanda@outrightvt.org

 

 

Erika Meierdiercks, Director of Programs

Pronouns: she/her

I am a creative empathic, who values a good joke, and loves a good karaoke song! I am about to earn my Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, which has shaped who I am as a listener and supporter. For almost five years, I have been working to support youth with developmental trauma to continue to grow within their home communities. They have taught me the importance of relationships, as well as where to get the best milkshake in Franklin County.

5 Fun Facts about Erika:

1. I can be very competitive at team games, or any game, really…

2. If I see an actor in a film, and I can’t remember their name, I have to Google it (or IMDB) and figure out where I recognize them from.

3. I have laughed until I’ve cried on numerous occasions.

4. I am an introverted-extrovert. I can be shy at first, but have a hard time quieting down when wrapped up in a passionate conversation. It also means that I charge my battery at home, on the couch, with a good movie.

5. I love finding a new “water spot” to swim, that I often convince myself that I am the first to discover it.

Erika can be reached at Erika@outrightvt.org