Jerry Peterson, Executive Director
Jerry joined the Ruth Ellis Center in June of 2013. Peterson brings more than 30 years of leadership experience in the non-profit sector, including several years dedicated to working with lesbian, gay, bi-attractional, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Jerry most recently served as facilitator for the LGBTQ Youth Advocacy Collaborative in Concord, California. He managed an innovative collaboration with six non-profits in Contra Costa County to reduce rejecting behaviors and increase accepting behaviors toward LGBTQ young people in families, schools, service providers, and faith groups. He also spent 14 years with the United Way of Allen County in Fort Wayne Indiana, where he served as its president and CEO for four years. In this position, Jerry led the $6 million, 30-person organization, nurtured community partnerships and launched a 10-year initiative to improve reading levels of children. Although Peterson was not looking to change careers, upon hearing of the critical work of the Ruth Ellis Center he felt compelled to pursue the opportunity to work and serve the incredible youth at the Center.
Pamela Anderson, Deputy Director
Pamela E. Alexander is the Deputy Director at the Ruth Ellis Center, an agency named in the legacy of an African American “Out” Lesbian who passed away at the age of 101. When the opportunity presented itself for Pamela to work at the Ruth Ellis Center, she expressed her deepest gratitude and honor in serving LGBTQ young people. Pamela has 30 years of professional experience in working in the human service field and more particularly working with youth and families. She has an extensive administrative background in program development, policy work, and accreditation compliance.
In addition, Pamela is credentialed in the field of substance use disorders at the state, national and international level. Pamela has graduate degrees in Business Administration and Urban Planning. Overall, Pamela feels at home at the Ruth Ellis Center and she is highly optimistic about planning and executing current and future program services.
Mark Erwin-McCormick, Director of Development & Advancement
Mark joined the Ruth Ellis Center as Director of Programs in August of 2011 and transitioned to his current position in January of 2013. Erwin is responsible for building strategic relationships within the community, establishing visibility of the Center’s programs and services, providing LGBTQ youth proficiency trainings, and the planning, direction, and coordination of all development activities, including major fundraising events and special projects. Mark is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and is a Good Look Panelist for MTV’s Look Different Campaign.
Erwin-McCormick previously served as the General Manager of the well-known after school program School of Rock in Minnesota’s Twin Cities, serving more than three hundred youth and their families. While at School of Rock, Mark helped to establish a comprehensive scholarship fund on which more than 15% of the youth and families of the School now benefit from.
Erwin-McCormick graduated from Interlochen Center for the Arts in Interlochen, Michigan and the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mark also holds a Certificate in Fundraising Managment (CFRM) from Indiana University, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Jessie Fullenkamp, LMSW (She/her/hers), Director of Education & Evaluation
Jessie joined the Ruth Ellis Center in 2010. She led the development and implementation of the first Medicaid billable, LGBTQ specific mental health services in the state of Michigan. Additionally, she directed leadership and advocacy, transgender health and street outreach programs. Recently, she has developed training, education, evaluation and research internally and externally focused on increasing health and safety with diverse SOGIE youth. Fullenkamp has been instrumental in implementing positive youth development, harm reduction, transformative justice and trauma-informed care at the agency.Jessie studied in Kumasi, Ghana and graduated with a BSW from Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio and a MSW from the University of Michigan. Fullenkamp lived and worked in the Federated States of Micronesia on the island of Weno on education, HIV and women’s issues. In 2016, Jessie was presented with the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.
Jessie studied in Kumasi, Ghana and graduated with a BSW from Xavier University of Cincinnati, Ohio and an MSW from the University of Michigan. Fullenkamp lived and worked in the Federated States of Micronesia on the island of Weno on education, HIV and women’s issues. In 2016, Jessie was presented with the “Distinguished Alumni Award” by the University of Michigan’s School of Social Work.
Nicholas Piotrowski, HR / Special Projects Coordinator
Nick joined the Ruth Ellis Center in 2012 as Office Manager. Piotrowski manages the work behind the scenes at the Ruth Ellis Center which enables us to be so successful and assist so many LGBTQ youth. His responsibilities include human resource oversight and management, and support of outside services.
Before joining the Center, Piotrowski was the executive assistant to Slows Bar BQ owner Phillip Cooley, he is a freelance graphic designer, and worked for the University of Detroit Mercy and Detroit Collaborative Design Center, and has a Master’s Degree in Architecture.
Staci Hirsch, Psy.D, Residential Director
Dr. Hirsch has her doctorate in clinical psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology and has been in the mental health arena for nearly 33 years. Dr. Hirsch has worked in a variety of settings – from community mental health to substance abuse treatment – with a wide variety of populations.
Prior to joining Ruth Ellis Center, she served as the Program Supervisor for a permanent supportive housing program within Neighborhood Service Organization. Dr. Hirsch lives in the Detroit suburbs with her life partner, “Mr. Grumpy”, a whimsical adult daughter, “L.G.” and a neurotic dog named Sadie. Dr. Hirsch lives in the Detroit suburbs with her husband, “Mr. Grumpy”, a whimsical adult daughter, “L.G.”, and a neurotic dog named Sadie.
Monica Sampson, LMSW, Behavioral Health Director
Sampson, is the Behavioral Health Director at the Ruth Ellis Center, specializing in LGBTQ specific family, mental health and substance use disorder services. She has been a part of the Ruth Ellis Center Team since March 2010. Monica has been a social worker for 25 years, working both in the private and public sectors.
Prior to coming to the Ruth Ellis Center, Monica was a Services Program Manager for Child Protective Services (CPS) in Wayne County, Department of Health and Human Services for eighteen (18) years. Monica studied Psychology at Westminster College in Fulton Missouri, earning her Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1992. She went on and earned her Masters of Social Work Degree from Wayne State University in 2000 and became licensed by the State of Michigan in 2007.
Candice Gibson, LMSW, (She/her/hers), Outreach & Advocacy Director for Second Stories
Gibson, has been with the agency since October of 2016. Candice’s experience prior to REC includes Job Corps, EEOC, Peace Corps (Philippines) and First Step. Candice received her MSW from the University of Michigan and Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Western Michigan University. She is a lover of people and a sucker for delicious food.