GEMS 2019 Speakers

GEMS 2019 Speakers

Skyler Jay

Skyler is a vivacious transgender activist from the South East. He has worked within, and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community for a decade+ to increase visibility, growth, and opportunity for the Transgender community. Skyler’s broad skill set lends him to be a source of leadership guidance, community education & resources, and building affirming environments Available for keynotes, workshops, trainings, consulting, and event coordination. He has worked with groups of all ages within and outside of the LGBTQIA+ community. In his talks Skyler exercises what he refers to as “radical patience with an open book mentality”. He promotes and encourages a learning environment with important dialogue on the Trans* experience with his audience.  Focusing on the trials and triumphs he has encountered as a visible Trans person while maintaining an uplifting presence, and interactivity with the audience. A percentage of Skyler’s bookings are donated to a Transgender surgery scholarship. Contact for rates and availability.


Beck Gee-Cohen

Beck resides in Los Angeles, CA. He has over 13 years of personal recovery and continues to address concerns of equality and acceptance of LGBTQ+ in recovery, educational, and mental health communities. Beck’s master’s degree is in Addiction Studies from Hazelden Graduate School. Beck has facilitated workshops and addressed audiences internationally at various conferences regarding advocacy, trauma, recovery, and adolescents specifically involving LGBTQ+ communities. Today he continues to train clinicians and facility staff on LGBTQ+ issues, helps facilities establish LGBTQ+ inclusive policies, and provides program development for facilities that want to expand their services to LGBTQ+ populations. He helps institutions through his company, BGC Consulting. He also works with LGBTQ identified young people and their families to help navigate educational institutions and treatment settings as an associate consultant at The Romeyn Collective.


Niki Khanna

Niki Khanna MA, AMFT is a therapist and educator in the Bay Area, CA. Her focus is working within the Queer, Trans and Intersex communities. She is also a certified Sexual Health Educator and has spent over 20 years working in Sex Education, Sexual Assault and Rape Prevention Education as well as Intimate Partner Violence Prevention Education. She identifies as a Femme, Intersex, and POC. She is passionate about finding ways to use the skills she has developed to contribute to the Intersex community. She provides workshops and mental health support to both the AIS-DSD Support Group and InterAct, two of the largest Intersex support and advocacy organizations in the country. Her current projects are developing practical training modules for mental health providers working with Intersex clients and their families and writing/editing a chapter focused on Intersex for a forthcoming textbook on trauma within the LGBTIAQ+ communities.


S. Bear Bergman

S. Bear Bergman is a multiple-award winning writer, storyteller, educator, activist and
the founder and publisher of children’s book publisher Flamingo Rampant, which makes feminist, culturally-diverse children’s picture books about LGBT2Q+ kids and families. A frequent lecturer at colleges and universities regarding issues relating to gender, sexuality, and culture, Bear enjoys digging deep into complicated ideas and broadening his audience’s frame of understanding. He also works extensively helping to create queer and trans cultural competency at universities, corporations, health care providers, and governmental organizations, where coaxes people with very fancy titles into doing what’s best for LGBT2Q+ people.


Aydin Olson-Kennedy

Aydin Olson-Kennedy is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and the Executive Director of
the Los Angeles Gender Center. He began his Social Work career working with youth in foster care and group homes, the juvenile justice system, and those experiencing homelessness or precariously housed. Aydin’s advocacy work has also included assisting youth and adult victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. Over the past seven years, his career as a mental health professional has primarily focused on providing services for gender non-conforming and transgender youth, adults and their families.  As a transgender man and mental health provider, Aydin brings a dual perspective into his work. He speaks internationally to medical and mental health providers, educators, social workers and families on the importance of accessible, informed-consent model of care. His focus is on identifying and acknowledging domains of privilege and broadening clinicians and families understanding of gender dysphoria and its impact on the psychosocial well-being of gender-nonconforming and transgender individuals.


Johanna Olson-Kennedy

Johanna Olson-Kennedy is a Board certified Adolescent Medicine physician, specializing in the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender youth. She is an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at USC, and the Medical Director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development  at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. She is a Dr. Olson-Kennedy has been providing medical intervention for transgender youth and young adults including puberty suppression and cross sex hormones for the past decade. She also spearheads a rigorous research agenda that aims to improve the lives of transgender youth throughout the country. She has appeared frequently on national TV to advocate and educate about the needs and importance of providing timely, compassionate and appropriate care for gender non-conforming and transgender young people.


Raymond J. Kotwicki, M.D., M.P.H.

Dr. Ray Kotwicki is the Charles B. West Chief Medical Officer at Skyland Trail, a nationally acclaimed private, nonprofit residential and day treatment organization for adults with mental illnesses in Atlanta, Georgia. In this role, Kotwicki oversees all the clinical, educational, quality, and research activities within the organization. Kotwicki trained as a Department of Energy Fellow and was a Medical Scholar at the University of Wisconsin Medical School. He had post-graduate training at Harvard Medical School, the Boston University School of Medicine, and Emory University, where he earned a Master in Public Health degree in Health Policy and Management. He remains on the adjunctive faculty at both the Emory University School of Medicine as well as the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. Kotwicki has presented more than 200 invited lectures, symposia, and seminars to thousands of attendees. He regularly appears on television, radio and in newspaper articles discussing issues related to mental health and integrated medical care. Kotwicki is a Diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and is President of the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians’ Association. Kotwicki was a member of the Leadership Atlanta Class of 2011 and served as President of the Board of Directors of Positive Impact, the Southeast’s premiere HIV mental health program for three years. He currently is a member of the Board of Trustees of The Lovett School.Throughout his career, Kotwicki has received numerous distinctions, including Emory University’s most prestigious Dean’s “Golden Apple” Teaching Award, Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, Mental Health America and Eli Lilly’s “Heroes in Fight” Clinical Team Award, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Exemplary Psychiatrist Award. Kotwicki received the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University’s “Distinguished Achievement Alumnus Award” in 2017.


Daniel Fishburn LCSW, LCAS, MAC

Daniel is Executive Director of SUWS of the Carolinas, a program committed to providing a safe and affirming experience for gender variant youth. His lifelong professional commitment has included advocacy for marginalized communities. This has included LGBTQ+ youth, beginning with volunteer work with SMYAL in Washington, DC in the late 1980s, continuing with support of Asheville’s YouthOutright. A member of the GEMS Organizing Committee, he is committed to staying current with research and perspectives on the gender variant experience. Daniel Fishburn has been helping young people “find their way” in a variety of settings for 30 years, including close to 20 years as a licensed clinician. He received his BA in Psychology at The Catholic University of American in Washington DC., and his MSW from the University of Houston Graduate School of Social Work. From the war zones of El Salvador to the streets of Dallas and Houston, Daniel has served families through numerous organizations such as Child Protective Services, public health agencies, community mental health, adolescent and adult substance abuse treatment, young adult transitional programs, and most recently at a therapeutic boarding school. From the frontline staff to leadership, Daniel is highly experienced in working at the organizational level to create powerful, positive change.