Laura Ohlund, Board Chair

  Laura is passionate about empowering youth who have experienced significant trauma through education on all levels; academic, life skills and psychological. By teaching them to understand the traumas they have suffered and providing the positive coping skills to turn these metaphoric ‘wounds’ into ‘scars’. 

She believes the lives of these young people can be transformed. Herself has overcome multiple traumas and was called to join Brave Heart spiritually when understanding the rates of sexual exploitation and violence homeless LGBTQ+ youth experience. 

She holds three degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, and worked as a change management and strategy consultant with Fortune 100 Companies around the world. She also brings her experience as the President of the Pine Richland School Board and her current role as leader of Hekima Place, a non profit operating as a home and school for vulnerable girls in Kiserian, Kenya. Laura is the proud mother of five children who are each compassionate and care about social justice.  


C. Lee Hill, Jr., Vice Chair

Curtis was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, obtained his BA with a major and minor in Political Science and Speech at Wabash College in Indiana. In 2006, he obtained a MBA, with a focus on organizational development and project management, which was nutrient with his involvement with civic engagement through various political campaigns and non-profit efforts that started in Pittsburgh and continued with his homes in the communities of Indianapolis and Colorado Springs where he additionally honed and development his skills of networking, fundraising and constituent development.  

Moreover, another skill or talent that has held a sway in his personal and professional life is public speaking.  He has come to understand and see himself as a Orator who has the capacity and skill to share an understanding of transformation, change, paradigm shift and revolution.  A mantra which he tries to live by is “Ubuntu, - if I am to be great you must be great,” an understanding made famous by Nelson Mandela and Bishop Desmond Tutu.

He works at UPMC in contributing to the vision of making life changing medicine real in a customer/patient service role.  Additionally, he is a member of the Three Rivers Leather Club and an Associate member of Great Lakes Onyx, a regional chapter of Onyx a Leather Club of Men of Color. 

With Brave Hearts United he sees a union of an understanding that life problems are not solved with band – aid solutions, instead they are solved with self-empowerment, self-motivation and expansion of understanding of self and one’s environment.  

Brave Hearts United is about creating leaders who are directing their lives with an intentional purpose, to him is noble and needed endeavor that this world and Western Pennsylvania needs in creating an environment that benefits all.


Michael Dunmire, Treasurer

 In construction... 


Christopher Lucas, Esq., Secretary

Chris is a Director and Associate General Counsel in the Legal Department at American Eagle Outfitters, Inc. (“AEO”).  In his current role, Chris is responsible for global trade, global trade policy, product safety and on-product marketing, and marketing and advertising compliance.  

Chris began his career as an International Trade and Regulatory Compliance attorney in the Washington DC offices of Alston + Bird LLP.  He later joined Baker & McKenzie LLP in its Washington, DC-based International Trade Compliance & Customs Practice Group.  During his years in private practice, Chris advised multinational companies on all aspects of U.S. customs law and international trade policy, regularly conducted internal compliance reviews, and assisted in the development and implementation of effective compliance programs.

Chris is originally from Roanoke, Virginia and enjoys spending his free time fishing and playing/watching basketball.  He received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia and his Juris Doctorate degree from the George Washington University Law School.


Lisa Evancho, Founder

With healthy doses of Passion and Compassion in caring for others, Lisa Evancho graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing in 2000.  While attending, she and her husband welcomed their first two children into the world.  Their second two children came shortly after graduation.  While she went to work, she supported the family so that her husband could complete his college degree.

Lisa Evancho's background is in pharmaceutical sales and marketing, but her biggest love is her family.  While working and raising children, it became apparent to the Evanchos that their oldest son was really their oldest daughter.

Concerned, they spent much time learning what transgenderism actually is.  They also learned that the plight of LGBTQ children can be heartbreaking and filled with trauma.  The most current data reveals that there are over 21,000 homeless school students in Pennsylvania and 40% of them are LGBTQ.  This number doesn’t take into account the homeless youth that aren’t able to get to school due to circumstances, and things usually don't get better for these kids. For instance, one-in-three people who are trans report  being or having been homeless, with many falling through the cracks in a shelter system that doesn't know where to place them.  In the US alone, this equates to 462,000 people.  Seventy-percent of these people report being sexually or physically assaulted or kicked out because they were trans.

Lisa realized that there is a significant need for programs that cater specifically to reaching the goal of removing obstacles to success in their path, overcoming the adversity that they have experienced, and altering the life-course for these young people so that they have the tools, education, and experience to "pay-it-forward" to those who come after them.  

She has created Brave Heart United, Inc. with the vision of not simply providing a safe, affirming home for them to live in, but to literally offer those admitted into the program an opportunity to embark on a journey from Trauma to Triumph, one dream at a time.

Brave Heart will not only provide homeless LGBTQ youth between the ages of 18 to 26 with safe housing, but access to mental health and healthcare services and providers who specialize in the treatment and needs specific to them.  In addition, the brave hearts who are enrolled in this program will work continuously and closely with a trained professional to create a flexible blueprint of their hopes, dreams and aspirations.  This will include completion of a 4-year degree or vo-tech program with assistance in job placement upon completion.  They will NOT need to worry about how it is paid for.  Their Brave Heart guide will teach them how it gets done for educational purposes, but the nonprofit will handle making sure that it is subsidized.

At the end of their journey to success, Brave Heart United will help them shop for their first apartments and create a sustainable plan as well as ensure continuing support for navigating through the challenges moving forward toward their future accomplishments as productive, valued members of society.


Jules Hughes, CRS

In construction...


Dan Smith, Jr.


Daniel was raised in Zelienople PA. A 1993 graduate from Seneca Valley High School, Daniel attended The Ohio State University and has since been working in the financial industry for the past 23 years. He has been with BNY Mellon for the past 13 years and has currently been appointed to Senior Management. Daniel, who is openly gay, currently resides in Adams Township with his husband, Don, and they both are proud owners of a beautiful, rescued, 9 year old retriever greyhound mix named Star. 

Has been active in the Barbershop Harmony Society (previously SPEBSQSA) since 1993, and sang with several quartet and Choruses; most notably, winning the 2002 Illinois District Quartet Championship, singing tenor with the Barbershop Quartet, Aces High. He was also certified as the youngest Singing Judge in the Barbershop Society in 2001; traveling around the nation and Canada, coaching various choruses, quartets and judging contest in the many Districts the society encompasses. All of that changed in 2004 when work took precedent even more and Daniel had to take a step back from his hobby. 

In 2018, he was elected as the Democratic Nominee to run against Daryl Metcalfe for Pennsylvania House of Representatives in the 12th District. Even though he lost that race, his campaign achieved the honor of the #1 campaign (state-wide) that out-performed historical numbers; being able to attract support from people of all parties. 


Emily Skopov

Emily has lived in the Pittsburgh region since 2010. She and her husband Todd, an attorney, moved to the area so that they and their two children could

be part of a progressive, culturally vibrant and dynamic city, while enjoying a

family-focused lifestyle. A New York native, Emily holds degrees from Columbia

University and the UCLA Graduate School of Film and Television, and spent many

years as a successful screenwriter, producer and director in Los Angeles. Though she continues to work on various film and tv projects, her main efforts have turned towards what she sees as urgent social, economic and environmental concerns. In 2011, she founded No Crayon Left Behind , a nonprofit which expands educational and creative opportunities for economically challenged children and their communities while simultaneously promoting environmentally sustainable programming.

Recently, she has become involved in Pennsylvania politics as both an

activist and candidate in order to serve what she feels is a moral and ethical imperative to address the growing socio-economic injustices in the U.S. 

Additionally, she is actively engaged through her local synagogue in other social justice work, and plans to further facilitate more interfaith programs and understanding in her increasingly diverse part of the Pittsburgh suburbs. In addition to her service with The Brave Heart Foundation of Pittsburgh, Emily serves on the board of the Northland Public Library Foundation, is actively advocating with legislators on behalf of a number of educational

and arts initiatives, advocates for animal rights, and was recently appointed to the Marshall Township Recreation Committee. 

She also spends time speaking with advocates and professionals to find ways to address the growing mental health crisis among our children and teens, and is working with various groups to implement programming that focuses on prevention as well as intervention.


Bryan Bumgardner

 In construction... 


Patrick Brandt

He is a resident of Wilkinsburg, attended West Virginia University and earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, with a focus in Finance in 2013. Since 2014 he has lived in the Pittsburgh area and is glad to call it home.  He now works for Megan Chicone’s State Farm agency with offices in both Peters and Robinson Township.

In his free time Patrick enjoys endurance running, climbing and biking.

As a proud gay man, he is honored to be a part of Brave Heart United's board and looks forward to helping Pittsburgh's young LGBTQ+ youth reach their full potential.


Leatra Tate, Ph.D.

She is a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Point Park University. Prior to joining Point Park full time, she was a part-time instructor for the University's Department of Psychology and Department of Humanities and Social Sciences and also served as a coordinator of student support services at Carnegie Mellon University. Before that, Dr. Tate was a health advocate and Girl Talk program manager for Allies for Health + Wellbeing in Pittsburgh, PA where she cultivated her commitment to adolescent and young adult health and sexual health initiatives, particularly for marginalized and diverse identities. She joined Brave Heart United because she wanted a way to continue to give back to and uplift LGBTQ+ youth and young adults by providing opportunities and education.


Kim Passible

Kim is a 44 year old Pittsburgh native. She attended the Community College of Allegheny county for Architectural Drafting and Design. Later she worked as an apprentice plumber while attending night schooling to achieve licencing as a Journeyman plumber in Allegheny county. Has also worked as a land surveyor and computer

 programmer. In 1999 Kim chose to join A.A. and has more than 20 years of continuous sobriety. For 20 years she has served community oriented non-profit groups as member, service representative, and board of directors of a 

non-profit private meeting facility.

 At the age of 42, Kim came out as transgender. The transition from presenting as a male to presenting as female has given her a unique empathy for the needs of transgender 

women. Kim's goal is to listen to the needs of individuals  

in the community and help

 find or create answers. Empathy and Education 

are our greatest tools.