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Board of Directors

Augusto Penaranda

Augusto “Gus” Penaranda

Executive Director

Gus Penaranda is a longtime member in the LGBT sports scene, and is actively involved with the International Gay & Lesbian Football Association (IGFLA) and the New York Gay Flag Football League (NYGFL) since 2000. He also enjoys volunteering and championing support for advocating the importance of mental health and wellness issues that the LGBT community faces.

In Penaranda’s previous role as the PIO to the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs, he served directly under the former-Director Paul Rodríguez, who now serves as the U.S. Department of Health’s deputy general counsel in President Joseph Biden’s administration. 

Prior to this role, Gus served as the Chief External Relations Officer for the American Red Cross (ARC) of the New Jersey region in Princeton, where he designed dynamic programming, oversaw the organization’s key awareness campaign rollouts, and served as the Latino Media spokesperson. Though deploying to both Florida and Texas for hurricane Irma and Harvey tested his skills as a bilingual communicator and disaster volunteer, his most rewarding work to date was during hurricane Maria and Puerto Rico. Working via satellite phone with ARC’s North Jersey Regional CEO Ana Montero, they successfully provided information and directed resources to help those affected by the devastating hurricane during a time of almost total communication blackout. 

Gus earned a Master of Science degree in International Relations and Public Policy from William Paterson University of New Jersey; and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from William Paterson University of New Jersey.

He is a Paterson native and now resides in Jersey City. 

“I’m ecstatic to be on the Board of such a dynamic organization that makes an  incredible impact on the LGBTQ professional community in New Jersey. Having the ability to meet so many fellow business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals motivates me to continue to grow my business and expand my network to better serve this community. Sometimes, it all comes down to who you know!” — Stephen

After graduating Summa Cum Laude from Montclair State University in May 2017,  Stephen joined Equitable Advisors, becoming the only “out” Financial Advisor in an office  of 200 employees in Woodbridge, New Jersey. In September of 2020, Stephen became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, one of the youngest individuals in his company to do so – and he has devoted his practice to providing financial advice to the often under-served market of the LGBTQ+ community.

Stephen joined the  Chamber as a Volunteer on the Events Committee and in July of 2018, he was voted onto the Board as the Vice President of Membership. After more than tripling the membership base of the Chamber, Stephen shifted into the role of VP of Fundraising and Corporate Relations in January of 2021. In July of 2021, he was voted on as President of the organization, becoming the youngest-elected President of a Chamber of Commerce out of 152 Chambers in the Garden State. One of his proudest accomplishments was spearheading discussions with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s office to pass the historic Executive Order No. 295 which calls for the inclusion of LGBTQ+-owned businesses in the state’s existing Minority/Women Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program.

In February of 2020, Stephen was recognized in BEQ Pride Magazine's Class of 2020 Forty LGBTQ Leaders Under 40 and in May of the same year, was appointed to represent NJPCC on Governor Murphy's Restart and Recovery Advisory Council in the wake of COVID-19. In February of 2022, Stephen was recognized by ROI New Jersey's 2022 Influencer Power List and a few months later, he was recognized in Insider NJ's OUT 100 Power List as one of the most influential LGBTQ individuals in the state of NJ for the 2nd year in a row.

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“New Jersey is the most densely populated state in America. We are one of the most ethnically, racially, religiously and culturally diverse states in the union. The New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the premier organization representing the LGBTQ+ business community. In my six years as a member of the board of directors this organization has afforded me access to innumerable inventive and dynamic business professionals, activists and politicians. Being a member can open a person's world on both a business and personal level." — Joseph

Joseph has been in the telecommunications industry for three decades.  He is an independent consultant, sales agent, and project manager through JFR Telecom Consulting.

During the last 15+ years Joseph has created hundreds of LGBTQ+ business networking events in the New York Metro area, benefitting our influential community by connecting our entrepreneurs, executives and allies, with each other and the corporate 1000 companies all over the region. It’s a labor of love and a passion.

John Traier is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), licensed in the State of New Jersey and is owner of his accounting firm, John M. Traier & Associates LLC.

John graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers College (major in Economics) and a Master of Business Administration (major in Professional Accounting) from the Rutgers Graduate School of Management. He is a Deloitte alumni and served as Acting Commission of the NJ Department of Banking and then Director of the Division of Banking.

John was appointed to the Board of Directors in 2014.

"The LGBTQ community has always been a second home to me. When I discovered the NJ LGBT Chamber, I fell in love! Finally, a business networking group that was more than just an exchange of business cards; and much more than sitting in a dimly-lit room at 7 a.m. chowing down on a stale bagel, waiting in hopes of a single referral. This was the family feel I have always looked for, and the connections I have made even during quarantine are long-lasting. I'm thrilled to use my position as VP of Membership to help grow the reach of the Chamber and have a real impact on the LGBTQ business community." — Jacob

Jacob Meola, a New Jersey native, has been known to do a little bit of everything throughout his 31 years on Earth. He is known to many as Jake of All Trades and wears many hats. An entrepreneur since birth, Jake opened an online second chance bookstore during the pandemic and enjoys getting books off the shelf and into the hands of readers for a fraction of the cost. You can also make donations to the bookstore if you have books that are cluttering up your home.

An avid artist, Jake has taken numerous classes and won awards for his fine arts skills through JacobAlex Creations, a visual arts company that makes commissioned paintings and drawings. To see his paintings and drawings, view his gallery.

Truly living up to his name, Jake does a myriad of other things including protecting individuals, families, and small businesses with Legal Shield and ID Shield. An innovative company that has put the power of a lawfirm within reach at a fraction of the cost, empowering previously underserved communities and providing equal access to your rights.

He is also a karaoke DJ, actor, and avid networker. View his events calendar to find networking and entertainment near you.

Andréa M. Garcia is the Managing Partner and Co-Founder of COMMS/NATION LLC, a full-service boutique Public Relations + Creative Graphic Design agency headquartered in Weehawken, New Jersey.

She has a decade of experience crafting award-winning communications campaigns for Fortune 500 companies, Non-Profit Organizations & Foundations, Private Equity, High-Stakes Litigation, Sensitive Crises Issues, and is a trusted-advisor to entrepreneurs and their portfolio companies. She’s a sought-after consultant to larger PR agencies on media relation strategies.

Andrea earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and minored in Anthropology from Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. In 2010, she studied Philosophy in Athens, Greece at the Hellenic American University, and studied International Relations in Mass Communications traveling to Egypt, Romania, and Turkey during the Arab Spring. She is an alumna of both the Rising Tide Capital’s entrepreneurship program and the Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corporation, two of New Jersey’s non-profit entrepreneurship programs.

She was appointed to the NJ Pride Chamber's Board of Directors in November 2021 as the VP of Marketing.

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Stephanie Lokker

VP of Supplier Diversity and Certification

CEO and Founder, Lockerbie & Co.

Stephanie E. Lokker is the CEO and founder of Lockerbie & Co., a management consulting firm that specializes in providing solutions from strategy through execution headquartered in Passaic, NJ.

Stephanie brings more than 15-years of experience in procurement, change management, organizational behavior, and supplier diversity; and is a former Big 3-and-Big 4 consultant. She opened her own firm, Lockerbie, in 2019, where she manages a team of consultants who solve complex business problems for their Fortune 500 and private equity clients.

Her business currently holds 15 diverse-supplier certifications in both the state and federal level.

She earned her Master of Science in Supply Chain Management from Rutgers University in Newark, N.J., and a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from Montclair State University in Montclair, N.J.

She was appointed to the NJ Pride Chamber's Board of Directors in December 2021 as the VP of Supplier Diversity and Certification.

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Victor Peter Rodriguez

Victor Peter Rodriguez moved to NYC from South America at an early age. He attended Bernard Baruch College and graduated with a BBA specialized in International Marketing Management. Victor Peter worked at a luxury retail store chain prior to his banking career, transitioning into a fast track management program at HSBC where he worked for 9 years.

He then worked at Deloitte and then transitioned to TD Bank at The HUB and now manages one of the most prestigious and Largest Stores in his footprint in our Pequannock Store in New Jersey.   Passionate about team building and community service, he strongly believes about creating a positive open and inclusive work environment for his employees and excellence in customer service for his clients.

Victor Peter was appointed to the NJ LGBT Chamber's Board of Directors in December 2021 as the VP of Administration.

Founding Board Members & Past Presidents


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