Aloha my name is Ernie (Eleneki Owai Kano Akua Alika Kalani Yuen) most people call me “Pineapple” since I am from Hawaii. I currently serve as the Executive Director of Las Vegas PRIDE. It has been a wonderful experience being part of the Las Vegas LGBT community. With the help of the Las Vegas PRIDE board members, we have raised thousands and thousands of dollars for our community, help built strong relationships between many other nonprofit organizations. My mother always told me “if you’re going to bitch about the problem you better be part of the solution”. For those for you that knew my mother, she was a very small but wise lady that carried a very large stick! LOL! I would like to encourage other people in our community to get involved, be part of this wonderful organization.
Many of my friends have challenged me to come up with some creative ideas for new events here in Las Vegas, “to bring Las Vegas PRIDE out of the bars and back in our community”. I have made it my personal goal to lead this year’s board to follow our mission statement, which is “…to educate the community by invoking, promoting, and celebrating lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender pride.” I have challenged every board member to come up with creative ways to strive to follow our mission’s statement, to promote growth in our education committee, to do more outreach. I promise you, many new events and great outreach programs that will educate and touch many people in the LGBT community. It is going to be a lot of work to create and manage many of these new events, but I feel our community is worth it!
I have been part of this Las Vegas community since 1998, I have seen many things come and go, The one thing that I have not seen change is the sense of dignity and PRIDE this community has. I have met a lot of people, made some good friends and become “family” to many others. I love this community, I love this city, yes Hawaii will always be my home, but Las Vegas is an awesome place to be. Now it is time to show my PRIDE, care to join me?
Vice President 1
Maria Rodriguez has worked in the IT industry for over thirteen years. It was there she became active in the community participating in Women’s March in ATX, Susan G Komen Walk and volunteering at local nonprofits such as the Ronald McDonald House and Capital Area Food Bank. She began her time with Austin Pride in 2017 as a Pride Parade Co-Chair and later that year, as a Board Member and has since been serving as the Sponsorship Director. In 2018 she was elected as the Vice President and became the first hispanic female to hold this role. Maria believes in the core values of family, respect, community, honesty, equality, inclusion and acceptance. She advocates and is committed to establishing and maintaining an inclusive culture that fosters relationships with Austin’s diverse LGBTQIA+ community and Allies.
In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her life partner of 16 years, family, chosen family and their three rescued furbabies.
Vice President 2
Craig LaBerge-Esparza has been in retail management of over 20 years and proud to be a part of the Albuquerque Pride board since 2010. He currently sits on the Albuquerque Pride Boars as the President. When Craig is not spending his time spoiling his three dogs, he is with his husband of 19 years. They are working hard a a couple to build partnerships in their local LGBT Community.
Orange County Pride
Robert Casas has been involved with Orange County LGBTQ+ Pride for the last 6 years, and has served as President for the last two. He has worked hand in hand with the Imperial Court System, and is excited to serve on the Board of Directors for the CAPI. In March of 2020, Robert was awarded with the Anaheim Ducks Community Hero Award for this work with Pride and the Hockey is for Everyone programming. Robert has worked diligently to provide a safe space for people of all ages by creating a community for LGBTQ+ and allies in the OC through education, advocacy, and celebration.
San Diego Pride
Martha serves as the Board Treasurer for San Diego Pride. She has been involved with San Diego Pride since 2008 starting out as a volunteer on the parade team. Professionally, Martha is an Event Manager at the Del Mar Fairgrounds and the Southern California chapter rep for the International Association of Venue Managers. Creating and expanding inclusive spaces are her passion both professionally and personally.