Committed to the Cause

Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our skilled team of professionals is the backbone of MoCo Pride Center. Their ideas help shape the direction and mission of our organization as it continues to develop. Read on to learn more about our incredible team members.

John Grimes


(He, Him, His)

John is a 20-year public relations veteran with expertise in crisis communications, reputation management, and training. He has represented such companies as Ben & Jerry’s and Royal Caribbean as well as many nonprofit organizations including the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, the Institute for Public Accuracy, and the Montgomery County Council of PTAs. As a bisexual activist, he hopes to increase visibility and involvement of bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, asexual, and demisexual people in the LGTBQ+ movement. Originally from Vermont, John received his Bachelor’s of Arts in Journalism from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT before moving to the Washington, DC area in 1999. Although he deeply misses winters in the Green Mountains, he prefers the pace of life in the city – especially the nightlife. He and his wife live in Wheaton with their son and three cats.



This position is current vacant. When a new board members is elected to Vice-Chair, this item will be updated.

Phillip Alexander Downie


(He, Him, His)

Phillip is a non-profit and small business development professional with a diverse history of fundraising through relationship development and special events. As the Director of Special Events and Facility Rentals at Sandy Spring Museum, he produces and supervises over 300 annual museum programs, special events, and facility rentals. Phillip is also the Managing Partner & CEO of One Source Event Group LLC. In this role, he is the creative visionary and director of all organizational programs and partner resources. Before creating One Source Event Group, Phillip was a state campaign manager and fundraiser and has over 15 years of experience in the special events industry. Phillip works with several non-profit and social justice organizations. As a public advocate for marginalized communities, he is passionate about LGBTQIA advocacy, access to healthcare, healthcare policy issues, and disenfranchisement and Black and POC communities. Phillip is the Founder of the LGBTQ Student Lounge (formally The QSL) at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. In 2019 Phillip created the first large-scale county-wide LGBTQ Pride celebration in Montgomery County, MD - The Moco Pride Party. Phillip continues to Chair MoCo Pride and the festivities during Pride month throughout Montgomery County, MD.

Rev. Dr. Jill McCrory


(She, Her, Hers)

Jill has experience in both the staff and volunteer sides of non-profit organizations, serving for 14 years as a Senior Director at the National Association of Home Builders, then over 20 years as the founder of Leadership Outfitters, providing leadership training to a variety of non-profit organizations. She is also an ordained minister and has served a variety of congregations in both Baptist and the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) traditions. She has served on the board and as the chair of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists, been involved with Equality Maryland and the Human Rights Campaign, and has been active for over 20 years at the national, state and local level on LGBTQ legislative actions. She had an active role in both the DC and MD effort around equal marriage legislation, was a part of the original planning team for the Montgomery County Transgender Day of Remembrance, was recognized in 2011 as a Capital Pride Hero, and dubbed "Jill the Baptist" by Metro Weekly magazine in 2014. A native Washingtonian, she attended Montgomery College and American University, earned a Masters of Divinity in 2009, and a Doctorate in 2018.

Rev. Shelly M Mohnkern, LGPC, NCC


(She, Her, Hers)

Shelly is a Montgomery County native and she and her spouse returned to Montgomery County in 1994. Shelly has been involved in advocacy and information/education in the LGBTQIA+ community since 1990 when she volunteered at the Colorado Aids Project offices in Denver. While holding no formal positions with advocacy groups, Shelly has been a steadfast volunteer, and has attended events and rallies as both an educated ally, and as a community member. Shelly is an ordained Pagan minster, and has been performing clergy tasks including handfasting, marriage, and memorial services for the LGBTQIA+ community for over 20 years. Shelly recently returned to school and obtained a master’s degree from Loyola University Maryland in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and Spiritual Integration. She is now working towards full licensure as a Mental Health Counselor, with a focus in Gender and LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapies, Navigating non-traditional relationships, and Military and First Responder Supportive Therapy. She hopes to be able to bring integrated care to these communities, especially in cases where they intersect. Shelly is a member of the American Counseling Association (ACA), and the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC); along with the state equivalents: The Maryland Counseling Association (MCA) and Maryland Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Issues in Counseling (MALGBTIC).

Renoir Dawson-Finan


(He, Him, His)

Having been raised to activism, Renoir has a long history of raising his voice for equity. From participating in Occupy movement protests (2010), to helping in the fight for fifteen in Portland (2014), he has stood with those seeking economic justice. He moved to Silver Spring in 2015. Joining his contemporaries in the March for our Lives (2018) and being active in youth LGBTQ and minority programs since his time at Kennedy High School, he has spoken out on youth issues and as a member of underrepresented and maligned communities. Recently graduated from the I.B. program, he turned his sights toward making the community more equitable and welcoming. Dreaming of running for political office, and reflective of his cautious ambition, he has been working to better integrate into his most recently adopted home and improve the county for all its residents. His aim is to help the MoCo Pride Center become a thriving hub for the LGBTQ community here in Montgomery County. When not focused on politics, his other passions include acting and writing. He has been involved with the theater since he was a small child, and has performed in a number of different productions and spaces, including the San Diego Museum of Art. While none of his poetry has been published to date, he hopes to change this in the future.

Ezra Towne

Board Member Emeritus

(Ezra, They, Them)

Ezra has been an activist in the Metro DC Area for nearly 17 years and is currently a stay at home parent doing volunteer work during their spare time. Ezra facilitates the support group Maryland Trans*Unity, co-organizes Montgomery County ́s annual observance of the Transgender Day Remembrance, and does occasional speaking and/or consulting on issues important to the trans community in Montgomery County. Ezra has also worked professionally for several organizations committed to LGBTQ, feminist and anti-racist organizing--including the National LGBTQ Task Force, NARAL Pro-Choice America, the LGBTQ Victory Fund, and NOW. Ezra ́s vision for MoCo Pride Center includes creating a network of support, events, and better local government representation and policies for transgender people in Montgomery County.

Our Visionaries

A huge thank you to our original visionaries of a Pride Center in Montgomery County, Maryland. 

Gwen Andersen
​Alex Bobrow
Peter Fosselman
Stevie Neal
Janine Rauscher
​Deborah Vaughn