Founder and Chairman
At the age of three and a half, after the sudden and tragic death of her older brother, Diane Conklin learned what it felt like to be abandoned as her parents struggled to deal with the loss. Growing up in rural Ohio, on a 75 acre farm added to her feelings of loneliness and of being on the outside looking in. Her struggles grew when she began to realize she had feelings for other girls. It terrified her to even think about it, let alone talk about it. When Diane finally came out as a lesbian at 22, her parents were unable to accept her and she went for many years without speaking to them.
As Diane built a successful business and a 19 year loving relationship, the most important thing to her was to make a true, lasting difference in the lives of other people; especially young people. As the issue of gay teen bullying, suicide and homelessness came to the forefront, Diane was compelled to start The Diane Conklin Foundation with the goal of no Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Questioning youth to ever feel abandoned, hopeless or alone again.
Adam Jackman brings a diverse history and passionate commitment to the cause of equal rights. He has worked as a volunteer delivering meals for Project Angel Food, fundraising for AIDS Project Los Angeles, and as a counselor and trainer for the Trevor Project, a 24-hour crisis- and suicide-prevention helpline for LGBTQ youth. In 2007, he was honored to serve as a trainer/mentor for the opening of Trevor’s New York Call Center. In Utah, he co-founded The Straight Coalition, a group that enables hundreds of first-time LGBTQ allies every year to walk in the Salt Lake City Pride Parade in shirts declaring their support for equal rights. He now works as a playwright and producer in New York City, constantly striving for ways to bring art and activism together to promote diversity, acceptance, and equality.
Chief Financial Officer
Melissa’s background as an actuary at Mercer brings an enormous amount of knowledge and financial finesse to The Diane Conklin Foundation. The analytical side of Melissa is a great asset to the foundation, but her personality is where the true value lies. Her creativity and wit, combined with her intellect and experience, make her a critical part of the team and crucial to the success of reaching these teens. We feel fortunate to have her as a member of the board.
As a long time advocate for kids of all ages, Amy is passionate about the issues that face our youth today. Amy has multiple degrees in Education, with an emphasis in Special Education. Amy also has a background in Psychology. She has taught special education to children with special needs, emotionally disabled to autism, pre-school to high school, in four states. Currently, she is founder and owner of Ears of Experience, LLC a full service travel company for Disney destinations. When hearing the statistics on homelessness and suicide within our LGBT youth, Amy jumped at the opportunity to make a difference on The Diane Conklin Foundation. In her free time, Amy likes to spend time with friends and family, work out, and explore the great city she lives in.
Joshua Bennett is a performer who grew up in Montana and followed his dreams to New York City. He was a company member of Freespace Dance company in New Jersey for two years, which allowed him to bring a body of work teaching acceptance to both children and adult audiences. He also performed two seasons with The Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington, D.C. (GMCW) often as a soloist and dancer.
With GMCW, Joshua championed gay equality in D.C. and beyond with performances at the U.S. Naval Observatory, the 2011 LGBT Reception at the White House, in a pair of platform high heels as Dr. Frankenfurter in the all-male production of The Rocky Horror Show and most recently with the original cast of Alexander’s House at The GALA Choruses Festival in Denver, CO. He is happy and excited to join The Diane Conklin Foundation.
Penny Decker has lived in 11 states across the country and currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a background in Sociology, Social Work, Human Development and Family Studies. Currently she is working on a degree in Public Health and hopes to continue her academic endeavors with a PhD in Epidemiology.
Penny has volunteered in homeless shelters and as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for many years. She and her husband became foster parents in 2006. It was through these experiences that Penny was made aware of the ever-growing, homeless teen population and the extraordinary number of LGBT children either being kicked out of their homes or feeling they need to flee for safety reasons. Drawing on her education, experience and moved to action by the great need to protect and inspire our youth, Penny has found her home at The Diane Conklin Foundation as their executive director.