Center Leadership

Director of Outreach: Alesha Schandelmeier

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

Alesha is a mother of three, artist, photographer, and non-traditional student. She grew up in Northern Illinois and was living in the Chicago area prior to moving to Wisconsin in 2004. Alesha has a vast amount of professional experience, working in a variety of industries, most recently in the Marketing department of Organic Valley. As a Senior Event Coordinator she was responsible for planning the Kickapoo Country Fair and other smaller events for over six years. In 2011 she returned to college and is currently studying Psychology, Women’s Studies and AODA Counseling at Viterbo University. Prior to assuming duties as Director of Outreach, Alesha was Vice President on our board of directors and chairperson for the Outreach and Events Committee. She enjoys working with teens and continues to facilitate our youth group GALAXY.

Administrative Assistant: Deb Bassett

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

In 2016, Deb moved to LaCrosse in 2016 from Flint, Michigan, where she taught Biology and related sciences in the inner city Flint Community Schools for 20 years before retiring in 2014. She is proud to be an alumnus of both the University of Michigan (B.S.-Biology) and Michigan State University (M.S.-Biology). Deb came out as a lesbian in 1972 and has been actively involved in the LGBT Community ever since.  Prior to becoming the Administrative Assistant at The Center, Deb served on its Board of Directors for a year, working as Volunteer Coordinator, stepping down to take on her new role at The Center.

Board of Directors

President: Eddie Luker, MA, LPC, CSAC — Clinical Therapist

Personal gender pronouns: he/him/his

Professionally, Eddie Luker specializes in issues relevant to LGBTQ community, trauma, addictions and mood disorders. Eddie is currently licensed in Wisconsin as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical Substance Abuse Counselor.  He has extensive experience in developing programs for families and couples struggling with addiction and other co-occurring disorders. (Eddie created The Family Program at Seabrook House inpatient treatment program and developed a weekend “coupleship” experience titled Couples in Recovery.) He has trained under Connie Miller, creator of Souldrama: a spiritual approach to psychodrama that addresses our spiritual intelligence, and has extensive experience utilizing EMDR and CBT to treat individuals who have experienced  trauma. Eddie is a passionate runner and is proud to call La Crosse home since 2013.

Vice President: Jessica Lynn Cook

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

Secretary: Chandler Miller

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

Treasurer: Rob Zellers

Personal gender pronouns: he/him/his

Originally an Illinois native (we don’t hold that against him), Rob Zellers has been in the La Crosse area for almost 13 years and currently resides in Onalaska with his three wonderful children, Liam, Olivia and Cecelia, and his lovely partner, Alesha Schandelmeier. He is a graduate of Northern Illinois University and is currently the Director of Mergers & Acquisitions for Ashley Furniture Industries in Arcadia.  He has been a frequent volunteer for The Center (as can be evidenced by a certain promotional photo still in wide use) and is very grateful for this opportunity to lend his support.

Kayden Carpentier, BA

Personal gender pronouns: he/him/his

Dr. Janelle Cooper, MD

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

Dr. Janelle Cooper is a retired Neurologist who specialized in Dementia and Alzheimer’s care.  As a respected member of the medical community, she looks forward to helping us expand our Elder Network training and Outreach.  Dr. Cooper practiced in the Gundersen Health Care system and has already helped The Center make inroads into working with Gundersen to provide a comprehensive LGBTQ-friendly and welcoming Health and Human Services Directory. She is an expert marksman who provides firearm and marksmanship training and in the process has built relationships with law enforcement in a several Minnesota counties.  Janelle’s retirement sanctuary is as the owner of the certified organic apple orchard in Houston County with her dog Jackie.

Chandra Cox

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

James Parlow

Personal gender pronouns: he/him/his

Jim grew up in rural Central Wisconsin. He moved to La Crosse when he was 19 to begin working for the La Crosse Police Department. He became an officer and worked as a street cop for 15 years. He retired in 1994 and began an academic career, obtaining first a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology/Criminal Justice Law Enforcement from Winona State and a Masters in Criminal Justice from St. Cloud State. He is now employed at Winona State as an Assistant Professor teaching Law Enforcement in the Sociology Criminal Justice Department. He is also the Coordinator of the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training Professional Peace Officer Education Program at Winona State. Jim is the father of two daughters and married to his wife Laurie. He enjoys volunteering for a multitude of agencies and events. He plays golf and enjoys fishing. He also is a trainer for law enforcement agencies on working with the transgender community.

Cory Patrick, Ph.D.

Personal gender pronouns: he/him/his

Cory is a Licensed Psychologist and works for an area medical center where he specializes in working with veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is also an Associate Lecturer for the Department of Psychology at The University of Wisconsin—La Crosse. As part of his professional training and practice, he has established mental health outreach programming and provided clinical services to LGBTQ veterans. He has also provided cultural sensitivity and ally training for medical center staffs. He has experience with a wide range of mental health disorders and with a variety of medical populations, including working with HIV-positive patients in an infectious disease clinic. He also has extensive teaching experience. Cory is driven to educate others and to help people live more enriched and fulfilling lives. He is originally from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He grew up in a very rural working-class family. He was the first person in his extended family to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. He knows firsthand what it is like to grow up in a rural area and to be socially mobile. He is interested in helping guide others along their own journey of growth and self-discovery. He attained a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Northern Michigan University in Marquette, then uprooted and moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he earned a Masters of Science and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. His travels then took him to Buffalo, New York, for a doctoral internship, and then to San Antonio, Texas, for a post-doctoral residency. He finally settled in La Crosse in September 2014. He has been a member of The Center since arriving in La Crosse, and attending The Center’s events has been instrumental in his attachment to his new home. He has very much fallen in love with La Crosse and the community here; and wishes to help support the community.

Samantha Riniker

Personal gender pronouns: she/her/hers

 What does being on the Board of Directors entail?

Interested in participating on our Board of Directors? Contact our Directors.