Coming Out, Being Out, Staying Out
Featuring Rob Bujan, Charlie Ferrusi, London Jae Precise, Tandra R. LaGrone and S.J. Williams
Co-Moderator – Rob Bujan
Rob's family comes from Columbia County - in Germantown, NY, where his family ran a pick your own farm, called Wintje Farms. Many of his family were born in Hudson, grew up and graduated from Germantown Central School. His family contributed to starting the library in the school. Rob comes from a family focused on service to their country. Both his parents, uncles and aunts served in the military from WWII working on the campaigns to liberate concentration camps and Paris to being stationed in Turkey in the 60s. Rob also felt the importance of service to his country and served in the Army during the times of "don't ask, don't tell" In the Army, Rob specialized in ballistic computer repair to M1 Abraham Tanks & Bradley Fighting vehicles. He trained in Abderdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland and was finally stationed in the Army Reserves in South Texas.
Rob moved to Hudson in 2009 and opened a second office for SDL + GHS, an insurance consulting firm. The firm has grown to employee 8 team members to support the NYC office. He and his husband, Jeffrey, were married in 2012 at Club Helsinki as part of a fund raising programming for Hudson Pride Foundation - where Rob sat on the board and was the Executive Director for a year. Rob was one of the 3 founding directors of OutHudson that supports the local LGBTQI community in the Hudson valley. He was elected Alderman of the 1st Ward on the Hudson City Council in 2017 for a term from 2018 – 2020.
Co-Moderator – Charlie Ferrusi
Charlie Ferrusi was born and raised in Columbia County, and is a 2010 graduate of Hudson High School. In 2010, Charlie made history when he was elected prom king alongside another openly gay man who was elected prom queen, becoming the first time two men have won both royalties in the nation. Charlie went on to receive his BS in Health Education from SUNY Brockport and his MPH in Community Health from New York University. Charlie is currently studying Nutrition at Stony Brook University School of Medicine. Charlie is a Certified Health Education Specialist and holds New York State Teaching Certification in Health Education.
Charlie is currently employed at the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute, as a Program Manager for the Retention and Adherence Program. In 2017, Charlie was accepted into the Human Rights Campaign Foundation's HIV 360° Fellowship Program. Through this fellowship, Charlie founded The Link Project, an intergenerational LGBTQ program which fosters community building among LGBTQ people in the Hudson Valley. Charlie is the founder of the Columbia County Young Democrats and Fulton Stall Market CSA, and previously served on the Board of Directors for the Hudson Pride Foundation. Charlie is a founding Board Member of OutHudson, a volunteer-led LGBTQ non-profit organization in Columbia County, NY. Charlie has been featured as a speaker at TEDxHudson, on the cover of POZ Magazine, and in a CNN interview with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Charlie is based in NYC, and remains politically and socially active in the Hudson Valley.
Panelist – Tandra LaGrone
Tandra LaGrone is executive director at In Our Own Voices, the Capital District nonprofit working to ensure the physical, mental, spiritual, political, cultural and economic survival and growth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of color communities. She considers herself an activist, organizer and cultural critic.
Tandra previously was director of Girls Incorporated of the Greater Capital Region, One of the country’s largest organizations for girl’s rights. She is an advocated for HIV/AIDS treatment in the African American community, especially for women and young black men. The Albany native has worked as a domestic violence, youth, and LGBT advocate for over 30 years.
Tandra has a bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of New Paltz. She has given presentations, as well as led panel discussions and workshops during a variety of activist and academic conferences and events on Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, and Transgender (LGBT) issues with a particular focus on the people of color community (POC).
Panelist – London Jae Precise
London Jae Precise, CEO of The House of Precise Inc., grew up in both the NYC house scene & Albany Social scene. On her own at a young age, London built up the courage to follow her dreams of becoming an entertainer, a world leader and community servant. London has worked for many Health Care agency’s, including founding her own, with a passion in assisting our youth and young adults to live safe and healthy lives.
With several pageant titles, a N.Y. headlining status and 3 weekly shows including the Legendary Stonewall Inn, Tuesday’s (NYC) & Rocks ( Albany,NY) on Wednesday nights for her weekly drag revue, London continues to create a meaningful impact on the lives of many. Her #1 goal is to help build a world of unity, love, acceptance and success. Enjoy her Beyoncé real ness or her heartfelt live vocals, she’s sure to make you feel the vibe.
Facebook & Instagram @londonjaeprecise
Panelist – Sherry Jo Williams
Sherry Jo Williams, an established design innovator, brings her exceptional taste and years of experience to each new venture, whether large or small. Recognized as a creative leader in curation, product development, design marketing and community engagement, she navigates each project with a distinctive personal style.
SJW’s design background includes co-founder/director of Clodagh Ross & Williams, a seminal NYC gallery featuring bespoke American made furniture, lighting and art jewelry, Product Development and Creative Direction for Bloomingdale’s and Visual Director for Estee Lauder International SkinCare and Fragrance. Martha Stewart, Absolute Vodka, Disney, Todd Oldham, Design Within Reach, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Nickelodeon represent a few of her esteemed corporate clients.
Revisiting her early passion for contemporary handmade objects and furniture, she founded Culture+Commerce Project in Hudson NY, while exploring upstate alternatives to living and working in Manhattan. This unique collection of lux home furnishings and jewelry by regional makers was named a top design destination by Wendy Goodman in New York Magazine, and has been featured in The New York Times, Elle Decor, Dwell Magazine and Chronogram Magazine.
Other professional accomplishments include teaching at Parsons The New School of Design, receiving a New York State Council on the Arts Grant and creating Absolut Williams for Absolut Vodka and The Advocate Magazine for the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion. SJ’s successes have been recognized in The New York Times, Metropolis Magazine, ID Magazine, New York Magazine and Interiors Magazine. Her activist design work is included in the New York Public Library LGBTQ collection and pieces from CRW are included in The Museum of Art and Design.
SJW co-founded Jane Q Publik, a NYC guerrilla arts cooperative, and was co-director of The Organization of Lesbian + Gay Architects and Designers. She serves on the Steering committee of DesignHudson, an annual city wide design event hosted by VisitHudsonNY, and previously served on the Advisory Committee for The Prison Public Memory Project and the Board of directors of WiseBodies.org. She writes a monthly design column, Design Diary for RuralIntelligence.
Sherry enjoys traveling between NYC and Hudson with her wife, who is a fine artist, graphic designer and radio host. She continues her commitment to making the world a better looking and more inclusive place for one and all.