Meet the Team Behind ClexaCon 2020

We’ve brought on some new team members that have a broad range of skills and experience to help ensure that every aspect of ClexaCon 2020 – from the minute you arrive to the minute you leave – is fun, friendly, smooth and accessible. Please meet the team below!  We look forward to bringing you the Best Year Yet at ClexaCon 2020!

April Funiestas (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

I am a military brat so I’m from all over, but I am currently based out of San Francisco.

What is your position at ClexaCon?

I started in 2017 as a volunteer, and worked my way up to AV Coordinator for 2018 and 2019. For 2020, I’ve been given the opportunity to be a director, and I am very excited about all the things we have in store for next year.

What experience do you bring to the con?

I have 5 years of project management experience working for Oracle, and have provided videography services to numerous agencies, small businesses, non-profits and personal clients. I’ve been making vids for fandom for 15 years, and created many of the main stage panel vids for ClexaCon since 2018.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

For me, ClexaCon means two things:

1. It’s an opportunity to elevate non-mainstream queer media by supporting and showcasing content made by members of the LGBTQ community. Mainstream Hollywood has a lot of catching up to do in how our community is written and portrayed, and I think a lot of the representation we crave can be found in the small, independently made films and webseries that are featured at ClexaCon. It provides budding content creators an opportunity to learn how to take charge of our narratives and tell authentic and nuanced stories that reflect how we love and live life.

2. It’s a place where people can gather and be with their community. It’s a place where you will find people who like the things you like, who look the way you do, think the way you do, and live and love the way you do. It’s a space for people who don’t have access to queer spaces or who fear being rejected for who they are and how they identify. For many people it’s like coming home and celebrating all the things that are unique to queer fandom.

I am most excited about how we’ve matured as a team and look forward to implementing the many improvements we’ve brainstormed in order to make next year the #bestyearyet!

What was your first fandom?

If I want to be completely honest, it was Dawson’s Creek. But when I came out, I was all about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Willow and Tara. That was the first time I engrossed myself in online fandom communities that introduced me to a wealth of fan fiction and fan art, and inspired me to create fan videos as a form of expression within the Willow and Tara fandom.

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

This year I have gotten myself back into reading, and have been filling my kindle with all sorts of books with queer characters. Some of my favorite books I’ve read this year are: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, The Priory of the Orange Tree, Lies We Tell Ourselves, And I Darken, and Good Spin.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

I would absolutely love to be the queer asian version of George Fayne from the Nancy Drew books. Short black hair? Check. Brown eyes? Check. Queer AF? Check. I always loved her character as a kid reading the Nancy Drew series in elementary school, and would totally fill the job as the brawny tomboy-ish sidekick who helps save the day. She was much more relatable to me than Nancy and Bess.

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Shay Mitchell as a young me and Lea Salonga as older me.

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

I love making fan videos. There’s something in the marriage of music and cinematic scenes that captures my heart. It’s how I interpret and glorify the movies and tv I love to watch and I might be a tad obsessive about it.

Dara Drawdy (they/them)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Atlanta

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Customer Service Coordinator

What experience do you bring to the con?

I have 16 years in client relations utilizing written and graphic materials to enhance customer experience.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon means community and having a safe space to be who you are.

What was your first fandom?

The X-Files

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Mindhunter, Gentleman Jack, Forever Not Maybe

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Root from Person of Interest. Using access to an all-seeing SuperAI to try to save the world seems like a good way to leave a mark on history. Plus, Sameen Shaw as a partner.

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Rachel Skarsten

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Board games

Heidi Leung (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Born and bred in the San Francisco Bay Area

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Director

What experience do you bring to the con?

I have been with ClexaCon since its inaugural event and have served as a director since the second event (ClexaCon 2018). Outside of ClexaCon I work in health care as a Sonographer aka Ultrasound Tech.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon started out as a place for me to be able to geek out about queer fandom with other like minded folks. It has now evolved into an event that really puts queer content creators at its focus and I’m proud to be a part of the revolution for more (and positive) queer representation in all facets of the media.

I’m most excited about all of the free events we have this year such as the return of the burlesque show starring the talents of Queerly Beloved Revue, karaoke, the return of speed friending, the late night films, and all of the other events that are available for all ages!

What was your first fandom?

Clexa

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

I’m constantly seeking out shows, movies, documentaries that focus on food. Chef’s Table, the British Baking Show, The Mind of a Chef, Ugly Delicious, Parts Unknown… ”Food is memory, it is emotion, and it is the only art form that you can have an intimate interaction with that challenges all five primary senses.”

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Scarlett Johansson. lol j/k.
Michelle Krusiec…or maybe Sandra Oh.

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

I find myself going down a Youtube rabbit hole of travel videos, food videos, before and after cleaning videos, Graham Norton clips, alladat quite often. They’re entertaining and relaxing and frankly, I just love zoning out.

Stacy Jill Calvert (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Hometown: Chicago, Currently: Los Angeles

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Director of Programming, ClexaCon Film Festival

What experience do you bring to the con?

I’m a filmmaker (writer, producer, director) and have also been part of the film festival world for many years from volunteering to running festivals. I’ve also served as the Ticketing Manager for Gay Games Chicago and have been attending conventions since I was a baby queer.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon is the time of the year where I can geek out about queer media with like-minded individuals. I’m excited to screen some incredible queer content and to meet new friends from around the world!

What was your first fandom?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Legends of Tomorrow, Raising Dion, Emergence

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Willow, because why wouldn’t you want to be a queer witch with all of that magic at your fingertips?

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Rachel Bloom (my life is but a wacky musical) or Melanie Lynskey

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Game Night with my loved ones!

Lorena (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

California girl born and raised. Currently in Los Angeles

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Social Media Super Ninja

What experience do you bring to the con?

I have 13 years of experience helping brands connect with fans through social media marketing. I’ve worked with hundreds of organizations all over the world and now I focus on causes I feel truly aligned with like ClexaCon!

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon means freedom. I’m most excited about meeting great people!

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

On Becoming a God in Central Florida

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s one geeky thing you love?

Watching crime documentaries!

Hellen (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

I’m from Rome and, after some moving around, I’m back in Rome

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Vendor Coordinator

What experience do you bring to the con?

Many years of organizing events and being involved with cons throughout Europe and Italy. A lifelong love for comics, books, video and card games and great dedication to ClexaCon and everything it stands for. Being Vendor Coordinator this year combines everything I love together: creativity and event planning!

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

In two very simple words, ClexaCon is my happy place. There’s nowhere I’d rather be and I look forward to it all year long. This year I’m extremely excited about my Coordinator position and can’t wait to personally meet all the awesome artists I’ve been speaking to in the past few months! :)

What was your first fandom?

My first fandom was Korrasami

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Forever undecided, so here’s my current top three for all :)
Series: Grace and Frankie, The 100, Osmosis.
Comics: Isola, The Infinite Loop, Harley Quinn.
Games: Unstable Unicorns (card game) – Halo and KHIII (videogames).

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

If I could pick anything I’d want to be an Airbender and I’d travel the world with my flying bison (and her name would be Angela).

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Maybe Ellen Page

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Math

Kàegh Griffith-Wills (they/them)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

I’m from Southern New Jersey (exit 2!). I live in Chicago, where I’ve been for the past six years.

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Accessibility Coordinator

What experience do you bring to the con?

Besides my butch! supergirl cosplay and more Buffy fan fiction than I care to admit, I bring my desire to create safe and accessible spaces for every person to be themselves as they are in that moment. At home, I’m a special education teacher working with kiddos of varying experiences while sharing my own experience as a diverse learner with them to build a better community for us all.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

I heard about ClexaCon on Tumblr right after I finished binging The 100. I knew going into the binge all about Lexa’s storyline. I thought this would keep it from affecting me like other Bury Your Gays shows have in the past. I was quite wrong. Seeing nearly a shot-for-shot recreation of Tara’s death on Buffy left me shook. Tara was a BIG DEAL to me as a young queerdo in a rural town. ClexaCon gave me a space to not only mourn the loss of so many important fictional characters, but a community of people who understood two vital pieces of my identity: Queer & stereotypically nerdy.

I’m excited to see the community grow for ClexaCon 2020. I feel deeply privileged to not only be a part of the team, but do work I am passionate about in a space I return to in my lesbian pilgrimage to feel fully seen as I am.

What was your first fandom?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Law & Order: SVU. Faith and Detective Olivia Benson? Swoon <3

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Supergirl. Literally cannot stop talking to everyone I meet about it.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Lin Beifong from Legend of Korra. She is a forking Boss that can earth and metal bend who doesn’t take any guff.

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Rhea Butcher

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

I read and write a lot of Supercorp fan fiction. I just need to see those two dummies fall in love.

Jess LaFranco (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

I am from Folsom, CA and I am currently based in Las Vegas, NV

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Executive Assistant

What experience do you bring to the con?

I started as a volunteer at ClexaCon 2018. I have a military background which makes me great at getting tasks done in a timely manner. I am what you call a Jill-of-all-trades. I take care of whatever needs to be taken care of at any particular moment in time and I am there to help my team in any way possible.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon mean a lot of things to me and its hard to put it into words, but I will try. ClexaCon means a sense of belonging and family. ClexaCon is a place where we can forget how terrible the world can be at times and remember that we matter. The feeling you get when you are surrounded by like-minded people and non-judgement is something that I have only ever felt at ClexaCon and it is something that cannot and will never be replaced. As for what I am most excited about for 2020, I get to feel the energy of ClexaCon again and to be surrounded by that atmosphere once more.

What was your first fandom?

I would have to say the first fandom I really experienced was Carmilla.

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

I am currently obsessed with The Handmaid’s Tale, Lucifer, and 13 Reasons Why.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Cosima from Orphan Black because her intelligence is through the roof.

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

I have an obsession with school supplies, especially pens! Also I love reading fanfic.

KC (they/them)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Las Vegas

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Volunteer Coordinator

What experience do you bring to the con?

I’ve been volunteering at various places around Las Vegas for 10 years and began managing volunteers in high school for Key Club. I’ve been the volunteer coordinator and event administrator for Great American Foodie Fest since 2013, I’ve been the volunteer coordinator for LVL UP EXPO since 2014, and I’ve been working with ClexaCon for two years now. I’m also attending UNLV for Meetings and Events (Hospitality). I have a wide variety of event experience in customer service, registration, event food service, event logistics, and event management.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

To me, ClexaCon is a place where I can be comfortable in my own skin. It’s a nice place to meet new people and talk, and not face judgement, like some do in their everyday lives. For 2020, I’m most excited to see the panel line up. I’ve never gotten to see a panel, but hopefully this year I can check some out.

What was your first fandom?

In general, I’m more of an anime fan so various anime, but for CC specific topics, Carmilla for sure.

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

TV – Dark Crystal
Book – The Smoke Thieves
Comic – Miss Abbott and the Doctor, Lore Olympus, SubZero / all on webtoons

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Link from Legend of Zelda. He doesn’t need to figure out who he is. He just wakes up one day and knows what he has to do in each life.

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Probably the girl who played Diggy in Dope.

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Video games! Apex Legends, Slime Rancher, Stardew Valley, Legend of Zelda (BOTW or Twilight Princess)

Ashley Arnold (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

All over, currently Las Vegas

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Director

What experience do you bring to the con?

I joined ClexaCon in the early planning stages of the first event and ran everything from social media and panels to guest relations and travel. Before running ClexaCon I worked in advertising and public relations after serving 7 years in the military.

What was your first fandom?

South of Nowhere

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Warehouse 13

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Wonder Woman

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Kristen Stewart from her Twilight Series days

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Reading

Kyland (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Las Vegas

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Security and Handler Coordinator

What experience do you bring to the con?

ClexaCon is something that is near and dear to my heart because I feel that we need more for our community and this con was a huge stepping stone. I want our community to feel safe and have that sense of security and that’s why I stepped into my role. Starting off as a handler with ClexaCon, I had a huge responsibility but enjoyed the comradery, excitement, different personalities, and the many events of the con. As Security and Handler Coordinator, I contribute my everyday skills, along with my training, education, and passion for my community. I have a Masters Degree in Forensic Psychology/Criminology and have worked in Law Enforcement for the past 12 years. I want to make sure that each and every individual attending ClexaCon has a safe and wonderful experience.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

ClexaCon is about community and positive representation!! I love to see familiar faces and new faces every con. I’m most excited about seeing our community come together and enjoy our common interests.

What was your first fandom?

Willow and Tara

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Desert Hearts

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

A powerful female CEO who has super powers

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Chyler Leigh

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Finding new foreign queer films to watch

Debbie (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

London and London

What is your position at ClexaCon?

I run the main panel room

What experience do you bring to the con?

Over 20 years working in customer service and a life long love of Sci-Fi can only result in going to conventions for over half my life (I was a teenager at my first con) and it would be easier to count how many I haven’t volunteered at vs. the ones I’ve just attendeed, LOL.

I love helping people and often think the smaller, sometimes unnoticed things make the bigger impact. That’s what I try to do at cons: make the small things count.

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

I remember when I read about the first ClexaCon event, I was so excited about and for it, as there hadn’t ever been a LGBTQ based con and I knew I wanted to help and support it, so I jumped on the chance to attend it. I was also super happy that I was able to work that con as well.

After that it was just important to be a part of and support LGBTQ themed cons, plus I love working cons and let’s not forget the importance of being able to meet up with and of course make new con friends.

What was your first fandom?

Xena Warrior Princess/Star Trek

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

I’m always obsessed with The Hunger Games, followed closely by Grey’s Anatomy.

My other obsessions depend on what other TV shows are out, as I prefer to binge watch them. I have so many shows that I have an app to help make sure I can stay up to date with them all.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

OMG soooo many options . . . probably wouldn’t want to be any of the characters I love, I’d just love to be in their universe and interact with them.

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

It would have to be a comedian . . . someone like Ellen or Melissa McCarthy

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

When I’m not working cons (I do sooo many lol) my geeky pleasure would be designing and making cosplays. I’ve made 5 in the past 3 years.

Sherry DiTurno (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

From Atwater, OH currently live in Henderson, NV

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Panelist Hospitality Lead

What experience do you bring to the con?

Over 20 years as an Executive Assistant and 9 years as a Project Manager, I have acquired many years of experience planning, executing and attending corporate and Non Profit events. I am a former Board Member for the Women’s Leadership Conference of NE Ohio, whose mission is to empower educate and inspire women in all stages of their careers. I have planned daily events for 700 participants to week long conferences with 100+ attendees that include guest speakers and multiple concurrent topic tracks. I love helping people and seeing their faces when they attend a panel that has significant meaning for them or attend a panel on a whim and come away with knowledge on a topic they didn’t have before. The opportunity to volunteer at ClexaCon as the Panelist Hospitality Lead is the best of both worlds for me. Not only do I get to assist con attendees in the panel area, I get to attend ClexaCon!

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

Acceptance, diversity and FUN! I am most looking forward to attending my first ClexaCon event, seeing the crowds, meeting new people, helping others, working hard for an amazing cause and enjoying the con.

What was your first fandom?

I have not attended a fandom event before unless I can count Tattoo Conventions.

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Ray Donovan, Orange is the new Black, Dr. Pimple Popper. Favorite movie of all time is Dances with Wolves

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Selene from Underworld. She is beautiful, sexy and badass!!

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Amy Schumer because she is awesome!!

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

I love to read true crime stories.

Michelle (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

London

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Team Lead – Autographs

What experience do you bring to the con?

A lifetime of fandoms, from being a fan to working at conventions, with a “day job” helping/explaining IT to everyone

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

Interacting with the attendees and seeing friends

What was your first fandom?

Back to the Future

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

Back to the Future, Ready Player One

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?

Jillian Holtzmann – ghostbusters and gadgets

Who would play you in a movie based on your life?

Melissa McCarthy

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Computers

Danielle Jablonski (she/her)

Where are you from and where are you currently based?

Australia -> NYC  -> Las Vegas

What is your position at ClexaCon?

Director

What experience do you bring to the con?

I’ve been one of the main people behind the scenes since the early planning stages of ClexaCon year 1. Before running ClexaCon I worked in graphic design and marketing and started an LGBTQ non-profit sports organization in NYC, among other things!

What does ClexaCon mean to you and what are you most excited about for ClexaCon 2020?

To me ClexaCon has always meant community and hope. It’s a space for so many queer women, trans and nonbinary people to come together to be ourselves and celebrate each other. It’s a space I always craved growing up and even as an adult have found it hard to find. It’s also a space that gives me hope that together our communities can make an impact on the larger media landscape that will have a positive impact on each of us and for all LGBTQ people in the future.

What was your first fandom?

Star Trek and then Xena, but I wasn’t fully into fandom until Clexa

What tv show, film, web series, book, comic or game are you currently obsessed with?

I recently (finally) got into Warehouse 13. 

When you aren’t busy with ClexaCon, what’s something geeky that you love?

Flying drones. Making movies.