The Sexual Minorities Education Foundation (SMEF)
The Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc. (SMEF, Inc.) was formed in 2011 to further the work of our primary investment — the Sexual Minorities Archive (SMA).
A dedicated Board of Directors – made up of members of the diverse LGBTQI community – manages the day-to-day functions of the SMEF and steers the mission and goals of the organization. Learn more about our current board members below.
The Sexual Minorities Education Foundation, Inc. (SMEF, Inc.), a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, administers the Sexual Minorities Archives and educational programming through the Archives. Read the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc., bylaws here.
Ben Power Alwin, Executive Director
Ben (he/him) is the founder and Executive Director of the Sexual Minorities Educational Foundation, Inc.,
For 40 years, Ben has been Curator of the Sexual Minorities Archives, a 45-year-old national collection of LGBTQ literature, history, and art.
Ben also founded the East Coast FTM Group in 1992 — the first-ever support group for trans men in the New England region. Ben facilitated the group, which met for 22 years and held its last meeting in December 2014. Power revived the support group in 2019 and it meets on the first Sunday of every month at 3:00 pm at the Sexual Minorities Archives. Power was the co-founder and lead organizer of the first-ever New England Transgender Pride March & Rally, attended by over 1,000 people on June 7, 2008 in Northampton, Massachusetts.
Ben holds a Master of Arts degree in Sociocultural Processes from Governors State University/Illinois and a Bachelor of Arts degree in American Literature from the University of Illinois, Chicago Campus. He has lectured on transgender issues at the Five Colleges in western Massachusetts; and at Syracuse University, University of Connecticut, Western New England University, and Yale University, among others; and has taught local LGBTQ history at Historic Northampton and at numerous Pioneer Valley history talks and walks.
He wrote for On Our Backs magazine in 1989 under the name Bet Power and published a trans autobiographical piece, “My Wonderful Askewness” in Crossing Sexual Boundaries: Transgender Journeys, Uncharted Paths, Eds. J. Ari Kane-DeMaios, EdD and Vern L. Bullough, PhD, Prometheus Books, Amherst, New York, 2006. He is working on a children’s book about gender identity/expression from a cat’s perspective entitled, Max Talks About His Person.
Katie Methe, Board President
Katie (they/them) has been a member of the SMEF board since 2021 and is the Vice President of Client Delivery at a large digital marketing agency. Katie graduated from Simmons University in 2009 with a degree in Marketing & Communications. Katie also received a “mini-MBA” certificate in Digital Marketing from Rutgers University in 2020.
Most of Katie’s professional background is in project management, digital strategy, and organizational advancement; so in addition to enjoying the meticulous art of spreadsheet and file management; Katie is also very passionate about the SMEF’s digital strategy (branding, website, SEO, event marketing, etc.) and creating efficient, sustainable processes so the board can successfully organize and collaborate as a team. As the boards self proclaimed “fix-it”, you’ll also find Katie tending to a home improvement project (or two) around the SMA.
Katie is spending 2022 in Southern Utah — frolicking in the natural beauty of Zion and surrounding canyons/parks and plans to return to their home in Western Massachusetts in 2023. Katie also enjoys cooking, woodworking and DIY projects, listening to live music, and nurturing their ever expanding collection of houseplants.
Sean Donovan, Board Treasurer
Sean Dononvan (he/him) puts a lot of energy into helping sustain communities of mutual support through his current role and activism. Working for the Western Mass Recovery Learning Community, he brings his seven years experience as facilitator for Alternatives to Suicide support groups and a national trainer for these roles, documentary film work and his advocacy work with queer folk (as well as some non-queer folk too) in the public mental health system to the Board.
He discovered the SMA through his role as a co-founder and facilitator of an LGBTQIA peer support group when searching for more ways for local queer folk to connect to community and their own histories. He began as a community volunteer helping catalog new donations and at events and, true to the SMA’s mission, believes that education, true education, can be an antidote to oppression and despair.
Sean holds a BA from UMass Amherst from the Social Thought and Political Economy program but believes his true education has come from connecting with other people about their passions and convictions. When not working he spends time with his partner, friends and practicing or performing with the band he shares with two amazing women, Feminine Aggression.
Amiana Banks, Board Clerk
Ami (they/them) started as a new member of the board of directors in 2022. They currently reside in Springfield, MA where they work in digital marketing and graphic design. Ami graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2018 with a BA in Sociology. During their time at UMass, Ami worked at the Stonewall Center planning events, organizing workshops and providing peer support, which is where they learned about and eventually became involved with the SMA.
An avid reader, they’re passionate about honoring and preserving queer history. Sharing stories is a vital part of community building and the SMA is a wonderful place to learn about each other and make those connections. As the clerk for the board of directors, Ami keeps record of board meetings and discussions. They’ve also assisted with landscaping to keep the SMA looking beautiful.
Outside of the SMA, Ami has stayed involved with the queer community through their work with LGBTQIA+ elders and sex worker advocacy. Ami spends their spare time out in nature, knitting, watercolor painting and diving down research rabbit holes. They also enjoy befriending neighborhood birds and have never met a dog they didn’t like.
Samuel Edwards (he/him) has been on the Board of the SMEF since 2018 — previously serving in the role of president — and interning at the SMEF since 2017. He is a graduate of Hampshire College, where he studied theatre and LGBTQ+ history. At Hampshire, he was the archivist for Hampshire College’s Theatre Board (the theatre department’s student-run governing body). He is a playwright interested in creating theatrical pieces from a queer perspective. His Division 3 senior thesis project was writing a play called “Caeneus”, an odyssey and gay/trans-positive fantasy adapted from a Greco-Roman myth about a transgender male character, which was performed in November 2018 at Hampshire College and directed by Ezekiel Baskin. He has also worked as dramaturg for Hampshire Shakespeare Young Company’s “Twelfth Night” in 2018, and Hampshire College’s “Stop Kiss” in 2018.
Growing up just outside of Washington, DC, Clark (he/him) spent many a swampy summer day cooling off in the city’s truly magical collection of free museums and archives. While working as a digitization intern at the National Archives, Clark became passionate about increasing visibility and accessibility through making collections digitally available to the public.
Clark entered the SMA as a volunteer and quickly fell in love with the project. Currently, he is working on a large-scale digitization of the Trans BIPOC Subject files and has recently applied for a digitization grant. Through this project, he hopes to expand public access to the SMA’s collections so that queer community members across the country can connect with their histories.
Victoria Palmatier (she/her) is a queer resident of Springfield, Massachusetts, and a recent graduate of Simmons College (Masters of Library, Information, and Archival Science.
At the SMA, she primarily focuses on print materials and grant funding. She is a librarian in the greater Springfield MA/Hartford CT area, and enjoys community organizing, gardening, swimming, and spending time with her partner and their bulldog, Boomer.
Jessica C. Neal
Jessica Neal (Jes) — she/her — is a millennial creative, archivist, and black memory worker based in Mobile, AL. Through the frames of Black studies, Black feminist theory, decolonial theory, and critical archival studies, her work seeks to historically investigate, interrogate, imagine and document liberation, heritage, and culture in the archives . Jes is also deeply invested in serving as an ally & collaborator within global marginalized communities to create more equity in who gets historicized and to implement post-custodial archival models. Her long-term focus is her work in community & familial archives and documenting black cultural production–more specifically in the arts, literary, and social movements.
Currently, her primary role is as Community Collections Manager with The Center for Research Libraries and an archives consultant for the Sterling A. Brown collection at Williams College. Additional posts include serving as the Records Management Program Manager at MIT, serving on the leadership committee for the NDSA, and as a Board Director for the Sexual Minorities Archives. She is also the founder of Vanguard Archives Consulting, a consulting firm that offers strategy, archives, oral history, and records management services with a specific focus on community and cultural heritage.
Outside of her archives and consulting work, Jes enjoys homemaking with her partner and dog Blue, cheering for the Boston Celtics, collecting art, cooking, and photography.
Minnie Bruce Pratt
Minnie Bruce Pratt is an honorary board member. Minnie Bruce is recognized as an eminent poet in the United States. In addition to receiving acclaim for her verse, Pratt is acknowledged as an essayist, activist, lesbian-feminist, and educator. By chronicling her existence in poetry and prose, Pratt has explored themes reflecting the particularities of her life. She has surveyed her Southern, middle-class upbringing, her ten-year marriage and strained divorce, her battle to retain relationships with her sons, and her subsequent life as a lesbian poet.
If you are interested in joining the Board of Directors, please email us.