Name: Juan Carlos Fernandez
City & State: Atlanta, GA; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Tell us about yourself outside of NEAT volunteering! (e.g. work, family, hobbies)
I am a marketing professional with a postgraduate degree in International Marketing and specialties in digital marketing, social media, and online fundraising. After a long career in technology, I decided to move to the non-profit sector, where I held several positions in organizations supporting HIV-AIDS, Marriage Equality, WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), and Anti-Bullying initiatives.
After many years of living in New York City, my husband Paul and I decided to spend our time between Atlanta, Puerto Vallarta, and looking for new adventures around the world.
What's your connection to LGBTQ+ justice work?
The AIDS crisis in the '90s was seminal to me. Seeing so many people passing inspired me take a more proactive role within my community. I started volunteering for HIV-AIDS organizations, creating awareness about the pandemic. Then I moved to another important issue, Marriage Equality, where I stayed until it became the law of the land. I'm a fierce advocate against cyberbullying at all levels, but mainly in protecting our youth.
What is your volunteer role(s) at NEAT? What inspired you to get involved?
I oversee the content of our social media outlets and measure NEAT's impact in the digital space. Understanding the digital space will help us to develop better programs to support the LGBTQ+ community across the country.
We live in challenging times where our rights are constantly in danger. I volunteer at NEAT because I do not want to lose those rights we have already won with so much effort and pain. We must keep fighting to keep what we’ve accomplished and achieve for equality for all.
Share a memory from volunteering that sticks out in your mind.
I will never forget the day SCOTUS declared that Marriage Equality was legal in all 50 states. We were at the Stonewall Inn in New York, and the people gathered there exploded in joy, tears, and excitement! It was certainly a day to remember for me, my family, and the rest of the country.
What would you say to anyone considering volunteering with NEAT?
If we want a better country and a better world for our children and grandchildren, we must work hard, and we can’t do this alone. We need hands and eyes and brains of many volunteers to achieve full equality once and for all.
If you are young, come and learn. If you are older, share your experience and put your wisdom to work. NEAT is an organization that needs many kinds of skills and your time will support an excellent cause – equality for everyone.