Proud Haven

Debbie is a co-founder of Proud Haven. They hold an M.S. in Nonprofit Management from Robert Morris University and a B.S. in Accounting from Manhattan College. Debbie has over 30 years of experience in accounting, with the past 20 years spent working with both for-profit and nonprofit organizations in their adopted hometown of Pittsburgh. They are the director of finance at MANY and also serves on the finance committee for the Allies for Health + Wellbeing. They have also served on the boards of Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Traveler’s Aid of Pittsburgh, and the ToonSeum. Debbie is particularly interested in working with and supporting organizations that serve marginalized and at-risk populations.

Deeply troubling national statistics have found that 40% of youth experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQIA+. Available data suggests that conditions are similar in the Pittsburgh region.

Many traditional service providers cannot or will not provide physical and emotional safety, support and resources for their sexual and gender identities, and the encouragement they need to reach their full potential as independent, confident adults.

Identity-based family rejection is the most common reason these youth become homeless. Even if their family is supportive, youth may face harassment and violence at school or in their neighborhood that's so severe that they would rather leave home than spend another day in fear. Once they leave home, youth are subject to all the indignities of being unstably housed, including devastating health and psychological consequences, hunger, and the disruption of their education.


Communications Committee Chair

Mitchell Hortert is a community leader, advocate and educator. He has held trainings and speaking engagements across Pennsylvania from Erie to Harrisburg and the Pittsburgh area on topics that range from working with families with children who identify as LGBTQIA+ to child welfare. In 2010, he helped to co-found the Butler LGBTQ Interfaith Network, an organization that consists of LGBTQ affirming clergy, pastors, and faith leaders that affirm the spirituality of all LGBTQ people, their friends and allies. He is also the first ever instructor on working with the LGBTQIA+ community for the City of Pittsburgh’s Bureau of Police’s Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Program. Also in 2010, he helped to co-found Butler County Community College’s Campus Safe Zone program. Mitchell attended University of Pittsburgh where he obtained his master’s degree in Social Work.

Residential Program Director

Alana is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Sociology. She received both her Bachelor's (African American Studies) and Master's (American Culture Studies) degrees from Washington University in St. Louis. Her research interests include the construction and socialization of black masculinity, black feminism, gendered violence of black trans and non-trans women and intervention and survivor networks.
Alana has become and worked tirelessly as an advocate and mentor for young women who are survivors of sexual trauma, has worked closely with adolescent male perpetrators, and become increasingly more involved in activism engaging in anti-violence campaigns for black folks. Alana is a queer black woman and survivor who believes in the liberatory power of living openly, honestly, and authentically. She also believes in the power of shared knowledge, and seeks out collaborations that work to inform and empower herself and others.

Our Mission

What is Proud Haven?

Lyndsey is currently youth programs manager at the Persad Center. In addition, they are an executive steering committee member of TransPride Pittsburgh and an executive steering committee member of the Hot Metal Hardware Gender Performance Troupe. Previously they were a board chair of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center (GLCC), now the Pittsburgh Equality Center.  Prior to working at Persad, Lyndsey was the project coordinator of the Youth Empowerment Project at the University of Pittsburgh.

Julie is a community-focused change agent with over 10 years of cross-functional experience in the social impact sector. She currently works for Global Links managing the Community Partners Program where she assesses and develops partnerships with safety net organizations and free clinics to provide medical supplies, equipment, mobility aids, etc. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Pittsburgh Cares.

Our Progress

Our Story

Ciora, a Pittsburgh native, is one of only a few transwomen of color leaders in our city dedicated to motivating young black transwomen to speak out about transphobia, exclusion, women's rights, societal injustices and speaking up to power. She works toward and encourages others in securing rights that stick and insuring that freedoms for transgender people are gained and secured. Knowing the struggles that exist in our nation at large she strives to make a difference in furthering equality everywhere while being a strong advocate and movement of action for the transgender population of Pittsburgh. In the struggles that many of the LGBTQIA+ community faces she has lived through it and has gained great knowledge on how to lead and bring success in bettering the lives of those who struggle to survive in communities not built for their independence or growth.

Ciora is the founder of sisTers PGH, developed in 2013, which has been making great strides in transvocation. sisTers PGH focuses on permanent housing solutions for the trans and nonbinary communities, while working toward opening a homeless shelter for these communities living in the Western Pennsylvania area looking to transition into permanent affordable housing. Ciora also serves on the LGBTQIA+ Advisory Council in Mayor Bill Peduto's office and is the People's Pride lead organizer and founder. Ciora has been awarded the True Tea Entertainment: Community Engagement Award for 2017 and The Inclines: Who's Next Housing Award 2017.

Through her experience and many achievements, Ciora is geared to serve the greater LGBTQIA+ homeless and/or displaced communities of Pittsburgh. She helps shape a better life ahead for many transgender and nonbinary people who need permanence and independence; she stands up to injustices towards POC, CisWomen/transwomen, human rights, exploitation, gentrification, capitalism and bigotry; and she strives for inclusion with a basis of intersectionality.

We will be a leading resource for shelter and support services that improve the quality of life for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender queer/questioning, intersex, asexual and beyond (LGBTQIA+) youth who are experiencing homelessness as well as an advocate for the  LGBTQIA+ population as a whole.

LGBTQIA+ youth need and deserve their own shelter.

Real Estate Committee Chair​

As a response to a national and local crisis Proud Haven Inc. was first conceived in 2012, incorporated in Pennsylvania in April 2013 and received IRS approval as a 501(c)(3) in September 2014. A full board began work in November 2015. We opened our office at 5132 Butler St, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 in March, 2017. 

Proud Haven will be the first overnight shelter of its kind in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area. We are in the process of raising funds and locating resources to open and sustain our shelter in Pittsburgh.

Our current offerings for clients can be found here.  Our office is open Monday 12:00 - 5:00 pm, Tuesday 12:00 - 5:00 pm, Thursday 2:00 - 6:00 pm, and the 1st & 3rd Saturdays of the month from 1:00 – 6:00 pm.


Finance Committee Chair
Volunteer Committee Chair


​Program Development Committee Chair​
Youth Advisory Council

Our Vision

Our Leadership

Lindsay has spent her entire career working in nonprofits that serve low-income people, including Rebuilding Together and Action Housing.  She has a Master’s degree in nonprofit management.  Lindsay was the vice president of the board of directors for La Escuelita Arcoiris, a Spanish-immersion preschool, for 5 years. She is looking forward to bringing her knowledge to help LGTBQIA+ youth find a safe haven where they feel like they belong.

Julia is an assistant public defender of Allegheny County, representing defendants in probation and parole violations. She previously worked at Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA) practicing landlord/tenant, bankruptcy, and unemployment compensation law. Julia graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law in 2013. Prior to that, she served with AmeriCorps for a year tutoring and mentoring students at Pittsburgh Milliones University Prep Middle and High School. She graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009.

Proud Haven's mission is to provide a safe shelter for LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing homelessness in Pittsburgh. We will also provide emotional support and resources to help LGBTQIA+ youth develop the skills needed to live independently. 

A Place To Be Home