Meet our Team
Welcome to the SSDCE Meet the Team page, where you can get to know the brilliant minds behind our organization. Meet our dedicated founders, whose passion and expertise have driven SSDCE's success. Learn more about their backgrounds, achievements, and the vision they share for making a positive impact in our community.
In the midst of tumultuous times, Joshua and I found solace and support in each other's company. We were both navigating through life's challenges - I was grieving the loss of my husband to cancer, and Joshua was recovering from a painful breakup. Amidst our personal struggles, we had to keep my business afloat – an event space in New York City, which was deeply connected to our journey of personal growth and identity exploration.
As we worked together, we noticed the profound impact we were making on our guests and clients' lives, especially those struggling with sexual and gender identities. These insights led us to envision creating content and programs that could foster personal growth and connection on a larger scale. During this time, also, we formulated our philosophy we refer to as “People First” – where who we are should always come before what we do, or what titles we hold.
In late 2019, the in-person event space closed and we were able to secure a small personal safe haven. We started to build out our programming from there, and were able to launch the very first weekend intensive in February 2020.
However, our plans (and all of life) took an unexpected turn when the Covid pandemic hit. The work we do, entirely based on person-to-person engagements, came to an abrupt halt. But despite this setback, we were determined to adapt and continue serving our community, which needed connection and belonging more than ever. So, we transformed our new home into a virtual living workshop and work-from-home setup.
To address the isolation and despair gripping our people, we launched several online initiatives:
1. "Ask Me Anything" sessions: These provided access to professional perspectives, allowing people to ask questions and seek guidance on personal growth and identity topics.
2. Community Zoom Meet-ups: In these safe, moderated dialogues, people could gather, share their struggles, and find comfort in connecting with others.
3. Education Sessions: We offered online learning opportunities, making sure scholarships were available to those in need, so nobody would be left behind.
As we delved deeper into our work, Joshua and I also embarked on our own healing journeys. I had been in recovery for alcohol for many years, but at this point, I began to do trauma recovery work, in earnest. Joshua was also engaged in his own path of development, ultimately leading him to end of life doula work, and as we grew together, we empathized with our clients on a deeper level. We also began to step more solidly into our own identities.
We worked hard to develop comprehensive programs, ones that help others embrace introspection, connect with their authentic selves, and communicate their truths. These programs emphasize the importance of holding space for oneself and others, cultivating empathy and understanding within our community.
Our dedication to creating a safe space for growth, healing, support, and connection never wavered. Despite challenges and limited resources, we have touched the lives of thousands of people, witnessing countless transformations.
From the close of the club to this moment, we have been at the behest of other people and places to be able to host these events. Rents have gone up, not all the venues are suited to the work we do, and so we have struggled to be able to reach people the way we envision.
We stand at a pivotal moment in our journey. We are seeking to create a dedicated space aligned with our vision, a sanctuary for personal growth, connection, and healing. With the right resources, we can extend our impact, providing continuous support for our community's growth and well-being.
Mine and Joshua’s lives have converged into a powerful synergy, blending our unique experiences and expertise. We are ready to embrace the opportunities that lie ahead on our journey of collective growth and positive change. Our passion and determination have laid the foundation for something truly remarkable, and we are eager to scale our efforts and touch even more lives.
Despite facing challenges and limited resources, we have achieved remarkable success, allowing thousands to find their footing. I believe our journey is an inspiring example of how a shared vision and a willingness to adapt can create a powerful force for positive change. As we seek to scale our vision, our past achievements stand as proof of our potential to make an even greater impact on the lives of many more individuals seeking healing, connection, and personal growth. The support we are seeking will allow us to procure a space that is ours, to make it suitable for the work we do, to allow us to be as inclusive as we can, and to offer sliding scale and scholarships so that everyone who is ready to do this life-changing work will be able to.
Cat and I met at turbulent times in our lives.
She had just lost her husband & I was coming out of a failing relationship while struggling to find myself and my purpose. When our paths crossed, we found support and the drive to help each other move forward.
Professionally, I was a full-time sex worker helping folks to work through relationship with sexual identity as well as hosting BDSM education & experiential events all while freelancing as a photographer.
Cat was owner, operator and manager of an event space in Manhattan that catered to the adult community around sexual exploration. She was a safe space for those to come explore and ask their questions. She helped walked people out of the shadows into their own power of identity.
By this time in our relationship, we had collectively hosted thousands of weekly events. We had met and helped thousands of people with the first steps on their journey of exploration.
It was difficult to find our footing, as the world kept shifting beneath our feet. The first year was about keeping our heads above water; we were lifelines for each other. We worked hard on maintaining the event space that was left behind when Cat’s husband died of cancer. We worked and we worked hard until the very last day the doors were open.
We were both in survival mode.
When we relocated to a personal safe haven, we dug in deep. We put our best foot forward, healing and growing from what life put in front of us… We did a lot of heavy lifting
It worked. It worked very well.
We began growing our experiential kink events at other local venues, our weekend intensive program was ramping up, photography was growing. Our services were growing and things were becoming stable. More importantly, we were finding stability personally and together. We had just wrapped our first weekend intensive called “People Before Kink”.
Then COVID hit.
COVID brought in a new set of circumstances.
We were impacted heavily financially, as all of our work required person to person contact. Everything came to a stand-still, as it did for most folks.
We didn’t want to abandon the community, as we were one of the only safe spaces for so many people. We immediately started online programs to fill the void created in our community by COVID. We weren’t sure what the scope would be or how successful it could be. We successfully hosted online events for almost a year, while continuing to flesh out more programs and other options for folks looking to develop personally in these times of isolation.
We also used this time to reflect, explore and grow. In these isolated months we had our own battles with ourselves. Imposter syndrome. Denial. Aggravation. Stagnation. At times we felt stuck and unsure. Yet, we stuck by our truths and commitment to our relationship, our progress, our process and our purpose. It was not easy, and as we all know… nothing worthwhile comes easy. We cannot ask others to walk a path that we ourselves haven’t.
We had to practice what we were preaching.
What COVID taught us was the value and scarcity of time. How could we take what we had been using to help folks on an individual level and expand on that? How could we put that power in the hands of the students/clients? How could we empower them to walk their walk as we had started our own.
How would we teach the power of holding space. Not just a lecture-based process, but a way that actually gave a person the very experience we were having the privilege of navigating. Knowing that it only takes one time of being exposed to this process to understand the power behind it.
“People Before Kink”
On the other side of our investment into each other, ourselves and the work we had committed ourselves to, we refined our program, “People Before Kink”. We used all of our knowledge, life experiences and wisdom to create and bring forth a program of unparalleled empowerment. We developed a deeper-reaching program, one that expanded well beyond our foundation of kink and sexuality, into who we are fundamentally.
We launched this program with the intention of creating a tribe of like-minded members. Understanding that social markers do not identify tribe. Intention. Goals. The desire to want deeper connections is what builds these bonds. Understanding we are all on our own paths, at our own pace…
Our alumni group has grown to almost 200 strong.
We also came to understand that, at this level, markers like race, religion, sex, orientation, political affiliations keep us separate. We want more. We want to be surrounded by people who want more. Not just from this moment, but from life’s journey. We want to be valued. Respected. Equal.
What are we doing now? We are helping people find their voice. As they find strength, they become their own best advocates. We also bring the understanding that “there is no blueprint” and “we aren’t late/lost”. We guide folks to this awareness in the space we hold. In the conversations we have. Through the education and processing, we assist others through our years of experience.
We love the work we do.
We help people find their strength in presence.
We have found purpose in helping others get “unstuck”.
During this time, we have been relegated to using other peoples’ spaces. Rising prices have closed doors for us, and venues aren’t always amenable to the work we do.
An amazing opportunity has landed in our lap. We have an opportunity to host in our own space again. The space is in East Harlem. Just blocks away from where I was raised. We are building the Sanctuary for Spiritual Development and Consciousness Expansion. A healing center…for people seeking it from everywhere, and, specifically to bring respite to people who are right here. Our journey has been amazing. Our path has been widened by the people who support us, by the folks who have experienced their own growth on their own journeys right alongside us. We are grateful for and humbled by the path we have found ourselves on, and more than excited to see what comes next!
Cat offers one-on-one counseling that helps people gain perspective and clarity around a variety of life stressors. Facilitating greater self-acceptance, problem-solving and healing, her methods allow people to get “unstuck” and reprioritize life goals.