Lance Preston MBA, JD, MJ, is a compassionate leader who has dedicated his life to making a difference in the lives of marginalized youth across the United States. Born and raised in a small Southern Baptist town in Tennessee, Lance's early experiences shaped his deep commitment to serving others. After “coming out” as gay at the age of 18, Lance faced relentless persecution from the Southern Baptist church. His resilience and unwavering spirit saw him through his darkest hour—a harrowing suicide attempt at the tender age of 19. Miraculously surviving after a week on life-support, he experienced a profound revelation that God's love knows no bounds and that he has a divine purpose to fulfill. After a successful career practicing high-exposure civil litigation defense for twenty-five years, Lance faced another life-altering event when he battled a severe bout of COVID-19 in early 2020. His twenty-eight weeks in neurological intensive care served as a catalyst to retire from practicing law and embark on a new journey of creating impactful change. In the wake of his retirement, Lance founded Rainbow Youth Project USA, a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that operates a 24/7 suicide prevention and crisis intervention hotline for LGBTQ+ youth under the age of 19. Since its inception in April 2022, the organization’s crisis center has answered over 42,000 calls from those in need, and has provided free mental health counseling services to over 5,700 youths across 48 states. Through his unwavering dedication to promoting mental wellness and supporting at-risk youth, Lance Preston exemplifies resilience, empathy, and advocacy. His own journey of overcoming challenges and finding strength in vulnerability has inspired him to provide a lifeline to those experiencing crisis. His remarkable journey and the life-saving work of Rainbow Youth Project have been profiled extensively in the media with appearances on CNN, MSNBC, NBC News, CBS News, National Geographic Documentaries, TIME, The Washington Post, The New York Times, BBC News, Le Monde, and others. His message is clear and unwavering: respect, accept, and above all, love LGBTQ+ kids for who they are.
Rachel Laser is the President and CEO at Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Rachel Laser is a lawyer, advocate and strategist who has dedicated her career to making our country more inclusive. As a religious minority – she was raised as a Reform Jew – Rachel personally understands how much it matters that our laws treat everyone fairly and equally. She is an advocate for racial justice and has led workshops, given speeches and worked with schools and universities to challenge racism and expose privilege. Before joining AU, Rachel built bridges between disparate groups on a host of issues that connect to church-state separation. As the deputy director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC), Rachel ran interfaith campaigns on LGBTQ+ equality, immigration reform, gun-violence prevention, and paid sick, family and medical leave. She directed the Culture Program at Third Way, a Washington, D.C., progressive think tank specializing in understanding and reaching moderates. There, she launched the “Come Let Us Reason Together” initiative, which mobilized evangelical Christians and liberals to find shared values and work together on abortion and LGBTQ+ equality. As senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), Rachel founded and ran the Pharmacy Refusal Project, which put protections in place to ensure that birth control prescriptions are filled – without delay or judgment. She advocated for judicial appointments with a proven record on women’s equality, and lobbied in favor of reproductive health bills. Rachel is a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Chicago Law School. She is also a former national board member of Reproductive Freedom for All (previously NARAL Pro-Choice America).  Rachel lives in Washington, D.C. She and her husband have three children and a dog, Teddy.
Jena Nelson is the Director of Programs for the Oklahoma Faith Network. She has been a Talent Development Partner for a Fortune 500 company, with an emphasis on communication skills, executive presence, and leadership development. In addition, she was the Education Coordinator for deadCenter Film. Jena was an award-winning educator for 17 years, and in 2020, won the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. In 2021, she was named one of the top 45 educators in the nation with the Award for Teaching Excellence. She has been selected twice to direct at the prestigious Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland and was chosen as a presenter for the International Music Festival in Campina Grande Brazil. She has served on many state and national committees such as the Oklahoma Governor’s Workforce Council Subcommittee, Educator Quality & Diversity Advisory Committee for the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Oklahoma ELA Standards Committee, Oklahoma Teacher Table Initiative, ICAP Teacher Representative, Healthy Kids Coalition, Northwestern State University Louisiana Teacher Education Advisory Committee, and the American High School Theatre Festival Nomination Committee. Jena is a national and international public speaker and was chosen to speak at the National Academy for Science, Engineering, and Medicine, The National Network of State Teachers of the Year, at Universities across Oklahoma, and was honored by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy as the Lauren Choate Resilience Award winner.