Request a JQ Speaker

Personal stories deepen the understanding of the LGBTQ+ Jewish experience and create more space for connection and acceptance. Through the JQ Advocates program, JQ’s highly trained speakers bring their personal experiences and life stories to organizations and institutions throughout the country. Every JQ speaker brings a unique perspective to religious events, panel discussions, interviews, and more – enhancing communities’ LGBTQ+ inclusion and awareness and serving as role models for LGBTQ+ Jewish peers and youth.

Use the button below to request a speaker today! Please direct any questions to


Deb Engel (she/her)

Deb's Bio

Deborah Engel is an educator and parent of a queer young adult (now college student who was active in JQ’s Teen JQSA program.) Her passion for JQ lies in her desire to make the most inclusive Jewish community possible to ensure her child is embraced as an LGBTQ+ Jew. Deb is currently working as a freelance consultant while finishing her MBA degree. 

Yoanna Kollin (she/her)

Yoanna's Bio

Yoanna Chaya Kollin (she/her/hers) is a transgender, panromantic, intersex woman who has been involved with JQ International since she first joined the Teen JQSA in 2014. She was born in Jerusalem and enjoys RuPaul’s Drag Race, art, make-up, poetry, and stand-up comedy. Yoanna advocates for people to be their authentic selves no matter what anyone else tells them. She hopes to open people’s minds through her speaking engagements so that they can achieve happiness and acceptance in their communities. She wants people to know that change is possible no matter where they are in life.

Matthew Lavi (he/him)

Matthew's Bio

Matthew is a proud, first generation Iranian-Jewish American gay man born and raised in Los Angeles. He is a seasoned realtor and nonprofit professional, working with Creative Community for Peace. Matthew served as president and co-founder of CSUN Students for Israel. After graduating, Matthew became president of Nessah synagogue’s LedorVador — From Generation to Generation — program, which helps young Persian Jewish leaders connect with their Persian heritage through activism, Zionism, and philanthropy. As a professional Birthright Israel staff member, Matthew lived in Tel Aviv for a year. Matthew is also part of JQ International’s Speakers Bureau [now JQ Advocates], where he speaks to Jewish and non-Jewish communities around Los Angeles about his coming out story and identifying as a proud Jewish-Iranian in the LGBTQ community.

Mayer Mayer (he/him)

Mayer's Bio

Mayer (he/him) is a gay physician and father of two grown men who was raised in reform Judaism. He is a first-generation American whose father was a Holocaust survivor who came to Los Angeles during the War. Mayer is an artist, philanthropist, potter, piano player, actor, and speaker. He owns and operates a low income clinic in South LA and provides care to a wide range of clients from birth to seniors. As a board certified OB/GYN, Mayer practices URO gynecology and performs pelvic surgeries for women. Mayer is a proud advocate for JQ and believes in diversity and inclusion – that we all have a place in the world matrix. Mayer’s goal is based in the Jewish value “Tikkun Olam,” to heal the world one small step at a time, through medicine, art, speaking, and more.

Melody Razi (she/her)

Melody's Bio

Melody Razi (she/her) is a Persian Jewish queer woman born and raised in Los Angeles. Melody lives with her fiancé and two cats in Encino, CA. She currently works as a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern and has worked in the world of mental health for three years. Melody has integrated her passion for intersectionality in her work with JQ by advocating for a shift from tolerance to acceptance of LGTBQ+ individuals in the Persian-Jewish community. Melody aspires to use her experience in mental health to create space for LGBTQ+ people in addiction and mental health services.

Sam Salar (he/him)

Sam's Bio

Sam is a queer gay identifying California Attorney based in Los Angeles. Sam focuses his time passionately advocating for the rights and the liberation of all LGBTQIA+ persons.

Post college, Sam moved back to Los Angeles to further his education in the legal field but felt that he lacked a sense of community as he felt isolated. Being an Iranian Jew, Sam always had a strong sense of community growing up but felt that there was barely any recognition or acceptance of queer folk in the realm of the traditional Iranian-Jewish world. Sam found his way to JQ and learned of the existence of other LGBTQIA+ identifying Iranian individuals, and that is when Sam found his voice and he became an advocate for the queer Iranian Jewish community. With the efforts and guidance of his constituents many efforts had been made to create a safe space for LGBTQIA+ identifying Iranians Jews. As a result of his passion for advocacy and liberation, Sam has dedicated his career as a legal professional to the queer community. Soon after he passed the California Bar Exam he founded an LGBTQIA+ law firm and named it Legally Queer, a law firm by the community for the community.

Sam sees that seeking and securing sound legal advice and representation is a real challenge for many people from all backgrounds and minorities, especially those who identify as LGBTQIA+ in this day and age when it is still a struggle for the queer community to be recognized as equal under the law. Because of his diverse heritage and as a first generation gay cis-male, Sam understood these struggles and challenges at a young age, especially when his family members struggled with getting adequate legal representation because they did not have the financial capacity to pay or the status to obtain it. Sam strongly believes that the struggles he mentions are readily apparent within the LGBTQIA+ community, which is why he has dedicated his career to paying it forward to the community by giving back. His goal is, for those who need it, to have access to sound legal advice with zealous legal representation.

Sam established Legally Queer so that the people of the LGBTQIA+ community have adequate legal resources that they can rely upon so that their interests are protected. Sam strives to protect and advocate for the community by way of establishing Legally Queer and engaging with audiences during his speaking engagements, so that those persons who identify as LGBTQIA+ can learn to combat and overcome the many struggles and misconceptions that there is a need for massive financial means or the traditional cisgender status to have justice on their side and to be recognized as equal under the law.


Are you interested in training to be a speaker with JQ? Then the JQ Advocates program is great for you! Click below to find out more or reach out to for more info.