Meet Our Team


Phyllis Gallisath (She/Her)

Co-President & Executive Director

Phyllis co-founded The LIAM Foundation after the death of her son, Liam K. Burdick (Feb 18, 2000-May 14, 2018). Phyllis began her advocacy in 2015 shortly after Liam came out to her as transgender. Liam and Phyllis worked together to bring a PFLAG chapter to the Rockford Area that was followed by co-founding DiversCity Youth-led Group for queer teens. Liam was also heavily involved in his own advocacy through Harlem High School’s GSA, TEACH as well as The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Youth Committee. Liam also attended Action Camp, a 5-day sleepaway camp to bring together young leaders from GSAs and youth groups across the state to learn from one another and shape the safer schools movement. Liam was proud to be transgender and was extremely brave in his ability to step into leadership roles as a young man. Phyllis was inspired to further the work in the local LGBTQIA+ community by trying to fill the gaps in services that the community faces here in Northern Illinois. Liam’s legacy is always guiding her work and she is grateful for the opportunities she has been given to serve our community, otherwise known as our family.

Lien Vu (She/Her)

Co-President

Lien Vu (she/ her) identifies as a Vietnamese American queer woman and is passionate about intersectional social justice issues. In addition to serving on the Board of Directors at The LIAM Foundation, Lien works as a Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Specialist at Rock Valley College. She also manages the Safe Zone Program at RVC and is a member of the college’s Promoting an Inclusive Community staff and faculty group. Lien lives in Rockford with her wife, Jenn, their three cats (Squeaks, Ziva, and Mila), and two dogs (Gusta Wind and Roxy).

Kristin Ravel (She/They)

Vice President & Communication Manager

Kristin Ravel is a bisexual, polyamorous, demisexual femme. She moved to Rockford in Fall 2019 to be a Professor of English and Writing Program Administrator at Rockford University (RU). Kristin approaches her teaching and community-engaged work from an intersectional feminist, anti-ableist, and anti-racist perspectivea constantly evolving approach that, from her experience, involves remaining self-reflective and making several mistakes along the way. Beyond her role at the LIAM Foundation, she’s also faculty advisor for the Sexuality and Gender Alliance (SAGA) at RU. She finds joy in good coffee, yoga, gardening, and spending time with her partners, close friends, and cats.

Samantha Turner (She/They)

Secretary

Samantha is a non-binary hobbyist photographer who met Phyllis and the LIAM Foundation at the First Annual Gay-La. Born and raised in rural Illinois, she has seen firsthand the difference a supportive community can make. When she is not dragging her wife on hikes with their dogs Duke and Shadow, cheering on her favorite Wisconsin football teams (Go Pack Go! On Wisconsin!), or binge watching procedural dramas (The Chicago Franchise, Swat, Criminal Minds, Bones etc.), she can be found in the Banquets and Catering office at the Hoffman House helping individuals of all walks of life plan a unique event that is as individual as they are.

Patrick J. Murphy III (He/Him)

Treasurer

Patrick J. Murphy III is an author, director, cook, and treasurer for The LIAM Foundation (among many other things), who happens to be a gay man. As a native Illionian who was a rolling stone growing up, Patrick has had a wide variety of jobs, careers, and life paths that have led to his current roles. Patrick works for the City of Rockford and serves as a member of the LGBTQIA+ Resource Group, working to help bring inclusion and diversity to city employees. As a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, he feels that it is important to share our stories, teachings, and history, and to build our community stronger by supporting each other every day.

Skye Gia Garcia (She/They)

Program Support Coordinator

Skye Gia Garcia identifies as an AfroLatinx revolutionary and is a part of the non-binary & trans community. A Rockford native, she uses her passion for easing the suffering of others to participate in resistance movements against oppressive political and social establishments. As the LIAM Foundation’s Program Support Coordinator, Skye works closely with our Executive Director to plan and execute our programming. On her time off, she is busy falling in love, learning about herself, sharing that experience with others, and taking time to stop and smell the roses in order to enjoy the beauty of life.

+ Countless Others

We couldn’t do what we do without you! Our community makes change possible.