True Colors Staff

You can reach any of the staff members at 860-232-0050
Staff Name Title Ext. Email
Robin McHaelen Executive Director 302
Rae Perteet Mentoring Program Coordinator 305
Mel Cordner Youth Activities and GSA Coordinator 306 or
Bernice Fleming Office Administrator 301
Maria Grove Event Planner 313


Robin P. McHaelen, MSW is the founder and current Executive Director of True Colors, Inc. She is co-author of two books, a book chapter and several articles on LGBTQ+ youth concerns. Robin has a national reputation as a thought leader in LGBTQ+ youth programs and interventions. She is the recipient of numerous awards including 2019 GLAD Award, the 2014 Human Rights Campaign’s Upstander Award for Leadership in LGBT youth issues, the 2011 UConn, Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement; the 2008 National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights and the 2008 Social Worker of the Year (National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter). She was named one of the Advocate’s 50 State Heroes in 2017


Mel Cordner is our Youth Activities Coordinator and manages all of our youth activities.  Mel started working for queer youth inclusion as a founding member of a GSA during freshman year in high school. From there, they spent five years on CCSU Pride’s e-board while simultaneously working as part of the One in Ten Committee to better campus. Through LOTS of advocacy and hard work, One in Ten managed to open an LGBT Center, start a Preferred Name Program and annual Lavender Graduation Ceremony, and ensure gender-neutral housing and bathroom options on campus. Since graduation, Mel has volunteered with a variety of organizations, and worked on their own to set up youth-led open mic events, which are now part of True Colors programming. Mel is a writer, cat fanatic, and avid rubber duck collector.

Rae Perteet has worked in senior management roles with non profits for 15 yrs and has a burning desire for social justice.  Completing his MTS at Boston University, his passion for social justice expanded, while falling in love with the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King (A BU Alumni). Rae has been an advocate for the LGBTQ community for many years. Some of his work includes: Helping to work with transitioning and troubled youth in Tulsa, OK.;  Working to establish the Safe Spaces youth program in Los Angles, CA.  Rae is excited to continue the work of youth  empowerment and social justice with True Colors as its Mentoring Program Coordinator. For fun Rae enjoys  time on the water, swimming, kayaking and any time spent enjoying local theater.

Bernice Fleming is our new Office Administrator. She comes to True Colors with a wealth of skills in donor relations, fundraising and grassroots campaigning. Having served in a similar capacity at PPCT and other organizations, she has developed a strong sense of devotion to the nonprofit sector. She is looking forward to working with an organization whose mission and values mirror her own. Bernice is currently working on her MBA and in her spare time she enjoys cooking, baking and reading the current selection from Oprah’s Book Club.

Maria Grove has been involved with non profits throughout Connecticut for 10 years and brings extensive event planning, communications and management experience.  She was the Event Chair for the Glastonbury Relay For Life, the Program Director for the Connecticut Cancer Partnership, and the President of the Connecticut Brain Tumor Alliance.  Currently she is the Program Director of the Bloomfield Backpack Program.  Maria has a BA in International Relations and a MA in Diplomacy and Anti – terrorism.  She is married and has two children.


Meet the Board