Our Story

Essential Haus was founded by Timothy McLemore, who was motivated to create this initiative due to personal experiences, where finding a secure environment was challenging amidst a domestically violent, same-sex relationship. The nonprofit organization, based in Miami, is dedicated to establishing an LGBTQ-safe shelter for individuals facing domestic violence or homelessness. As a survivor lead organization we are using our lived experiences as a blueprint and have formed a team that can help tackle obstacles one may face while leaving a violent relationship. 

We understand the unique challenges and struggles that individuals in the community may face, and we are committed to providing them with the support and resources they need to thrive. Our vision is to open a transitional home that's specifically designed for LGBTQ+ youths age 18 to 26. Our home will provide a supportive and nurturing environment where young individuals can find refuge, rebuild their lives, and create a brighter future for themselves.

Meet The Team

Timothy McLemore

Timothy McLemore is the founder of Essential Haus, a non-profit organization in Miami, Florida, that provides a safe space for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community who have been affected by domestic violence and homelessness. His book, “Love Is Not Abuse,” speaks about his own personal experiences with domestic abuse in a gay relationship and provides resources and hope for others who find themselves trapped in similar relationships.

McLemore is a community organizer, social media influencer, Co-Chair of the Miami LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce's Young Professionals Network and creator of “Gays with Stories,” a popular Instagram page that shares the positive stories of gay men around the world. His mission is to bring awareness to LGBTQ+ relationship issues, and provide a safe space for anyone living a truth not widely accepted by mainstream society. His dedication to the LGBTQ+ community is inspired by his own struggles of growing up biracial and gay. McLemore's vision for future generations is to have a better experience, and that fuels his motivation to inspire self-acceptance and self-expression for all.

Essential Haus Board of directors

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Shane o'neal  

Shane is a native of South Florida and has worked to support the LGBTQ+ community for over 5 years. Shane began his professional career in Miami with a grassroots non-profit that offers support and services to queer youth and young adults.

In addition to being a community advocate, he serves as an impact strategist to prioritize best practices when working with the LGBTQ+ community. Shane is dedicated to creating affirming spaces and bringing attention to the disproportionate effects of homelessness on the queer community.


Ariel Trueba 

 Ariel Trueba is a passionate community advocate with a strong background in governmental affairs and public service. He serves as the Chief Executive Officer & Founder of Trueba Consulting. Ariel was born and raised in Miami, and he is a proud graduate of Florida State University, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science and Business Management with an Emergency Management Certificate.

His experience includes working with Mayor Francis X. Suarez at the City of Miami and the Department of Human Services & Economic Initiatives via Public Allies. Ariel's community service endeavors include serving on the City of Miami LGBTQ+ Advisory Boards, as well as previously serving as a Project Manager for the Florida Housing Assistance Fund. Mr. Trueba is also a proud member of Leadership Miami Class 45 of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and the American Association of Political Consultants.


Kenneth Melendez
(Board Chair) 

Kenny is a Pulse Nightclub shooting survivor and untiring mental health and wellness advocate. Kenny graduated top 10% of his high school class, all while balancing extracurricular activities such as dance and marching band.

With a certification in Health and Wellness, Kenny works as a fitness coach and studio manager at FORM50 Fitness. Kenny finds exercising to be extremely beneficial for the mind and body while reducing the feeling of isolation. Melendez's favorite quote is “it’s always darkest before the dawn.”


Dr. Julian Salmon

Dr. Julian Salmon is a pharmacist and founding board of Essential Haus, Inc. After graduating from FAMU, he started his career in pharmacy and soon found gaps in the overall healthcare system and how it affects those in the LGBTQ+ community. His goal is to improve access to healthcare for those in the queer community struggling with homelessness.


Shelli Kozburg

Shelli is a cisgender, Jewish psychotherapist in private practice. One of her favorite populations to work with is the queer population and she believes domestic abuse is a very well-kept, rarely disclosed secret that affects LGBTQ+ relationships, due to the lack of resources for victims and survivors. Kozenburg LOVES her work because she gets to help people help themselves. With over 25 years of experience, she has worked with queer adolescent and adult individuals, couples and families, to provide a safe space to express and explore their concerns and challenges as well as hopes and dreams.


Adam Fermin

Born female, Adam has experienced many challeneges to become the man he is today. Through his own transition Adam shares his lived experience with others to help inspire those struggling with transgender issues. Fermin's dream is to provide stability and resources to the trans community so the overall flow of personal transformation is much smoother for everyone.


Jodie Holladay 

Jodie is a woman of many hats. With a masters in health administation and long term acute care, Holladay has worked in healthcare for over 16 years. Jodie is a mother of 3, including our founder Timothy McLemore and serves as an advocate for the queer community and advocates for mothers of queer children. After learning about the abuse her gay son experienced while in a relationship, she has joined him on his mission to helps others in simular situations. 


Dr. Tim Kirby 

Tim Kirby is a climate scientist and civil servant. He is a seasoned professional in environmental, social, governance, water, land use, and sustainability law, regulation, and policy. He has worked extensively within the academic and government sectors across the US on a variety of environmental and climate-related matters. Tim has demonstrated expertise in planning and implementing climate change resilience strategies, and has led multi-disciplinary teams in multiple successful projects. Tim’s passion for Essential Haus’ work comes from his acute understanding of the intersectionality between socio-economic and climate vulnerability. He believes addressing underlying socio-economic vulnerability—especially in our most vulnerable and underserved populations—can improve the ability for all people to survive and thrive in a changing climate. Tim holds a B.A. in Sustainable Development from Columbia University, and a M.S. in Geosciences and a Ph.D. in Natural Resource Science and Management from Florida International University (FIU).

Advisory Board


Brenda Freeman 

Brenda Freeman has been named one of the most influential black corporate directors. Brenda is a member of the National Association of Corporate Directors and EVP and Chief Marketing Officer of National Geographic Channel since February, 2015. Prior to joining National Geographic Channel, she was Global head of TV Marketing at DreamWorks Animation. Brenda took up an Engineer’s Degree, Chemical Engineering at University of Maryland College Park and took up Master of Business Administration in Marketing and Finance at University of Maryland College Park.

Freeman is a CEO, CMO, culturepreneur, founder advisor, board director, an engineer, brander and angel investor, with a passion for scaling world class brands and making real change. Brenda also served as a mentor to Timothy McLemore during his Soho House Creative Futures Mentorship and advisor to Essential Haus, Inc.