About us

Background

Six months into 2020, a year dominated by COVID-19 and all events going online, the Women’s Brick Initiative and GayFOLs realised the increasing need for supporting each other in their efforts. By combining their strength with others using an intersectional platform they believed they could have a larger and wider impact.

The Brick Alliance was born and quickly added new voices to the group. Tips&Bricks expressed a need for greater awareness for a broader diversity of voices in fan media, as well as ambassadors for other LUGs and individuals from around the world that have since joined to support the shared mission of representation, inclusion and diversity in the LEGO community.

Members of the Alliance

All of our members are volunteers who balance their normal lives with Brick Alliance commitments. With no one doing Brick Alliance full-time, it’s essential we coordinate ourselves efficiently and set transparent commitments to ensure our mission is being continuously driven forward.

Read more about what is required from board and advisory members and if you’re interested in helping out then head over to the Get Involved page to find out how to join the Alliance.

Our members who live in the US and Canada have chosen to include a land acknowledgement in their bios to recognise and show respect for the relationship that exists between Indigenous peoples and their traditional territories.

Board members

Board members have the greatest level of commitment within Brick Alliance and actively contribute towards furthering our goals. 

Alice Finch

Womenʼs Brick Initiative

Alice Finch (she/her) is from Seattle, US and acknowledges that she lives on the ancestral and unceded territory of the Duwamish and Coastal Salish Peoples, and honours with gratitude the land itself and the Duwamish Tribe, who are the original caretakers of the land.

Alice is an award-winning builder and author of half a dozen LEGO books, including The LEGO Architecture Idea Book. She is particularly interested in architecture and landscaping, and often builds collaboratively with her two sons as well as others in the Seattle LEGO community.

Neuropathy in her hands and arms has caused her to shift from building to educating with bricks. She spends much of her time volunteering in schools, using LEGO bricks as the collaborative medium for discussing and creating art based on diversity, equity, and climate change.

Unpleasant experiences as a new AFOL prompted her to create a place that supports, inspires, and empowers women and girls. She co-founded the Women’s Brick Initiative and the Brick Alliance to focus on the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion across all aspects of the LEGO ecosystem.

Bruce Heller

GayFOLs

Bruce Bernhard Heller (he/him) was born and raised in the unceded land of the Chumash and Tongva/Kizh peoples, once known as “Tovaangar”, later “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula”, and currently known as Los Angeles. He is of Swiss and German descent.

He began his career in traditional hand-drawn animation for the major studios but refound his love for LEGO, eventually retiring from animation to become an independent LEGO artist.

A few years out of his Dark Ages (time spent away from LEGO), he noticed that there were few LGBTQIA people to be found in the AFOL community — or not that he could see. In September 2015 he started a Facebook group called “GayFOLs” — a playful rhyme of the name of the adult fans of LEGO community. What started as a handful of friends with the same hobby has turned into a vibrant, supportive group of over 1400 members in 41 countries.

Over the years, Bruce spent time teaching as a volunteer in underserviced communities, particularly in the areas of storytelling and nonviolent direct action. He continues that work now with GayFOLs by hosting in-person events that address inequity in the AFOL community when it comes to the LGBTQIA people. When Bruce met with Women’s Brick Initiative’s Alice Finch and Megan Lum to ask the question “What if we all had each others’ backs?”, the seeds of Brick Alliance were planted. Bruce is proud to be on the Board of Brick Alliance with other strong leaders of the community who share the interest of making the AFOL world a safer, fairer, and friendlier, diverse and inclusive place.

Bruce is an employee of LEGO Brand Retail. His views and opinions are solely his, and do not reflect the views of The LEGO Group. 

Inez Vasquez

Team PMS

Inez (she/her) has been an active member of the AFOL Community since she discovered LEGO in 2012, through the Philippine LEGO Users Group (PhLUG). In 2014, she joined TeamPMS, which was then an all-women building group within PhLUG. In 2019, through the Women’s Brick Initiative, she realized that not everyone experienced the same warm welcome she and her friends from TeamPMS did. This prompted her to share her experience in TeamPMS, in the hopes that a positive example of diversity and inclusion will serve as an encouragement to others.

Inez builds LEGO as a way to express her creativity amidst the busyness of being a full time mom and lawyer. She loves building botanicals, and has shared her Philippine Flower builds to the world at the first LEGOCON.

Alex Johnson

Tips&Bricks

Alex Johnson (he/him) is from the UK and is the founder and manager of the blog Tips&Bricks which specialises in all aspects of custom building. When Alex decided to recruit a team to help run the blog in 2020, he met Barbara Hoel and they discussed diversity and inclusion within the online community. Alex had seen many issues surrounding D&I in the community over his years of running Tips&Bricks, and after this thought-provoking discussion with Barbara he decided to utilise the platform he had created to bring these issues into the spotlight. Since then, alongside his team of contributors, he has lead Tips&Bricks in producing many D&I-focused posts such as celebrating Women’s History Month and discussions about the yellow minifigure.

As one of the first board members of the Brick Alliance, Alex is grateful for the opportunity to connect with other AFOLs who are passionate about D&I and drive positive change in the community.

Alex is a student at the University of Leeds and currently works as a Project Management intern in London. Building has taken a back seat due to his work on Tips&Bricks and the Brick Alliance, but when he finds the time he enjoys creating scenes from the Star Wars and Marvel franchises.

Krista Simpson

MILUG

Krista Simpson (she/her) is the co-founder of MILUG (Mid Island LEGO Users Group) that covers communities throughout the territories of the Coast Salish, Nuu-chah-nulth, and Kwakwakaw’akw people (most of Vancouver Island, BC). Krista lives on the unceded, ancestral, and traditional territories of the Snuneymuxw, Snaw Naw As, and Stz’uminus First Nations. She is also a member of Women’s Brick Initiative, Gayfols, and LEGO Saved My Life.

Krista is a relatively new AFOL, and although she used LEGO to help manage stress during university, she put it aside after graduation to focus on her career. Her partner reintroduced her to LEGO in 2015 and gifted her with tickets to the first BrickCan LEGO Convention in 2016 where they formed MILUG with another AFOL. LEGO has become an important part of how Krista manages mental illness and her mental health, and it is a key component of her mindfulness practice.

Although Krista found BrickCan to be a very welcoming and inclusive convention, she did not have a similar experience at another convention and has noticed the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in other spaces within the broader LEGO community both in person and online. Krista’s goal is to help build a positive, supportive, safe, and inclusive LEGO culture and AFOL community where everyone feels welcome regardless of their personal background.

Krista has a background in customer research, survey development, and data analytics, as well as experience working on corporate diversity and inclusion projects.

Sally F. Wong

Sally F. Wong (she/her/they) is from Aotearoa New Zealand, and is a member of GayFOLs and several other NZ-based online LEGO groups. Although she currently has limited time to build, favourite themes include Creator Expert modular buildings, Ideas, and the Lunar New Year series.

After observing and experiencing discrimination in the LEGO community, Sally joined Brick Alliance hoping to help improve diversity and inclusion in LEGO and the LEGO community, particularly regarding race, ethnicity, gender and gender identity.

Outside of LEGO, Sally works as an independent public health researcher with a focus on non-communicable diseases, equity, and minority health issues.

Dylan Gregory

Dylan Gregory (he/him) is originally from the UK but now lives in Perth, Western Australia.  

Dylan is actively involved in the Western Australian Brick Society and PerthLUG, as well as international groups such as GayFOLs and ‘LEGO Saved my life’. He is passionate about sharing the utility of LEGO in mindfulness for mental and physical health ailments and on LEGO’s ability to bring people together. 

Dylan is a huge Harry Potter fan but does not like supporting the franchise so spends his time recreating scenes from the books and movies in LEGO microscale. He is also passionate about recreating the world as we see it, in LEGO. 

In his alternate life, Dylan works in the not-for-profit and health sectors and is a perpetual student, currently on his third degree. His ultimate goal is to start a LEGO convention on the West Coast of Australia that draws a national and international crowd. 

Advisory members

Advisory members have a lower level of commitment within the Brick Alliance compared to board members by actively contributing but just on a less consistent basis.

Barbara Hoel

Tips&Bricks

Barbara (she/her) is from Wisconsin, US, and acknowledges that she lives on traditional Potawatomi, Ho-Chunk and Menominee homeland along the southwest shores of Michigami, North America’s largest system of freshwater lakes. Here, the Milwaukee, Menominee and Kinnickinnic rivers meet and the people of Wisconsin’s sovereign Anishinaabe, Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Oneida and Mohican nations remain present.

She has qualifications in photography and graphic design and after leaving college she began to teach intellectually disabled youth. For the next 30 years, her career was focused on providing support, out-of-school programmes and tutoring for disadvantaged children. She became skilled at working with children who were transient – either from homelessness or nomadic family lifestyles – and later transitioned into becoming a certified adult educator.

During down time, Barbara relaxes by creating with LEGO. She only became a part of the AFOL community in 2017 when she retired and joined her local user group WisLUG. For the first time since graduating, Barbara focused on being an artist and she leaned on the in-person AFOL community for social interaction and creative support.

In 2020, due to COVID-19 and the resulting quarantine, Barbara became more involved with the online aspect of the AFOL community, and she became a contributor for Tips&Bricks. After discussing with the blog’s founder Alex, they discovered a shared interest in expanding diversity and inclusion within the AFOL community. She now tries to balance family life, helping with the creation of the Brick Alliance, and working for Tips&Bricks while continuing to be an artist.

Megan Lum

Womenʼs Brick Initiative

Megan Lum (she/her) lives in Illinois, US, and respectfully acknowledges that she lives on the ancestral and unceded land of the Kickapoo, Peoria, Potawatomi, and other Native Peoples. She recognizes the longstanding significance of these lands for Indigenous Peoples past, present, and future.

Megan brings over 20 years of experience working in leadership in the corporate world to the Brick Alliance, and currently serves as the LAN Ambassador for the Women’s Brick Initiative. As a woman engineer, Megan has built a successful career in a profession that is dominated by men. She finds it quite ironic that her choice of hobby has the same gender issues. Her goal in both her career and hobby is to make the environment more welcoming for the women who come after her. She is proud to be one of hte founding members of the Brick Alliance.

Megan started writing for Brickset in 2015 after attending the LEGO Inside Tour in Billund. Her Brickset portfolio includes set reviews, interviews, and her interactions with the LEGO community.

Mark Larson

Brickworld

Mark Larson (he/him) is from the US and is the Chief Brick Officer for Brickworld, a company that organises LEGO conventions around the world.

Grace S Stemp-Morlock

gracefulbricks

Grace S Stemp-Morlock (she/her) is from Canada and is the founder of Lego Saved My Life, a Facebook group that provides a safe space for anyone struggling who uses LEGO to make their life better. She is a former science journalist, a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, and a big fan of sparkly shoes and chocolate.

Chestnut Amatong

TeamPMS

Chestnut (she/her) is a member of the Philippine LEGO Users Group (PhLUG) and its all-women building group, Team PMS. Together with friends at Team PMS, she actively encourages women to join their local AFOL community by helping organize fun and simple building activities designed around themes for women and family. 

Meeting Alice/WBI at the 2019 Japan Brick Fest was a welcome surprise for her and Inez.  From this chance meet-up, she, with Inez and Team PMS, was able to participate in many building opportunities to help raise awareness about D&I in other AFOL communities around the world. 

Simon Liu

si_mocs

Simon Liu (he/him) is a talented custom builder, known for organising collaborations such as SHIPtember, as well as being a regular attendee at conventions across US and Canada.

Kat Sipe

DrKatBuilds

Kat Sipe (she/her) is from Washington but lives in Olympia, US. While Kat enjoyed LEGO when she was a kid (especially helping her younger brother build his sets) she didn’t become a fan of LEGO until she was almost 30 years old. She started streaming on Twitch in 2019 as DrKatBuilds (previously Misstapkat) with the LEGO video games. However, when her community convinced her to get the Hogwarts Castle and build it live on stream she became hooked on building. Since then, her community has grown on the platform and it is now a Recognized LEGO Fan Media community. She also helps moderate the Brickbuliding Discord, a community of over 700 AFOLs and Twitch LEGO livebuilders.

Outside of LEGO building Kat is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and works in a hospital setting. She knows how important accessibility and representation is; she is interested in research using LEGO bricks, and improving healthcare professions/equipment within the LEGO universe. She also knows how helpful LEGO has been to reduce stress during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has even gotten her coworkers into LEGO building!

Kat is a member of the Women’s Brick Initiative, which sparked her passion for advocacy within the LEGO community. She also became a member of the Tips&Bricks team (focusing on the D&I posts) and GayFOLs group (as Kat is biromantic herself). She has found a wonderful world of acceptance within these groups, which she has not experienced in all groups she has found. She is passionate about improving inclusivity, diversity, and equity within LEGO groups and future sets.

Eric Valentino

BuffaLUG

Eric (He/Him) is from New York, US and was a LEGO fan from the age of 4 to his early 20’s. Eric came out of a 14 year dark age after his mother bought him a small LEGO set for Christmas 2020. While he is a relatively new AFOL, this hasn’t stopped him from making waves within the LEGO community. He is co-founder & ambassador of BuffaLUG(Buffalo LEGO User Group). And after attending his first LEGO convention, Philadelphia BrickFest 2021, he won his first award, for Best Space Build.

Being a Gay Latino, living with HIV, Eric understands the need for representation within the AFOL community. He wants to make BuffaLUG one of the most diverse LUGs in the world and one that gives back to the local community, especially the underserved and impoverished communities of Western New York. The vitriol that arose in some of the online AFOL communities upon the release of the Everyone is Awesome set really solidified this mission for him.

Eric came to be a part of the Brick Alliance after seeing an individual being barraged with insults and hate messages for sharing the Woman’s Brick Initiative’s “Diverse Minifigure Petition” – he reached out to the women who posted it to show his support. Through this, he also connected with Barbara and Alex, and as Brick Alliance’s goals aligned with that of his own and of BuffaLUG, he decided to join The Brick Alliance as an advisory member.

Angela Brooks

Angela Brooks (she/her) developed a passion for LEGO after using mini-figures in a photography class in 2015. She has built MOCS around Colin Kapernick, Christine Blasey-Ford and Gay Pride. She is active with GayFOLS, Women’s Brick initiative and the Lego Ladies Weekly Build challenges.

Angela wants to help make the hobby more inclusive and equitable. After seeing a lot of hate speech on line after the Everyone is Awesome set, she wanted to be more involved with a group like Brick Alliance who can help address the problematic ideas within the LEGO hobby.

Kevin Hyatt

Sheffield LUG

Kevin Hyatt (he/him) is founder and current Committee member of Sheffield LUG, a LEGO User Group based primarily in the old industrial heartlands of South Yorkshire, UK.

Coming out of his dark ages in 2013 as his older children started wanting to play with LEGO bricks he noticed not only how much fun it was but also how relatively expensive new sets were. This led him to start various initiatives to help children in financially disadvantaged families get access to LEGO bricks.

As organiser of LEGO shows across the region he began to realise that it’s not enough to just ‘allow’ AFOLs other than the usual white, male, straight and middle aged to exhibit, more needs to be done to encourage them to take part and welcome them directly. For several years now he has been reaching out to builders from all communities, and those outside the established communities, to encourage them to take part and display so that visitors to events might feel more represented and see themselves reflected in the builders behind the tables.

Llano River Blue

femmefromtheblock

Llano River Blue (LL pronounced like a Y, she/her) was raised in the wilds of Northern California, USA, and recently moved with her wife and two tiny dogs to Portland, Oregon. The Monster Fighters theme in 2012 was what got her out of her dark ages, but it was being stuck inside during the pandemic that led her to get more into MOC building, animating with LEGO, and building an online community. She has created video content for The LEGO Group and for Flyn and Richard from season 1 of LEGO Masters US.

Llano is most active on Instagram where she uses the handle @femmefromtheblock to share her brightly colored creations to educate about causes that are important to her, and often builds in microscale or creates purist custom minifigures to show you don’t need a lot of pieces to make something great.

As a Latinx trans lesbian, Llano is passionate about visibility and representation so that more people feel welcomed into this hobby that brings her so much joy.

Chris Rooke

Chris (he/him/they/them) is a design engineer based in Dublin, Ireland. Building LEGO from the age of seven, Chris now uses it as a hobby to get away from screens and as a tool for problem-solving.

While working in educational technology is their career, Chris also has engaged in social activism over the last decade. Chris was involved in the marriage equality movement in Ireland; the repeal of abortion criminalisation; and is currently focused on campaigns around queer sexual healthcare, and sexual violence in the community. 

Chris has also been a regular contributor to GCN (Gay Community News) Magazine in Ireland for the last few years, and was previously a contributor to the Official Nintendo Magazine UK. They are also currently studying for the CPACC accessibility professional certification.

Associated organizations

The organisations associated with Brick Alliance stem from our board and advisory members who are leaders of associated organisations. We are currently finalising how any organisation can be associated without having someone as a board or advisory member and will share details on this in early 2022.