On Thursday, July 19, the White House will honor ordinary people who are doing extraordinary things across the country to ensure safety, dignity, and equality for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community, as demonstrated by their inspiring video entries in the LGBT Pride Month Video Challenge.
“Today’s Champions of Change have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of LGBT people across the country, and they represent countless other individuals and organizations who are equally dedicated to equal rights for LGBT people,” said Jon Carson, Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. “The collective efforts of these Champions, and others like them, are crucial to achieving our goal of full equality for all Americans, no matter their sexual orientation or gender identity. We are honored to join them in the march towards a more perfect union.”
The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions, ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders, are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities.
To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live at 10:30 am ET on July 19th.
This year’s honorees:
JJ Kahle is a Spanish teacher at The Blake School in Minneapolis and also serves in the Office of Equity and Community Engagement at Blake in the role of GLBTQ Support and Advocacy. JJ is the faculty advisor for the Gay Straight Alliance and The Justice League (social justice student group) at her school. She lives in South Minneapolis with her partner, Judy, and their children.
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers
CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers supports the development of strong, sustainable LGBT community centers to build a unified center movement. Founded in 1994, the organization assists LGBT centers in addressing the challenges they face by helping them improve their organizational and service delivery capacity and increase access to public resources. There are over 200 LGBT community centers across the United States, with new centers forming on a regular basis. LGBT community centers work more closely with their LGBT constituency and engage more community leaders and decision-makers than any other LGBT network in the country. Over 1.7 million people are served annually by centers and benefit from the culturally competent social services and other programs offered through these critical community-based organizations, which points to the enormous impact the LGBT center movement has on the health and lives of LGBT people.
The Military Acceptance Project (MAP)
The Military Acceptance Project (MAP) promotes acceptance of all service members, veterans and their families through enlightenment, empowerment and service. The organization was founded by graduate students at the University of Southern California’s School of Social Work, San Diego Academic Center in April of 2011. As service members, combat veterans, military family members and active supporters of the military, MAP’s founders believe that all people who willingly support and defend the Constitution of the United States deserve to feel accepted and be treated equally in their daily lives. The MAP team facilitates dialogue-based acceptance training within the community, conducts virtual support groups and connects service members with pro bono mental health providers. MAP’s long-term goal is to host discussions in communities and businesses across the nation about acceptance and its role in making organizations stronger.
George Stewart, 80 years old, is a former Army clerk and U.S. Air Force court reporter. He currently lives in Harlem, New York, and is an integral part of the community – singing in church show choirs and volunteering at the Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE) Harlem office. In the past year, George has donated his time and face to SAGE – illustrating that you don’t have to stop being active when you get older. A featured speaker at the opening of the country’s first innovative LGBT senior center – The SAGE Center – George spoke on behalf of thousands of New York City LGBT elders who need the programs, services and advocacy that SAGE provides.
The Redwood String Ensemble
The Redwood String Ensemble was formed in 2009 through the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where the ensemble, consisting of Summer Lusk, Mckenzie Bauer, Lauren Spaulding, and Rachel Grandstrand, studied under the tutelage of Viola Professor Karen Ristcher and Violin Professor Marilyn McDonald.
Heather Carter developed the LGBT youth suicide prevention program, OUTLoud, through financial support provided by The Raynier Institute and Foundation in 2007. Since that time, OUTLoud has grown from one training presentation and minimal exposure to a menu of training modules and recognition across Washington State and beyond. Ms. Carter serves on a statewide committee to oversee the implementation of HB 1163, Washington’s anti-bullying law. In partnership with the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, she is also a member in a community of practice focused on LGBT youth suicide prevention, and she provides trainings throughout Washington State and the country on the issues of LGBT youth suicide and bullying and bias based harassment.