In the decades following the 1969 Stonewall riots, the gay rights movement notched an impressive string of victories. In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association dropped homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. In 1982, Wisconsin became the first state to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Massachusetts made history in 2004 as the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. And in a landmark 2015 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that no state can prohibit same-sex marriage.
Of course, there have been setbacks along the way – the murder of Harvey Milk, government officials turning a blind eye to the AIDS crisis, Bill Clinton’s Defense of Marriage Act – but the trajectory seemed to be trending upward.
Today, however, there is a renewed anti-LGBTQ+ backlash in many parts of the country, with the sharpest vitriol aimed at the transgender community. In this environment, New York by and large remains a safe haven for the LGBTQ+ community and has taken steps to welcome those individuals threatened in other states.
City & State’s Power of Diversity: Pride 100 highlights the leaders who are continuing to engage in the battle for LGBTQ+ rights, whether it’s in the halls of power, in the courts, in the C-suite or on the streets.
State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is a key advocate for LGBTQ+ causes, such as investigations into recent bar-related robberies against LGBTQ+ patrons. A prolific lawmaker, he championed the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, legal gestational surrogacy for LGBTQ+ people and others, expanding coverage of PrEP and PEP – and, most recently, making New York a safe haven for transgender youths. Hoylman-Sigal’s power in Albany and Manhattan continues to rise with his role in defeating Hector LaSalle’s nomination for state chief judge and his involvement in the future of Penn Station. He, his husband and their two daughters are members of the LGBTQ+ Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
Rep. Ritchie Torres has been blazing pathways for New Yorkers since 2013 when he became the first out LGBTQ+ person elected to the New York City Council from the Bronx, where he passed over 40 pieces of legislation and became a key advocate on public housing issues. Now in Congress, he is a member of the powerful Financial Services Committee and the Select Committee, and carved a niche for himself in Washington as a progressive lawmaker willing to work with moderates. In March, the Center for Effective Lawmaking’s annual Legislative Effective Scores named him as the most effective freshman legislator during the 117th Congress.
Assembly Member Deborah Glick, who in 1991 made history as the first out LGBTQ+ member of the state Legislature, has represented lower Manhattan for more than 30 years. Her recent accomplishments include the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, codifying Roe v. Wade in state law, and a bill authorizing New York City to install speed safety cameras in school zones. She has also championed numerous pro-LGBTQ+ bills, including a ban on conversion therapy. This year, Glick traded her longtime perch atop the Higher Education Committee for the Environmental Conservation Committee chair.
The first out gay man elected to the Assembly, Daniel O’Donnell is a leader in statewide equality efforts. O’Donnell’s record includes being prime sponsor of the Marriage Equality Act and the anti-bullying Dignity for All Students Act. His more recent legislative achievements include a law allowing nonbinary New Yorkers to mark “X” under gender on their driver’s license.
First elected to the state Legislature in 2010 after serving in the Monroe County Legislature, Assembly Member Harry Bronson represents parts of Rochester and rural and suburban communities outside the city – and is the first upstate LGBTQ+ lawmaker in New York. Recently, he co-sponsored legislation to change community services to those having a mental health crisis.
Among the newer members of the LGBTQ+ contingent in the Assembly are Queens’ Jessica González-Rojas, who took office in 2021, and Manhattan’s Tony Simone, who was first elected last year. A former leader of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, González-Rojas penned a piece in Gay City News last fall about coming out as a queer Latina and recently spoke out against violence against transgender New Yorkers in her borough. Simone, who worked in government and politics at every level, became Chelsea’s first LGBTQ+ Assembly member this year.
Representing Brooklyn in the state Senate, where he chairs the Children and Families Committee, Democratic Socialists of America member Jabari Brisport has taken the lead on universal child care in New York. He has conducted a 10-week child care listening tour of the state and is pushing universal child care legislation. In the past year, he sponsored successful legislation to protect children from strangulation by window and door cords, to protect the rights of unmarried fathers with children in foster care and to expand the rights of youth in foster care and the juvenile justice system.
Helming the nation’s largest public health care system, Dr. Mitchell Katz oversees 11 acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, community health centers, a home care agency and an insurance plan. He led the system through the COVID-19 pandemic, during which intensive care unit capacity quadrupled and a telehealth platform was launched. In the past year, he oversaw the opening of a dedicated LGBTQ+ health center inside East Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital, opened a new unit at Kings County Hospital for those with severe mental illness and announced plans to open a $30 million health center in Far Rockaway.
Kiara St. James is a longtime advocate for the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming people. With past successes including passage of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of New York’s loitering law, which disproportionately affected transgender women, New York Transgender Advocacy Group has more recently focused on promoting a Black Trans Equity Fund giving free transportation and legal assistance to qualifying trans people of color. Another top priority is the organization of a national trans community response to the wave of anti-transgender legislation nationwide. Recently, St. James also wrote movingly of her cancer journey.
Cecilia Gentili, who came to the U.S. from Argentina and survived as an undocumented sex worker until winning asylum, is a longtime advocate. She was a leading voice in the successful fight to decriminalize loitering in New York, which had disproportionately affected trans women. She also founded Decrim NY, which works to decrease criminalization and imprisonment of, and stigma toward, sex workers. She was among voices recently accusing The New York Times of biased coverage of transgender issues. Also an actor and writer, she appeared on the landmark transgender FX drama “Pose” and penned the memoir “Faltas.”
New York City Council Members Tiffany Cabán and Crystal Hudson co-chair the New York City Council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus. Cabán, a progressive force in Queens, has introduced legislation to support survivors of gender-based violence and won more affordable housing concessions before giving her approval to the 1,400-unit Hallets North development. Hudson, a Prospect Heights native who chairs the Aging Committee, teamed up with Cabán on the newly released Marsha and Sylvia Plan, a roadmap of policies to improve conditions for queer New Yorkers who are increasingly under attack. In June, the duo also introduced the NYC Sex Worker Protection Bill.
New York City Council Member Erik Bottcher can speak to the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ attacks, having faced threats at his apartment after supporting a drag story hour. Bottcher, who took office last year, represents a Chelsea seat previously held by fellow LGBTQ+ politicians Tom Duane, Christine Quinn and Corey Johnson, the latter two who served as speaker.
The other members of the council’s LGBTQIA+ Caucus include Queens’ Lynn Schulman, who chairs the key Health Committee, Brooklyn’s Chi Ossé, who stands out as the youngest council member, and Staten Islander David Carr, the only out gay Republican in the body. Council Member Kristin Richardson Jordan, a self-described Black, queer democratic socialist, recently dropped her reelection bid in Harlem.
Randi Weingarten has spent over 20 years at the front lines of education politics in New York and the nation, first as president of the New York City-based United Federation of Teachers and since 2008 in Washington as president of the American Federation of Teachers. She spent much of the past year promoting President Joe Biden’s college loan forgiveness plan and opposing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ actions to restrict content, especially LGBTQ+ curricula, that teachers can share with students. While Washington-based, Weingarten remains a dominant force in New York.
Under Elisa Crespo’s leadership, the New Pride Agenda spearheaded a statewide coalition, which successfully advocated for the creation of a $3 million transgender wellness and equity fund, making New York the second state to establish a fund of this kind. Prior to becoming the organization’s first executive director, the trans Latina held roles in the Bronx, including as the education liaison in the borough president’s office, and became the first transgender woman of color to run for public office in the borough.
Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is showing that she can get stuff done. The president and CEO of Win, Quinn was the driving force behind successful legislation this year for those in shelters to get housing vouchers, which will free up shelter space for migrants. The legislation, which passed by a veto-proof majority, was opposed by New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who cited the cost. Quinn’s mayoral dreams may have come up short, but she still knows how to wield power.
New York City LGBTQ+ activist veteran Allen Roskoff is the longtime head of the venerable and influential Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, which is busy during election cycles endorsing a range of city and state candidates. Roskoff has been pushing for the removal of former Mayor Ed Koch’s name from the Queensboro Bridge, after The New York Times reported about Koch’s efforts to conceal his homosexuality. Roskoff has criticized anti-gay appointees at City Hall and urged New York City Mayor Eric Adams to pull police support for the Staten Island St. Patrick’s Day parade, which excludes LGBTQ+ groups.
A longtime leader in New York state’s equality issues, Ron Zacchi became Gov. Kathy Hochul’s top adviser on LGBTQ+ issues shortly after Hochul took office in 2021. A former executive director of Marriage Equality New York – and a longtime board member of the group – Zacchi also held top positions at the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and the state Division of Human Rights before moving to the governor’s office. Zacchi’s top deputy is Chanel Lopez, a former official with the New York City Commission on Human Rights who is the first transgender woman to be honored by the Dominican Day parade. Lopez also has worked with the New York City Anti-Violence Project and has been a speaker on equality issues.
Priya Nair joined the Hochul administration in December 2021 with a long background in LGBTQ+ advocacy. Nair was previously associate director of gender equity for NYC Health + Hospitals and the office’s point person on LGBTQ+ issues. Nair also spent two years as the inaugural Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Edie Windsor New York state LGBTQ fellow in the Executive Chamber under then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo, working on policy issues and stakeholder engagement across the state.
Amit Bagga pivoted off an unsuccessful run for the New York City Council in western Queens in 2021 to lead Hochul’s engagement with local governments across the state. Bagga, a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ+ South Asian community, ran for office following his service as deputy director of New York City’s 2020 census office. While a deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs, Bagga testified before the City Council on a bill to ban conversion therapy in the city.
A longtime social services leader in New York City, Daniel Tietz was appointed by Hochul to lead the state’s Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance in December 2021. A social justice and LGBTQ+ advocate, Tietz has previously run Bailey House and the Bronx Parent Housing Network. Last year, his office announced an additional $234 million in food assistance for New Yorkers and new federal funding for survivors of domestic violence.
Called “one of the best-connected and most popular lobbyists at City Hall and in Albany” by The New York Times, Emily Giske has long been a leader at government relations and public affairs firm Bolton-St. Johns. She is a vice chair of the state Democratic Party and sits on the board of directors for Eleanor’s Legacy, which promotes pro-choice Democratic women for office. She has played key roles in the passage of New York’s Marriage Equality Act in 2011 and the legalization of gestational surrogacy in 2020.
With business partner Jonathan Rosen, Valerie Berlin since 2005 has created a powerful communications shop whose clients include SEIU, Color of Change, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Nature Conservancy. BerlinRosen, known for its key role in electing former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, came in at No. 1 on the Observer’s PR Power ranking last year. The firm also represents the survivors of the Sandy Hook mass shooting and has worked on the political campaigns of former Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Nydia Velásquez and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.
Since 1980, Ethan Geto has co-helmed Geto & de Milly, which specializes in public policy development, advocacy campaigns, government relations and crisis management. Formerly, he was a senior adviser to a state attorney general. In 1971, he joined Gay Activists Alliance, one of the first LGBTQ+ rights groups to form after the Stonewall uprising. He’s long strategized on behalf of LGBTQ+ rights legislation as well as people living with HIV/AIDS. He is a board member for the New York City AIDS Memorial and The American LGBTQ+ Museum, which he helped establish.
In the past year, RWDSU, which Stuart Appelbaum has helmed since 1998, has pushed successfully for the passage of the state’s Warehouse Workers Protection Act, garnered wage increases for Heinz workers in Michigan, secured improvements for Pennsylvania public workers, unionized workers at an REI store in Ohio and continued to fight for Amazon workers. Appelbaum is also executive vice president of the 1.3 million member United Food and Commercial Workers International Union and a vice president of both the national and New York State AFL-CIO.
One of the highest-ranking LGBTQ+ officials in City Hall, Stefan Ringel has worked for New York City Mayor Eric Adams since 2013, first as his communications director and then his senior adviser when Adams was Brooklyn borough president. He previously was spokesperson for New York City Public Advocate Jumanne Williams, when Williams was on the New York City Council, and worked on state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s 2010 reelection campaign. Adams has called Ringel his “alter ego.”
The first female labor commissioner in New York City, Renee Campion has been with the Office of Labor Relations for over two decades. She oversees every aspect of negotiating and enforcing agreements with public sector workers and manages health insurance plans and benefits funds for hundreds of thousands of city workers. Another key holdover at City Hall is Melanie La Rocca, who led the Buildings Department during the de Blasio years and took on a newly created role as chief efficiency officer for the Adams administration. La Rocca, a former chief of staff to then-City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, is tasked with streamlining city services and slashing red tape.
Among the other notable LGBTQ+ members of the Adams administration are Patrick Kwan, a senior adviser who has served as City Hall’s liaison to the LGBTQ+ community, and Andy Bowen, a veteran public affairs professional who took on a role advising the city’s chief housing officer and is perhaps the highest-ranking transgender individual working at City Hall.
Émilia Decaudin made history alongside Melissa Sklarz in 2020 by being elected as Democratic district leaders in Queens, making them the first out transgender people to hold these positions in New York City. Last year, Decaudin drafted successful legislation requiring political parties to allow nonbinary New Yorkers to run for gendered party offices. Decaudin has been an outspoken advocate for affordable housing and tenant protections in Albany as well as proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy. The socialist organizer and child of French immigrants is seen as a potential candidate for higher office in the future.
Queens District Leader Melissa Sklarz is one of two out transgender people in elected office in New York. Sklarz also made history back in 1999, when she was the first out trans person to win an election in New York upon becoming a delegate to the Manhattan Democratic Judicial Convention. Sklarz is also secretary of the Queens Democratic Party, government relations liaison for Equality New York, treasurer of the Lavender Line Democratic Club in Queens and a member of the Affirmative Action Committee of the state Democratic Committee and the DNC Transgender Advisory Committee.
Charles King is the president, CEO and co-founder of Housing Works, a New York City-based nonprofit organization providing services to people living with HIV/AIDS and other chronic conditions. King played a vital role in developing the state’s Ending the HIV/AIDS Epidemic plan, serving as the community co-chair of former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force and co-chairing the Ending the Epidemic Subcommittee of the state AIDS Advisory Council. He is also a vocal advocate for expanding rental assistance and housing support for HIV/AIDS communities. Housing Works also made headlines late last year for opening New York’s first legal recreational marijuana dispensary.
For over a decade, Alexander Roque has dedicated himself to The Ali Forney Center, described as the nation's largest LGBTQ+ homeless youth services community center. He began his work in 2011 as the center’s director of development, a role in which he launched the agency’s first department aimed at business infrastructure, building capacity and community relations. Through his work, Roque tripled the center’s budget and introduced new programs. Now, he oversees all operations as executive director, a role he was promoted to in 2020.
A veteran of Mike Bloomberg’s entire 12-year reign over New York City politics, Chris Coffey knows New York. Tusk Strategies’ CEO since 2021, and head of the New York/New Jersey practice before that, he was a senior strategist to Corey Johnson’s winning campaign for City Council speaker in 2017, co-managed Andrew Yang’s 2021 mayoral campaign and advises Rep. Ritchie Torres. He chairs the boards of Win and the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, among other influential civic board seats.
TS Candii has been an outspoken advocate for sex workers and transgender rights through her activism. She has been sought after for speaking engagements and media coverage about protecting sex workers. Candii was a key leader in pushing for the repeal of the “walking while trans’ ban, which pushed successfully for the 2021 repeal of a statute that outlawed loitering and was seen as a way to target marginalized communities, specifically sex workers. Candii also backed a state law passed last year to track employment levels for trans New Yorkers.
Jon Del Giorno manages Pitta Bishop & Del Giorno’s government relations practice, counseling a prestigious roster of public and private sector clients. The firm is also known for its ties to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, dating back to his days as Brooklyn borough president and its work on his mayoral campaign. A longtime player in LGBTQ+ rights and Democratic politics, Del Giorno previously was the communications chief for the New York City Board of Elections.
As leaders of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Glennda Testone and Rahul Tripathi serve LGBTQ+ communities in New York City and the surrounding areas. Testone completed a $9 million capital building renovation to transform an LGBTQ+ community home, launched the virtual reality experience of Stonewall Forever and helped lead a racial equity transformation of the organization. Meanwhile, Tripathi has built a diverse board and launched a successful 40th anniversary campaign.
Rose Christ has more than a decade of work in advocating for nonprofit organizations that provide arts, cultural and social services. Most recently, her client projects have included a new art installation in Hudson River Park, the transformation of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and a 30% increase in free medically tailored home-delivered meals through God’s Love We Deliver. She is also a longtime LGBTQ+ advocate, with work as the former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City. Last year, she was promoted to co-chair of her firm.
Matt Tracy first joined the staff of Gay City News in 2018 as the publication’s digital editor and reporter and hit the ground running. In his first year, the New York Press Association honored him with several awards. A little more than two years later, he was promoted to editor-in-chief and now oversees all facets of the publication, which is the go-to publication for LGBTQ+ news. Prior to joining Gay City News, Tracy covered sports, politics and news for a variety of publications.
Charles O’Byrne has long been a power player as a Jesuit priest, as then-Gov. David Paterson’s secretary and now in real estate. O’Byrne’s tenure as a priest carried political influence – with his closeness to the Kennedy family, he married John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy in 1996 and presided over their joint funeral in 1999. Now, he wields influence as executive vice president for policy at Related Companies, where he handles government relations for the powerhouse developer.
Alan van Capelle became executive director at the High Line in January after many years in top roles at other groups around New York City and the state. Until this past December, he led a network of community centers in lower Manhattan as president and CEO of Educational Alliance. Other roles include working as deputy city comptroller and working as the executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, where he lobbied for the state’s marriage equality bill.
Anthony W. Crowell has led a variety of initiatives in over a decade as dean of New York Law School, which has a high rate of LGBTQ+ students. These include spearheading the school’s creation of new academic centers and leadership programs, and creating support programs for public interest law, women in the law and diversity. Under Crowell’s leadership, the school has also established The Joe Plumeri Center for Social Justice and Economic Opportunity as well as the Social Justice Hub. Crowell also serves on the New York City Planning Commission and chairs the committee that vets potential members of the state Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government.
A communications strategist and author with years of experience as a political reporter and New York City government official, Andrew Kirtzman this year joined global consulting firm Actum, where his team creates proactive, reactive and crisis communications strategies. The previous seven years, he was president of Kirtzman Strategies, one of New York’s preeminent boutique public affairs firms. The author of “Giuliani: The Rise and Tragic Fall of America’s Mayor,” Kirtzman is a leading national authority on the city’s 107th mayor.
Editor’s note: Andrew Kirtzman is a member of City & State’s advisory board.
Jawanza Williams is the director of organizing for VOCAL-NY, an organization that advocates for low-income people affected by issues such as homelessness, HIV/AIDS, mass incarceration and the war on drugs. Recently, Williams has spoken at rallies on numerous issues. These include protesting New York City Mayor Eric Adams’ launch of a controversial police unit, advocating for the Safe Consumption Spaces Act and urging Gov. Kathy Hochul to prioritize the state’s budget for working families.
Sandra Pérez brought a wealth of experience to the table when she was appointed in 2021 as executive director of NYC Pride. The nonprofit organization hosts the well-attended NYC Pride March in Manhattan every June, celebrating the LGBTQ+ community and standing up against rising threats. Her previous experience includes multiple roles in Ms. Foundation for Women. At NYC Pride, Pérez spearheads programming efforts while collaborating with other advocates.
Jeremiah Johnson is the new executive director of PrEP4All, which aims to ensure equitable access to the HIV-prevention medication PrEP. At age 25, the Peace Corps dismissed Johnson as a volunteer in Ukraine due to an HIV diagnosis. He then worked to overturn this policy and has sought to promote health care equity ever since. At PrEP4All, he helped push for the Biden administration to allocate $9.8 billion over 10 years for a “PrEP For All” program.
Justin Sanchez leads the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, an LGBTQ+ Democratic organization, bringing with him a wide array of political experience. This includes roles as a chief of staff for the Assembly, director of Latino outreach for the state Democratic Party, multiple positions in the Bronx borough president’s office and New York City Council aide. Most recently, he was appointed as chief of staff for state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez.
Michael Adams is the CEO of SAGE, which provides advocacy and services to LGBTQ+ older adults. With Adams at the helm, the New York City-based organization has become a national leader on issues relating to LGBTQ+ seniors. He has advocated for federal policy change through the White House Conference on Aging, sought fair treatment around LGBTQ+ senior housing through SAGE's National LGBTQ+ Elder Housing Initiative and made efforts to ensure that LGBTQ+ older adults receive the care they need as they age.
Through her work as executive director of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, Beverly Tillery aims to address and end all forms of violence through organizing, education and support for survivors. Prior to joining AVP, Tillery was deputy director of education and public affairs at Lambda Legal, where she led campaigns and research projects with the goal of changing policies to support LGBTQ+ people and those living with HIV/AIDS. She has also held leadership roles within ACORN, Amnesty International and the Service Employees International Union.
Since 2015, Jacquelyn Kilmer has led Harlem United and dramatically expanded its health care, housing and harm-reduction work for health equity in Harlem. In addition to this role, she is a member of the state AIDS Advisory Council and chair for the board of directors at Amida Care. Kilmer also served on former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Hepatitis C Elimination Task Force and on former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Supportive Housing Task Force.
Brian Ellner is the U.S. public affairs lead for WPP, a public relations and advertising agency that donated and secured media and creative work to an ad campaign speaking out against Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. In addition to this role, Ellner fought for efforts such as the Equal Rights Amendment, the Equality Act, an assault weapons ban, anti-littering and combating anti-LGBTQ+ laws. He also helped lead the Human Rights Campaign’s efforts to win marriage equality in New York in 2011.
Doug Wirth is the president and CEO of Amida Care, the largest Medicaid-managed special needs health plan in New York, with more than 8,500 members. Amida Care strengthened its comprehensive gender-affirming care for more than 2,700 transgender and gender-nonconforming members, including gender-affirming surgeries for 65% of members. Under Wirth’s leadership, Amida Care has yielded impressive outcomes, including an increase in HIV-positive members being virally suppressed.
Ronald E. Richter is CEO and executive director of JCCA, which provides child welfare and mental health services to vulnerable children in New York. Under his leadership, JCCA has expanded family-support and academic-enrichment services. This includes piloting JCCA’s Early Literacy program, which ultimately led to a new division focused on vocational and educational programming. Richter, a former Family Court judge and Administration for Children’s Services commissioner, has led JCCA to become the premier provider of support services for children with complex trauma, emotional disturbance and chronic illness.
Derek Gaskill and Nick Tamborra serve as co-presidents for Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, the borough’s largest LGBTQ+ political organization. Notably, Gaskill was one of six plaintiffs who sued the Brooklyn Democratic Party for excluding nonbinary candidates for county committee seats. Meanwhile, Tamborra – who works as a mental health professional – was the organizer for 20Something, the largest LGBTQ+ young adult support group in New York City.
Shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic, Frankie Miranda became the first out gay president and CEO of the Hispanic Federation. Since then, he has worked to address the needs of Latino communities and Latino-serving nonprofits. During the pandemic, he helped expand the organization’s programming while providing more than $33.5 million in coronavirus-related grants to more than 500 nonprofits. This funding continues to support communities, with an additional $40 million in grants expected to be awarded throughout 2023 and 2024.
David Mansur and Allegra Scheinblum have led Culver Place Strategies since its rebrand in 2018. The duo handles fundraising campaigns and messaging strategies for a variety of high-profile clients, including progressive political candidates and nonprofits. Mansur founded the firm in 2013, then known as Nashban Mansur LLC. Meanwhile, Scheinblum has led many Democratic candidates to victory, including Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez’s election in 2017.
Paul Nagle founded Stonewall Community Development Corp. and grew it into a 15-person staff with a budget of $1.6 million. Since February 2022, his housing navigators have placed more than 500 homeless families in permanent housing. Nagle has also overseen cross-sector working groups to develop housing and health care strategy pro formas, and is currently launching Leave No Veteran Behind, which houses older veterans in welcoming LGBTQ+ co-living situations.
Wendy Stark left the top post at Callen-Lorde, a noted LGBTQ+ health care organization, last fall to become the president of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. But the veteran LGBTQ+ advocate has continued to speak out in support of queer health in addition to providing reproductive health services, in defiance of rising attacks on both by conservatives across the country. Stark has also championed a state law mandating health plans provide coverage for gender-affirming care.
Lucciano Reberte has spent more than a dozen years dedicated to improving the quality of services for Latinx LGBTQ+ individuals in New York, including eight years at the Latino Commission on AIDS. The public health advocate, who hails from Cordoba, Argentina, has led a number of national, regional and local LGBTQ+ initiatives. Recently, he helped conceive and starred in a television ad for HIV medication Dovato on Spanish-language networks. In the ad, Reberte, who is HIV-positive, showed how HIV-positive individuals go about their day.
Sean Ebony Coleman’s Destination Tomorrow is an LGBTQ+ organization in the South Bronx and Atlanta that provides an array of educational, housing, health and support programs. Coleman, who founded the organization in the Bronx a decade and a half ago, is the first Black and transgender individual to lead such an organization. Last year, Coleman supported a new state law creating the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund.
In 2021, Mondaire Jones made history as the first out gay Black member of Congress along with Rep. Ritchie Torres. During his term representing Westchester and Rockland counties, Jones’ colleagues unanimously elected him as freshman representative to leadership in the 117th Congress. Jones came up short in last year’s redistricting, and a last-minute move to run for a newly created lower Manhattan/Brooklyn congressional district did not pan out. Jones has since moved back to the Hudson Valley and has joined the growing Democratic primary field looking to take on Rep. Mike Lawler next year.
New York City is the home to a number of national and international organizations serving the LGBTQ+ community and those living with AIDS or HIV.
As president and CEO of GLAAD since 2014, Sarah Kate Ellis has refocused the New York-headquartered organization’s advocacy to gain LGBTQ+ acceptance through its programs, campaigns and other initiatives. Ellis also launched the GLAAD Media Institute, which focuses on LGBTQ+ representation in media. She commissioned GLAAD's annual Accelerating Acceptance report, a research effort to understand Americans’ acceptance of LGBTQ+ people.
Kevin Jennings has spent nearly five years as CEO of Lambda Legal, an LGBTQ+ civil rights organization. His advocacy dates back to 1988, when he founded the nation’s first gay-straight alliance at Concord Academy. This led him to founding GLSEN in 1994, which started as a volunteer-based group and grew to become a national organization advocating for safer schools for LGBTQ+ students. He went on to become assistant secretary of education for then-President Barack Obama.
GLSEN is now led by Melanie Willingham-Jaggers. Willingham-Jaggers, the first Black, nonbinary head of this national advocacy group for LGBTQ+ students, was previously the group’s deputy executive director and interim executive director. Prior to that, they served as the program associate director of The Worker Institute at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. They were also board chair of The Audre Lorde Project, a long-standing organization for LGBTQ+ people of color.
Todd Sears is the founder and CEO of Out Leadership, a global platform that aims to achieve LGBTQ+ equality for businesses and their employees. When he worked as a financial adviser for Merrill Lynch, he created the first team of financial advisers on Wall Street focused on the LGBTQ+ community and brought almost $2 billion of new assets from LGBTQ+ couples and nonprofits.
For more than two decades, Bruce Richman has created programs and campaigns to combat a variety of causes relating to health care and social justice issues. Now, Richman serves as the founding executive director for Prevention Access Campaign, which focuses on preventing HIV/AIDS stigma and improving quality of life for those living with HIV/AIDS. The nonprofit notably launched U=U, a global campaign that illustrates how people who are receiving treatment for HIV and have an undetectable viral load cannot sexually transmit the virus.
Aaron C. Morris’ career with Immigration Equality began in 2004 as a pride law fellow. Now as executive director, he oversees all aspects of the organization, which supports LGBTQ+ immigrants with legal aid, litigation and advocacy. Morris is also a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and the Khalid Jabara Foundation.
Jesús Aguais is executive director of Aid for AIDS and president of Aid for Life International. Aguais, who seeks to improve access to medicine, care and basic services to refugees and migrants, founded Aid for AIDS International in 1996 and has seen the nonprofit send more than $200 million in HIV/AIDS medicine to more than 60,000 people. Aid for Life has provided more than 10,000 asylum-seekers with food, clothing and information about health and legal services since the spring of 2022.
Since she took the helm of the Food Bank for New York City in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Leslie Gordon has been laser-focused on combating food insecurity across the five boroughs. Part of that work has meant caring for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers, a significant share of whom are food insecure. Gordon has forged partnerships with groups like SAGE, GMHC, Make the Road New York and dozens of other organizations serving the LGBTQ+ community. Gordon previously led a similar nonprofit, Feeding Westchester.
Under Alan Mucatel’s leadership, Rising Ground has more than doubled in size and now serves 25,000 individuals and families with a staff of 2,000 and a budget of $120 million. During his tenure leading the human services nonprofit, Mucatel founded the Collaborative for Children and Families. This initiative provides several dozen organizations with children’s health home services. Furthermore, he implemented the organization’s anti-racism and LGBTQ+ work groups.
Richard Socarides brings a wealth of experience to his role as founder and CEO of Kozani Capital, an early-stage venture capital and corporate advisory firm. Socarides previously provided insights to investors as executive vice president and chief communications officer at Gerson Lehrman Group. He also held senior roles at Time Warner and New Line Cinema. In the public sector, Socarides served on Capitol Hill and was later appointed by former President Bill Clinton as special assistant to the president.
As the leader of Equality New York, Amanda Babine helps unite and amplify LGBTQ+ voices across the state. Babine took over in early 2020 as the executive director of the organization, a statewide organization advocating for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Last year, she applauded Gov. Kathy Hochul for signing into law a measure providing funds for organizations serving transgender New Yorkers. She had previous stints as director of policy and programs at the New York Transgender Advocacy Group and director of the training firm Evaluate for Change.
Mariah Lopez started the Strategic Transgender Alliance for Radical Reform, or STARR, to continue the work of trailblazers Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. But Lopez’s advocacy work extends far beyond that. It includes fighting for gender-affirming care for transgender youth, specialized housing units for LGBTQ+ inmates in jails and prisons, and increased access to shelters for transgender people. She has also filed multiple lawsuits against government agencies to hold them accountable for LGBTQ+ discrimination.
In addition to serving as president of Concordia Philanthropic Fund, Mitchell Draizin has done work with CUNY for LGBTQ+ students. This includes serving as founder and president of CUNY LGBTQI+ Advisory Council, which connects students to mentorship and career opportunities. He also created the Mixner LGBTQ+ Equal Rights Fellowship, a program for aspiring LGBTQ+ rights advocates. Draizin is also on the Founders Council of the Williams Institute and is a founding supporter of the Congressional Equality PAC.
Through her work at TransLash Media, Imara Jones produces award-winning media content – including podcasts and investigative reporting – aimed at shifting conversations around trangender people. Jones is chair of the Los Angeles-based Transgender Law Center and a co-chair of the New Pride Agenda, while also serving as a member of the New York City Commission on Gender Equity and on the boards of the Anti-Violence Project, GLSEN and The American LGBTQ+ Museum.
Each week, Ann Northrop and Andy Humm deliver LGBTQ+ news on “Gay USA” via television, online video and podcasts. The duo have accomplished careers as journalists and activists. Northrop has been associated with anti-Vietnam War demonstrations, HIV/AIDS education and feminist movements. She also worked for “Good Morning America,” Ms. Magazine and the Ladies’ Home Journal. Humm has pioneered groundbreaking work in educating people on HIV/AIDS both through activism and his journalistic coverage. Humm’s work has appeared in The New York Times, the New York Post, POZ and numerous other print, television and radio outlets.
In 1993, David Kilmnick founded Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth to provide life-saving services to LGBTQ+ youth. Since then, the LGBTQ+ advocate has grown into a network of several other organizations providing services to LGBTQ+ people, including families and seniors. The LGBT Network now serves thousands of people with support from dozens of full-time staff members across four community centers, including one in Queens. It hosts an annual pride parade on Long Island and helped bring back the Queens Pride parade.
Rob Byrnes is the president of East Midtown Partnership, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the neighborhood and promoting commercial activity within it. For June 2023, the partnership developed a monthlong Pride celebration with a wide variety of programming. In addition to his East Midtown work, Byrnes is the treasurer of The Publishing Triangle and is a board member for TOSOS and Big Apple Performing Arts.
As the managing director of communications firm Anat Gerstein Inc., Jeff Simmons oversees the firm's arts and culture practice area, working with nonprofits around New York. Throughout his work, Simmons highlights the voices of those experiencing discrimination in health care and housing. He also hosts two shows on WBAI 99.5 FM radio – including leading its annual LGBTQ+ pride coverage – as well as the “It’s in Queens” podcast for the Queens Economic Development Corp.
Josh Meltzer has a long career of overseeing governmental affairs, communications efforts and LGBTQ+ rights campaigns. This includes serving as communications director for Empire State Pride Agenda. Additionally, Meltzer has experience in both the private and public sectors, having worked with the state attorney general’s office, Airbnb and Publicus LLC. Currently, Meltzer is the head of public policy and government affairs for Lime in the Americas and Asia-Pacific.
Laura Whitehorn, a former Weather Underground member who herself spent 14 years in federal prison, became an AIDS activist behind bars. In 2013, she co-founded RAPP, led by former prisoners and their families, which works to expand the use of parole, compassionate release and clemency, and to end life imprisonment. Recently, the group has been pushing in Albany for passage of the Elder Parole and Fair and Timely Parole bills, which would make it easier for older inmates to become eligible for release.
Kramer Levin is known for its specialization in land use, its work in a wide range of corporate matters and its team’s involvement in politically charged cases, but it’s also quietly been a longtime leader in supporting the LGBTQ+ community as well. Two partners at the firm who have been at the forefront of the fight for gay rights are Jeffrey Trachtman and Norman Simon. Trachtman, the firm’s former pro bono chair, has spearheaded pro bono LGBTQ+ rights cases for a quarter century, notably in the Hernandez v. Robles case in New York and other same-sex marriage cases. Simon, who handles advertising litigation, has also taken on a number of LGBTQ+ pro bono cases. Simon previously served as chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda and serves on Lambda Legal’s National Leadership Council.
Before founding his government relations consulting firm, Corey Johnson served as the fifth speaker of the New York City Council. Upon his election as speaker in 2018, Johnson was the first HIV-positive person – and second out gay person – to lead New York City’s legislature. Throughout his political career, Johnson has been an advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice reform, animal welfare and a host of other issues. In addition to his work in city government, Johnson worked as director of programs at GLAAD.
Every spring, Staten Island hosts its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade – and despite growing pressure from Carol Bullock and other LGBTQ+ advocates in the borough, her group has not been allowed to march. As executive director of the Pride Center of Staten Island since 2017, Bullock has enhanced the center’s visibility, community support, partnerships and advocacy. Bullock is also a member of the New York City Commission on Gender Equity and chairs Nonprofit Staten Island.
As the executive director of Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, Andrea “Andy” Hong Marra leads the nonprofit’s efforts to fight anti-trans discrimination and achieve equality for trans people. Marra brought a range of experiences to this role. This includes work at the Arcus Foundation, GLSEN and GLAAD. She has also served on numerous boards, including Freedom for All Americans Education Fund, Human Rights Campaign and National Center for Transgender Equality.
Anthony Hayes founded The Hayes Initiative in 2017. His public affairs firm has taken on a number of high-profile clients, such as Google, Montefiore Einstein Medical Center and the New York City Football Club. Hayes has worked in tech, political campaigns and nonprofits. He previously served on Hillary For America’s national advance team, where he specialized in crisis management and media logistics, and handled policy matters for GMHC. Hayes also was part of efforts to legalize same-sex marriage and repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
This month, Rosemary Rivera became the sole executive director of Citizen Action of New York, a grassroots advocacy organization, due to the departure of Co-Executive Director Jess Wisneski. Rivera touted the news about becoming the organization’s first LGBTQ+ executive director in an announcement tied to Pride month, adding, “We’ve got news for the bigots – we’re here to stay!” Citizen Action also promoted regional organizers Stevie Vargas and Kylynn Grier to state co-organizing directors, named Rebecca Garrard deputy director of campaigns and movement politics and announced Shana Dahlin as board president.
At Civitas Public Affairs Group, Marc Solomon and Katherine Grainger assist clients while addressing issues in political and societal spheres. Both Solomon and Grainger played key roles in the same-sex marriage movement and have continued to push for change inside and outside of their public affairs firm. Solomon has helped clients on such initiatives as awarding money to local election departments to run safe and accessible elections during the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Grainger is the co-founder of Supermajority, which builds political power for women.
Dr. Stephen Turkovich was named president of Oishei Children’s Hospital in November 2022. In this role, he leads daily operations at one of only 43 free-standing hospitals in the country and the only free-standing children’s hospital in the state. A pediatric hospitalist, Turkovich has served as the hospital’s chief medical officer, quality and patient safety officer, and the newborn nursery’s co-medical director. He is engaged in efforts regarding health equity and ending health disparities among marginalized youth.
Kelly L. McNamee is a shareholder at Greenberg Traurig, where she is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights through her legal work. She has represented transgender clients in asylum proceedings and has published numerous pieces on LGBTQ+ issues and the First Amendment. McNamee’s accomplishments outside of the firm include helping her wife convert a vacant space in Troy into a restaurant and popular meeting point, contributing to downtown revitalization. McNamee also has roles at New York State Bar Association and Girls Inc.
At Make the Road New York, Bianey Garcia and Mateo Guerrero-Tabares head the immigrant-led nonprofit’s efforts around transgender issues. Garcia played a key role in speaking out against the state’s “walking while trans” ban and Guerrero-Tabares has decried the criminalization of and violence against Black, brown and trans immigrant New Yorkers. The activists are also both members of Decrim NY, which aims to decriminalize sex work across the state.
Ceyenne Doroshow founded GLITS – Gays and Lesbians Living in a Transgender Society – to address the housing and health crisis of LGBTQ+ communities, especially trans people of color and sex workers. Doroshow rose to national fame after speaking at a Brooklyn rally about the upticks in murders of trans women. GLITS has gone on to receive an influx of donations, resulting in the organization buying a 12-unit building in Queens that serves as a home for low-income LGBTQ+ New Yorkers.
Kelly Metzgar is a leading advocate on general identity and expression and LGBTQ+ issues in the North Country. The co-founder and executive director of the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance, Metzgar, who is transgender, worked with other advocates to create the organization in 2017 after seeing a lack of resource centers for the LGBTQ+ community in the North Country. Metzgar and the alliance organize annual Pride events in Plattsburgh and are looking to create a Pride event in the Tri-Lakes region of the North Country, along with other programming for the community.
After a short stint as interim executive director, Kelly Craig took over as executive director of the Pride Center of Western New York in 2021. In this role, she oversees plans, programs, and administration of the nonprofit, which aims to make Western New York safe for LGBTQ+ people. Prior to joining the Pride Center, Craig worked in numerous positions during her nearly 12-year career at EvergreenHealth, which provides inclusive health care services to individuals and families in Western New York.
Drag artist Marti Gould Cummings is the founding president (but no longer the current president) of the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats. In 2021, Cummings made history by running for the New York City Council as the first openly nonbinary drag artist candidate seeking a seat in the legislative body but ultimately fell short. They have served advising roles for Equality New York and drag story hour, and also served on the Ali Forney Center’s board of directors. Previously, Cummings served as an advisor on the New York City Nightlife Advisory Board.
Rich Volo co-founded OutHudson in 2016 after hearing that the annual Pride parade in Hudson was not going to be held. Working with several other advocates, Volo relaunched the parade and other Pride events. Volo, a drag performer under the name Trixie Starr, served one term as an alderman in Hudson, where he chaired the city’s economic development committee and tourism board. O Zotique, the organization’s executive director, became the nation’s first openly transgender nonbinary congressional candidate in 2022, seeking the Democratic nomination in the 19th District. Zotique withdrew from the race prior to the primary.
Carmen Neely is one of the co-founders of Harlem Pride, the Manhattan neighborhood’s LGBTQ+ pride organization. The nonprofit aims to empower Harlem’s LGBTQ+ community through various events and programs. In addition to Harlem Pride, Neely is vice chair of the board at the Center for Black Equity and has worked with the mid-Manhattan branch of the NAACP, the Black & Latino LGBTQ Coalition, LGBT Faith Leaders of African Descent, NYC Pride & Power Political Club and Harlem SGL LGBTQ Center.
At just 25 years old, Adrian Hale became not only the youngest executive in the history of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, but also the first out gay executive in the chamber’s history. Now an executive with Foundry, a digital currency group in Rochester, Hale manages a series of economic development and outreach programs. In March, Hale was elected by the state Legislature as a member of the state Board of Regents, overseeing education policy across the state.
Carlyn Cowen’s activism began as early as high school, where they protested the Iraq War, and in college when they mobilized against a law that allowed local law-enforcement to work in conjunction with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Currently they are the chief policy and public affairs officer for the Chinese-American Planning Council, one of the largest organizations serving Asian American New Yorkers.
In his role at TD Bank, Steven Garibell leads community and LGBTQ+ business development efforts. Among his efforts at the bank, Garibell was on a team that developed a “transitioning your finances” roadmap with steps to take following a name change for transgender colleagues and customers. Garibell draws on more than 20 years of experience in fostering financial empowerment for diverse communities. He has also worked with the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce and the Bronx’s Destination Tomorrow.
Dan Clark has been the managing editor of “New York NOW” since 2020, but his career in journalism began about a decade ago. Prior to joining the team of the Albany public affairs television program, Clark worked for PolitiFact, The Buffalo News, “Capital Tonight,” Time Warner Cable News, New York StateWatch and the New York Law Journal. While working for the latter publication, Clark covered the state Legislature and the state legal challenges lodged against former President Donald Trump.
In May, Amy Harclerode was named the interim leader of the Hetrick-Martin Institute following the departure of former CEO Joe Pressley. Harclerode has been with the LGBTQ+ youth services organization since 2017 as chief development officer. She previously launched the HMI 360 campaign to grow the institute’s technology offerings, grow the Institute’s advocacy program and increase health programs for LGBTQ+ youth. She has also grown the annual HMI Women Speak event.
Anthony Fortenberry is the deputy executive director of Callen-Lorde Community Health Center, the landmark LGBTQ+ health care center in Manhattan. The center’s former chief nursing officer, Fortenberry has worked to elevate the role of nursing in primary and preventive care. He has also been focused on issues to address health care disparities and on improving health care access for the LGBTQ+ community. Fortenberry’s work has a national impact through his role as chair of the LGBTQ Health Task Force for the National Association of Community Health Centers.
Jessica Greer Morris in September took the reins from Floyd Rumohr as interim CEO of Brooklyn Community Pride Center. Her role leading a top LGBTQ+ organization in her borough comes after a long career as an advocate. In the early 1990s she steered defendants to services as an alternative to jail time during her time at the Manhattan district attorney’s office. A former director of community relations with the New York City Department of Health, she worked on programs to reduce health disparities and opened syringe exchange programs to reduce the spread of AIDS She co-founded Girl Be Heard, where she produced award-winning shows about human rights issues, including forced child marriage.
Aurelio “PJ” Rivera has held numerous roles in Deloitte. First, he worked as a senior manager from 2010-2017, where he managed numerous projects and more than 80 employees across the globe. He then returned to Deloitte in 2021, where he is the “national Hispanic-Latinx consulting leader” while also working on its government and public services portfolio. Prior to rejoining Deloitte, Rivera led Marriott International’s communication and strategic planning.
In 2013, Mohamed Q. Amin survived an anti-LGBTQ+ attack in his Southeast Queens neighborhood. This inspired him to found the Caribbean Equality Project – a nonprofit organization that advocates for Caribbean LGBTQ+ voices in New York City – two years later. Amin’s work includes producing and directing the multimedia documentary series “My Truth, My Story,” which shines a light on coming-out narratives and the immigration stories of LGBTQ+ people across the Caribbean diaspora.
Rod Townsend, former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York City, recently led the rebranding of the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens as the Lavender Line Democratic Club of Queens. Townsend rebooted the LGBTQ+ Democratic club to reflect the diversity of Queens, the most diverse county on the mainland United States, with outreach geared to younger voters. His other roles include directory keeper for the Stonewall Democrats, parliamentarian for Queens Community Board 1 and community liaison for Ray McGuire’s 2021 mayoral campaign.
Ben Garcia, who was appointed as the American LGBTQ+ Museum’s executive director in 2022, is leading the museum’s educational programming as it gears up for opening at the New York Historical Society in 2026. Throughout his career, Garcia worked in museums as an educator before moving into exhibition development and management roles. He has led initiatives to return indigenous ancestral human remains and belongings in San Diego and Ohio. Garcia is also a sought-after speaker and has spoken at museum conferences.
Jennifer Barnes-Balenciaga is the director of the Crystal LaBeija Organizing Fellowship, which provides opportunities for trans, gender-nonconforming and nonbinary ballroom dancers. A transplant from Atlanta to Manhattan, Barnes-Balenciaga was recently appointed as a commissioner for the New York City Commission on Gender Equity. She has also supported various queer movements and HIV-related programs and has worked for PrEP4All, an organization increasing access to HIV care.
Troy Blackwell is the chair of Big Apple Performing Arts, a nonprofit management company for New York City Gay Men's Chorus and Youth Pride Chorus. Since his appointment, Blackwell has helped the company increase membership and launch new diversity initiatives. In addition to this role, the former New York City Council candidate is a spokesperson for Peace Corps, treasurer for Diversity Action Alliance and founder of Ready for Change, a political action committee boosting youth voter turnout.
Steve Kollias is the Hudson Valley regional director for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. Prior to that he was a special education teacher at Ossining Union Free School District for a year. Kollias came into these roles after completing a diverse education. He received a master’s degree in special education and teaching from Long Island University – Hudson and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Purchase College.
NYC Kids Rise, a nonprofit focused on paving the way for students to attend college, is with the New York City Department of Education on the innovative Save for College Program. A key player at NYC Kids Rise is Leila Bozorg, who drives strategy and policy at the organization and has helped more than 145,000 students amass close to $20 million for their future education. An advocate for fair housing and LGBTQ+ rights who previously was a deputy commissioner at the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Bozorg is now a member of the New York City Planning Commission.
The New York Working Families Party is in the midst of a major transition, with Sochie Nnaemeka exiting after serving since 2019 as the state director for the left-leaning third party. Fortunately for the WFP, Sasha Neha Ahuja is on board to help keep things on track while a replacement is found for Nnaemeka. Ahuja, the partner of New York City Council Member Crystal Hudson, has also worked on various campaigns and at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the New York City Equal Employment Practices Commission and Tusk Strategies.
The Human Rights Campaign, which opened its Washington, D.C., headquarters two decades ago, now has a reach far beyond the nation’s capital. Not only did a former Cuomo official lead the organization for a time, but key staffers such as Jason Starr are based in New York. Starr, who previously worked with the New York Civil Liberties Union and in the Cuomo administration, is now a litigation strategist at HRC, where he works on high-impact legal cases brought by the organization.
At Vibrant Emotional Health, formerly the Mental Health Association of New York City, Christian Burgess oversees the Disaster Distress Helpline, a 24/7 counseling hotline for those in crisis due to a natural or human-created disaster. Burgess has expanded the hotline’s services to include online peer support and video-calling options for deaf, hard of hearing and American Sign Language users. In 2021, he was appointed to serve on the board of directors for National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster, representing Vibrant Emotional Health and the Disaster Distress Helpline.
The first out gay man elected to office in Buffalo – and only the second out LGBTQ+ elected official in the city’s history – Mitch Nowakowski is focusing on bread-and-butter issues for his district, which encompasses a diverse set of neighborhoods. This includes a focus on housing and infrastructure. He has called on the city to address the response to the fatal December blizzard. Nowakowski has also worked to provide halal lunch options in public schools and create a city advocate on disability issues.
During President Joe Biden’s successful presidential bid, Alex Gabriel helped drive turnout as the campaign’s senior adviser of LGBTQ+ and youth voter engagement and chair of Out for Biden. Gabriel previously served as deputy senior advisor for Stonewall 50 in 2019, which was the largest Pride event in New York’s history. The Airbnb veteran now handles public affairs and government relations for Getir, a grocery delivery tech startup.
Correction - This article has been updated to reflect the work of Jessica Greer Morris.
NEXT STORY: The Top 50 Political Hangouts