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Bohnett fellows: Hon. Evan Low, Dr. Dana Beyer, Hon. Henry Fernandez

The David Bohnett Foundation has teamed with the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute (GLLI) to help the organization sponsor lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender public officials in attending one of the nation’s most prestigious mid-career executive development programs — the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. The program, to be named the David Bohnett Gay & Lesbian Leadership Fellows, is being funded by a $500,000 grant to GLLI.

GLLI also announced its ten fellows for 2008, a list that includes elected officials and public servants. The full list is:

  • Dr. Dana Beyer, senior policy advisor, Montgomery County Council, Rockville, Maryland
  • Jeremy Bishop, executive director, Pride At Work AFL-CIO, Washington, D.C.
  • Spencer Cronk, senior advisor to the deputy commissioner, City of New York
  • Henry Fernandez, school board member, Lawrence Township, Indiana
  • Robert Gaiser, councilmember, City and County of Broomfield, Colorado
  • Evan Low, councilmember, City of Campbell, California
  • David Pierce, state representative, New Hampshire House of Representatives
  • Gerrie Schipske, councilmember, City of Long Beach, California
  • Debra Shore, commissioner, Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, Chicago, Illinois
  • Kevin Vaughn, chief of staff to the city manager, City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“We are honored by and excited about David Bohnett’s commitment to growing the leadership capacity of the LGBT community,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute (GLLI). “This extraordinarily generous gift means our public leaders will be able to develop their leadership skills at the finest educational institutions in the world.”

The David Bohnett Foundation, which promotes social activism as a means to improve society, has long supported GLLI’s work to equip openly LGBT leaders for effective leadership. The Foundation’s executive director, Michael Fleming, said the grant reflects its desire to improve the lives of gays and lesbians through promoting leaders from among that community.

“GLLI’s work is making a difference by ensuring gay people are well represented among the ranks of public leaders in America. But it’s not enough that leaders are out. Our leaders should also be outstanding, and that means we have to invest in developing their skills,” said Fleming.

Jim Roth, Oklahoma Corporation Commissioner and alumnus of the Harvard program, said that the experience was life-changing.

“Quite frankly, my experience as a Leadership Institute Fellow at Harvard has dramatically changed my life, personally and professionally,” he said. “The experience taught me a new guiding principle that I now apply to every public service/political and personal situation I encounter: ‘Change does not happen when you are comfortable.’”