The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute’s 2013 class of David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows are leaders in politics, government and non-profit organizations who receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. The Fellows will also enjoy follow-up programming and networking events throughout their careers.
The Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation partner each year to send accomplished, mid-career, openly LGBT professionals to Harvard’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program, which is known for its hands-on learning experience designed to help seasoned public officials meet the changing needs of their constituents and communities.
“This year’s Bohnett Fellows are some of the brightest and most dedicated LGBT leaders in America,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Institute. ”The time they spend at Harvard this summer will strengthen the skills they need to serve their communities effectively, and it will prepare them for even greater challenges ahead.”
2013 David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows
Beth Bye – State Senator, 5th District, Connecticut
On November 2, 2010, Senator Beth Bye was elected State Senator for the 5th Senate District of Connecticut. Beth is co-chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee and is a member of the Appropriations, Education, and Judiciary committees. Beth is widely recognized as one of the state’s leading authorities on early childhood education. She has a strong interest in program and facility development and has had a role in the development of four model preschool programs in the Hartford region over the past 10 years serving a combined 750 children. Beth was named “Legislator of the Year” in 2009 and 2011 by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. She has served as vice chair of the West Hartford Board of Education as well as having coached various youth sports teams over the years. Beth and her wife, Tracey Wilson, were the first gay couple to be married in Connecticut in 2008.
Brian Sims – State House Representative, 182nd District, Pennsylvania
In 2012 Brian Sims became the first openly LGBT person ever elected to the Pennsylvania State legislature when he won election to Philadelphia’s 182nd District seat in the House of Representatives. Prior to running for office, he had distinguished himself as an attorney and civil rights advocate. A former member of the National Campaign Board of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, Sims served as the Staff Counsel for Policy and Planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association and stepped down as the President of the Board of Equality Pennsylvania and as the Chairman of GALLOP to seek public office.
Chris Clark – Vice Mayor, Mountain View, California
Chris Clark is the Vice Mayor of Mountain View, California and the city’s youngest and first openly gay city council member. He was born and raised on a family farm in rural Illinois, attended local public schools, and was selected at age 16 to serve as a Page for the U.S. House of Representatives. He then moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend Stanford University. Chris has broad professional experience in the public and private sectors and is currently the Vice President of Partnerships at a Silicon Valley technology company.
Jessie Ulibarri – State Senator, 21st District, Colorado
Colorado State Senator Jessie Ulibarri represents Senate District 21 in Adams County. At the age of 30, he is the youngest member currently serving in the State Senate in Colorado. Jessie served as the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Committee this last legislative session. He was instrumental in passing Civil Unions, Colorado ASSET, and many bills for underserved communities in the State of Colorado. For over a decade, Jessie has worked in nonprofit advocacy advancing policies that promote opportunity and fairness.
Kevin Beckner – County Commissioner, Hillsborough County, Florida
Kevin Beckner was elected in 2008 as the first openly gay elected official in Hillsborough County (Tampa) Florida. Reelected countywide in 2012, he represents over 1.2 million people. He is one of seven county commissioners responsible for approving an annual operating and capital budget totaling over $3 billion. A native of Indiana, Kevin is a graduate of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with Minors in Business and Psychology from Indiana University in 1993. His legislative emphasis is on at-risk youth, human rights, public safety, fiscal responsibility, and sustainable growth.
Pat Steadman – State Senator, 31st District, Colorado
Pat Steadman was selected in May 2009 to fill a vacancy in the Colorado State Senate. A long-time resident of Senate District 31, Pat graduated from Regis College and the CU School of Law. Making a career in advocacy and politics, he became a leading voice in Colorado for civil rights. Over the course of 15 years of lobbying at the Capitol in Denver, his accomplishments were many and included significant pieces of legislation protecting the LGBT community. As a senator, Pat continues to fight for those communities and issues that have been marginalized and under-represented in the state legislature. In 2013, he led the fight in the Senate to pass a strong civil unions law granting same-sex couples and LGBT families substantial legal protections.
Ricardo Lara – State Senator, 33rd District, California
Ricardo Lara, an East L.A. native, made history in 2012 by becoming the first openly gay person of color elected to the California State Senate and subsequently becoming the first LGBT legislator to Chair the powerful California Latino Legislative Caucus. Senator Lara is a member of the influential Senate Rules Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee and sits on the Appropriations, Banking and Financial Institutions, Natural Resources and Water, Transportation and Housing committees. Senator Lara represents the Southeast cities of Los Angeles County, the city of Long Beach and parts of the city Los Angeles.
Suzy Jack – Deputy Controller, City of Los Angeles, California
Suzy Jack serves as Deputy Controller of the City of Los Angeles under City Controller Ron Galperin, who is the first openly gay, city-wide elected official in Los Angeles. Jack served as Deputy Mayor of Legislative Affairs for Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, oversaw LGBT Affairs, and was his LGBT Liaison for four years, when Villaraigosa played a prominent role in the national debate on marriage equality. In 2008, Jack co-founded FAIR (Freedom, Action, Inclusion, Rights), which partnered with street artist Shepard Fairey to support the marriage equality movement through art, social media, and micro-grants to grassroots organizations. Suzy was awarded the LA Pride Harvey Milk Award in 2011, the Angel Award for Public Service in 2012. Jack graduated from the University of Southern California, is a Partner of the Truman National Security Project, and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers.
Tim Brown – State House Representative, 3rd District, Ohio
Tim Brown is serving his first term as State Representative. Prior to his election to the Ohio House of Representatives he served four terms as Wood County Commissioner. He was elected by his colleagues around Ohio to serve as Vice President of the County Commissioners Association in 2012. Representative Brown is a 1986 graduate of Bowling Green State University’s College of Business. He attends Cedar Creek Church and is a member of Kiwanis, Friends of the Parks, Chamber of Commerce, Public Television, and is a 13 year member of the Bowling Green Curling Club. Brown is one of just two openly LGBT Republican state legislators in the nation.
Vailey Oehlke – Director of Libraries, Multnomah County, Oregon
Vailey Oehlke was appointed director of libraries for Multnomah County in 2009. She is inspired by the future of public libraries in a rapidly changing world. She is a member of the American Library Association, the Oregon Library Association and serves on the Executive Boards for the Public Library Association and the Urban Libraries Council. Additionally, she serves on ALA’s Digital Content Working Group, which is addressing digital content opportunities and issues for public libraries at the national level. Locally, she serves on the Leadership Advisory Council for the Cradle to Career’s Ready for Kindergarten Collaborative.