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. Continue reading »