D.C. Leadership Awards 2009

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Lily Ekelsen speaks to the crowd after accepting the NEA's award.
(Photo by Ward Morrison Photography)

This year’s D.C. Leadership Awards was an evening to remember as over 300 guests filled the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Wednesday, May 6 to honor the National Education Association and Wanda Sykes.

Although Sykes was unable to attend the event, there was still a diverse group of LGBT and allied movers and shakers mixing and mingling all evening. Christina “Tina” Tchen, White House Director of Public Liaison, was a featured guest. She joined various other government officials including her Deputy Director of Public Liaison, Brian Bond, and representatives from the Mayor’s Office of GLBT affairs, Chris Dyer and Clarence Fluker, as well as DC City Councilmember David Catania, D.C. City Council member Jack Evans and LeRoy Potts, Chief, Country of Origin Research Section at Department of Homeland Security.

The evening began with an exclusive VIP Cocktail Reception with vodka provided by Grey Goose. VIP’s enjoyed an open bar and a private viewing of the National Museum of Women in the Arts’ galleries.

The incredibly moving program began with a heart-felt welcome from Ken Persel, who spoke on behalf of his fellow Co-Chairs of the event, Hugh Broadus and Judy Moats, followed by a charming introduction of Rea Carey, Task Force Executive Director, to the podium to speak on our current work in the movement. Rea then introduced Tina Tchen who spoke on behalf of our current administration. Darlene Nipper, the Task Force’s Deputy Executive Director, accepted the Leadership Award in Wanda Sykes’ absence before Board Member Suzanne Goldstein made an impassioned plea for additional support of the Task Force.

Rea Carey presented the Leadership Award to Lily Eskelsen, Vice President of the National Education Association, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization that helps keep the classroom safe for all students, including LGBT students. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house toward the end of her speech as Lily spoke of her own gay son and as a PFLAG mom.

The program ended with a live auction featuring a cruise from Sweet, a Miami vacation that included passes to the Task Force’s 2010 Winter Party Festival and an intense bidding war for a shopping spree to Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.

Special thanks to our Platinum sponsors, the National Education Association and Persel Gardner. Gold sponsors included Gill Action, Board Member Suzanne Goldstein and her partner, Dana S. Greenwald, D.D.S., Board Member Lee Rubin and his partner, Jim Walker and Service Employees International Union. Our Silver sponsors were American Federation of Teachers AFL-CIO, Anonymous, Hugh Broadus, Ruth Eisenberg/Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, Joseph T. Hansen, International President, United Food and Commercial Workers International union, Board Co-Chair Mark Sexton and his partner, W. Kirk Wallace, National Stonewall Democrats, Sanford & Doris Slavin Family Foundation, Stewart Title Group, Sid Stolz & David Hatfield and Witeck-Combs Communications, Inc.

Thanks also to Bronze sponsors American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Robert Horvath & Patrick Lyden and Winning Connections along with our Media sponsors, CDIA-Boston University, Metro Weekly, Passport Magazine and She Magazine.

Thanks to all of the guests who, along with our sponsors, helped raise over $100,000 for the Task Force.