April 8, 2019
In 1969, the Stonewall Riots launched the modern LGBTQ rights movement. 50 years later, thousands of history-making LGBTQ individuals have been appointed or have run for political office and won – each one of them doing their part to end discrimination and advance equality. To mark Stonewall’s 50th anniversary, the John Brademas Center of New York University partnered with the Victory Institute for a conversation and celebration of 50 years of LGBTQ progress and political representation.
Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero, Pennsylvania State Representative Brian Sims, and Colorado State Representative Brianna Titone joined together to discuss LGBTQ political representation and the advancement of equality. This event was moderated by Annise Parker, President and CEO of the Victory Fund and Victory Institute. Michael Guest, Senior Advisor for the Council for Global Equality, and Sheila Alexander-Reid, Director of D.C. Mayor's Office of LGBTQ Affairs also give opening remarks.
Delegate Acevero serves the people of District 39 in the Maryland House of Delegates. In his professional life, Delegate Acevero is a Field Representative and Organizer for the Municipal and County Government Employees Organization (MCGEO) and has a background in policy and business development. Prior to joining MCGEO, Delegate Acevero worked in Federal and State government relations before accepting a position as the Business Development Manager for a real estate development firm in Baltimore City. Gabriel has worked as an organizer on Democratic as well as issue campaigns and is a 2016 New Leaders Council Maryland fellow; where he currently serves on its Advisory Board. He holds an Associate’s degree in International Relations from Montgomery College and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Policy from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.
State Representative Brian K. Sims is a distinguished policy attorney and civil rights advocate from Center City Philadelphia. The former staff counsel for policy and planning at the Philadelphia Bar Association, he recently stepped down as both the president of the board of directors of Equality Pennsylvania and as chairman of Gay and Lesbian Lawyers of Philadelphia (GALLOP). He also has extensive experience as a guest lecturer.
He is dedicated to making Philadelphia safer, strengthening and protecting public education, preserving services for seniors and other vulnerable Pennsylvanians, making affordable health care more available, expanding civil rights for all Pennsylvanians, preserving our environment while investing in alternative energy, creating jobs and cleaning up Harrisburg.
State Representative Brianna Titone serves the people of District 27 in the Colorado House of Representatives. Elected in November 2018, Rep. Titone is the first transgender person to serve in the Colorado Legislature. A geologist by trade, Rep. Titone has worked as an environmental consultant, mining consultant, and as a Web Application Developer. She attended the State University of New York at New Paltz where she earned her BA in Physics and BS in Geology and also an MS in Geochemistry from Stony Brook University, and MS in Information Communication Technology from University of Denver.
Ruben J. Gonzales serves as Vice President of Victory Institute, which is dedicated to achieving full equality for LGBTI people by building, supporting and advancing a diverse network of LGBTQ public leaders. Gonzales oversees all domestic and international programs for the organization. Prior to joining Victory in March of 2016, Gonzales served as the Vice President of Philanthropy at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Ambassador Michael Guest is Senior Advisor to the Council for Global Equality. Previously, he served as America’s first openly gay, Senate-confirmed Ambassador (to Romania, 2001-04). He ended his 26-year diplomatic career in December 2007 after having sought, without success, to end the State Department's discriminatory treatment of the partners of gay and lesbian Foreign Service Officers in foreign postings, then worked successfully on President-elect Obama’s Transition Team to change those policies. Ambassador Guest's career focused on European policy, with emphasis on using rule of law, individual and collective rights, and anti-corruption measures to anchor Europe's new democracies. His assignments included executive-level duties as Dean of the Leadership and Management School; Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs; Deputy Chief of Mission in the Czech Republic; and Deputy Executive Secretary.
Victory Fund and Victory Institute President & CEO Annise Parker is the first former elected official to lead the organizations, having served six years as a Houston City Council member, six years as City Controller, and six years as Mayor of the city. She is one of only two women to have been elected mayor, and is the only person in Houston history to have held the offices of council member, controller and mayor. She was the first openly LGBTQ mayor of a major American city.
Sheila is a community activist in the truest sense of the word. Her work to shed light on issues affecting the voiceless among us cuts across every line that could divide us; gender, race, socio-economic status, education level and sexual orientation. She was formerly, the Director of Strategic Engagement at the Washington City Paper, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Washington Blade, founder and former Executive Director of the Women in the Life Association, as well as host of Inside Out, DC’s only FM, LGBTQ, radio show which aired Tuesdays on WPFW (89.3 FM).
In addition, Sheila formerly served as the Vice-President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, and represented Stein on the DC Democratic State Committee. Sheila has championed causes for young people, women of color, the LGBT community and survivors of domestic violence.