HARVEY MILK DIVERSITY BREAKFAST HONOREES
The morning featured Keisha D, Phillip Moore and a sextet of the Desert Winds Freedom Band-Palm Springs.
The keynote speaker is a well-respected civil rights leader who has spent her entire life fighting for the rights of farmworkers. Since the Coachella Valley is one of the largest agricultural regions in the nation, we believe that Dolores Huerta is as fitting of a speaker we could ask for. Her work in the last two decades to empower youth leaders also fits with our commitment to engage youth by introducing them to Harvey Milk and expanding their awareness of social justice issues in a safe and affirming environment.
2016 Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award
This year’s recipient of the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley, State Senator Mark Leno was elected to the California Senate in 2008. He currently represents the 11th Senate District of California, and chairs the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee.
From 2002-2008, Sen. Leno served in the California State Assembly, representing the 13th District, which encompasses the eastern portion of San Francisco. Prior to his election to the Assembly, he served for four and a half years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
During his tenure in the Legislature, Senator Leno has fought for better schools and access to higher education, foster youth, a cleaner and sustainable environment, single-payer universal health care, improved transportation, renewable energy, safer streets and equal rights for all Californians. He authored Senate Bill 572 that designates May 22 as Harvey Milk Day in California.
We were excited to hear from the 2016 Youth Speaker Enrique Campos. Enrique, a graduate of Yucca Valley High School, is a freshman in college majoring in languages. In addition to being a member of his high school band, jazz band, county honor band, and an honor and AP student, his teen years have been punctuated by coming out, living with his boss and family, serving as a leader in his GSA and working as agricultural laborer and packing lunches for 50 other workers.
2015 Keynote Speaker
Keynote speaker was Kris Hayashi, Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center, who has been active in social, racial, and economic justice organizing for over 20 years. For the last 10 years Hayashi served as the Executive Director/Co-Director of the Audre Lorde Project, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming People of Color organizing center based in New York City. Previously, he served as a Trainer/Organizer at Western States Center in Portland, Oregon and as Executive Director of Youth United for Community Action, a youth organizing group in California, led by young people of color organizing for social and environmental justice.
“This has been a year of unprecedented visibility for the transgender community in everything from media coverage to the president’s State of the Union address,” said Hayashi. “However violence continues to be a major issue, with epidemic levels of violence against our community this year and among transgender women of color in particular.”
Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award
Receiving the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley is a long-time leader and one of the most accomplished legislative and policy strategists in the LGBT movement Geoff Kors. Over the past two decades, he has helped to enact scores of local and state laws, including helping to pass anti-discrimination laws protecting LGBT people and people with HIV/AIDS during his tenure as the Director of the ACLU of Illinois’ Gay and Lesbian Rights and Aids and Civil Liberties Projects from 1994 to 1995, originating San Francisco’s landmark equal benefits law as a board member of the Harvey Milk Club in 1996, and leading Equality California from 2002 to 2011 as the organization passed more than 70 pieces of LGBT equality legislation.
Geoff has been a leader in building coalitions in support of LGBT rights and the rights of all people to be treated equally under the law. He built coalitions with LGBT and allied civil rights organizations, labor, business and others in support of equality efforts and secured the first support for marriage equality from the NAACP, the United Farm Workers, AT&T, Pacific Gas & Electric, California Teachers Association, SEIU and many others. Geoff has also been a strong advocate for educating youth about the LGBT community and protecting youth from harm. He brought the idea for creating Harvey Milk Day – the first and only official state day of recognition for an openly LGBT person in the nation – to the legislature and led EQCA’s successful effort to pass this groundbreaking law. Geoff also led EQCA’s effort to pass legislation requiring LGBT history to be taught in public schools, banning anti-LGBT bias in instruction, prohibiting bullying in our schools and ensuring non-discrimination in foster care. Geoff currently is helping lead the effort to ban conversion therapy.
The breakfast was held Thursday, May 22, 2014, at the Hilton Palm Springs, 400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, to honor the memory of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in California and his legacy of groundbreaking inspiration in the struggle to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. The event is designed to strengthen coalitions among the many diverse community organizations that work toward equality in the Coachella Valley.
Receiving the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley will be union activist and talk show host Ellie Kurpiewski. Recognized for her work as Legislative Affairs Chairperson who represented Southern California in the Association of Flight Attendants; Ellie K lobbied on behalf of safety and work issues, not only for flight attendants but the general public as well. Currently the host of Progressive Talk with Elle K on KPTR 1450 AM, she also is the President Emeritus of the Democrats of the Desert, and office manager for the Democratic Headquarters of the Desert.
Kate Kendall, Esq., Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) will be the keynote speaker at the annual breakfast. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, headquartered in San Francisco, is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.
Under Kate’s leadership, NCLR’s programs, budget, and impact have grown exponentially, and the issues facing the LGBT community—from marriage, to homophobia in sports to immigration policy—have taken center stage in our nation’s discussion of civil rights and justice. Kate is a nationally recognized spokesperson for LGBT rights and has an active voice in major print, on-line and visual media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, NPR, CNN, and many others.
Receiving the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley will be U.S. Marine veteran and transgender rights activist Mattie Leyden. Recognized for her work as the founder of the Coachella Valley Transgender Community and member of the Palm Springs Police Department LGBT outreach committee, Leyden also serves on several regional Human Rights Campaign committees.
Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast – Coachella Valley
He graduated from the University of Michigan (1966) and Stanford Law School (1970). After clerking for Judge Robert J Kelleher of the United States District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles (1971–72), he practiced in San Francisco at Pillsbury, Madison & Sutro, now Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman.
Judge Walker was originally nominated to the bench by President Reagan in 1987; that nomination expired without action by the Senate at the end of the 100th Congress in 1988. In early 1989, he was re-nominated by President George H W Bush and was confirmed by the United States Senate on November 21, 1989, on unanimous consent; he received his commission on November 27, 1989.
Judge Walker has presided over such notable lawsuits as those involving the Terrorist Surveillance Program of the National Security Agency; the Apple Computer, Inc v Microsoft Corporation copyright infringement case; antitrust litigation over the Hearst Corporation’s purchase of the San Francisco Chronicle and Oracle’s merger with PeopleSoft; the World War II Japanese forced labor litigation and numerous other multi-district dockets in securities, air disaster and personal injury litigation.
On January 11, 2010, Judge Walker began trying Perry v Schwarzenegger. The case involved a federal-constitutional challenge to California Proposition 8, a voter initiative constitutional amendment that eliminated the right of same sex couples to marry, a right which had previously been granted after the California Supreme Court found a statute to the same effect unconstitutional under California law. On August 4, 2010, Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional “under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses” of the United States Constitution and prohibited its enforcement. That decision was affirmed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on February 12, 2012. The losing parties have sought review by the United States Supreme Court.
Judge Walker retired from the bench at the end of February 2011 and established a mediation-arbitration practice in San Francisco to which he now devotes most of his time. He taught classes last year at the Berkeley School of Law, University of California, and Stanford Law School and is teaching again this autumn at Stanford. He has served for many years as a director, and one year as chair, of the Saint Francis Foundation which supports healthcare in San Francisco through an affiliation with Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
Leader, Activist, Former Mayor & Author Neil Giuliano Featured Speaker at Harvey Milk Diversity Breakfast
Neil Guiliano, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and former mayor of Tempe, AZ, will be the keynote speaker. Giuliano made his first political mark as Mayor of Tempe in 1994 as the youngest person ever elected to that post. Two years into his tenure as Mayor, Giuliano came out as a gay man and continued to serve Tempe with distinction, winning re-election three times and surviving an anti-gay recall election with 68% of the vote. After leaving office, Giuliano went on to serve as President of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and currently is CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.Giuliano made his first political mark as Mayor of Tempe in 1994 as the youngest person ever elected to that post. Two years into his tenure as Mayor, Giuliano came out as a gay man and continued to serve Tempe with distinction, winning re-election three times and surviving an anti-gay recall election with 68% of the vote. After leaving office, Giuliano went on to serve as President of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), and currently is CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
David Sanchez recognized with Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley
During the breakfast the Harvey B. Milk Leadership Award of the Coachella Valley was awarded to David Sanchez, Past President and CEO of the California Teachers Association, and grade school and community college teacher. The first Latino president of the CTA, Sanchez has a strong record of accomplishments during his 27 years in the teaching profession including being named one of 80 Latino “leaders of the Future” in California. During his tenure, he advocated for reduced class size reduction, campaigned for three successful statewide school bonds, and other issues on behalf of teachers in California. Sanchez recently retired to Rancho Mirage where he lives with his partner, Keith Pratt.