The Paving the Way Award
Honors those in public life who have shown courage and leadership in helping to advance the cause of LGBT rights.
Eric H. Holder, Jr.
The Honorable Eric H. Holder, Jr.
Eric H. Holder, Jr., was sworn in as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States on February 3, 2009, by Vice-President Joe Biden. He served in that position until May 3, 2015. As Attorney General he helped to place LGBT rights at the center of the Obama administration’s civil rights agenda. Mr. Holder worked for passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which the President signed into law in 2009. In 2011 President Obama and then-Attorney General Holder decided that the Justice Department would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, determining that the law had to be subjected to a higher standard of scrutiny. After the United States Supreme Court struck down Section 3 in United States v. Windsor, the Justice Department, under Mr. Holder, oversaw the government-wide implementation of the decision. Those efforts included: extending a variety of benefits to same-sex couples; a uniform policy ensuring that all same-sex married couples were recognized for federal tax purposes; a policy dictating that – for purposes of immigration law – same-sex and opposite-sex marriages would be treated exactly the same; and a policy ensuring that members of the military who are in same-sex marriages will receive the same benefits available to opposite sex couples. For the first time in history, in February 2014, then-Attorney General Holder issued guidance formally instructing all Department of Justice employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition – to the greatest extent possible under the law.
In 1997, Mr. Holder was named by President Clinton to be the Deputy Attorney General, the first African-American named to that post. Prior to that, he served as US Attorney for the District of Columbia. In 1988, Mr. Holder was nominated by President Reagan to become an Associate Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
Mr. Holder, a native of New York City, attended public schools there, graduating from Stuyvesant High School where he earned a Regents Scholarship. He attended Columbia College, majored in American History, and graduated in 1973. He graduated from Columbia Law School in 1976. While in law school, he clerked at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. Upon graduating, he moved to Washington and joined the Department of Justice as part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. He was assigned to the newly formed Public Integrity Section in 1976 and was tasked to investigate and prosecute official corruption on the local, state, and federal levels.
Prior to becoming Attorney General, Mr. Holder was a litigation partner at Covington & Burling LLP in Washington. Mr. Holder lives in Washington with his wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, a physician, and their three children.
Heroes Award Recipients
Bishop Gene Robinson
Bishop Gene Robinson is perhaps best known for being the first openly gay, partnered bishop in historic Christianity. His election as bishop of New Hampshire caused a worldwide controversy in the Anglican Communion (of which the Episcopal Church is a part) and a provocative conversation about sexual orientation around the world within Christian denominations and other faiths.
A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Gene grew up in a rural, fundamentalist congregation of the Disciples of Christ denomination, becoming an Episcopalian in college, and being ordained a priest in 1973. For 18 years prior to his becoming bishop of New Hampshire, he served as assistant to the bishop for that diocese.
Gene “retired” as bishop of NH (though it’s difficult to use “retired” as a word to describe him) in 2013, and made Washington, DC, (and the Logan Circle neighborhood) his home. He works as a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he works on policy and writes about issues facing the LGBT community, including marriage equality, “religious liberty” attempts to be exempted from anti-discrimination laws on the basis of religion, and the need for a broad range of social anti-discrimination policies regarding employment, public accommodation, and housing. He is especially interested in the ways LGBT issues and lives intersect with race, poverty, and immigration reform. He writes an almost-weekly column for The Daily Beast, on a variety of social justice issues, believing it is important for the LGBT community to “show up” for other movements for justice: BlackLivesMatter, LGBT asylum seekers, Moral Mondays.
Since being in Washington, he was named one of the 21 most influential OUT Washingtonians by the Washington Post, has recently graced the cover of Metro Weekly, attends and often preaches/presides at St. Thomas Episcopal Parish, Dupont Circle, and serves as a board member for the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington. All of this while navigating the perilous waters of being single again and dating!
Alexandra (Alex) Ernst works in facilities management for a McLean-based start-up serving government and private-sector clients. As Facilities Manager at Immix Group, she manages the Disaster recovery program, real estate portfolio and the Administrative support and Facility team. Prior to her work with Immix, she spent 5 years with Bechtel Corporation.
Since 2007, Alex has also served as a volunteer and local-community advocate with the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), where she has gained extensive experience in the DC metropolitan area LGBT community. She has co-chaired the HRC National Dinner twice, helping to raise over $2.5 million for the organization. She has also served as co-chair on the Greater DC HRC Steering Committee, joined the HRC Board of Governors, and the Executive Board of Governors – solidifying her role and impact as a leader for equality both in Washington, D.C. and nationwide.
Alex graduated from James Madison University in 2004 with a Bachelor of Arts. A Northern Virginia native, she currently resides in Arlington, Virginia, with her lovable shih-tzu, Mango.
Since 1989, Paul Akio Kawata has served as executive director of the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), the premier organization dedicated to building leadership in communities of color to address the challenges of HIV/AIDS. Under Kawata’s direction, NMAC implemented the first HIV treatment education programs in the United States targeted to minorities, and increased its membership from 300 to more than 3,000 agencies and groups.
Kawata conceived and developed the organization’s high-profile meetings, including the United States Conference on AIDS (USCA), currently the largest annual AIDS-related gathering in the country, as well as the HIV Prevention Leadership Summit (HPLS—formerly known as the Community Planning Leadership Summit), and the National AIDS Treatment Action Forum (NATAF).
Due to Kawata’s efforts, NMAC has developed a range of international linkages and partnerships, and facilitated the first international HIV/AIDS conference, in South Africa. Kawata has helped integrate NMAC’s work with that of general minority health and human service initiatives, developing significant program collaborations with national and regional lesbian, bisexual, gay, and transgendered (LBGT), women’s, African-American, Latino, Asian-Pacific Islander, and Native American advocacy, service, and professional organizations.
A leading HIV/AIDS advocate, Kawata has represented NMAC in many of the most significant legislative achievements in the fight against the epidemic. These include the passage and renewal of the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act; the Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS (HOPWA) Act; the Americans with Disabilities Act; and the Congressional Black Caucus/Congressional Hispanic Caucus expansion of federal funding for HIV/AIDS programs in communities of color.
Prior to NMAC, Kawata served from 1985 to 1989 as founding executive director of the National AIDS Network. During his tenure, he planned and implemented three consecutive, annual National Skills Building Conferences—the first of their kind in the world—and recruited the Ad Council to work on the first national HIV/AIDS public service campaign. He also organized and supported the National AIDS Fund, the single largest private philanthropic partnership in the history of the epidemic.
Kawata began his professional career in 1983 in Seattle as a staff liaison in the Office of the Mayor. Kawata graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. from the University of the Pacific in Los Angeles. He has an M.A. in urban planning from Antioch University.
Justin was born and raised in northern Delaware. In 2002 he came to Washington, DC, for school. He attended the Catholic University of America and received his bachelor’s degree in architecture. In May 2006 he started his career in law enforcement with the Metropolitan Police Department in DC. Upon graduating from the police academy, he was assigned to the 6th police District. In 2010 Justin started his work with the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU). While working with the GLLU, Justin has worked tirelessly to help improve the relationship between the LGBT community and the police department. He has also worked on training recruits and veteran officers on LGBT issues.
Anyone who knows Justin will say that whether he is on duty or off, he is always willing to help members of the community to get the assistance and support they need. Members of the GLLU, including Justin, wear many hats. The members investigate crimes by and against the LGBT community, train officers of various experience levels, investigate bias crimes, conduct follow-ups with the victims of crimes and many other activities. The GLLU would not be possible without the strong support from the community. With this continued community support, Justin and other members of the GLLU will be able to help strengthen the Metropolitan Police Department and build a strong and enduring relationship between the Department and the community.
Named twice to Maryland’s Top 100 Women list and the Baltimore Sun’s “Fifty Women to Watch,” Heather Mizeur has been called an “audacious risk-taker,” a “hero to a wide swath of Democrats,” and “one of the canniest politicians in Maryland today.”
Her fifteen years of experience in policy made her a progressive powerhouse in Annapolis, where as a legislator she expanded health care to children, protected reproductive rights for women, guaranteed civil rights for LGBT families, safeguarded the environment, and brought new technology jobs to Maryland.
In 2006, Heather garnered the most votes in a seven-way primary and defeated two incumbents to capture her seat in the House of Delegates and was re-elected to a second four-year term in 2010. Heather’s emotional floor speech during the same-sex marriage debate helped swing key votes that made Maryland the eighth state to enact marriage equality.
In 2014, Heather Mizeur made her first run at statewide office as a Democratic candidate for governor. The first candidate in twenty years to opt into the state’s public campaign finance system, Mizeur built a grassroots movement that was electrified by her bold and thoughtful policy positions, her progressive vision for Maryland, and her refusal to negatively attack the other candidates in the race. Though she was outspent by 4:1 and 5:1 by the other candidates who had already amassed eight years of statewide name recognition, Heather finished the race in a virtual second-place tie and was praised by the Baltimore Sun as having run the most impressive campaign Maryland had seen in generations.
Heather’s father was a factory welder and UAW member his entire career. The time spent on picket lines with her dad built the foundation of Heather’s social justice principles and the summers spent working the corn fields to pay for college cultivated the strong character she demonstrates today.
Heather lives with her wife, Deborah, on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, where they are converting their 34 acres of land to become an organic herbal medicine farm.
Engendered Spirt Award Recipients
Bobbi Elaine Strang
Bobbi Elaine Strang is a relative newcomer to the District, arriving in 2011. Starting right out of the gate, she became engaged with the community with the hopes of improving the quality of life for its members. Currently, she serves on the Executive Board of GLOV and the Board of Directors for the Metropolitan Community Church, and co-facilitates the Center Careers Program at the DC LGBT Center. Additionally, she regularly volunteers her services as a guitarist with the music ministry of Metropolitan Community Services. In the past, she served as an officer of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, a member of the Transgender Day of Remembrance planning committee, and a volunteer with the DC Trans Coalition.
Professionally, she was the first openly transgender individual to work at the District of Columbia Department of Employment Services where she provided case management in Project Empowerment and now serves as a claims examiner for the Office of Workmen’s Compensation. She is grateful to all the community advocates who came before her and made this possible. Additionally, she plays guitar with Gina Harlow, a pioneer of the New York City punk scene.
In her private life, she is known to share generously of her experience and knowledge in support of trans people and her openness about her experiences has helped many individuals—including her knowledge of trans medical procedures and the DC insurance rules regarding transgender healthcare. Moreover, she is proud to share her life with her partner, Elodie Huttner.
Kaprice Williams is a native Washingtonian. She has been a full-time volunteer at Casa Ruby since the facility opened its doors. She handles everything from reception to programs and security. Kaprice genuinely cares about the safety of transgender men and women. She escorts volunteers to events and many of the clients home safely. Most of her work is with Casa Ruby. In addition, she is taking on other roles as the Casa Ruby Drop-In Center expands into different entities. Kaprice’s dedication to the safety of trans people is very important to both the individuals involved and the city as a whole, especially considering the recent spate of murders involving trans women as victims, and particularly trans women of color. Kaprice has been a beacon of hope who is able to offer many people both safety and security.
Larry Stansbury Award
Whitman-Walker Health has long been a strong supporter of Pride in the Nation’s Capital. Long-time Washingtonians may recall Pride events taking place behind Francis Junior High School, and then the Freedom Festival (near Freedom Plaza), which was the immediate predecessor to Capital Pride.
In 1997, when financial difficulties jeopardized the event, Whitman-Walker Clinic (as it was formerly known) joined “One In Ten,” a community organization, to sponsor the event. They renamed it Capital Pride and the festival was moved to Pennsylvania Avenue between 14th and 10th Streets NW in the heart of downtown Washington DC. Whitman-Walker provided a full-time staff person as well as resources to grow the Capital Pride program. The event became an even larger undertaking with the addition of the parade in 1999.
In 2000, Whitman-Walker became the sole presenting sponsor of Capital Pride, and it became part of the organization’s mission. Whitman-Walker moved the one-day parade and festival to Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 4th and 7th Streets NW, and the Festival’s main stage was repositioned. For the first time, the United States Capitol building served as backdrop as the fight for LGBT equality became an ever more important component of Capital Pride’s mission.
In 2002, Whitman-Walker moved the parade to early Saturday evening to provide an entire weekend of pride activities. The change proved popular as the number of contingents reached more than 200 for the first time. Attendance grew, with over 200,000 people celebrating over the course of the weekend each year.
In late 2006 and early 2007, Whitman-Walker began discussions with the community about the future of Capital Pride. In March 2008, after a series of community discussions, Whitman-Walker awarded production rights for Capital Pride to the Capital Pride Alliance – a group of volunteers from the Capital Pride Planning Committee with support from various organizations. Whitman-Walker helped produce Capital Pride through 2008 with the Capital Pride Alliance becoming the sole producer of the event beginning in 2009. Since that time, Whitman-Walker Health has remained a strong resource and top level sponsor of Capital Pride.
Bills Miles Volunteer Award
Holly Goldmann was born in Baltimore and raised in New York City’s Gramercy Park. She’s an award-winning graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT).
Holly moved to DC in the late 1990s, and became involved with the community in 2006. She has served as the Capital Trans Pride coordinator for the past six years. She has done extraordinary work overseeing all aspects of the event, sometimes doing so singlehandedly. In addition, Holly has been extremely adept at negotiating the sometimes challenging issues with which she has been presented. She has also served as an outstanding liaison between Capital Pride and Capital Trans Pride.
Holly has also served as a board member of the DC Center since 2012, and recently joined the board of the Capital Area Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.