Equality Michigan Announces 2014 Catalyst Award Winners

Equality Michigan LogoDETROIT – Equality Michigan today announced the recipients of their annual Catalyst Awards, being presented at the organization’s Annual Dinner on February 22 at Motor City Casino. Equality Michigan’s Catalyst Awards recognize individuals and organizations for excellence in service to Michigan’s LGBT and HIV+ communities. The Catalyst Awards are a part of Equality Michigan’s continuing quest to honor the people, quality of work and integrity of spirit of those individuals, groups or organizations leading the fight to secure equality for LGBT and HIV+ persons in Michigan. This year’s winners includes individuals and organizations from across Michigan that have positively impacted and promoted the mission of Equality Michigan.

Badlands Strategy is being presented the first-ever Catalyst Partner in Progress Award for engaging in behind-the-scenes work that too often gets overlooked. Badlands has played a major role in organizing the Unity Michigan Coalition since its inception, and recently performed many essential tasks for the One Royal Oak campaign. You may never see their names, but their fingerprints are all over the recent and upcoming LGBT equality victories in Michigan.

Megan Bauer will receive this year’s Henry D. Messer Youth Activist Award for emerging as a powerful force in Michigan’s LGBT equality movement. As the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center’s Community Engagement Coordinator since late 2012, she has had an impact not only in the Kalamazoo area, but all across Michigan. Beginning with KGLRC’s I Commit Campaign, she has continued to foster civic engagement and grow the LGBT equality movement. She most recently spent weeks away from home helping make the One Royal Oak campaign a success this past November. A Kalamazoo College graduate, she has worked with Habitat for Humanity as an AmeriCorps volunteer and with Queers for Economic Justice in New York.

Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum will receive Catalyst Awards for their work as county clerks helping lead efforts to prepare to issue same-sex marriage licenses in Michigan. The DeBoer v Snyder and Schuette case may provide an opportunity for same-sex marriage to be performed in Michigan with very little notice. Lisa Brown, Oakland County Clerk, is a defendant in the case who has voiced her support in public and court for the DeBoer couple and marriage equality. Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk, worked with Equality Michigan to get the word out to couples in Ingham County and clerks in other counties about what to expect and how to get their licenses immediately following the ruling.

Dusty Farmer will receive a Catalyst Award for playing a pivotal role in the recent passage Oshtemo Township’s LGBT inclusive non-discrimination ordinance. As an Oshtemo Township Trustee she took the initiative to not only introduce the initiative, but see it through to a successful outcome. After being elected in November 2012, she immediately showed her public support for LGBT equality and began discussing the ordinance at her first meeting.

KICK The Agency for LGBT African Americans will receive this year’s Heather MacAllister Catalyst Award for long-term commitment to equality and promoting intersectional work by serving Detroit’s African American LGBT communities since 1994. Led by their Founder and Executive Director, Curtis Lipscomb, this year alone KICK led a successful “LGBT In The ‘D’” ad campaign, LEAD Academies developing local leaders, and educated Detroit voters with candidate forums and community panels. The organization has played a vital role in LGBT outreach, service, and advocacy in Detroit, and will be a major player in the upcoming marriage equality campaign.

Hank Milbourne is receiving the first-ever HIV Advocacy Catalyst Award for his years of amazing service to people living with HIV in Michigan. Currently the Chief Program Officer at AIDS Partnership Michigan, he has fought stigma, discrimination, racism and homophobia quietly through his own example since 1990. Hank was instrumental in the creation of the REC Boyz program to empower and support young gay men of color, and he served for eight years as the president of Detroit’s Black Pride Society.

“Equality Michigan is proud to be honoring some of the people whose work this past year had such an amazingly positive impact on our efforts to bring full equality to all Michiganders. Each of this year’s recipients exemplifies quality advocacy on behalf of Michigan LGBT and HIV+ communities,” said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan.

Equality Michigan, the statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization serving Michigan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and HIV positive communities, will be bringing the organization’s annual dinner event to Motor City Casino for the first time. The dinner event includes a reception, silent auction, remarks by community leaders, and the presentation of this year’s Catalyst Awards recognizing excellence in LGBT and HIV advocacy.

Tickets and more information about Equality Michigan’s 2014 Annual Dinner are now available online at equalitymi.org/dinner or by calling 313-537-7000.