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Mendelson, Orange win Stein Club endorsement

Group also backs two gay candidates for school board

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Lateefah Williams, Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, Washington Blade, gay news, Human Rights Campaign

Gertrude Stein Democratic Club (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, voted by acclamation Tuesday night to endorse D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) for the post of City Council Chair.

At an endorsement forum held at the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, the club also endorsed Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) in his bid for re-election, D.C. “shadow” Sen. Michael D. Brown, and five candidates running for the D.C. State Board of Education, including gay education board candidates Phil Pannell and Jack Jacobson.

“It’s especially a pleasure for me to be here tonight because of the work I’ve done over the last several years to finally bring marriage equality to the District,” Mendelson told the gathering minutes before Stein members voted to endorse him.

As chair of the Council committee that had jurisdiction over 2009 legislation calling for legalizing same-sex marriage in D.C., Mendelson played a key role in shepherding the bill to passage, working closely with gay Council member David Catania (I-At-Large), who introduced the marriage equality bill.

Mendelson, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, emerged as the lead candidate for Council chair when the post became vacant earlier this year following the abrupt resignation of Democrat Kwame Brown, who was indicted on corruption-related charges.

Phil Mendelson, D.C. Council, Washington Blade, gay news

D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Mendelson is being challenged by Democrat Calvin Gurley in a special election for the Council chair post set to take place on Nov. 6, the same day as the city’s regularly scheduled general election. Gurley didn’t attend the Stein forum, although a supporter placed his name in nomination.

Stein members voted Tuesday night against endorsing Council members Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) and Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), who are considered strong favorites to win re-election on Nov. 6. Both voted against the same-sex marriage law, becoming the only two of the 13 Council members to oppose the measure.

Although Alexander and Barry have supported the LGBT community on other issues, Stein members said the two Council members’ opposition to the marriage equality bill prompted a majority of the membership to oppose endorsing them.

The club voted by a margin of 66 percent to 34 percent against endorsing Alexander and a margin of 69 percent to 31 percent against endorsing Barry, according to results announced by Stein Club President Lateefah Williams.

In the school board contests, Stein members voted to endorse Pannell for the Ward 8 seat over incumbent Trayon “Tray” White. Pannell, a longtime Stein Club member, has been a community activist in Ward 8 for more than 25 years.

Jacobson, a Dupont Circle Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner, is running unopposed for the Board of Education seat representing Ward 2. Similar to Pannell, he is a Stein Club member and community activist.

In response to questions from club members, Pannell and Jacobson said they would work hard for public school programs aimed at curtailing anti-LGBT bullying and other challenges faced by LGBT youth.

The club also endorsed at-large Board of Education candidate Mary Lord, who was praised by several club members as a “champion” for LGBT-related issues during her tenure as a Ward 2 school board member. Lord chose to run for the at-large seat rather than run for re-election to the Ward 2 seat, clearing the way for Jacobson to run unopposed for the Ward 2 seat.

Her opponent in the at-large race, Marvin Tucker, expressed support for LGBT-related issues, saying he would be an advocate for all students, “gay or straight.”

In other school board contests, the Stein Club voted Tuesday night to endorse D. Kamili Anderson for the Ward 4 seat and Karen Williams for the Ward 7 seat over rivals Villareal Johnson and Dorothy Douglas.

During the forum, each of the school board candidates in attendance said they would support condom distribution in city high schools as an AIDS prevention measure and sex education classes that discuss LGBT-related issues.

The Stein Club’s endorsement of Orange came seven months after the club didn’t make an endorsement for the at-large race in the city’s Democratic primary. At that time, Orange and his main rival, Sekou Biddle, split the vote among club members and neither obtained a required 60 percent margin needed to win an endorsement.

Vincent Orange, D.C. Council, Washington Blade, gay news

Council member Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Williams said the club’s endorsement of Orange clears the way for the club to consider making an endorsement of a non-Democratic candidate running for one of the two at-large seats at play in the Nov. 6 election.

Under the city’s election law, only one of the two at-large Council seats up for election this year can be held by a Democrat. With Democrat Orange nominated for re-election to one of the seats, Council member Michael A. Brown (I-At-Large) is running for re-election for the so-called “non-Democratic” seat.

All at-large candidates, regardless of party affiliation, will appear on the same ballot, with voters given the option of voting for two candidates. The two with the highest vote count are declared the winners.

Although it’s possible that Orange could lose his seat if two of the non-Democrats receive more votes than he does, that outcome has never occurred since Congress put in place the city’s current home rule government in 1974 due to the overwhelming Democratic majority among the city’s voters.

Brown, a longtime supporter of LGBT rights, and independent candidate David Grosso, who has expressed strong support on LGBT issues, are campaigning aggressively for LGBT votes. Both are expected to push hard for the Stein Club’s endorsement.

Williams said she expects the club to hold an endorsement forum for the non-Democratic at-large seat in about two weeks.

Independent candidates Leon Swain and A.J. Cooper and Statehood Green Party candidate Ann Wilcox, who are also running for one of the at-large seats, are also expected to compete for the Stein endorsement. Also running for one of the seats is Republican Mary Beatty, who has been endorsed by Log Cabin Republicans of D.C.

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District of Columbia

Whitman-Walker announces leadership change

CEO Ryan Moran to become Deputy Secretary of Health in Maryland

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Dr. Ryan Moran is leaving his role as CEO of the Whitman-Walker Health System. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Dr. Ryan Moran, who has served since 2021 as CEO of the Whitman-Walker Health System, an arm of D.C.’s longtime LGBTQ and HIV health services provider Whitman-Walker Health, will be leaving his position next month after being named as Deputy Secretary of Health and Healthcare Finance and Medicaid Director for the State of Maryland.

According to a March 21 statement released by Whitman-Walker, Moran will begin his new job as a member of the Maryland Department of Health’s senior leadership team effective April 12.

The statement says Cindy Lewin, an official with nonprofit organizations for more than 25 years and who previously served as Executive Vice President and General Counsel at the AARP, will serve as interim CEO at Whitman-Walker Health System beginning April 10.

Around that time, the statement says, Whitman-Walker will begin a nationwide executive search “to secure a permanent CEO” for the top position at Whitman-Walker Health System.

The statement points out that Naseema Shafi will continue in her role as CEO of Whitman-Walker Health, the other component of Whitman-Walker that directly provides and oversees medical and health care services to patients and clients, including those from the LGBTQ community.

Whitman-Walker Health System, among other things, advances the mission of Whitman-Walker through expanding its financial and fundraising capacity through the Whitman-Walker Foundation, the Whitman-Walker Institute, and the Whitman-Walker Health System Real Property Holdings, the statement says.

“Whitman-Walker Health System is grateful for Ryan’s visionary leadership, which has advantageously positioned us for our once in a generation expansion of research and health services with our move to the Saint Elizabeth campus this year,” said Dr. Ann Bonham, the Whitman-Walker Health System Board Chair.

“While the organization will miss Ryan, his enthusiasm and passion for the work and his commitment to the mission of Whitman-Walker, I am sure he will be a transformative leader in his new role,” Bonham said.

“I am deeply grateful to Whitman-Walker for the opportunity to steward our mission-driven organization as a regional and national leader in LGBTQ+ care, advocacy, research, and education,” Moran said in the statement.

“I am honored to have contributed to this organization’s rich history, and I am proud of the work Naseema Shafi and I have accomplished together and of the exceptional board senior leadership team, and staff for their collaboration in building a strong foundation for Whitman-Walker’s future success,” he said.

The statement announcing the Whitman-Walker leadership change notes that Moran played an important role in continuing the organization’s previously started plans for opening its new Max Robinson Center at the city’s St. Elizabeth’s campus in Southeast D.C. According to the statement, the new center will provide services and programs to more than 15,000 people each year, a 300 percent increase from the existing Max Robinson Center located in Anacostia.

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Comings & Goings

Inouye named Deputy Assistant Secretary in communications at Dept. of Education

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Shin Inouye (Photo public domain)

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at [email protected].

Congratulations to Shin Inouye on his appointment as Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Communications and Outreach, U.S. Department of Education. He said, “I’m honored to join the Biden-Harris administration and the amazing team under Secretary Cardona.  Working with my outstanding colleagues, I am confident we will meet our goal to raise the bar and promote academic excellence in America.” 

Previously, Inouye served as Executive Vice President of Communications, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Human Rights, The Leadership Conference Education Fund. He also held a number of high-level positions in the Obama administration, including Press Secretary and Acting Senior Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; Adviser for Intergovernmental and External Affairs, Executive Office of the President; White House Office of Communications: Director of Specialty Media; and as an authorized spokesperson for the Obama Inaugural Committee, with a focus on specialty media outlets.

Inouye has received many honors, including being named one of 25 “LGBTI next generation leaders to watch” by Out in National Security and the Atlantic Council; and one of “40 Asian American Pacific Islander National Security & Foreign Policy Next Generation Leaders” by New America and the Diversity in National Security Network.

Congratulations also to Tristan Fitzpatrick, on his promotion to Senior Communications Consultant at APCO Worldwide. Fitzpatrick said, “I am thrilled to start this new position and look forward to the start of a new chapter advising clients on how to best achieve their communications and public affairs goals.” Tristan has worked with APCO for the past year and a half. They are the fifth largest independently owned PR firm in the United States. Prior to that, Fitzpatrick was a Digital Media Specialist with the National Public Pension Coalition in D.C. He worked as a Communications and Digital Adviser, to the Biden for President campaign. He advised the campaign’s Out for Biden Coalition on communications and digital best practices for turning out 11 million LGBTQ and 57 million pro-equality voters. Tristan has also been a Communications Manager and Digital Outreach Coordinator, Cancer Support Community, Washington, DC.   

Tristan Fitzpatrick
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District of Columbia

Trans people lost to drug overdose remembered at D.C. tribute

Citywide ‘Celebration of Life’ held at Metropolitan Community Church

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Earline Budd organized last weekend’s memorial. (Washington Blade file photo by Tyler Grigsby)

About 50 people turned out on Saturday, March 18, at D.C.’s Metropolitan Community Church for a Citywide Memorial Celebration of Life for at least seven local transgender people who lost their lives from a drug overdose within the past two months.

“We lifted up the lives of those who recently and before passed amongst the transgender community,” said longtime D.C. transgender advocate Earline Budd, the lead organizer of the event.

“The goal was to send a clear message to D.C. officials that we will not sit by silently while members of the LGBTQ community are dying as a result of the OVERDOSE epidemic here in D.C. and around the country,” Budd said in a Facebook post.

Budd told the Washington Blade this week that she and others involved in organizing the memorial celebration are planning a series of conversations with city officials and LGBTQ community stakeholders to push for strengthening the city’s overdose prevention and response programs targeting LGBTQ people at risk for a drug overdose.

Among those participating in the March 18 celebration of life event were Rev. Elder Akosua McCray of Unity Fellowship Church of D.C.; Rev. D. Amina B. Butts of New Hope Baptist United Church of Christ of D.C.; and Rev. Cathy Alexander of D.C.’s Metropolitan Community Church.

Among those who spoke at the event was Tyler Edge, the associate director of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

The trans people who recently lost their lives to a drug overdose and whose names were listed in the program book handed out at the memorial tribute include Diva Chole Mason, Kenneth Isaac “Candy,” Terri Holland, Lourica Potts, Cee Cee Creek, Tyneisha Phillips, and Danielle Pinkney.   

Budd said among the plans by her and community supporters to address the overdose problem faced by some in the LGBTQ community include arranging for a more targeted approach to distribute and make accessible the lifesaving medication Narcan, which reverses an opioid overdose if administered quickly through a nasal spray device. 

She said the plan also calls for pushing for a wider distribution of test kits for determining whether the deadly substance fentanyl, the cause of most drug overdose deaths, is present in recreational drugs such as cocaine, MDMA, and crystal meth.

 “That’s what our goal is, and we may end up saving some lives,” Budd said. 

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