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Comings & Goings

Bussey-Reeder to lead Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative

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Dionne Bussey-Reeder, gay news, Washington Blade
The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

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].

The Comings & Goings column also invites LGBTQ+ college students to share their successes with us. If you have been elected to a student government position, landed an exciting internship, or are graduating and beginning your career with a great job, let us know so we can share your success.

Orlando Gonzales (Photo courtesy of Orlando Gonzales)

Congratulations to Orlando Gonzales who has been appointed the new executive director of SAVE, the organization that has served the South Florida LGBTQ community for more than 25 years.

Board of directors chair Elizabeth Regalado said, “We feel very fortunate and proud to have Orlando back at SAVE as the organization’s executive director. His background, vision, unique experience, and passion for advocacy work are emblematic of the work SAVE has led for the South Florida LGBTQ+ community for more than 25 years.”

Upon his appointment Gonzales said, “I’m thrilled to be returning to Miami, because I care deeply about the mission of the organization and the LBGTQ+ community. I’m looking forward to working collaboratively with allied organizations and individuals at local, state, and national level to advance the cause of equality.”

Prior to joining SAVE, Gonzales worked as a real estate agent with Compass, D.C. and before that he was the Operations Manager on the communications team and the chief of staff for engagement at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

He has a diverse professional experience in publishing, philanthropy, and public health industries and his success has been attributed to his ability to relate to people at all levels. Public service is an important part of his life and he has focused his involvement with organizations that promote human rights and the educational advancement of people of color and the LGBT community. He has been on the board of trustees of the Point Foundation, and an active alumnus of Georgetown University and of the National Urban Fellows program.

Gonzales earned his bachelor’s in sociology from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and a master’s of public administration with honors from the City University of New York’s Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at The Bernard Baruch College in New York City. As a National Urban Fellow, he successfully completed his fellowship at the Aetna Foundation in Hartford, Conn. 

Congratulations also to Patrick Campbell who has a new position as senior strategic technical marketing engineer at Nutanix. According to its website, “They make infrastructure invisible by hyper converging legacy systems into a simple and delightful platform that scales to private and public cloud environments without a lot of unnecessary overhead. Nutanix uses inexpensive commodity servers under the covers and delivers a cloud-like self-service user experience.”

“After spending almost a decade in K-12 education as a high school math teacher, I transitioned to IT as a technical trainer, writer, and then technical marketing engineer,” Campbell said. “This position at Nutanix culminates the wide range of skills and experiences I’ve had into a very focused role in strategic technical marketing. I can’t wait to get to know their customers and help them get to where they need to go in their digital transformation journeys.” 

Prior to joining Nutanix he was with CloudBolt Software as senior technical marketing manager and before that with BMC Software as senior technical marketing consultant. Before that for 12 years he was a teacher. He worked in the Baltimore area coordinating the delivery of academic instruction for mathematics and science K-12 teachers who came to the U.S. to learn about inquiry-based and constructivist teaching paradigms. Prior to that, he worked at Drew School High School in the San Francisco Bay Area as a mathematics teacher of algebra through pre-calculus 9-12. He also directed a summer school International Program and was a volleyball and basketball coach.

Campbell earned his bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering from Penn State University, and his master’s degree in Human Resource Management and Behavioral Science from The Johns Hopkins University – Carey Business School.

Patrick Campbell (Photo courtesy of Patrick Campbell)

Congratulations also to Dionne Bussey-Reeder who began her new position as executive director of the Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative on Oct. 1. The Far Southeast Family Strengthening Collaborative, Inc. (FSFSC) was formally established in April 1996 through a Neighborhood Collaborative Capacity Grant made possible through the federal Family Preservation and Support Act. FSFSC is organized as a partnership of residents, agencies, government bodies, and institutions located in and/or doing business in the Southeast community. They are a member of the citywide Healthy Families Thriving Communities Collaborative, a network of all the collaboratives, and a member in good standing of the joint policy body, the Collaborative partnership.

Bussey-Reeder is a businesswoman, community organizer and non-profit executive. Upon accepting the position she said, “I am blessed to have an opportunity to lead this great organization that began 23 years ago with the idea that giving neighbors a small hand up could change their lives forever. That spirit is evident each day as the collaborative’s employees work tirelessly to provide housing, direct services and support to the people and community organizations in Ward 8. As I follow in the footsteps of my good friend Perry Moon, we thank him for doing a great job. Together with the Board of Directors and our awesome staff, we will build on our past successes and never lose sight of the fact that our work and our mission makes a profound impact on the daily lives of residents in Ward 8.”

Dionne owned a cafe in Anacostia, Cheers at the Big Chair. She is a native Washingtonian who grew up in Ward 1. She has been active in D.C. politics including having been a Neighborhood Services Coordinator in the Williams’ administration. Last year she ran against Elissa Silverman for an at-large seat on the City Council. She and her wife, whom she met more than 20 years ago, now have a five-year old granddaughter. Bussey-Reeder is a graduate of West Virginia State University.

Dionne Bussey-Reeder (Photo courtesy of Dionne Bussey-Reeder)
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District of Columbia

Bowser: No credible threats to D.C. Pride events

Mayor spoke with the Blade after flag-raising ceremony at the Wilson Building

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D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser at the flag-raising of the Progress Pride flag at the Wilson Building in D.C. on June 1, 2023. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday said authorities have not received any credible threats to upcoming Pride events.

“We don’t have any to report,” she told the Washington Blade.

“MPD is constantly working with all of our agencies to make sure we have safe special events and we’re going to keep going with our planning, like we do every year,” added Bowser. “There’s always a scan for any threats to the District.”

Bowser spoke with the Blade after she joined D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson, Council members Anita Bonds, Charles Allen, Kenyon McDuffie and Zachary Parker, D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb, D.C. Mayor’s LGBTQ Affairs Office Director Japer Bowles and other officials and activists in raising the Progress Pride flag in front of the Wilson Building.

The Blade last month reported D.C. police are investigating a bomb threat a Twitter user made against the annual District Pride concert that will take place at the Lincoln Theater on June 29. Bowles in a May 19 statement said his office reported the tweet, but further stressed that “no credible threat at this time has been made.”

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Maryland

Moore issues Pride month proclamation

Governor on May 3 signed Trans Health Equity Act

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Maryland Gov. Wes Moore (Public domain photo/Twitter)

Maryland Gov. Wes Moore on Thursday proclaimed June as Pride month in recognition of  “the contributions, resilience, courage and joy of LGBTQIA+ Marylanders,” according to a press release.

“In Maryland, we lead with love and inclusion. I want everyone in our LGBTQIA+ community to know that they deserve to be seen for who they are, and our administration will stand with them in the fight for equality and equity,” Moore said. “We need to elevate the stories, embrace the courage, and celebrate the humanity of our LGBTQIA+ community — and as long as I am governor, we will take the steps forward to protect and celebrate all Marylanders.”

Moore on March 31 became the first governor in Maryland history to recognize the Transgender Day of Visibility and last month he signed into law the Trans Health Equity Act into law, which requires Maryland Medicaid to provide coverage for gender-affirming care beginning next year.

“This month is a celebration of the beauty and uniqueness of the queer community, but it’s also a time to reaffirm our commitment to uplifting LGBTQIA+ Marylanders and continuing to fight against hatred, discrimination, and bigotry,” Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller said in the same press release that Moore’s office released. “LGBTQIA+ Marylanders deserve to be who they are, to live their pride — without fear or having to hide. This administration will always stand alongside and protect the rights of all Marylanders.”

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District of Columbia

Point Foundation offers growing range of scholarships, support

‘Resources to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through’

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Celina Gerbic, a member of the Point Foundation’s board of directors, speaks at last year’s event. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Many in D.C. know the Point Foundation for its longstanding scholarship program and its popular Taste of Point fundraiser each spring. But the nonprofit is offering a growing range of services to its young scholars, including mental health resources and social media support.

This year’s Taste of Point brought mixologists, restaurateurs, and donors together on May 3 at Room and Board for the annual celebration. With a number of local businesses and organizations donating to the silent auction, the event both raised money for Point Foundation’s scholarships while recognizing scholarship recipients and program alumni.

Among the lineup of featured speakers was one of the foundation’s flagship scholarship recipients, Rio Dennis, a dual master’s and law candidate at Georgetown University.

“I applied for the Point Foundation Flagship Scholarship because I believed in its mission of helping LGBTQ+ students achieve their academic goals while also providing training and resources so we can become better leaders within the LGBTQ community during school and long term,” Dennis said in her speech. 

The Taste of Point celebration began in 2013, born from another event called the Cornerstone Reception. Originally planned as a normal fundraiser with hor d’oeuvres, the foundation transformed it into the current Taste of Point celebration that facilitates partnerships with new, local restaurants.

Some restaurants, like Compass Rose and Hank’s Oyster Bar, partnered with Point Foundation for their first celebration. They have been catering at the fundraiser ever since.

“It really gives you the sense of the amount of love and the amount of community that we have around the Point Foundation and mission,” said Celina Gerbic, a member on the foundation’s board of directors. “They really see, with hearing from the scholars, what the effects can be if we’re raising money for those scholarships and mentoring opportunities.”

The event also allows the foundation to showcase new offerings, such as the Community College Scholarship that was rolled out just before the pandemic in collaboration with Wells Fargo. The community college program gives scholars a financial scholarship each year of their community college experience as well as coaching and admissions counseling for students planning to transfer to a university. 

Meanwhile, the foundation is also expanding its new BIPOC scholarship, which announced its next round of recipients on May 22. The scholarship is currently supporting between 500 and 555 scholars across the country.

Omari Foote, one of the current BIPOC scholarship recipients, appreciates how the scholarship recognizes her as a Black queer student. She is even encouraging other queer students and friends to apply to receive similar assistance.

However, Point is even more than that, Dennis notes. 

Before the school year started, the Point Foundation sent Dennis and all of the new flagship scholars to Los Angeles for a leadership development conference. Scholars discussed how to become active leaders on campus, how to ask for certain resources, what is offered by their campuses, and what tutoring programs are available.

This year, Point also did a joint partnership with an online therapy program to offer discounted prices for all scholars. 

“I have anxiety and depression and I struggled a lot in undergrad with trying to balance that with my having to support myself financially,” Dennis said. “So I was definitely grateful that Georgetown did have a program that is specifically for people of color to get free therapy and Point definitely helped with… asking those questions because it is one of those programs that isn’t as well publicized.”

Point even provided Dennis with a mentor who was also a Point Scholar in law school. Meeting monthly on Zoom and texting all throughout the month, Dennis’s mentor provides academic support that helps her use the right resources and make decisions about her career.

Foote finds the scholarship unique in other ways as well. As a recipient of a handful of other scholarships outside of Point, Foote’s interactions with her scholarship programs mostly stop after they send instructions for writing donor thank you notes. But Point keeps reaching out to maintain a relationship with scholars long after that.

“They’ve reached out to me to spotlight me on Instagram,” Foote said. “They reached out to me even for this dinner, paying for my transportation to and from the dinner … It’s like they’re not just there to give you the money. They’re there to really help you navigate the college world and to be that caring supportive system that a lot of us just don’t have anymore now that we are living by ourselves.”

Last November, the foundation also held an Out in Higher Ed Week, wherein they teach scholars how to be LGBTQ+ advocates on campus. These resources help students navigate the ins and outs of discussing LGBTQ+ issues in university settings.

After graduation, Dennis has even thought about returning to the Point Foundation as a mentor to help future Black queer students, especially first generation law students, balance their mental health and financial situations.

“Point has connected me with fellow scholars who have become my friends. Point has provided me with resources and support to succeed and thrive rather than just make it through,” Dennis said. “I definitely plan on continuing to be involved with Point.”

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