One Iowa Announces Honorary Co-Chairs for 10th Annual Gala Celebrating Milestone Marriage Equality Anniversary and Future of LGBTQ Advocacy in Iowa

One Iowa, a statewide LGBTQ organization, today announced the honorary co-chairs for its 10th Annual Gala Celebration on Friday, April 12 at the Community Choice Credit Union Convention Center. Cocktail hour will begin at 6 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m. The honorary co-chairs are:

  • Sharon Malheiro: Founder of One Iowa, lifelong LGBTQ activist, and attorney at Davis Brown Law Firm
  • Iowa’s out elected officials:
    •  Polk County Supervisor Matt McCoy: First openly gay man to serve in the Iowa legislature
    • Representative Liz Bennett: First out LGBTQ woman to serve in the Iowa legislature
    • Hiawatha City Councilwoman Aime Wichtendahl: Iowa’s first out transgender elected official
  • Lambda Legal 2009 team working on Varnum v. Brien:
    • Jim Bennett: Former Midwest Regional Director for Lambda Legal and currently Director of the Illinois Department of Human Rights
    • Camilla Taylor: Director of Constitutional Litigation at Lambda Legal and lead attorney on Varnum v. Brien
    • Lisa Hardaway: Former Communications Director for Lambda Legal and currently Vice President of Communications for the National Audubon Society
  • Jeff Angelo: Former Republican state senator and former One Iowa board member
  • Cassandra Cass: transgender actress, performer, and reality star; native Iowan
  • Dr. Kesho Scott: internationally renowned diversity trainer/consultant, award-winning writer, and associate professor of American studies and sociology at Grinnell College (first African American to receive tenure at the institution)
  • Patty Judge: Former Lt. Governor of Iowa and LGBTQ rights advocate.
  • Suzanna de Baca: President and Group Publisher of Business Publications Corporation and former President/CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland where she helped expand transgender services to all of their clinics
  • Connie Wimer: Founder and Chair of Business Publications Corporation and lifelong champion of LGBTQ equality.
  • Brad Clark: Former One Iowa and Human Rights Campaign staff member, founder of One Colorado, and currently President & CEO of the Gill Foundation
  • Dr. Angela Franklin: First African American president of Des Moines University, instrumental in organizing One Iowa and DMU’s annual LGBTQ Health & Wellness Conference

“Our Gala honorary co-chairs have contributed to the fight for statewide LGBTQ equality in unique ways,” One Iowa Executive Director Daniel Hoffman-Zinnel said. “It is important for LGBTQ Iowans and allies to understand our state’s history and the people who built the foundation we stand on. I am thrilled to honor and showcase our co-chairs’ accomplishments as we celebrate this amazing milestone.”

One Iowa started its annual Gala Celebration tradition in 2010 to commemorate Varnum v. Brien, the momentous Iowa Supreme Court case making Iowa the third in the nation to embrace marriage equality. Since then, LGBTQ Iowans and allies have come together each year to celebrate and honor the LGBTQ advocates working to preserve and advance equality for LGBTQ Iowans.

This year marks ten years since that momentous decision. The event sold out over one month in advance, making it the largest Gala in the organization’s history with 1200 people expected to attend.

“Milestones like this remind us that change is possible and worth pursuing,” Hoffman-Zinnel said. “They also provide an opportunity to reflect on our community’s past, reminding us whose shoulders we stand on as we continue fighting for broad LGBTQ equality. One Iowa’s work has expanded since marriage days to include workplace culture, healthcare access, leadership development, and so much more for LGBTQ Iowans. I’m excited to showcase the important work our organization is doing now and grow our capacity to make a larger impact at the Gala.”

One Iowa’s 10th Gala Celebration will feature a cocktail hour, dinner, live and silent auctions, live music from horn-centric soul, rhythm and blues band The Tighten Up, and an awards ceremony honoring the work Iowa’s LGBTQ advocates have accomplished this year. Award-winning journalist Sonya Heitsusen of WHO-TV Channel 13 News will emcee the program. This year’s awardees include:

  • Donna Red Wing Advocate of the Year AwardOC Pride (Orange City Pride organizers)
    • Previously known as the “Advocate of the Year” award and renamed this year to honor the late Donna Red Wing’s incredible legacy of LGBTQ advocacy, this award honors LGBTQ advocates whose work has been exceptionally impactful
  • Courageous 6 AwardEerieAnna Good and Carol Ann Beal, victorious plaintiffs in Good v. Iowa Dept. of Human Services, the Iowa Supreme Court case that overturned Iowa’s discriminatory Medicaid ban on transition-related surgery on March 8, 2019
    • Named for the six courageous plaintiff couples in Varnum v. Brien, this award honors individuals who share their stories and subject themselves to public scrutiny to advocate for themselves and LGBTQ Iowans
  • Sharon Malheiro Award: UnityPoint Health – Des Moines
    • Named after One Iowa’s founder, this award honors companies and organizations who have showcased a strong commitment to using their power to improve LGBTQ Iowans’ lives

The event’s proceeds will support One Iowa’s mission to preserve and advance LGBTQ equality in Iowa. Sponsors of One Iowa’s 10th Annual Gala Celebration include Collins Aerospace, Dillenkoffer Endowment, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Principal, Tito’s Vodka, and UnityPoint Health – Des Moines among others. Tickets are sold out, but individuals can make a donation in honor of this milestone anniversary here.