Los Angeles – Equality California will honor five longtime champions of the LGBT community and progressive values at its annual Los Angeles Equality Awards dinner on Saturday, September 19, 2015. Journalist Lisa Ling, philanthropist Tom Steyer, Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León, and former board presidents and longtime EQCA supporters Clarissa Filgioun and Cary Davidson will each receive awards for their years of work on behalf of LGBT people and all Californians. The event is co-chaired by Long Beach Mayor and EQCA Boardmember Robert Garcia, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, West Hollywood City Councilman John D’Amico and EQCA Boardmember Beth Collins-Burgard. Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti will participate in the program.
“Each of this year’s awardees has been a powerhouse in making California a better place to live for all its residents,” said Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California. ”Because of them, our state, our country and even our world are becoming a cleaner, healthier and more just place to live.”
Award-winning journalist Lisa Ling has devoted her career to covering the types of stories others choose to ignore, reporting from more than two dozen countries as contributor to ABC’s Nightline, National Geographic, the Oprah Winfrey Show and Channel One. As host of Our America on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, and now as host of the CNN documentary series, This is Life, Ling regularly features LGBT people, our triumphs, our struggles, and our stories – the gay rodeo circuit, transgender lives, and victims of reparative therapy, among them. As she says, “I’ve always believed the more we know about each other, the more evolved we are as people.” A self described “fierce advocate for gay rights,” Ling lives in Santa Monica with her husband, Dr. Paul Song, and their two and a half year old daughter, Jett. She will receive EQCA’s Vanguard Leadership Award for the positive impact her reporting has had in advancing awareness, understanding and acceptance of LGBT people.
Businessperson and non-profit founder Tom Steyer will receive this year’s Humanitarian Award for his work advancing progressive causes that benefit the LGBT community. Steyer founded and ran a successful Bay Area investment firm, but left his company in 2012 to start NextGen, a non-profit organization that acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity for all Americans. The San Francisco resident and his wife, Kat Taylor, have committed to donating the vast majority of their personal wealth to charity, including organizations that help children and families by investing in education and economic development programs in underserved communities. His philanthropy and political activism have made a significant and lasting impact in advancing health, well-being and social justice for LGBT people and all the communities of which LGBT people are a part.
Senate President Pro-Tem Kevin de León, winner of this year’s Ally Leadership Award, is the first Latino to hold that position since 1883. The son of a single mother who immigrated to California from Mexico, de León grew up in San Diego County and began his career teaching citizenship courses and advocating for immigrants. Since he was first elected to the California Assembly in 2006, de León has been one of the LGBT community’s staunchest allies. During both his time in the Assembly and the Senate, de León each year has earned a pro-equality rating of 100 percent on Equality California’s Legislative Scorecard. He has authored key pieces of legislation benefiting the LGBT community, and as senate president, is working hard to ensure passage of Equality California priority bills.
Former EQCA board president Clarissa Filgioun will receive a State Farm Good Neighbor Award for her years of support of EQCA and its mission. Filgioun chaired EQCA’s board during a time of transition and helped shape the organizations programs to meet the needs of California’s LGBT community, including greatly expanding the reach of its PAC to elect pro-equality candidates. She also led the broadening of the organizations’ mission to include the health and well-being of LGBT communities of color. Filgioun is the daughter of South African diplomats and spent her formative years in Greece, the United Kingdom and Germany, but it was the time spent in her home country fighting apartheid that shaped her work as an activist for social justice.
Cary Davidson is the recipient of a State Farm Good Neighbor Award as well as EQCA’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his extraordinary service to the LGBT community, L.A.’s Jewish community, and for his decades of work to advance equality for everyone. Davidson is one of the few individuals to serve as board president for both Equality California and Equality California Institute and was one of the organization’s longest-serving board members. He was the first openly-LGBT president of the California Political Attorneys Association and has contributed countless hours of pro bono legal services to Equality California and other organizations including the No on Prop 8 Campaign, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Feminist Majority, the National Organization for Women and many others. He is an active member of L.A.’s Congregation Kol Ami, where he currently serves as secretary of the congregation. He is also chair of the Board of Overseers for the Jack H. Skirball Campus of Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion and has served as liaison to the Institute for Judaism and Sexual Orientation. Davidson also serves on boards of various other organizations representing Reform Judaism. His numerous awards include the Harvey Milk Legacy Award from Christopher Street West for his service to the LGBT community; the Shomer Tzedek Award from Congregation Kol Ami for his service to the community; the Allan E. Tebbets Award from the California Political Attorney’s Association; and a Jack L. Stark Distinguished Service Award from his alma mater, Claremont McKenna College.
Each year, Equality California recognizes individuals and organizations who have made a significant impact on the movement to secure full and lasting equality for LGBT people at its annual Equality Awards — a series of formal events held in San Francisco, San Diego, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and Sacramento.
This year’s Los Angeles Equality Awards will take place on Saturday, September 19 at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live, located at 900 W. Olympic Blvd. in Los Angeles. Individual tickets are $350 and up, with event sponsorship opportunities beginning at $5,000.
The 2015 Equality Awards are sponsored by AT&T, La Crema, PG&E, Sempra Energy, Southwest Airlines, and State Farm Insurance. For more information about the Equality Awards, visit www.eqcaawards.com. For tickets or sponsorship information, contact Scott Gizicki at email@example.com or by calling 323-848-9801.
Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. Our mission is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance, and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. Our mission includes advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, we strive to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve our goals. www.eqca.org