Equality California will honor its former executive director Geoff Kors with the first-ever award in his name at its annual Palm Springs Equality Awards dinner on Saturday, October 10, 2015. EQCA announced today the establishment of the Geoff Kors Leadership Award, which will be given periodically in the future to an LGBT Californian whose work has significantly advanced LGBT civil rights or social justice on a national level. In addition, Equality California is excited to honor the lifetime achievements of civil rights legend Dolores Huerta, who has made equality and social justice for all communities her life’s work. Also receiving Equality Awards are Desert AIDS Project Chief Development Officer Darrell Tucci and businesswoman Lisa Vanderpump for their years of work on behalf of LGBT people and all Californians. The event is co-chaired by Equality California boardmember Kenny Cassady and local LGBT leader Jackie Thomas.
Dolores Huerta is the recipient of this year’s Vanguard Leadership Award. After graduating from college, Huerta initially became a teacher, but soon realized the best way to help her students – many of them children of migrant farmworkers – was to improve living conditions for their parents. Together with César Chávez, Huerta founded the National Farm Workers Association, which later merged with other organizations to become United Farm Workers. Today, Huerta is a tireless advocate for the civil rights of all Californians, and has made the LGBT community a key part of the mission of the Dolores Huerta Foundation. She also serves on the board of Equality California, as well as People for the American Way, the Feminist Majority Federation and other organizations. “It’s a privilege to honor a civil rights titan like Dolores Huerta,” said Equality California Executive Director Rick Zbur. “LGBT people have always occupied a key place in her civil rights vision and California is a more equitable place today thanks to her many years of work.”
Geoff Kors helmed Equality California from 2002 until 2011, making it a major force behind everything from electing pro-equality candidates, to policies protecting LGBT Californians on the job and in their homes, to the 2008 California Supreme Court decision legalizing marriage for same-sex couples. Under his leadership, Equality California went from being a small, relatively unknown non-profit to the largest statewide LGBT advocacy organization in the country. He contributed to the passage of more than 70 laws protecting the LGBT community. Kors currently is government policy director with the National Center for Lesbian Rights and continues to give his time to many other organizations. “This year, it’s a special pleasure to present Geoff Kors with the inaugural award that bears his name,” said Zbur. “Geoff’s leadership helped California become the state with the most comprehensive LGBT protections in the country, serving as the model for similar laws across the country.”
Darrell Tucci will receive this year’s State Farm Good Neighbor Award. Tucci is an energetic leader on HIV, youth and other LGBT issues in the Desert area. He is one of Palm Springs’ key LGBT leaders and has dedicated time and significant talent to bettering the lives of the LGBT and HIV communities in the Desert. He is currently chief development officer for Desert AIDS Project and has served on the board of Buddies of New Jersey, his home state; the National Leadership Council of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network; and is on the national board of Bolder Giving. “Darrell Tucci isn’t yet 40, but he’s already an effective advocate for the local LGBT community,” said Zbur. “He already has years of experience as a fundraiser and activist that make him a powerful force.”
Ally Leadership Award recipient Lisa Vanderpump has used her role as a businesswoman and celebrity to put the LGBT community at the center of her philanthropic work. Vanderpump has volunteered extensive time to LGBT causes, serving as a national spokesperson for GLAAD, working with the Desert AIDS Project and the Trevor Project, and this year was recognized as a “woman of the year” by the California Legislature. “Lisa Vanderpump is one of West Hollywood and Palm Springs’ most prominent businesspeople, who does more than just create a welcoming environment for the LGBT community at her popular restaurants,” said Zbur. “She also gives back an enormous amount of time and energy to the community. She is one of our strongest advocates, and uses her prominence to advance equal rights for everyone.”
Each year, Equality California recognizes individuals and organizations who have made an 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 Palm Springs Equality Awards will take place on Saturday, October 10 at the Riviera Palm Springs, located at 1600 N. Indian Canyon Drive. Individual tickets are $250 and up, with event sponsorships opportunities beginning at $3,500.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 323-848-9801.
Equality California is California’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization focused on 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