Advancing LGBT Civil Rights

Equality Forum 2020 Awards Celebration

Saturday, October 3, 12:00 am - 11:45 pm

Watch the Celebration Video below!

The International Role Model Award is this nation’s longest-standing recognition of activists and allies who have advanced LGBT civil rights. Previous recipients include Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Edie Windsor, Judy Shepard, David Boies and Ted Olson, Barney Frank, and Martina Navratilova. Michael ​​Innocenzo presents the 25th annual award to LGBT History Month 2020 Icon Lori Lightfoot, Mayor of Chicago.

The Frank Kameny Award is named for the father of the LGBT civil rights movement. Among other monumental accomplishments, Frank Kameny led the fight to overturn Eisenhower’s Executive Order 10450, which prohibited the employment of gays and lesbians by the federal government. Pedro Ramos presents this year's award to LGBT History Month 2020 Icon Jess O'Connell.

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Lori E. Lightfoot (25th Annual International Role Model Award Recipient)
Mayor of Chicago

Lori Lightfoot is the first openly gay and first black female mayor of Chicago. She won her seat in 2019 in a historic landslide victory. Mayor Lightfoot’s early accomplishments include landmark ethics and good governance reforms, worker protections, and closing a record $838 million budget gap. She has made key investments in education and public safety and has placed Chicago on a path to a $15 minimum wage by 2021. She leads a coordinated citywide response to the coronavirus, including creation of the Racial Equity Rapid Response Team and the COVID-19 Recovery Task Force.

Previously, she served as a senior equity partner at Mayer Brown and has held a variety of top positions for the city of Chicago, including president of the Chicago Police Board, chair of the Police Accountability Task Force, chief of staff and general counsel of the Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications, and chief administrator of the Office of Professional Standards. She entered public service as assistant U.S. attorney. 

Jess O’Connell (Frank Kameny Award Recipient)
National Political Strategist
NEWCO Strategies

Jess O’Connell is a cofounder and partner at NEWCO Strategies, a majority women- and majority LGBT-owned firm. As a national political strategist, she has worked to advance progressive people and policies for nearly 20 years. She was the executive director of Emily’s list, the largest political organization for women in the U.S., and the first openly LGBT CEO of the Democratic National Committee.

O’Connell served as national director of operations for Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign. Recently, as senior advisor to Pete Buttigieg, she led the early states strategy, resulting in his history-making first-place finish in the 2020 presidential primary in Iowa and second-place finish in New Hampshire. She has held senior positions for the Center the American Progress, the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, ONE, and the Children’s Defense Fund. 

Michael Innocenzo (Frank Kameny Award Presention)
President and CEO
PECO Corporation

Michael Innocenzo is the president and CEO of PECO, Pennsylvania’s largest electric and natural gas utility. Innocenzo leads the company's overall performance with regard to service reliability, customer satisfaction, financial management, and regulatory and external affairs. Based in Philadelphia, PECO employs about 2,600 people, owns $10 billion in assets, and generates approximately $2.8 billion in annual revenues. A subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, the nation’s largest competitive energy provider, PECO serves 1.6 million electric customers and more than 520,000 natural gas customers in southeastern Pennsylvania. 

Innocenzo serves on the boards of the Philadelphia Free Library, the Philadelphia Police Athletic League (PAL), and the Southeastern Electric Exchange.

Malcolm Lazin (Master of Ceremonies)
Executive Director
Equality Forum

Malcolm Lazin is the executive director of Equality Forum and the founder of LGBT History Month. Previously a federal prosecutor, he received the U.S. Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award and subsequently served as the chair of the Pennsylvania Crime Commission.

Lazin is credited with the lighting of the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, which connects Philadelphia with Camden, New Jersey. He also successfully led a nearly two-decades-long campaign to make Washington Square (in Philadelphia), the largest Revolutionary War burial site, part of Independence National Historical Park. Lazin is the recipient of numerous local, state, and national community service and civil rights awards.

Pedro A. Ramos (International Role Model Award Presentation)
President and CEO
Philadelphia Foundation

Pedro Ramos is the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Foundation, one of the first community foundations in the nation, where he has created some of the most important initiatives in the organization's century-old history. Under his leadership, the Philadelphia Foundation has raised more than $200 million, grown its assets more than 33 percent, and launched large-scale initiatives, including On the Table Philly, the PhilaImpact Fund collaboration, the Philadelphia Catchafire partnership, and the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

Ramos previously practiced law for nearly two decades. He has served at the highest levels of appointed leadership in Philadelphia, including as city solicitor, as managing director, and as president of the Board of Education. He also served as vice president and chief of staff to the president at the University of Pennsylvania.

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