Advancing LGBT Civil Rights

Future of the Movement

Thursday, July 28, 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm
National Museum of American Jewish History

Dell Auditorium
101 South Independence Mall East
(5th and Market Streets)
Philadelphia, PA 19106


Kevin Naff (Moderator)
Washington Blade

Kevin Naff is the Editor-in-Chief and co-owner of the Washington Blade, the nation’s oldest and most acclaimed LGBT news publication. He is the co-founder and owner of Brown Naff Pitts Omnimedia, which also publishes the Los Angeles Blade and owns ancillary businesses, including Azer Creative, a D.C.-based full-service marketing and advertising agency. An award-winning journalist honored for 10 consecutive years by the Society of Professional Journalists, Naff has contributed to the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and other leading outlets. In March 2023, he published his first book, “How We Won the War for LGBTQ Equality — And How Our Enemies Could Take It All Away,” a behind-the-scenes look at how the queer movement achieved so much so fast.

Jay Brown (Panelist)
Communications Director
Human Rights Campaign

As HRC’s Communications Director, Jay Brown serves as an organizational spokesperson and leads a team responsible for advocating for LGBTQ equality in the media. He works closely with the Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing and the Communications Department staff to craft strategy, develop messaging, and oversee the department’s daily operations -- leveraging media to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in the United States and around the globe.

Jay has had a long-standing history with the organization. Throughout 2015, he served as the Director of Research and Public Education, where he helped shaped HRC’s approach to generating research and educational campaigns. From 2013 to 2015, Jay directed research and public education efforts for the HRC Foundation, where he focused on developing a range of reports, issue briefs, toolkits and other resources focusing on a range of issues impacting LGBTQ Americans. Jay also worked at the HRC from 2000 to 2006, where he advanced messages of fairness for LGBTQ people in the media. His work included managing communications strategies around the defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment, repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and advancing the equality of transgender people. Jay has also directed communications and marketing efforts at Reading Is Fundamental and Carnegie Mellon University.

An out trans man, Jay lives in Maryland with his spouse, Kendra, and their two children.

Melissa Harris-Perry (Panelist)
Executive Director
Pro Humanitate Institute

Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University. She is the executive director of the Pro Humanitate Institute and founding director of the Anna Julia Cooper Center. Harris-Perry is editor at large at She hosted the television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC. She is the author of the award-winning "Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought," and "Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America."

Kevin Jennings (Panelist)
Executive Director
Arcus Foundation

Kevin Jennings is a distinguished educator, social-justice advocate and author. In 1988 as a high school teacher, he served as faculty advisor for the country’s first Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). In 1990 he founded the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)—the nation's first organization combating discrimination against LGBT students. He led GLSEN for 18 years. In the Obama administration, Jennings served as assistant deputy secretary of education and headed the department’s Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools, where he led the anti-bullying initiative. He joined the Arcus Foundation, which is dedicated to social and environmental justice, as executive director in 2012. Among other recognition, Newsweek named Jennings one of the top 100 people likely to make a difference in the 21st century.

Evan Wolfson (Panelist)
Former President
Freedom to Marry

Evan Wolfson is the founder and former president of Freedom to Marry, a campaign that won same-sex marriage rights in the United States. Wolfson was one of the first attorneys to publicly champion marriage equality and is author of the book “Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People’s Right to Marry.” A graduate of Harvard Law School, Wolfson argued the historic Hawaii Supreme Court marriage case and has participated in numerous gay rights and HIV/AIDS cases. Among numerous accolades, he was dubbed one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People, and in 2012 he received the Barnard Medal of Distinction, alongside President Obama. Wolfson currently consults for other movements and teaches law and social change at Georgetown University, where he was named a Distinguished Visitor from Practice.

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