By KJ Philp, Oct. 23, 2014. Back to Hall of Fame Home Page.
When asked why she feels it’s important to be involved in so many capacities, Linda Elliott, one n ten’s executive director, answered, “once you get started, it’s hard to stop.”
And her experience and accolades underscore her passion for working with LGBTQ youth and advocating for equality.
Elliott was first prompted to become involved in the LGBTQ community in 1992, while living in Colorado, when voters passed Amendment 2.
“This amendment prohibited all government agencies in Colorado from affording protected status to the LGBTQ community, she said. “A group of us formed an HRC Steering Committee in Colorado to fight this amendment in the courts.”
That experience translated well as Elliott relocated to Arizona.
“Not long after I moved to Arizona we faced an antigay constitutional amendment with Prop 107,” she said. “Through a unified community response, we were able to defeat Prop 107 to become the only state that had been able to do that.”
And Elliott was at it again in 2008 when Prop 102 was on the ballot in Arizona.
“Being part of the effort to change hearts and minds in Colorado and Arizona from rejection to acceptance of the LGBTQ community,” Elliott cited as her greatest feat, adding, “I’m confident we will have marriage equality this year.”
Elliott served on the board of HRC for more than 15 years, both in Colorado and Arizona, as well as the boards of the Colorado AIDS Project and Southwest Center for HIV/AIDS.
“Many of my friends were victims of AIDS and I wanted to do something to help find prevention and a cure for this disease,” she said.
Most recently, Elliott has been dedicated to youth-centered efforts.
“Working with youth is more emotional and situational and I am amazed every day at how vulnerable many of our youth are but also how resilient they learn to be,” she said.
Among her recent efforts the newly initiated Youth Education and Success (YES) Program, an 11-week workshop that teaches job skills and professional behavior to enable unemployed youth to qualify for jobs. Elliott added that at four weeks into the program, 45 percent of the participants have found employment.”
“We are fortunate to have incredible support from the community at large and also from our corporate partners,” she said. “This support has enabled us to expand our programs and services despite reductions in other funding sources.”
And, in January 2015, one n ten will open two new satellite locations, one in the Arrowhead/Deer Valley area and one in South Phoenix and, Elliott added, that the Promise of a New Day supportive housing program will also be expanded.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done at one n ten to upgrade the youth center facility and expand the programs and services offered to the youth,” she said. “As we continue our victories in marriage equality, we need to focus more attention on the needs of our youth – our future. There is a long way to go before our work is done to ensure a safe future for all youth.”
Web-Exclusive Q&A with Linda Elliott
Echo: I see that you attended school in Denver, when did Arizona become home?
Elliott: I met my partner in 2000 on a holiday trip to Phoenix. I was my mother’s caretaker, and it took over two years to convince her to move with me to Phoenix. During that time, I split my time between Denver and Pheonix until I moved here in 2003.
Echo: Who are some of your role models/inspirations and why?
Elliott: Maya Angelou and Representative John Lewis – for their intelligence and passion and for overcoming significant obstacles with grace and good nature.
Echo: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Elliott: Your integrity is everything – protect it because if you lose it you can never get it back.
Echo: How would you summarize your efforts and experiences in 2014?
Elliott: We have been to be able to continue to grow the programs and services at one n ten. We are fortunate to have incredible support from the community at large and also from our corporate partners like PetSmart, Bank of America, APS, Cox and Verizon. This support has enabled us to expand our programs and services despite reductions in other funding sources.
Echo: Where do you see yourself five years from now?
Elliott: Retired but involved. Playing more golf.
Meet the rest of the Class of 2014: