Joy and Defiance

HRC Arizona to blend celebration with determination at annual gala

Matt Dallas HRC Arizona's 2017 Visibility Award Recipient. Read Echo's interview with Dallas at The Adoption Option.

By Liz Massey, March 2017 Issue.

It might seem counterintuitive to follow up an election marked by the loss of LGBTQ-supportive officials at all levels with a festive gathering, but that’s exactly what the Human Rights Campaign’s Arizona affiliate (HRC-AZ) is doing with its 2017 gala.

The event, which is presented by PetSmart, will take place Feb. 25 at the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel under the theme “Equality forward, equality for all.”

According to Deanna Jordan, event co-chair, the dual celebration/inspiration focus seemed the best way to respond to the electoral devastation.

“We will be learning how to keep our focus on equality and on keeping the wins that the LGBT[Q] community has won over the past eight years,” she said. “The HRC Arizona gala will be a night to stand firm for the progress we’ve made on equal rights, while garnering the support we need to fight back against any attacks we see on LGBTQ rights and protections.”

Here are several pieces of key information about the HRC Arizona gala, to help you “connect the dots” between the celebratory and more solemn aspects of the event.

Playing into the mission. 
According to co-chair Greg Linneman, HRC-AZ hopes to draw 600 supporters to the event and raise about $187,000, which helps fund a staff person in the state’s field office and underwrite programs provided locally.

And the winners are …
Scottsdale Councilwoman Virginia Korte will be recognized at the event for her support of a LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinance in that city. Orgullo|Pride@UCI, the LGBTQ employee group for the Spanish-language television giant, will receive an award recognizing its advocacy on behalf of queer members of the Hispanic/Latinx community.

Bidding on equality. 
One of the mainstays of this black-tie gala is the silent auction, which will offer guests the chance to bid on a collection of items ranging from weekend getaways and spa packages to autographed collector’s items and artwork of all kinds, and much more.

Variations on a theme. 
HRC Arizona has captured the mixed nature of the present moment with their theme, “Equality forward, equality for all.”

“Following the 2016 elections, the Human Rights Campaign continues to fight earnestly against any roll back of the progress we’ve made on equal rights for the LGBTQ community,” Jordan explained. “We’ll defy any instance of hate from the Trump Administration and defy any treatment of our community as if we’re less than other people. We’re going to continue to stand strong for our basic rights as citizens.”

While Linneman and Jordan said they were not at liberty reveal all the details of the evening, Linneman said, “We are trying to make things more exciting and have a ‘wow’ feeling this year.”

A place to get involved. 
One of the most important aspects of the gala, Jordan said, is that it serves to educate attendees about the programs operated by the group and offers ways to become involved.

“Come and learn about all the ways you can engage and help make a change,” she said. “More than that, come for the laughs, the tears, the journey and the goals. You can make a difference [by] volunteering your time, money and voice.”

Meet The Winners

Virginia Korte
Virginia Korte began her second term on the Scottsdale City Council in January 2017. She has an extensive background in business and nonprofit management as well as community service. In 1981 she joined her family business (Ray Korte Chevrolet) to work with and learn from her father. After selling the dealership in 1998, Korte was hired as a biology professor at Scottsdale Community College and became their first Center for Native & Urban Wildlife executive director, serving until 2002.

In 1996, Korte was named to the board of directors of the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce, and in 2002, she was hired as president and CEO. She left the chamber in 2008 to serve as president and CEO of Scottsdale Training and Rehabilitation Services until 2014. She currently serves as a member of the board for Arizona Town Hall and Business United for Scottsdale Schools.

Korte is being honored at the gala for her support of efforts to pass an LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination city statute in Scottsdale that protects all city residents in the workplace.

Source: City of Scottsdale website.

Orgullo|Pride@UCI is an employee impact group for LGBTQ employees and their allies at Univision Communications, Inc. (UCI). The group organizes LGBTQ employees and allies to champion the community both within the company and within the Hispanic/Latinx community at large. UCI employees participated in a number of pride festivals and parades throughout the United States in 2016, including Phoenix Pride.


HRC Arizona Gala, presented by PetSmart
Feb. 25
5 p.m., VIP reception; 6 p.m., general reception and dinner
Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel
100 N. First St., Phoenix.