Announced: 2019 Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award Nominees

Today we announced our nominees for the 2019 Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award – an annual award given to an up-and-coming state or local LGBTQ elected official whose promising political career will move equality forward for LGBTQ people. The award is named after U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin because she exemplifies our mission: an accomplished LGBTQ elected official who moved up the political ladder to achieve great success – first as an out elected official on the Dane County (WI) Board of Supervisors, then as a Wisconsin state Representative, U.S. Representative and now U.S. Senator.

Victory Institute supporters can vote for the nominee they believe is most deserving of the award via online ballot now through Monday, October 7. The winner will be announced on October 9 and be honored with the award at our International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC this November.

The 2019 nominees are:

  • Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero
  • North Carolina state Representative Deb Butler
  • Peru Congressman Alberto de Belaunde
  • Colorado state Representative Leslie Herod
  • Nebraska state Senator Megan Hunt
  • Pennsylvania state Representative Malcolm Kenyatta
  • Eau Claire (WI) School Board Member Joe Luginbill

You can learn a little more about each nominee below!

Past recipients of the Tammy Baldwin Breakthrough Award include Florida state Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith and Virginia Delegate Danica Roem.

The International LGBTQ Leaders Conference – held in Washington, DC from November 13 – 16 – attracts more than 550 LGBTQ elected and appointed officials, advocates and community members each year. It is the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ elected officials in the world.


Maryland Delegate Gabriel Acevero

After focusing on criminal justice reform and raising the minimum wage as a union organizer and political activist, Gabriel Acevero has brought his passion for social change to the Maryland House of Delegates. Since his election in 2019, he has introduced legislation reforming school funding and complaints against police. He is the first openly LGBTQ Afro-Latinx elected to the Maryland House.

North Carolina state Representative Deb Butler

As the Democratic Whip of the North Carolina House, Deb Butler is a warrior for North Carolina’s LGBTQ community. Under the rallying cry of “I Will Not Yield,” Butler recently derided Republicans’ underhanded voting tactics, even resisting arrest to pursue justice. During her time in the House, she has fought for causes ranging from fair districts to common sense gun reform.

Peru Congressman Alberto de Belaunde

One of two openly LGBTQ Congressmen in Peru, Alberto de Belaunde is also a constitutional lawyer, university professor, author and contributor to Correo, and Secretary of the Congressional Committee on Science, Innovation and Technology. He has also led the charge to legalize marriage equality in Peru, is working to overhaul the justice system and legalize medical cannabis.

Colorado state Representative Leslie Herod

The first openly LGBTQ African American elected to Colorado’s state legislature, Leslie Herod is a staunch defender of the LGBTQ community. She has co-sponsored a diverse slate of legislation, tackling topics from banning conversion therapy to prison and police reform to creating child college saving accounts, and seen much of it signed into law.

Nebraska State Senator Megan Hunt

Despite being the first and only LGBTQ person ever elected to the Nebraska state legislature, Megan Hunt is an unabashed fighter for pro-equality causes. Working within her own caucus and reaching across the aisle, she has tackled food stamp reform, conversion therapy reform and addressed hate crimes legislation since her 2018 election.

Pennsylvania state Representative Malcolm Kenyatta

A born and bred Philadelphian, Malcolm Kenyatta upholds a family legacy of civil rights activism and social justice work, receiving the President’s Volunteer Service Award in 2016. Since being elected the first openly LGBTQ person of color in the Pennsylvania state legislature in 2018, Kenyatta has blocked anti-LGBTQ legislation while advocating for issues ranging from environmental justice to economic reform.

Eau Claire (WI) School Board Member Joe Luginbill

Despite his young age, Joe Luginbill already enjoys accomplishments as an advocate for children and youth with UNICEF and the United Nations. In 2015, he became the youngest and first openly LGBTQ member elected to the Eau Claire (WI) School Board, where he has authored over 155 policies and resolutions dictating course options, budget management and much more.