Birmingham Leadership Summit with Senator Doug Jones

Victory Institute held another successful LGBTQ leadership summit in Birmingham, Alabama! Some key takeaways and browse through a few photos from the Birmingham LGBTQ Leadership Summit. U.S. Senator Doug Jones spoke with attendees about LGBTQ progress in Alabama, getting involved with local politics and more.

Here are a few key takeaways for the entire team:

  • In total, 52 people attended the Birmingham LGBTQ Leadership Summit (the same as the Orlando LGBTQ Leadership Summit in March), including 12 people of color (Af-Am, Latinx) and 3 trans/non-binary people. Additionally, 3 current and former elected officials participated in the Summit, including U.S. Senator Doug Jones, Representative Neil Rafferty, and former Representative Patricia Todd. Other speakers were Carson Jones (Sen. Jones’ gay son), Tori Wolfe-Sisson (Founder of BLK Pearl & former HRC Alabama Field Director), Tony Christon-Walker (Founder of Birmingham Black Pride), and Josh Coleman (Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin’s LGBTQ Liaison).
  • This was the 13th Leadership Summit Victory Institute held in a low or negative equality state since 2016 (Tulsa, Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Houston, St. Louis, Nashville, Milwaukee, Harrisburg, New Orleans, Columbus, Phoenix, Orlando, and Birmingham). Overall, Victory Institute has trained 368 LGBTQ leaders through our leadership summit program since the beginning of 2017 (104 this year alone).
  • The Summit was held at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, which is next door to the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church – the site of the 1963 church bombing that killed four young girls.
  • We incorporated more exercises during our skills sessions (fundraising, messaging, and campaigns/candidacies) before the Orlando LGBTQ Leadership Summit and they continue to be received well, but some participants have expressed that we also discuss general leadership skills for out people. We will be looking to see how we can emphasize transferrable skills while keeping the focus on running for office/public service.
  • When prompted, at least two-thirds of the room raised their hands when asked if they would be interested in running for office in the next ten years.
  • The conversation in Birmingham was honest and tense at times, with participants and speakers using the occasion to forge important (and uncomfortable) conversations around race, socioeconomic status, poverty, political involvement, self-segregation, and equity within and outside of the LGBTQ community. While those moments could have derailed the entire day, our team handled each moment with candor, straightforwardness, and authenticity. As we visit communities like Birmingham, we demonstrate Victory Institute’s power as a convener. This weekend, we provided a rare space for a diverse cross-section of civic and politically-minded LGBTQ people to network with one another – and that alone makes it all worthwhile.
  • Almost everyone attended our post-Summit reception at The Woolworth (on a rainy day and a mile away).
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