Victory Institute today announced it selected six LGBTQ elected and public officials for its David Bohnett Leaders Fellowship, a program that includes a three-week intensive leadership development course at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. The fellowship – a collaboration with the David Bohnett Foundation – aims to propel LGBTQ leaders into the next stage of their public service careers. Notable alumni include U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema, California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, Colorado State Senator Dominick Moreno, and California State Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara.
We are thrilled to announce this year’s class of six trailblazers ready to take their public service to the next level through this comprehensive leadership program.
Arizona State Representative
Andrés Cano is Arizona’s youngest LGBTQ state lawmaker. Raised by a single mom in public housing, Cano, 26, is a Latinx, first-generation college graduate who was elected to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2018.
Prior to elected office, Representative Cano spent 7 years as an aide to Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías, where he was instrumental to the passage of the County’s non-discrimination employment policy, conversion therapy ban, and approval of paid parental leave for same-sex and adoptive couples.
Representative Cano serves on the House Committee on Ways & Means, and the Committee on Natural Resources, Energy, & Water.
Maine State Senator
Justin Chenette has served seven years in the Maine legislature and is currently serving his second term in the Maine Senate. He is the Chair of the bipartisan Government Oversight Committee, Co-Chair of the Democracy Reform Caucus, and is a member of both the Environment & Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Ethics Committee. Justin also serves as a Citizen Trade Policy Commissioner.
In 2012, Justin made history by becoming the nation’s youngest openly gay legislator and Maine’s youngest representative at age 21. The Advocate magazine named him “an architect of the next decade” and listed him among the 40 Under 40 most accomplished leaders throughout the country in 2013. Justin earned a B.S. in Broadcast News with minors in both Political Science and Multimedia Communications from Northern Vermont University-Lyndon. In the private sector, he works as a licensed Realtor and runs his own marketing firm.
Justin married his partner Eduard, who works as an environmental engineer and adjunct professor, in a private ceremony in 2016.
Nebraska State Senator
Senator Megan Hunt is an entrepreneur, activist, and parent elected in 2018 to represent District 8 in the Nebraska Legislature. She is passionate about public education, reproductive justice and gender equality, and reducing brain drain in the Midwest. Megan’s work and impact has been featured in dozens of publications including Forbes, INC, The Washington Post, Cosmopolitan, the Huffington Post, and others, and she is motivated by her goal of helping others translate their experiences into positive action and change in the real world.
Pennsylvania State Representative
Malcolm Kenyatta was elected to serve as state representative for the 181st Legislative District, Philadelphia County, on November 6, 2018. He is a product of Philadelphia public schools and a 2012 graduate of Temple University.
His legislative priorities include raising wages to overcome systemic poverty, improving the educational system across the Commonwealth and improving access to quality healthcare for families. As the first openly LGBT person of color elected to the PA General Assembly, he is deeply committed to creating an equitable and inclusive society. Rep. Kenyatta believes that maintaining a healthy democracy requires the involvement of every citizen.
Rep. Kenyatta, 28, is a third-generation North Philadelphia and was born to the late Kelly and Malcolm J. Kenyatta. He was raised alongside three siblings, and is the grandson of Muhammad Kenyatta, a noted civil rights leader, minister, Harvard graduate and political candidate.
Utah State Senator
In November of 2018, Derek Kitchen was elected to represent the 2nd district in the Utah State Senate, becoming the youngest active member of the Utah Legislature.
Prior to assuming his role as State Senator, Derek was a member of the Salt Lake City Council representing District 4, where he concurrently served as the Chair of the Salt Lake City Redevelopment Authority. Derek co-founded and currently operates two businesses in Salt Lake City – Laziz Foods and Laziz Kitchen – a distribution company and a restaurant specializing contemporary Middle Eastern food. Prior to serving in elected office, Derek and his husband prevailed in their lawsuit against the State of Utah (2013) which brought marriage equality to the 10th Circuit and created critical case law for the freedom to marry nationwide.
Derek also serves as a member of the board of both the Utah Museum of Contemporary Art and the Leonardo: Museum of Science, Art, and Technology and received his bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Utah.
Illinois State Representative
State Rep. Lamont J. Robinson Jr. is a lifelong Chicagoan who has dedicated his life to giving back to the city through public service and as a businessman, college professor, and director of a youth mentorship.
A resident of Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, Rep. Robinson was elected in the November 2018 general election to represent the sprawling Illinois 5th House district that runs from Goethe Street on Chicago’s North Side to 80th Street on the South Side.
With an undergraduate degree in business marketing from Clark Atlanta University and an MBA degree from National Louis University, Rep. Robinson became a licensed insurance agent and owner of The Robinson & Caban Insurance Group. He also was a business professor at Harold Washington College and Director of the Kappa Leadership Institute in Chicago, which provides guidance to young men and prepares them to go to college. He made history as the first out LGBTQ African-American to be elected to the Illinois General Assembly.
“The 5th District is rich with potential,” Rep. Robinson said. “My work in Springfield and in the district focuses on social justice, community resources, education, and public safety to make sure everyone has the opportunity to live to their full potential.”