Seven LGBTQ leaders in government have been chosen for the 2016 class of David Bohnett LGBTQ Leadership Fellows. Bohnett Leadership Fellows are senior-level executives working in politics, in government, and at non-profit organizations who receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the Harvard Kennedy School. The intensive program hones Bohnett Fellows’ skills, furthering the leadership potential of these extraordinary individuals. Since 2002, the Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation have sent more than 120 accomplished LGBTQ professionals to participate in the program.
Our 2016 class includes leaders from a diverse range of backgrounds, government roles and regions, who will join the Bohnett alumni network, forging bonds beyond their time at Harvard. Many alumni work together, both in and out of government, to deliver progress for LGBTQ people and their families.
Since 2000, the David Bohnett Foundation has invested nearly $2 million in LGBTQ leadership programs run by the Victory Institute, including $1.4 million in the fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School.
Meet the 2016 Bohnett Fellows:
Assemblywoman Tamara Adrian
Tamara Adrian is a Venezuelan lawyer who graduated with the highest honors with a Ph.D. in law from Paris 2 University. She is also a law professor at UNIMET, UCV and UCAB. She is the chair of the international committee of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOT). She also serves at the chair of Global Action for Trans Equality (GATE). She currently serves as president of Proinclusion VP. She was elected to the National Assembly of Venezuela in December 2015. She is also the author of several articles concerning LGBTI equality and an advocate for legal equality.
Chief of Staff Erik Bottcher
Erik Bottcher is an LGBTQ rights advocate and community activist, best known for his roles in New York City and state government. He currently serves as chief of staff to New York City Council Member Corey Johnson, who represents the neighborhoods of Greenwich Village, Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and parts of SoHo and the Upper West Side. Throughout his career, Erik has established himself as a change maker on diverse issues ranging from marriage equality to historic preservation. His journey from a small town in the Adirondack Mountains to the halls of government was profiled in a 2015 cover story in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Prior to his current role, Erik served as Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's regional representative in the borough of Manhattan. He also served as the governor's liaison to the state’s LGBTQ community, an appointment that was announced in a 2011 New York Daily News article entitled "Cuomo's hiring of Christine Quinn liaison may be major step in push for gay marriage." Previously, Erik served as LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS community liaison for City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. There, he served as a key aide to the speaker and developed groundbreaking initiatives relating to the LGBTQ community and to the fight against HIV/AIDS. A long-time community activist, Erik serves on his local community board and on the executive committee of his local Democratic organization. He is currently fighting to create a new historic district on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Erik is a graduate of The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Mayor Javier Gonzales
Mayor Javier Gonzales was the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in accounting from New Mexico State University in 1989. In 1994 he was elected to the Santa Fe County Commission where he served two terms. In 1998, he was elected as the first Hispanic (and youngest) official to lead the National Association of Counties. In 2002, he joined Accenture as the National Business Development Director for local government. He was appointed by Governor Richardson to the Board of Regents at New Mexico Highlands University from 2004 to 2008. In 2008, he was appointed to the Board of Regents at New Mexico State University and served through 2014. From 2003 to 2014, he served as a bank director of Century Bank in Santa Fe. From 2012 to 2014, he was employed with Rosemont Realty as national vice president for sustainability and corporate responsibility. In 2014, he was elected as the first openly gay mayor of Santa Fe. Currently, he serves on the criminal justice committee of the U.S. Conference of Mayors.
State Sen. Matt McCoy
Matt McCoy is serving his seventh term in the Iowa Senate after serving two terms in the Iowa House. He represents Senate District 21, which includes the southwestern and western portions of Des Moines, part of West Des Moines and Cumming in northwest Warren County.
Senator McCoy is an assistant majority leader, vice chair of the Commerce Committee, and co-chair of the Transportation, Infrastructure & Capital Budget Committee. He also serves on the Appropriations, State Government, Transportation, and Ways & Means Committees.
During the 2014 legislative session, Matt led the passage of updated and modernized HIV criminal transmission legislation, making Iowa the first of 34 states with outdated and unjust legislation to do pass reforms. This session, Matt successfully led the passage of legislation in the Iowa Senate that added language to Iowa’s hate crimes to include members of the transgender community.
Matt graduated from Dowling High School in 1984 and earned his B.A. from Briar Cliff College in Sioux City, Iowa in 1988. Active in the Boy Scouts of America as a child, he achieved the rank of eagle scout in 1981 and continues to support the Boy Scouts’ programs. Matt has one son, Jack, and attends Plymouth Congregational Church.
Mayor Alex Morse
Mayor Alex Morse is in his third term and fifth year as mayor of Holyoke, Massachusetts. He was born and raised in Holyoke, graduated from the Holyoke Public Schools and became the first in his family to graduate from college, earning a degree in urban studies from Brown University. Soon after graduation, he was elected mayor of Holyoke by unseating the incumbent mayor of the city, ushering in a new progressive moment in the city.
In addition to serving as mayor, he is a professor of political practice at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where he teaches a class entitled "Urban Government & Politics" once a semester.
As Mayor in a strong-mayor form of government, he oversees a $130 million budget, chairs the Holyoke School Committee, oversees a government with nearly 2,000 employees and manages projects of all different sizes.
City Council President Richard Trojanski
Richard Trojanski is a lifelong resident of Maple Heights and graduate of Maple Heights High School. He is the first openly gay council president in Ohio, elected to office on November 3, 2015. He was first elected in 2009 and served three consecutive terms on Maple Heights City Council representing District 6. Richard was also the appointed council president pro tem by his peers on the Maple Heights City Council for 2014 and 2015.
In addition to serving the people of Maple Heights, Richard has served on the executive committee for the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party since 2010, is a member of the Friends of the Maple Heights Library and the Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP and many other civic and political organizations. In 2014, Richard took the lead as a member of council and successfully led efforts to amend city policies in housing and in city employment so that now those policies include language prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. A major accomplishment for Richard in a very socially and religiously conservative community. In 2014, Richard was honored by the Cleveland Stonewall Democrats as the recipient of the 2014 Stephanie Tubbs Jones Freedom Award for his exemplary values in public service and social justice.
Finally, Richard is also currently a junior attending Penn State, earning his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and minoring in security and risk analysis.
Director of Strategic Initiatives Renee Willette
Renee Willette directs strategic initiatives for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, the third largest municipal utility in California. As part of the $2.7 billion Sewer System Improvement Program, Renee leads the agency’s Neighborhood Impact initiative, managing $54 million of investments into the Bayview Hunters Point community. She also leads the agency’s academic partnership strategy, manages the $6.2 million external affairs budget and serves as an executive officer for Baywork, a regional consortium of water and wastewater utilities focusing on workforce reliability.
Prior to her work at the SFPUC, Renee served as the deputy director of government and legislative affairs and senior fiscal and policy analyst for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office where she developed the mayor’s state and federal policy agenda and facilitated the endorsement of over 100 pieces of legislation. Renee helped balance the city’s budget from 2009 to 2011, when the city’s general fund faced $512 and $488 million deficits, the largest in the history of San Francisco. She also led citywide initiatives streamlining services for disconnected transitional age youth and consolidating early care and education services. Renee cut her political teeth working for Paul Wellstone’s 2002 re-election campaign, going on to serve as the research director for U.S. Senate candidate Inez Tenanbaum in 2004 and as the western states political research consultant for EMILY’s List from 2005 to 2007. Renee holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.