WASHINGTON – Today, the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute and the David Bohnett Foundation announced three graduates of the David Bohnett LGBTQ Leadership Fellowship. The three fellows for the June 2014 class spent three weeks of intense state and local government programing at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Mass. The program helps senior executives hone their skills and furthers the leadership potential of already accomplished public servants.
“I congratulate Steven, LaWana, and Keisha on this accomplishment – this intense program for senior executives at the Harvard Kennedy School is transformational,” said Torey Carter, managing director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute. “It provides a continuum of leadership development that bridges personal and professional growth with the skills necessary to address challenges that affect their community.”
“The current graduates from the Leadership Fellows program will join their alumni colleagues in leading exemplary lives of public service as open LGBTQ American citizens,” said David Bohnett, chairman of the David Bohnett Foundation. “The Fellow program empowers LGBTQ leaders who are making a difference in the world, honing skills and furthering their leadership potential.”
Steven Llanusa is currently the president of the Claremont School Board of Education – where he was first elected to the board of education in 2007 and its first openly LGBTQ member. He was also elected in 2007 to the Board of Directors for Los Angeles County School Trustees Association, and organization made up of representatives from School Boards throughout Los Angeles County. He was appointed to the Youth Master Plan Update Task Force and the Claremont Sustainability Committee where he worked to develop goals that were adopted by the Los Angeles City Council. He is a past co-chair of University of California, Los Angeles Lambda Alumni. Llanusa was selected by KCET televison as a Community LGBTQ Hero in 2012.
LaWana Mayfield represents District 3 on the Charlotte City Council. She was first elected in 2011 and is serving her second term. Her previous public service includes chairing the Youth and Gang Violence subcommittee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, and working as a community advocate with the Charlotte Community Justice Coalition. She has served as Grants Committee Chair and a board member of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, as Board Co-Chair of the Ujamaa Institute, as National Female Diversity Co-Chair for the Human Rights Campaign, and was appointed to the National League of Cities Human Development Committee.
Keisha Waites was first elected in 2012 to the Georgia House of Representatives where she represents portions of Atlanta, Hapeville, Clayton, and DeKalb counties. Waites is a member of the Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security and Children & Youth Committees. Outside of her work in the state house, Waites works as a contract intergovernmental affairs officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with members of Congress during domestic and international incidents including Hurricanes Sandy, Ike, and Katrina, as well as the BP oil spill and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
Since 2002, the David Bohnett Foundation in partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute has sent a select group of LGBTQ fellows to participate in the summer program – these three graduates are part of the June class and four others will go through the program in July. The intensive, three-week session offers a balance of traditional and hands-on learning experiences to help public officials meet the changing needs of their communities. Some of the county’s top gay and lesbian political figures are among the list of distinguished alumni, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker and New York state Sen. Tom Duane (D-Manhattan).
Photograph of the June 2014 Bohnett LGBTQ Leadership Fellows