We are proud to announce LGBTQ+ Victory Institute’s 2023 class of David Bohnett Leaders Fellows. These seven inspiring LGBTQ+ political leaders were selected to attend a three-week, Executive Education program at the Harvard Kennedy School thanks to a scholarship provided by the David Bohnett Foundation.
This opportunity will provide these leaders with the tools necessary to take their activism and passion to the next level. Alumni of this program go on to serve in all levels of government across the country. Other alumni include California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins, LGBTQ+ Victory Institute and LGBTQ+ Victory Fund President & CEO and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, and Minneapolis City Council President Andrea Jenkins.
Below are the 2023 fellows. You can read more about the David Bohnett Leaders Fellowship here!
Liliana Bakhtiari, Atlanta City Councilmember
Liliana Bakhtiari was born and raised in Atlanta and is serving their first term as a member of the Atlanta City Council, representing the citizens of District 5. They are the first out queer Muslim elected official in the state of Georgia, and the first openly non-monogamous elected official in US history.
In their tenure on City Council, they have authored legislation providing access to legal counsel for individuals facing eviction, de-criminalizing abortion in the wake of the Dobbs decision, and expanding housing voucher requirements for city-funded projects. In 2021, Liliana was named “Person of the Year” by the Georgia Voice and in 2022 they were awarded the “Next Gen Leader of the Year Award” by Out Georgia.
Before their election, Liliana served as the Public Affairs Manager of Planned Parenthood Southeast; they lobbied for voting rights with ProGeorgia; they served as a consultant for Echo Market Research as they built out their Social Justice Division; and they collaborated with Partners for Home to establish a hotel program housing our at-risk unsheltered population during the COVID-19 pandemic. They have served on several boards including Lost-N-Found Youth, Victory Fund Campaign Board, PEDS, gloATL, Blue Neighbors Project, and Georgia Equality.
Carlos Guillermo Smith, Former Florida State Representative
Carlos Guillermo Smith made history as Florida’s first openly-LGBTQ Latino lawmaker with his election to the Florida House of Representatives in 2016, where he served three consecutive two-year terms. In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in his community, Carlos championed the needs of survivors and families and became a national leader on gun violence prevention. Last year, he led the charge against Florida’s dangerous ‘Don’t Say LGBTQ’ law and since leaving the legislature, has become a well-known opponent of the DeSantis administration. A graduate of the University of Central Florida, Carlos is a respected civil rights leader who has been recognized by organizations such as the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation, the Florida Alliance for Arts Education, Florida PTA, Hispanic Federation, the League of Women Voters of Florida, the LGBTQ+ Center Orlando, and the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce for his public service and advocacy. Orlando Magazine has named him as one of Orlando’s 50 Most Powerful People annually since 2018.
Carlos currently works for Equality Florida, serves on the board of directors for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, and lives in East Orlando with his husband, Jerick Mediavilla, an educator from Corozal, Puerto Rico. On April 8th, 2023, Carlos launched his campaign for Florida Senate, District 17.
Greta Neubauer, Wisconsin State Assembly Minority Leader
Greta Neubauer was born and raised in Racine, Wisconsin. She became involved in politics at a young age and co-founded a national youth climate organization while in college. Since being elected to represent Racine in the state Assembly in 2018, Neubauer has served on the powerful Joint Finance Committee, the Governor’s Climate Change Task Force, and the Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force. She was unanimously elected by her colleagues to serve as Minority Leader and took office in January 2022.
Tyler Titus, Former Erie School Board Member
Dr. Tyler Titus (they/them) is a Licensed Professional Counselor, small business owner, activist, trainer, and consultant.
They graduated from Mercyhurst in 2007 with their Bachelors in Marriage and Family Studies, from Edinboro University in 2014 with Masters in Community Counseling, and from the University of Southern California in 2020 with their Doctorate of Social Work.
Dr. Titus became the first openly elected transgender official in the State of Pennsylvania in November 2017. They are the founder and board chair of Compton’s Table, a local non-profit focused on serving queer youth. They were appointed to co-vice chair of the State’s first LGBT Commission of Affairs created by Governor Tom Wolf the summer of 2018 and again in 2020. Dr. Titus is currently running for Erie City Council.
Dr. Titus launched Compton’s Table, a local nonprofit, in 2021 to combat social isolation that led to increased suicidality among queer youth. They currently serve as the board President and look forward to building a stronger organizational presence in the region.
Mario Treto, Jr., Secretary of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation
Secretary Mario Treto, Jr. (He/Him/Él) was appointed by Illinois Governor JB Pritzker to serve in his cabinet as the head of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. In this role, Secretary Treto oversees the State of Illinois’ lead regulatory agency charged with strengthening consumer protections through licensing over 1.2 million professionals and regulating banking and financial services. Under his leadership, the agency has implemented diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives to advance all Illinoisans, updated and modernized professional regulatory frameworks, ensured the safety and soundness of financial institutions, and reduced barriers to licensure in Illinois.
As the proud son of Mexican immigrants, Mario was the first in his family to attend college. A nationally recognized lawyer and government official, Treto currently sits on many notable civic boards and committees. He recently served as the Board Chair of Howard Brown Health, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ+ organization. Mario has also received national accolades from various organizations, including the International Municipal Lawyers Association, the Hispanic National Bar Association, and the National LGBTQ+ Bar.
Treto earned his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Psychology from Washington University in St. Louis and his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law.
Nicole Bolden, City Clerk of Bloomington, Indiana
Nicole Bolden, the Bloomington City Clerk, has been actively involved in public and political service for over 20 years. Bolden received both her undergraduate and law degrees at Indiana University in Bloomington. She currently serves the Indiana Democratic Party as a Deputy Chair, is the President of the Monroe County Black Democratic Caucus, is the Co-Chair of the national organization, the Good Trouble Network, and regularly volunteers with several state and local organizations. In 2015, Bolden became the first Black woman elected to city-wide office and is the only Black LGBTQ+/SGL person to hold elected office in Indiana.
Born and raised in Iowa City, Bolden moved to Bloomington after graduating from high school. Here, she attended Indiana University and raised her two daughters. In 2009 Bolden was asked to take a position in the Office of the City Clerk, which “turned out to be one of the best things that could have ever happened in my life,” she says. She worked as a deputy city clerk for five years before running for clerk herself. In her role as Clerk, Bolden has continued to work for the betterment of her town and has been a fierce advocate for Black and Brown women in her community.
John Fredrickson, Nebraska State Senator
Senator John Fredrickson is a father, husband, mental health provider, and State Senator representing District 20 in the Nebraska Legislature. He is the first openly gay man ever elected to the Nebraska Legislature. He currently serves on the Transportation & Telecommunications Committee, Natural Resources Committee, and the State Council for Interstate Juvenile Supervision. His legislative priorities have included mental health policy, education, food insecurity, and human rights. He is a co-founder of the Don’t Legislate Hate PAC, which works to elect candidates committed to LGBTQ+ equality. Prior to his public service, Senator Fredrickson worked as a Clinical Social Worker in Private Practice and Adjunct Professor at Columbia University. His areas of expertise include emotion dysregulation, suicide prevention, and LGBTQ+ mental health. He lives with his husband and son in Omaha, Nebraska.