Victory Institute has selected 10 outstanding LGBTQ public officials from across the U.S. for the prestigious Bohnett Leaders Fellowship, a program that includes an intensive, three-week leadership development program at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
The fellowship, a collaboration with The David Bohnett Foundation, has provided local- and state-level LGBTQ officials the opportunity to hone their skills and network with hundreds of other LGBTQ leaders through the Bohnett Fellowship alumni network since 2002. Past Bohnett fellows include U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, former Houston mayor Annise Parker and former Atlanta city council president Cathy Woolard.
As participants in the Bohnett Leaders Fellowship, the following 10 LGBTQ officials will attend Harvard Kennedy School’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program during sessions either in June or July.
El Camino Health Care District Board — Berkeley, California
Dennis Chiu is a graduate of the 2012 Victory Institute Campaign & Candidates Training. He is an elected official in California on the El Camino Healthcare District board, where he has served for the past 5 years overseeing the El Camino Hospital. For his work, he was named the 2016 Association of California Healthcare Districts Trustee of the Year. Professionally, Dennis is an attorney, legislative consultant, and government relations specialist. He has practiced law for 20 years in civil litigation, M&A, and general corporate law in law firms and as in-house counsel. In government, Dennis worked for the California legislature for 4 years, much of the time for the current chair of the LGBT Caucus, Assemblymember Evan Low. Dennis currently works for The Doctors Company.
Dennis has been a community leader for over 20 years. Dennis has served in the following volunteer capacities: vice president of BAYMEC which is the largest LGBTQI political action committee in Silicon Valley; co-founder and president of the Silicon Valley Asian Pacific American Democratic Club; chair of the Santa Clara County Planning Commission; treasurer for the Santa Clara County Democratic Party; vice chair of the California Democratic Party API Caucus; and chair of the Sunnyvale Housing and Human Services Commission. During the Prop 8 legal fight in California, Dennis represented four amicus curiae in a brief to the California Supreme Court arguing the unconstitutionality of the law barring same-sex marriage. Dennis earned a BA from UCLA, and a JD from Santa Clara University School of Law.
State Senator — Massachusetts State Senate
Julian Cyr, a lifelong resident of Cape Cod, is the State Senator for the Cape and Islands district. Raised in his family’s small business, Senator Cyr has built a reputation for effectively advocating for issues important to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.
Senator Cyr is Chairman of the Joint Committee on Community Development and Small Business and also serves as Vice Chair for two committees: the Joint Committee for Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development and the Joint Committee for Elder Affairs. Senator Cyr sits four additional legislative committees, including: the Joint Committee for Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities; the Joint Committee for Public Health; the Joint Committee for Housing; and the Joint Committee for Municipalities and Regional Government.
Prior to his election, Senator Cyr served as director of policy and regulatory affairs for environmental health at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Previously, under Governor Deval Patrick, he worked closely with members of the Massachusetts Legislature as deputy director for government affairs at the Department of Public Health. Since 2011, the Senator has also served on the Massachusetts Commission on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth, including a highly productive tenure as chair in 2013 and 2014.
Prior to working in state government, Senator Cyr led grassroots organizing on the Cape & Islands for Governor Deval Patrick’s and President Barack Obama’s successful re-election campaigns. He has also worked as a harm-reduction counselor at the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod and he served on the board of directors of Health Imperatives, a nonprofit health and human services agency that provides services to thousands of families and individuals on Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
Senator Cyr interned at the White House, contributing to green jobs policy and energy efficiency in the Obama Administration at the Council on Environmental Quality. He has also worked for the William J. Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Global Initiative, where he cultivated commitments from universities and NGOs. Senator Cyr graduated with a degree in public policy and community health from New York University, where he also led undergraduate student government.
Assembly Member — Colorado House of Representatives
Representative Leslie Herod represents House District 8 – Northeast Denver, to the State House of Representatives. Capturing over 38,000 votes in 2016, Representative Herod received the highest number of votes for any state house candidate running in a contested race. Representative Herod is the first African American LGBT candidate elected to the State Legislature. A graduate from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She served as President of the Student Union’s Legislative Council where she managed a $36 million dollar budget and made it her mission to create a campus climate that was inclusive of all students regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, gender or ability.
Representative Herod’s extensive experience in social services, criminal justice, mental health, and anti-poverty issues has led her to be at the forefront of setting progressive policy and passing many pieces of legislation in her freshman year to the Governor’s desk. She currently serves on the House committees of Judiciary, Finance and Legal Services. In her first term, she has focused her legislative efforts on access to reproductive health care, homeless youth, criminal justice reform, immigration rights and supporting Colorado entrepreneurs.
Representative Herod has served on multiple community boards and commissions, including serving as gubernatorial appointee to the state’s Judicial Performance Commission and as a mayoral appointee to Denver’s Cultural Affairs Commission. Additionally, Representative Herod has served on the Board of Directors for Urban Peak, Colorado’s leading homeless youth service agency. She is also a co-founder of New Era Colorado, the state’s leading organization focused on the engagement of young people in our community and served as President of Colorado Black Women for Political Action.
City Council — St. Petersburg, Florida
Professional: Education played such a role in Steve’s life that in October, 2005 he felt compelled to help others obtain the same leg up in life by working with some of our neediest students in the Pinellas County School System. Steve is currently a School Social Worker in addition to his council duties.
Community: Current and past affiliations include: Leadership St. Pete Class of 2009; Greater Pinellas Point Civic Association; Childs Park Youth Initiative Council (CPYIC); Board Member & Past Chair, Pinellas Youth Pride (PYP); Member, Pinellas Classroom Teachers Association (PCTA); Member, National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA); Member, Florida Recreation and Parks Association (FRPA); Member, National Association of Social Workers (NASW); Member, Florida Association of School Social Workers (FASSW); Member, Pinellas County Arts Council (ACE Committee); Member, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Education and Awards: BA in Human Development from Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, Florida – 1995. MSW from the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2005.
Personal: Steve was born at Mound Park Hospital, now known as Bayfront Medical Center, in 1966, and has lived in St. Petersburg for most of his life. He attended Childs Park Elementary School and graduated from Gibbs High School in 1984. Steve lives in the Greater Pinellas Point neighborhood, where he has owned a home since 1999. He loves taking his dogs Harvey and Hedwig to Lake Vista Dog Park and Fort Desoto Dog Beach.
City Clerk — Traverse City, Michigan
Benjamin Marentette, 36, has served as City Clerk for the City of Traverse City, Michigan, since the confirmation of his appointment in September 2011. Prior to September 2011, Benjamin served as Deputy City Clerk and for three years, concurrently served as Executive Director for a multi-jurisdictional recreational authority. In Benjamin’s role as City Clerk, he essentially serves as Chief Operations Officer of a municipal corporation with approximately $250 million in assets and an annual cash flow of $125 million. Mr. Marentette is responsible for a broad range of municipal management responsibilities, including areas such as: legislative administration, risk management, licensing, public communications, financial oversight and elections. Benjamin holds a Master of Business Administration from Lawrence Technological University and a Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Development from Spring Arbor University. He regularly consults with foundations and non-profits, assisting them with strategic decisions. For 10 years in a row, he has been selected as one of the most 40 influential people under 40 in the region, and in 2017, was selected by his peers from across the State of Michigan as City Clerk of the Year. Benjamin volunteers in a number of areas, including for Michigan State University’s College of Medicine by working with third-year medical students to develop their communications skills to ensure solid connectedness with the patient, resulting in a better medical outcome. Benjamin and his husband Matt Turner, are very active – and love running and strength training; and he and Matt can regularly be found smiling while road cycling, mountain biking, sailing, kayaking and skiing. Both Benjamin and Matt cherish their time together. They love conversation and delicious food and regularly whip up tasty eats of their own.
State Senator — Colorado State Senate
Born and raised in Commerce City, Dominick grew up going to public schools where he made valedictorian while working afternoons at the local Dairy Queen. Through scholarships and part-time jobs, Dominick attended Georgetown University and graduated with a degree in American Government. Dominick’s commitment to using his education to benefit his community led to his election to the city council in Commerce City at the age of 24.
Dominick is committed to making sure hunger is not a learning disability in Colorado. He has successfully passed bills to require universal breakfast in all low-income schools and to help families pay for the cost of providing school meals for their children.
Dominick was elected to the Colorado Senate in 2016. He previously served in the Colorado House of Representatives for two terms. He is a member of the Joint Budget Committee, a six member committee charged with crafting the state budget each year.
Police and Fire Pension Commissioner — Los Angeles, California
Brian Pendleton is a Los Angeles based philanthropist, activist and entrepreneur. As founder and board member of CauseForce, Pendleton used his personal experience, entrepreneurial vision and motivating style to lead a workforce of over 150 employees deploying programs that raised over $800 million for life-saving research and care for premier institutes around the world. Adding his other professional efforts, Pendleton has raised over 1 billion dollars for charity. In 2013, he sold his company and now volunteers his time mentoring, supporting and advising individuals and organizations. In 2017, Pendleton created #ResistMarch. An LGBTQ + Allies march for human rights that replaced the annual LA Pride Parade.
Privately, Pendleton spends his time working in the community and supporting charities. He works to help communities gain access to academic facilities, scholarship programs and receive lifesaving medical support.
City Council — Vancouver, Washington
Ty Stober was elected Councilmember for the City of Vancouver in 2015. With 175,000 residents, Vancouver is the second largest city in the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro MSA. Stober is a metro area native with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Puget Sound and an MBA from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His professional career includes sales, marketing, operations and program management positions in the wireless, telecom, messaging, and energy efficiency industries. He is motivated by connecting people and ideas to identify new opportunities. Leveraging the city’s history, Stober is driven to make Vancouver more accessible and engaging for its diverse population as it transitions from suburban to urban. On Council he focuses on affordable housing and homelessness, transportation, and accessibility of the built environment. Ty chaired Equal Rights Washington during the state’s successful Freedom to Marry campaign, was a founding member of Equality Southwest Washington, and serves on the Governing Board of Daybreak Youth Services, an organization on the forefront of helping teens overcome addiction and mental health issues. He is an instrument rated private pilot and he and his husband travel frequently to enjoy foreign culture, food and wine.
Senior Program Officer for Health at California Community Foundation — Los Angeles, California
Rosemary Veniegas currently serves as Senior Program Officer for Health at the California Community Foundation (CCF). She is a 2017 recipient of the Victory Institute Bohnett Leaders Fellowship. CCF is the third oldest community foundation in the U.S., after Cleveland Community Foundation and Chicago Community Trust, with a mission to lead positive systemic change that strengthens Los Angeles (LA) County in the areas of health, education, housing, and immigrant integration. She executes three core strategies to improve health in LA: 1) address the root causes of poor health; 2) strengthen civic engagement, policy and advocacy in health promotion, disease prevention and health equity; and 3) advance quality integrated prevention and care for vulnerable communities. In 2015, Dr. Veniegas was appointed by LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis, who is a former U.S. Secretary of Labor, to the County Commission on Hospitals and Healthcare Delivery. The commission advises the head of the county health agency and conducts annual reviews of four county hospitals, jail health services, and 18 ambulatory care sites that serve 670,000 unique patients, employs 19,000 staff, and has an annual operating budget of $4 billion. Previously, Dr. Veniegas was an implementation scientist and researcher in academic departments of family medicine, obstetrics and gynecology, psychology, and psychiatry. Her research areas included prevention, care, and treatment for HIV/AIDS, substance use, and mental health. She received her Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Assembly Member — Wisconsin State Assembly
Representative JoCasta Zamarripa was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She is a graduate of St. Joan Antida High School and holds a BFA from UW-Milwaukee, 2005. Prior to her candidacy for the 8th Assembly District, Representative Zamarripa worked as a community outreach coordinator for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. She was also active in the 9 to 5 National Association of Working Women, served as board secretary for 9 to 5 Milwaukee, and was a board member for Equality Wisconsin (formerly Center Advocates).
In November of 2010, JoCasta Zamarripa made history by becoming the first Latina to be elected to the Wisconsin Legislature. In 2012, while running for her first re-election campaign, Zamarripa made the decision to come out publicly as a bisexual woman. She is one of four openly LGBT members of the Wisconsin Legislature. She was re-elected to her fourth term in November of 2016.
As a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Representative Zamarripa serves on the following Assembly committees: Committee on State Affairs (Ranking Democrat), Committee on Campaigns and Election, Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Committee on Small Business Development, and Committee on Health.
In addition to these legislative duties, Representative Zamarripa also serves on the Governor’s Council on Migrant Labor and is a member of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO).