Join us on September 15th in Cincinnati for libations, plentiful hors d’oeuvres, community and connection. 2022 has shown us that our fight is ongoing. It’s also proven that we aren’t going anywhere.
Learn more about this years’ distinguished honorees, esteemed guests of honor and sponsors supporting legal and lived equality in Ohio.
Announcing 2022 Honorees
Allies, those outside of the LGBTQ+ community who support, defend, sustain, partner with, and champion the work towards legal and lived equality, are a cherished part of Equality Ohio, and of our entire community.
Simultaneously, we recognize that the work of LGBTQ+ community members––our Advocates––brings visibility, awareness and representation for every one of us in across the rainbow spectrum in Ohio.
Read more about your 2022 distinguished honorees below.
Stanford Steve Arrington (he/him) began his community service as a young African American, openly HIV+ Gay man in Massillon, Ohio, later attending college at Bowling Green state University. Steve now serves as the Executive Director with the Akron AIDS Collaborative. He is the President for The Rubin Lancaster & Maryann Lancaster Thompson Family Foundation, one of America’s largest Black Family Foundations. Mr. Arrington is the co-founder of the Akron AIDS Collaborative which is housed in the newly open Bayard Rustin LGBTQ Resource Center,—also established by Mr. Arrington in Partnership with First Grace United Church of Christ in Akron Ohio.
Mr. Arrington has spent 24 years in commitment, and is a prime example of a grassroots individual who has truly dictated his time in advocating culturally responsive programs for diverse families. Mr. Arrington works to empower a sense of unity by demonstrating the ability to build safer communities through various activities and programs, helping to revitalize area neighborhoods and encouraging everyone who can to register and vote. Mr. Arrington has spearheaded community service activities that have helped participants shape their character, increase self-confidence, develop civic responsibility, eliminate socio economic barriers, and build bridges of unity and understanding across race, gender and sexuality.
Heather Britt (she/her) grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio where she began her dance training at The School for Creative and Performing Arts. After performing professionally in San Francisco, Heather returned to her hometown to perform, choreograph, and teach.
Heather’s choreographic reach spans from work for professional ballet companies to commercial dance choreography. She has had the opportunity to choreograph contemporary ballet works for multiple organizations including Cincinnati Ballet, Kansas City Dance Festival, and Nashville Ballet, theatrical productions for Playhouse in The Park, commercial choreography for “Zone Perfect Bars” and “Secret Deodorant” and concert choreography for Fleetwood Mac.
Heather is also the Owner and Artistic Director of DANCEFIX, a wildly popular dance workout class offered at Cincinnati Ballet, DANCEFIX Blue Ash, and Nashville Ballet. Founded in 2014, the mission of DANCEFIX is to create health, happiness, and connection through dance while creating a safe and inclusive environment for expression regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, background, age, or dance ability. Students from DANCEFIX classes frequently participate in flash mobs and community events to support arts, cultural, and social causes.
The New York Times has recommended Heather’s classes for out-of-town visitors, Cincinnati’s CityBeat named DANCEFIX “the best damn dance workout” in the city, and Cincinnati Magazine named DANCEFIX the “best dance class for Exercise Junkies”. In 2011, The YWCA recognized Heather as a “Rising Star” and in 2015 she was named as “one to watch” in Cincinnati Magazine’s Future of Cincinnati edition. Heather was recognized by ArtsWave’s Power of Her in 2020 for her work in Cincinnati’s arts community and in 2022, The City of Cincinnati recognized Heather as a part of Women’s History Month for her decades of continuous leadership and for her work within the community and with organizations within the city.
Our DANCEFIX family is made up of many members of the LGBTQ+ community as well as of advocates and allies. Our goal when out in the community is to spread as much love and positive energy as possible through dance to encourage self expression and to celebrate and our differences.
LGBTQ+ events that DANCEFIX has been a part of:
- Cincinnati Pride Festival 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 (virtual), 2022
- HRC Cincinnati: 2020
- Tea dances: 2018, 2019
- P&G Gable conference: 2018, 2019, 2020
- Kroger and Cincinnati Magazine, Come Outside for Pride: 2020, 2021, 2022
- Rainbow Shabbat 2022
- Caracole fundraiser 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
- Pride Second Sundays on Main: 2016, 2017, 2018
- Pride movie night Washington Park: 2021
Jane Daroff (she/ her) is a retired Licensed Independent Social Worker and counselor at Case Western Reserve University, where she served as Liaison to the School of Medicine. Daroff also served as co-chair to the Provost’s Committee for LGBT Experience at Case Western, as well as Ex-officio member of Community Advisory Board for the Cleveland LGBT Center.
In 1985 Jane co-founded Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) of Greater Cleveland, also serving as Consultant to the Cleveland Gay Hotline from 1985-2000. In 1991 she became sponsor for LGBT 2nd Look Weekends. From 2003-2007 Jane served on the Board of Governors for Human Rights Campaign (HRC) National, and from 2008-2012 Daroff served on the Board of Directors.
She received “Mom of the Month” in Instinct Magazine, September 2006, and in 2008 received the Cleveland HRC Steering Committee Leadership Award. In 2019 she was recognized in Eight Over 80 list for Crain’s Cleveland Business, and in 2021 she received the CWRU Newton D. Baker Distinguished Service Award.
Jane is married with three children and six grandchildren. She earned her M.S.S.A from the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences (MSASS) at Case Western Reserve University in 1985, and subsequently received her Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW-S) from the Ohio Counselor and Social Worker Board, as well as the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), Diplomate in Clinical Social Work (DCSW) and Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW).
Khris Goins (he/him) is a father, husband, entrepreneur, United States Army veteran, and now advocate. In the midst of the 2020 pandemic, founded the Men-Of-Morphisus Foundation also known as, Black Transmen of Ohio, or BTMOhio. BTMOhio mission is to increase the visibility and equity of the black transmasculine individual through community building, mentorship, and providing access to resources in the state of Ohio. BTMOhio provides a bi-weekly support group for transmen of color, complimentary gender affirming after surgery kits, emergency HRT supplies and at-home hair clippers.
Khris has a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University and a Culinary Arts degree from Columbus Culinary Institute. There is no doubt that Khris is not afraid to jump into the deep end, as the first time he ever flew on a plane, he was the pilot! So, accepting this divergent challenge to help the BIPOC transmasculine community is what he was born to do, it is his passion.
Khris has been recognized in The Columbus Dispatch for founding one of Ohio’s only organization dedicated to transmen and masculine-presenting nonbinary people of color. Also, TransOhio and Margie’s Hope, a Northeast Ohio nonprofit group, presented him with the Living Heritage Award for his work as president of Black Transmen of Ohio at Cleveland’s Transgender Day of Visibility celebration in 2022.
Both born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Khris met his wife on the original social network, MySpace and they have been married for eight years. They have two beautiful sons, and they care for their niece. When not hanging out with his wife and kids or out in the community, Khris enjoys video games, cycling, bowling and spending time with his three dogs, Shade, Royce, and Majesty Royale.
Matthew W. Green Jr. (he/him) is an Associate Professor of Law at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, where he has been a member of the faculty for 14 years. Professor Green teaches contracts, employment law and employment discrimination. Professor Green also has developed a seminar focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity workplace discrimination and authored a book chapter for e-Langdell Press on that topic.
In 2019, Professor Green testified before the Ohio House of Representatives in support of the Ohio Fairness Act, which would amend and modernize the Ohio Civil Rights Act to protect against discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
Professor Green also co-authored an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit on behalf of Equality Ohio in R.G. & G.R. Funeral Homes v. EEOC. The brief, which the court cited, was filed in support of a transgender plaintiff, Aimee Stephens. Aimee’s case was one of the three consolidated cases the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the landmark decision, Bostock v. Clayton County Ga.
Professor Green’s published work has appeared in the University of Kansas Law Review, the Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, the Journal of Gender Race and Justice, and the Hofstra Labor and Employment Law Journal.
Professor Green received his LL.M. from Columbia University School of Law where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar; his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law, magna cum laude; and his B.A. from the University of Maryland at College Park. Prior to joining the legal academy, Professor Green clerked on both the U.S. District Court for the District Maryland and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and worked for several years as a civil litigator.
Veralucia Mendoza (she/her/they/them) is a Queer, Afro-Indigenous migrant from the deserts of Peru. Vera is a community organizer with 14+ years of experience in grassroots projects focusing on disability rights, immigrant and racial justice, and LGBTQIA+ rights. Vera’s advocacy work has been highlighted on NPR, Democracy Now!, CNN, Splinter (formerly Fusion), and other regional and local media outlets.
She was the recipient of the prestigious 2020 Community Advocacy Award presented by ABLE, Inc., LAWO, and the Toledo Bar Association. They earned a Graduate Certificate in Financial Management from Cornell University’s SC Johnson College of Business, and has a background in Law & Social Thought from The University of Toledo.
Megan Mitchell (she/her) is an Emmy-Award winning anchor and reporter. Since 2016, she has anchored the #1 weekend morning news show with a dedicated audience. In 2022, Megan was selected to field-anchor the morning show from Los Angeles for 9 days during the Bengals’ historic Super Bowl run.
Megan is an LGBTQ+ influencer with 1.8 million followers and diversity speaker, sharing her story of living an authentic life. She was named Best TV Anchor and Best Journalist by the Best of Cincinnati Awards and received 3rd Place for Cincinnatian of the year. Megan was named a 2022 LGBTQ+ TikTok Trailblazer. She was also selected to be a 2022 Curve Award Fellow, given to female and non-binary journalists for their work covering LGBTQ+ issues.
In her first job out of college, Megan was the morning anchor in Bismarck, North Dakota. She was the first reporter to break the story of the Standing Rock Reservation’s opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which caused international uproar. In 2017, Megan’s work received first place out of every local news station in the country by the National Association of LGBTQ Journalists (NLGJA) for her documentary covering Two Spirit Native Americans. She received the award for Best TV News Reporter in the state from the North Dakota Broadcast Association and a dozen other local broadcast awards.
She grew up in Brookfield, CT and graduated from Emerson College in 2014 with a B.S. in Broadcast Journalism.
Jeanne Peters (she/her) is an outspoken advocate for LGBTQIA+ equality and inclusivity in the Mid-Ohio Valley. She is a founding member and Vice-President of Out MOV, a 501c4 non-profit serving Wood County, WV, and Washington County, OH. In this role, she has helped organize and coordinate two Pride in the Park LGBTQ+ community celebrations, as well as two Trans Day of Remembrance observances. She speaks to local faith communities, businesses, and other organizations on the reality of LGBTQ+ life in a conservative area.
Peters holds an undergraduate in Political Science from Agnes Scott College that she earned while advocating as a member of ACTUP Atlanta at the height of the AIDS crisis. She was named a 2020 Champion of Pride by The Advocate and appears in the documentary film Outspoken, a film about the fight for a non-discrimination ordinance in Parkersburg, WV. She is a Board member for the ACLU-WV and is a volunteer for their Appalachian Queer Youth Summit, a program that trains young queer West Virginia activists. Jeanne also volunteers for political campaigns for LGBTQ+ candidates and allies, believing that LGBTQ+ representation in all levels of government creates a better future for all members of a community. She is married to her partner of 28 years, Vienna City Council Member Kim Williams, the first openly LGBTQ+ person elected to office in Wood County, WV.
While building community in the Mid-Ohio Valley, Peters focuses on resources and events that serve LGBTQ+ residents of both WV and OH. She believes we are more connected by region and lived reality as LGBTQ+ people than divided by a river or state boundary.
Emily Spivack (she/her) is a senior associate in the firm’s Labor & Employment Group where her practice focuses on issues facing employers and public school districts.
Emily’s practice includes advising school clients in student discipline matters, contract and policy drafting, and employment questions. She regularly defends districts before the Ohio Civil Rights Commission and the US Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. She also has extensive experience with public records and public meetings questions, both under the Ohio Sunshine Laws and the federal Freedom of Information Act.
Emily’s practice also includes advising on special education matters, including answering day-to-day questions regarding services a district is obligated to provide, drafting IEP documents, responding to due process complaints and defending districts in federal court against claims brought by parents under federal and state special education laws.
In addition to her work with schools, Emily has experience litigating on behalf of employers in discrimination, harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination cases in state and federal court, as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also frequently conducts investigations on behalf of employers into complaints brought by employees under internal harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies.
Wolf Starr spent many years pursuing a diverse set of entrepreneurial ventures, and is now focused on connecting resources to meet needs within underrepresented entrepreneurial communities.
As the CEO of Atlas Wolf, co-founds funds to help empower and uplift industry outsiders to become the next generation of VC industry leaders. Wolf is currently the managing partner of the Pride Fund 1, Ohio Impact Fund, and the United Dream Fund.
2022 Special Guests of Honor
Judy and Dennis Shepard
In October 1998, Judy and Dennis Shepard lost their 21-year old son, Matthew, to a murder motivated by anti-gay hate. Matthew’s death moved many thousands of people around the world to attend vigils and rallies in his memory. Determined to prevent others from suffering their son’s fate, Judy and Dennis decided to turn their grief into action and established the Matthew Shepard Foundation to carry on Matthew’s legacy. The Foundation is dedicated to working toward the causes championed by Matthew during his life: social justice, diversity awareness & education, and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.
Guest of Honor
Judy Shepard is the founding president of the Matthew Shepard Foundation Board of Directors, and served as its first executive director as well, from 1999 to 2009. In her continuing role as board president, she travels across the nation speaking to audiences about what they can do as individuals and communities to make this world a more accepting place for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sex, gender identity and expression, or sexual orientation.
Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy also authored a 2009 memoir, “The Meaning of Matthew,” exploring the family’s journey through the prosecution of Matthew’s assailants, the ensuing media coverage, and their continuing work to advance civil rights. Originally trained as a teacher, Mrs. Shepard holds a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Secondary Education from the University of Wyoming where she later pursued some post-graduate studies. She and Dennis continue to make their home in Casper, Wyoming.
Guest of Honor
Dennis is the father of Matthew Shepard and has been an advocate for parents’ unconditional love for their LGBT children both during Matt’s life and, very publicly, since the hate-motivated murder in Laramie, Wyoming, which took Matt’s life at age 21. Born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, Dennis earned a degree in education from the University of Wyoming before marrying Judy in 1973 and settling in Casper, Wyoming, to raise their family.
An oil industry safety specialist, Dennis worked for more than 16 years in safety operations for Saudi Aramco in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, before retiring from that position in 2009. He has served on the Matthew Shepard Foundation board of directors since the organization’s inception, and currently speaks to audiences around the country, particularly to victims’ advocacy organizations and law enforcement audiences about his experiences and the importance of equal treatment of LGBT crime victims and their loved ones. He and Judy continue to live and work in Casper.
Thank You To Our Elected Officials for Equality:
Thank You To Our Host Committee
Anita Adams, Sandy Anderson & Lynn Readey, Herbert Asher, Susan Becker & Sue Ziegler,
JR Blackburn & Tom Schmitz, Jeremy Blake, William & Jessica Christ, Dabney Conwell & Deidre Jones,
Dr. Bob & Jane Daroff, Carly Deal, Amy Demlow, Amanda & Bryan Everitt, Paul Feeney & Chad Braun,
Holley Fowler Martens & Robert Martens. Ben Garcia & Scott Fabianek, Lynn Greer & Stevie Walton,
Tom Grote & Rick Neal, Marin Harbur & Kathleen Baril, Lisa & Tom Hunt, Betty Jacobs & Daphne Miller,
Rachael & Curtiss Jarvis, Sarah Kaye, Mary and Robert Lazarus, Jr., Gregg Levine & Howard Epstein,
Rick Lorentz, Joe & Nathan Matuszewski, Melissa McLaren, Brett Meyer, Pamela Miller,
Brad Myers & Steve Rowlands, Mary R. Stagaman, John Nosek & Leon Stevens, Jim Obergefell,
Kara Obergefell, Adam Pulskamp, Jerry Rhodes, Robin Richmond, Kellie Rubesne & Ann Zofchak,
Bethany Sanders, Matt Schlarb & George Cherfan, Barb Schwan & Alise Excell, Amy Smart & Barb Long,
Gretchen Snediker & Scott Jackson, Scott Thacker, Natalie Thomas & Brooke Cartus, Michelle Tomallo,
Gregg Videtic & Chris McCann, Joseph Wenger, Chad Williams & Kerby Ollendieck,
David Wittkowsky & James Anderson, Michael Wojtanowski & Matthew Arnold,
Herbert Zeman & Jeff Harwood
Ohio Allies & Advocates 2021 Gallery, Columbus Museum of Art
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