June is Pride Month. Pride Month commemorates the ongoing pursuit of equal justice for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community and celebrates the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ individuals. At the San Diego Workforce Partnership, we’re celebrating by highlighting a few community members who are also champions of workforce development. This article is curated from various online sources and is in no way an exhaustive list. Check out each link to learn more about the champions.
Senator Toni G. Atkins has a long history of serving San Diegans at the city and state level. In 2016, Atkins was elected to represent the 39th District in the state Senate. In 2018, she was elected to be the next Senate President pro Tempore, becoming the first woman and the first openly LGBTQ person to lead the Legislature’s upper house. She has been an integral advocate of workforce development for San Diego and beyond, including supporting foundational job experiences. Learn about her first job here.
Carlos O. Cortez, Ph.D., serves as the president of San Diego Continuing Education and has been named the next chancellor of the San Diego Community College District. His commitment to social justice drives his passion for urban education reform. Cortez serves on several regional and national nonprofit boards, including the Trevor Project, the Jackie Robinson YMCA and the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship. He is also a former Workforce Partnership Workforce Development Board member.
Caroline (Cara) Dessert, Esq. is the Chief Executive Officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center. Prior to being named CEO, she served as the organization’s chief development and community engagement officer and as the executive director of Immigration Equality. A queer Latina, Dessert is an attorney and nonprofit executive with 15 years experience in social justice leadership.
After many years of public service, Todd Gloria was sworn in as the 37th Mayor of the City of San Diego. He is the first person-of-color and the first LGBTQ person to ever be elected the city’s mayor. A long time supporter of workforce development in San Diego, in his first six months as mayor, he has highlighted the importance of it through his Back to Work SD plan and budget distributions.
Robert Gleason has been with Evans Hotels for more than 30 years and currently serves as President and Chief Executive Officer. A long-time San Diegan, Robert has been an activist for the arts, economic development, electoral politics and LGBT civil rights. He’s served in many civic leadership positions, including serving on the Board of the California Travel and Tourism Commission. He has also worked alongside the Workforce Partnership to advocate for stable scheduling as a means of job quality.
Jen LaBarbera currently serves as the Education & Advocacy Manager at San Diego Pride, where they manage the organization’s community partnerships, education and advocacy programs, civic engagement and international diplomacy work. In addition to their role at Pride, Jen currently serves as the Secretary of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) San Diego chapter’s Board of Directors and as a District Vice President for the U.S. Association of Prides.
Terra Lawson-Remer is currently serving as County Supervisor for District 3. Before being elected in 2020, she served as an economist with the United Nations and World Bank and worked around the world to create jobs, restart businesses, and generate economic activity after a crisis. Two of her central focuses are affordable childcare and addressing the affordable housing crisis.
Mark Stuart is a fundraising and community building professional with nearly 30 years of experience. Mark is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The San Diego Foundation. The San Diego Foundation inspires enduring philanthropy and enables community solutions to improve the quality of life in our region and has always been a champion of workforce development efforts, funding things like tackling the childcare crisis, supporting restaurants taking the high road to profitability and helping build generational wealth for Black San Diegans.
Assemblymember Ward was elected in 2020 to serve the 78th Assembly District. Prior to his service in the Assembly, he served on the San Diego City Council, focusing his efforts on housing, homelessness, economic development, and the environment. He has also served on the San Diego Community College District’s Citizens Oversight Committee, and is serving as a board member of the San Diego Human Dignity Foundation and San Diego LGBT Center. Additionally, he has also been an invaluable advocate for accessible and affordable childcare in San Diego.
Jeremy Wilson serves as the President of The San Diego Equality Business Association, the second oldest LGBTQIA+ Chamber of Commerce in the Nation. The San Diego Equality Business Association promotes LGBTQ IA+ influence through business ownership, workforce equality and active consumerism, creating prosperity to support equality, diversity and inclusion.