Utah Pride Festival announces honorees

This year, the Utah Pride Festival celebrates 30 years of presenting the prestigious Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service Award. Since establishing the Utah Pride Awards in 1987, four additional awards have been added. Awards are given to community members who have shown commitment to improve and enhance the LGBTQ+ community. The recipients are selected by past honorees as well as community members as a whole. Please join us this year for a SPECTACULAR event to honor the following award recipients:

Dr. Kristen Ries Community Service Award ~ Todd Bennett

This award recognizes outstanding service to the greater LGBTQ+ community in Utah and is given to individual(s) who are dedicated to continuing that legacy of service.

From the Utah Pride Festival: “Todd Bennett has been extremely generous, with both his money and his time, serving the LGBTQ+ community for over two decades. He organized the Wasatch Mountain Bears (now Utah Bears, Inc.), and has been active since that inception in 1996. Prior to that, he was a volunteer and group facilitator for the GLCCU/Stonewall Community Center in Salt Lake City. Todd has served both as a board member of the Utah Pride Center for four years, and as Entertainment Director for the Pride Festival. In the early 2000s, he became more politically active. Todd is a former board chair of the Utah Stonewall Democrats, where he worked for equal rights for Utah’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities and their families.”

Pete Suazo Political Action Award ~ Rep. Angela Romero

This award is presented to an elected Utah official (past or present) who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community of Utah through legislation, policy and/or declaration.

From the Utah Pride Festival: “Rep. Angela Romero has always had a passion to serve. In 2012, she won election to represent House District 26 at the Utah Legislature. Working with local government, Angela oversees community programs and initiatives in the Division of Youth and Family Programs, including supervising the YouthCity Government Program.  At the state legislature, she champions for issues including victim’s rights, preventing sexual assault and domestic violence, and promotes clean energy initiatives that will provide Utah a sustainable and stable future. In addition to her professional career and legislative duties, Angela currently chairs the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislator’s Education Task Force and serves on the Latina Legislative Initiative Committee, Utah’s Rape Kit Processing Work Group, Friends for Sight Board of Directors, Salt Lake Acting Company Board of Directors and is the National Foundation for Women Legislator’s Utah State Director. Rep. Romero also received the 2015 YWCA Public Official of the Year Award for her work on sexual violence, immigration, economic and environmental justice issues.

Lifetime Achievement Award ~ Susan Marquardt

The Lifetime achievement award recognizes an exceptional individual who has dedicated their lifetime to supporting and advocating in our greater community.

From the Utah Pride Festival: “Susan Marqurdt’s volunteer service is legendary, as is she. From the early days of the AIDs crisis, Sue was a weekly volunteer in delivering food to homebound patients. When her daughter came out in the 1980s, Sue quickly organized a group at her Presbyterian Church to study LGBT issues and to advocate for the ordination of LGBT clergy. She has probably walked in more Pride parades than any other straight ally. In her career, Sue used her MSW from the U of U to work for many years as Associate Director of Youth Corrections and then Services for People with Disabilities. Sue has served as board president of the Utah ACLU, the Salt Lake Rape Crisis Center, the Utah Chapter of the American Association on Mental Retardation and Ten Thousand Villages. Currently, at the young age of 88, she volunteers at the Road Home, the St. Vincent de Paul Soup kitchen, the Care Fair, and the Women Helping Women clothing program.”

Breaking Barriers Award ~ Misty Snow

Breaking Barriers award recognizes an individual who has helped to improve understanding and communication between people who have different opinions and cultures.

From the Utah Pride Festival: “Misty K. Snow is one of the leaders of her generation. Misty ran for US Senate against incumbent Senator Mike Lee in the November 2016 General Election. She made HISTORY just by running.  Although she lost the General Election, she has won the hearts of so many and she was awarded the “Best Trailblazing Candidate” by City Weekly, and the “Person of the Year Award by QSaltLake. She is the first transgender woman to run as a nominee for US Senate.  She is the first woman to run in Utah history.  She continues to be an inspiration to thousands of people around the World.  Misty has been asked to travel across the United States to be a motivational speaker since the Election.  She will continue to be a voice and role model.  Misty K. Snow represents the future of both our state and our nation, and is set to become one of the leaders of her generation.”

Local Icon Award ~ Luis Lopez 

Local Icon Award to honor and celebrate individuals who have and will continue to shape the LGBTQ+ communities in Utah.

From the Utah Pride Festival: “Luis, who describes themselves as loud and campy, adores both their dog Rosie, a ‘warrior princess,’ and Janelle Monae. They’re currently a justice studies student working towards a future career as a professor, and is passionate about finding solutions to and understand the world’s biggest social problems. This passion, as well as their values of restorative justice, humor, and optimism clearly shine through in their work within the community, ranging from being an adult advisor at Salt Lake Peer Court to working with The Utah Museum of Contemporary Art on this year’s Out Loud program to participating tin the Utah Pride Youth Activity Center’s Queer Youth Activist Collective.”

The awards will be distributed at the second annual Pride Spectacular, Wednesday, May 31st at Marriott City Creek. Tickets for the fundraising dinner are here.

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