BY BTL STAFF
KALAMAZOO – West Michigan LGBT people and allies were recognized at the annual honoring of the REACH Awards. These individuals and groups were awarded for their continued advocacy work in furthering LGBT support and equality by the Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center (KGLRC) at the 2015 Winter Gala held Jan. 31.
Those honored at the event represent what the KGLRC considers the best of the best in the Kalamazoo area in the categories of retail, education, ally support, community, humanitarian and faith.
The Retail Award went to PNC Bank in recognition of their commitment and dedication to equality and LGBT rights as the company continues to extended benefits for employees’ domestic partners, for providing inclusion training, partnering with local and national LGBTQ organizations and for establishing the PNC Wealth Management’s national practice group which focuses on wealth planning for same-sex couples. PNC’s LGBT Employee Resource Group has more than 1,100 members across eight chapters, including 160 members in the Kalamazoo chapter. PNC was named “Best Place to Work for LGBT Equality” by the Human Rights Campaign again in 2015 and continues to show local LGBT support through reoccurring sponsorship of Kalamazoo Pride over the last five years.
The Jim Knox Humanitarian Award was presented to Amy Hunter who has dedicated her life to working tirelessly for the rights of trans people across the state. Hunter serves as President and Chair of Equality Michigan Pride PAC, Chair of the Kalamazoo Alliance for Equality PAC and holds a leadership position on the Board of Directors for the Victory Fund. During 2008 and 2009, she held the post of Director of Operations for the One Kalamazoo campaign, which fought to defend the Kalamazoo non-discrimination ordinance. Hunter is a previous Board of Directors member of the KGLRC, Kalamazoo Community Foundation Equality Fund and former Vice President of Equality Michigan Action Fund.
The 2014 Terry Kuseske Education Award was awarded to Maggie Adams, an administrator in Kalamazoo Public Schools. Maggie has gone above and beyond to ensure all students are empowered and continues to create safe spaces for LGBTQ students in her school and other schools in the district through a collaborative and innovative project called Empowering All. Adams has been in education for 32 years, supporting Kalamazoo Public Schools as a math teacher, counselor and administrator. She serves on the LGBT Equality Fund committee for Kalamazoo Community Foundation, as the Board President for Fire and as a Trustee for Unity Church.
The Ally Award recognized Megan Anderson for her efforts as an LGBTQ ally volunteering her time year after year to LGBTQ causes. Anderson advocates on behalf of LGBT lives and stands up in support for LGBT issues. 2015 marks the fifth year that Anderson has been a volunteer member of the Kalamazoo Pride steering committee, as well as the chair of the marketing committee for Pride. Anderson is also a founding member of the Western Michigan University Pride Alumni Network, where she currently serves in a leadership role. When she’s not writing emails, posting events on social media or attending committee meetings, Anderson enjoys her full-time role in marketing at Western Michigan University.
April Winsborrow was the recipient of the Community Award for her work leading the Kalamazoo Pride NA group at the KGLRC for several years. Her commitment has ensured that LGBTQ folks in need of an NA support group have a safe and inclusive space. Winsborrow plans to continue serving the Kalamazoo community through advocacy and leadership.
Ruth Moerdyk was awarded the Faith Award this year for recognition of her leadership and work in creating safe and affirming spaces through a faith lens. Moerdyk advocates for the LGBTQ community from the pulpit, in everyday life and as chair of the Faith Alliance and serves as the pastor of Christian Church-Disciples of Christ in Kalamazoo. During her time at Kalamazoo College, Moerdyk founded the first LGB student organization at Kalamazoo College and went on to provide leadership for the LGBTQ student organization at Chicago Theological Seminary.
For more than twenty years, the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center has sought to serve the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and allied community of southwest Michigan. For more information, visit http://www.kglrc.org.