When Michigan Democrats flipped both chambers of the Michigan House and won the governorship and attorney general roles in 2022, the party ran on a platform that included intentional LGBTQ+ advocacy. Gov. Whitmer and the legislature have stayed true to that promise in several ways, including the creation of the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ commission. On Nov. 30, the governor announced her first appointments to the commission, which will advise lawmakers on issues impacting the queer Michigan community.
In a news release, the governor’s office writes that the commission is an example of Michigan taking “another bold step towards inclusivity,” noting that the appointees are “pioneers and leaders in advocacy, activism and education in the LGBTQ+ community” who reflect the “socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political and geographic diversity” of the state.
Gov. Whitmer’s first appointments to the Michigan LGBTQ+ Commission include several members who will be familiar to Pride Source readers as well as a few up-and-coming leaders we’ll be keeping a close eye on:
- Brandon Shamoun, Assistant Dean of Students for Student Involvement, Activities and Organizations at Wayne State University. Shamoun is the chain of Stonewall Sports Detroit and co-chair of Queer Employee Organization.
- Dr. Renee McLaughlin, National Medical Director at CIGNA Healthcare. McLaughlin previously served as the founding member of the Chattanooga LGBT Chamber of Commerce and serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign.
- Lacey Mandoka, a Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal member who works at Elijah Elk Cultural Center as a leadership intern. Mandoka is a student at Central Michigan University.
- Audra Wilson, a Clinical Workflow Specialist at Great Lakes Bay Health Center. Wilson serves as a Great Lakes Bay Pride board member and as a facilitator for a local support group for underserved, at-risk minorities.
- Erin Knott, Executive Director at Equality Michigan. Knott is frequently at the center of legislative efforts related to LGBTQ+ issues across the state and nationally.
- Anthony Williams, Chief Executive Officer at LGBTQ-focused Corktown Health.
- Al Gray, an LLMSW at Suunta Integrative Health. Gray is a program coordinator for Trace Holistic Inc. in Marquette and a volunteer co-facilitator with the Upper Peninsula’s Stand with Trans teen support group.
- Diane Kreger, a psychotherapist with the Arbor Wellness Center.
- Angela Gabridge, Executive Director of MiGen - Michigan’s LGBTQ+ Elders Network.
- Kevin Nguyen, a graduate student at the University of Michigan. Nguyen serves as an intern with an Ann Arbor City Council member.
- Dr. Tonya Griffith, a clinical trauma therapist at Limitless Possibilities Counseling Services. Griffith is also a Special Services Program Manager at the Development Center in Detroit.
- Bishop Bonnie A. Perry, a Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. Perry is the co-founder and serves as co-chair for End Gun Violence in Michigan.
- Danielle (Dani) Woods, the LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer of the Detroit Police Department and the chairperson for the LGBTQ+ community council there.
“We are thrilled to learn of the diverse individuals who make up Michigan’s historic LGBTQ+ Commission, which includes necessary perspectives from young people and mental health expert voices,” said Gabby Doyle (she/her), Advocacy Campaign Manager at The Trevor Project, in the press release. “This group will play a critical role in ensuring the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ Michiganders at an equally critical time. Even as we end a record-breaking year for anti-LGBTQ policies across the country — and anticipate another challenging year ahead — we remain hopeful about the impact this commission will have toward creating a safe, supportive state for all who call Michigan home.”