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Guest Speakers

Kristin Beck

Kristin BeckKristin Beck is former United States Navy SEAL who gained public attention in 2013 when she came out as a trans woman. She published her memoir in June 2013, Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL's Journey to Coming out Transgender detailing her experiences. Beck served in the U.S. Navy for twenty years and is the first openly transgender former U.S. Navy SEAL. The Atlantic Wire, Salon, and Huffington Post have speculated that Beck's story may lead the Department of Defense to revisit its policies against transgender people openly serving in the U.S. military. She is currently running for Congress, U.S. House of Representatives, in Maryland's 5th Congressional District.

Tituss Burgess

Tituss Burgess
Photo by Luke Fontana
Tituss Burgess was introduced to television audiences in Tina Fey's Emmy-winning NBC series 30 Rock. Burgess played "D’Fwan," Sherri Shepherd's character's hairdresser and cohort, and became a fan-favorite in the series' fifth and sixth seasons. Burgess has re-teamed with Fey for her follow-up comedy series, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Burgess stars as ‘Titus Andremedon,’ a character Fey designed specifically for Burgess. Co-created by Robert Carlock ("Saturday Night Live," "30 Rock"), the series also stars Ellie Kemper, Jane Krakowski and Carol Kane. Season 1 launched on Netflix on March 6, 2015 to critical acclaim and Season 2 will begin production in New York in fall 2015.
For his scene-stealing performance on the series, Burgess received the Best Actor award at the 2015 Webby Awards and was nominated for a 2015 Critics’ Choice TV Award in the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series category.
Burgess' other television credits include "A Gifted Man,” "Blue Bloods” and “Royal Pains.”  A stage veteran, Burgess made his Broadway debut in 2005 as ‘Eddie’ in Good Vibrations. Since, he has introduced memorable roles in the original Broadway casts of Jersey Boys as 'Hal Miller' and The Little Mermaid as 'Sebastian the Crab,' as well as starred as 'Nicely-Nicely Johnson’ in the 2009 revival of Guys and Dolls. 
Burgess is also an acclaimed singer and songwriter, and has headlined at major symphonies and top cabaret venues throughout the world. His solo album “Comfortable," in which he wrote the music and lyrics for ten of the eleven songs, was released in 2012.  Burgess currently resides in New York City.

Gary Gates

Gary GatesGary J. Gates is a recognized expert on the demography of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) population. He co-authored The Gay and Lesbian Atlas and publishes extensively on the demographic, geographic, and economic characteristics of the LGBT population. Many national and international media outlets regularly feature his work. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Heinz College of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University along with a Master of Divinity degree from St. Vincent College and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.

Casey Oakes

Casey OakesAs Director on the Corporate Relations team, Casey works with NGLCC's corporate partners to leverage their partnership, maximize their return on investment, and access potential suppliers in the LGBT small business community. Prior to joining the NGLCC, Casey worked as a constituent advocate for United States Senator Frank R. Lautenberg. In this role, Casey served as the senator’s principle liaison to the southern New Jersey business community, tracking relevant news and legislation, conducting outreach, and developing relationships with key stakeholders. In addition, Casey advised the senator on LGBT, immigration, and transportation issues. Casey has also worked in senior management positions for Sylvan Learning and Six Flags. Casey was raised in central New Jersey and received a BA in Political Science from the American University in 2009.


Donna Rose

Donna RoseA prolific writer and speaker on the issues of Trans Lives, Donna Rose’s 2003 memoir, Wrapped In Blue: A Journey of Discovery, remains one of the most open and honest accounts of the upheavals involved in coming to terms with the mind/body/spirit dissonance at the heart of being “transgender”. It is a universally human story of self-discovery, the power of the human spirit, and the search for personal peace.


Jessica Shortall

JJessica Shortallessica Shortall is Managing Director of Texas Competes, an organization that focuses on creating workplace equality within Texas for the LGBTQ community. She has extensive experience in the non-profit world from being Director of Giving at Tom's Shoes to promoting the importance of breast feeding in child and maternal health with her book "Work, Pump, Repeat". She is a devoted ally to the LGBTQ community.


Brian Sims

Brian SimsBrian Sims is State Representative Brian Sims represents Center City Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives’ 182nd legislative district. Elected in 2012 after unseating a 28-year incumbent, Sims became the first openly gay member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly. A staunch advocate for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) civil rights, Sims has been credited with successfully lobbying U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-Pa.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) to publicly support marriage equality and the LGBT-inclusive Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), respectively. Sims continues to be a leading advocate for LGBT and women’s rights in the General Assembly while garnering wide attention for his commitment to bipartisanship and collaboration between the Commonwealth’s Democratic and Republican parties.

Sheriff Lupe Valdez

Sheriff Lupe ValdezSheriff Lupe Valdez is serving her third term for the citizens of Dallas County. She took the rank of the highest ranking law enforcement officer in the county on January 1, 2005. Sheriff Valdez is the only Lesbian, Hispanic female sheriff in the United States and only one of four female sheriffs in Texas. As sheriff, she continues to work diligently on improvements within the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department. Some of the department’s accomplishments since her election include: The hiring of 400 new detention service officers and the expansion of the freeway management patrol system which covers over 78 miles of in-county highways, the construction of the South Tower Jail Facility, one of the largest direct supervision facilities in the country with the capacity to house 2,304 inmates, the current construction of a 300 bed medical facility within the Lew Sterrett Justice Center, and improvements to the quality of overall healthcare for mentally ill inmates.


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