Earlier this year, Governor Gretchen Whitmer made history by creating the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ Commission to ensure that Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community is represented at all levels of government, including its executive branch. We are proud to announce that our Executive Director, Angela Gabridge, has been appointed as part of the commission. This is incredibly exciting news, as MiGen and the interests of LGBTQ+ older adults will have a strong voice at this table.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 30, 2023
LANSING, Mich. — Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the following appointments to the LGBTQ+ Commission.
On June 11, 2023, through Executive Order 2023-5, Governor Whitmer made history by creating the LGBTQ+ Commission to ensure that Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community is represented at all levels of government, including its executive branch.
Elaborating on its rich history of championing equality, Michigan takes another bold step towards inclusivity today with the first-ever appointments to the newly established commission. Today’s appointees are pioneers and leaders in advocacy, activism, and education in the LGBTQ+ community. They, along with the structure of the commission, reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political, and geographic diversity of our great state.
“As we face a National State of Emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans, Michigan has been a beacon of hope for equality under Governor Whitmer’s leadership,” said Dakota Torolski, Michigan State Director, Human Rights Campaign. “From including explicit protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protecting youth from the harmful practice of ‘conversion therapy’ Michigan is leading by example. Today, implementing the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ commission is yet another stride toward making Michigan a more welcoming and prosperous place for all.”
“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. “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.”
“I am humbled and honored to serve as a voice for LGBTQ+ Michiganders in Michigan’s statewide LGBTQ+ Commission,” said Erin Knott, Executive Director, Equality Michigan. “This historic commission contains an incredibly diverse group of people, who’s collective experience will be crucial as we continue to advance LGBTQ+ rights in our state. I look forward to working with my fellow Commissioners to identify the needs of our community and ensure that our state continues to work towards LGBTQ+ equality and liberation. As we make Michigan more welcoming for LGBTQ+ people and our families, I am confident that more young people will choose to put down roots in this state that we all love.”
“The ACLU of Michigan applauds Governor Whitmer’s establishment of the LGBTQ+ Commission to address rights and inequalities facing Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community. Our state has made significant progress on LGBTQ+ civil rights through both policies and laws, but much work remains,” said Jay Kaplan, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Michigan’s LGBTQ+ Project. “We are seeing unprecedented attacks on LGBTQ+ youth through book bans, Pride flag removal, anti-trans bathroom policies, and the prohibition on preferred pronouns and LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculums. We believe that the Governor’s Commission will play an important role in combatting this backlash and proactively moving LGBTQ+ rights forward.
Brandon Shamoun, of Detroit, is the Assistant Dean of Students for Student Involvement, Activities and Organizations at Wayne State University. He is currently the chair of Stonewall Sports Detroit, an LGBTQ+ sports organization in metro Detroit, and the co-chair of Queer Employee Organization (QWSU). He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Wayne State University and Master of Education in higher education from Grand Valley State University. He is appointed to represent educators for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Dr. Renee McLaughlin, of Chatham, is the National Medical Director at CIGNA Healthcare. She 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. She holds a Bachelor of Science from Adrian College, a master’s degree of science in biology from Wayne State University, a degree in medicine from the University of Pittsburgh, and an LGBT Leadership certificate from Stanford University. McLaughlin also served as a former major of the United States reserve active duty. She is appointed to represent medical professionals who regularly provide care to the LGBTQ+ community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Lacey Mandoka, of Rosebush, is a Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribal member who currently works at Elijah Elk Cultural Center as a leadership intern. Previously, they have also worked at Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe as a housing specialist. They hold an associate degree in native studies with a concentration on history and law from Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College and are currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science from Central Michigan University. They are appointed to represent a tribal community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Audra Wilson, of Saginaw, is a Clinical Workflow Specialist at Great Lakes Bay Health Center. She is a current board member for the Great Lakes Bay Pride and the Pride Festival committee, as well as a facilitator for a local support group for underserved, at-risk minorities. She is appointed to represent the transgender community, for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Erin Knott, of Kalamazoo, is the Executive Director at Equality Michigan, a state-wide non-profit that educates and supports the LGBTQ+ community on the laws, policies, and regulations that are vital for support and safety. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social psychology and criminal justice from Western Michigan University and a master’s in administration from Central Michigan University. She is appointed to represent LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organizations for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Anthony Williams, of Birmingham, is the Chief Executive Officer at Corktown Health, a non-profit LGBTQ-focused medical home. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and a Juris Doctor from Wayne State University Law School. He is appointed to represent LGBTQ+ Advocacy Organizations in the form of a community center for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Al Gray, of Marquette, is a LLMSW at Suunta Integrative Health. They also serve as a program coordinator for Trace Holistic Inc in Marquette, Michigan. Gray is also a volunteer co-facilitator with the Upper Peninsula’s Stand with Trans Teen support group. They hold a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and sociology and a Master of Social Work from Northern Michigan University. They are being appointed to represent rural communities for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Diane Kreger, of Ann Arbor, is a psychotherapist who works in private practice with the Arbor Wellness Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kalamazoo College, a master’s in psychology of education from the University of Pennsylvania, and a post-master’s certification in Family Therapy from The Philadelphia Center. She is appointed to represent the private sector for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Angela Gabridge, of Grosse Pointe Park, is the Executive Director of MiGen – Michigan LGBTQ+ Elders Network. At MiGen, she has successfully grown the operating budget from $400k to $2M and led the staff into a statewide expansion in 2022. She is appointed to represent parents, guardians, or caregivers of a child who is a member of the LGBTQ+ community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Kevin Nguyen, of Ypsilanti, is a Master of Policy and Political Social Work student at the University of Michigan. He is a intern with an Ann Arbor City Council member and community engagement and development assistant with the dispute resolution center of Washtenaw and Livingston counties. Nguyen holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology with a minor in psychology from Northwest Missouri State University. He is appointed to represent 18-25-year-olds in the LGBTQ+ community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Dr. Tonya Griffith, of Grosse Pointe Woods, works as a clinical trauma therapist at Limitless Possibilities Counseling Services, a private practice she owns in Harper Woods. She also works as a Special Services Program Manager at the Development Center in Detroit. Tonya holds a master’s degree in social work from Eastern Michigan University and a doctorate in Social Work from Walden University. She is appointed to represent social workers or mental health professionals who work regularly to provide care to the LGBTQ+ community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Bishop Bonnie A. Perry, of Detroit, is a Bishop for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, which oversees seventy-two churches, over 100 clergy, and more than 17,000 lay people. She is the co-founder and serves as Co-Chair for End Gun Violence in Michigan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the College of the Holy Cross, a Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary, NYC, and a Doctor of Ministry in congregational development from Seabury Western Theological Seminary. She and her spouse of 36 years, the Reverand Doctor M. Susan Harlow, have been advocates for the LGBTQ+ community for decades. She is appointed to represent religious institutions that welcome the LGBTQ+ community for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
Danielle (Dani) Woods, of Detroit, is a 24-year veteran of the Detroit Police Department. She also serves as the LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer and oversees LGBTQ investigations and complaints, a role she has proudly served with distinction for 10 years. Woods is also the chairperson for the LGBTQ+ community council within the Detroit Police Department – Office of the Chief. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Cleary University. Danielle is appointed to represent first responders for a term commencing November 30, 2023, and expiring on November 29, 2027.
LGBTQ+ Commission Administrator
Raúl Hernández Guzmán has been selected as the first administrator for the LGBTQ+ Commission. Mr. Guzmán is a passionate advocate for Inclusive Access to Education, Equitable Employment Opportunities, Community Building and Social Impact. With a diverse array of experience, he is deeply committed to change management, fostering positive organizational change, and making a meaningful impact on the community.
Mr. Guzmán holds a professional Strategic Human Resources Leadership certificate from Cornell University, a Master of Management from Aquinas College, and a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management and International Business from Grand Valley State University. In addition to his professional endeavors, Mr. Guzmán has dedicated his time to meaningful volunteer work in the equity and service learning spaces, including leading medical students on a trip to Peru, where they offered services to a maternity clinic.
Originally from México and a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community, Mr. Guzmán has wholeheartedly embraced West Michigan as his home for the past two decades. Through his multifaceted pursuits and personal interests, he consistently contributes to the vibrancy and inclusivity of the West Michigan community.
The LGBTQ+ Commission, created under the executive power of the governor and in accordance with the Michigan Constitution of 1963, will serve as an advisory body within the Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity. The commission will include representatives from the executive branch of state government, ensuring a diverse range of voices and perspectives. The composition of the commission includes leaders from various sectors, such as education, health, civil rights, and more. Appointed members, chosen by the governor, represent different facets of the LGBTQ+ community, including educators, medical professionals, tribal members, and advocates. The commission is structured to reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political, and geographic diversity of Michigan.