Recognizing our LGBTQ+ Trailblazers

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients: Clare Sheils, Margaret Leonard and John Laird celebrate with County Supervisor John Leopold, Santa Cruz City Major Lynn Robinson, Diversity Center Board President Claudio Schnier and Boardmember Pat Dellin. Photo by Glenne McElhinney at Impact Stories

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients: Clare Sheils, Margaret Leonard and John Laird celebrate with County Supervisor John Leopold, Santa Cruz City Major Lynn Robinson, Diversity Center Board President Claudio Schnier and Boardmember Pat Dellin. Photo by Glenne McElhinney at Impact Stories

The Diversity Center is honoring the leaders of our local LGBTQ+ community with Lifetime Achievement Awards for only the second time in our history. The first awards were presented in 2014 to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Santa Cruz Pride and the 25th anniversary of the founding of the Diversity Center.

The Lifetime Achievement Awards highlight and personalize our history over the four decades since 200 people gathered in San Lorenzo Park for the first Santa Cruz Gay Pride in 1975. Our leaders deserve recognition for having made exceptional contributions with lasting positive impacts for our local LGBTQ+ community. 
 


2016 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

Click here to view photos from the 2016 Trailblazers Reception

Adam Spickler – leader for over a decade in the Queer Youth Task Force, Diversity Center and GLBT Alliance,

especially focused on transgender and youth empowerment. 

Arnold Leff, M.D. – first local physician to treat HIV+ patients in the 1980s, long-

term provider and ally for HIV+ issues ever since.

Rev Deborah Johnson – founding minister of Inner Light Ministries and 

impassioned advocate for open and affirming faith communities. 

Jennifer Hastings, M.D. – founding physician for Planned Parenthood’s 

Transgender Health Care Program, educator for transgender health care issues.

Jennifer Meyer and Claire Moore – long-time leaders of the Matrix women’s 

newspaper in the 70s and 80s, gearing it to serve lesbians’ needs. 

Jerry Solomon, Ph.D. – LGBTQ+ activist since 1980s, co-founder of Santa Cruz AIDS Project (SCAP), revered therapist.

Jill Simmons: Co-organizer and frequent emcee of A Gay Evening in May 

(AGEM) and co-organizer of Pincurlz, entertaining and fundraising juggernauts.

Kai Azada and Richard Baldwin – hosts of long-running Closet Free Radio on 

KZSC, providing LGBTQ+ news, commentary, interviews and entertainment.

Kater Pollock – author, leader in lesbian health and parenting, co-founder of the 

Women’s Health Collective in 1974, esteemed therapist. 

Lauren Crux – respected, out lesbian therapist since the1980s, performance 

artist, co-instigator of the Lesbian Umbrella Organization in the late 1970s.

Marie Henley – active for decades, from hosting the hub for lesbian organizations 

in the 1970s to leading the culinary component of the Diversity Center’s 60+ program. 

Marilyn “Mariposa” Bernstein, LAc, DAOM – co-founder of Santa Cruz Dyke 

March, co-founder of WomenCare for women with cancer where she helped gear services to lesbians.

Mark Grantham and Mike Tossy – long-time producers of A Gay Evening in May 

(AGEM) and Pincurlz, cultural and fundraising extravaganzas in the 1980s to 90s.

Melissa Bernstein, LMFT - co-organizer of the Santa Cruz Dyke/Trans March for  15 years and active in local LGBTQ+ organizations.

Mireya Gomez-Contreras: LGBTQ+ activist in South County for over 15 years, co-

founder of the Watsonville Dyke March, queer youth advocate.

Pat Dellin – leader and fundraiser for Triangle Speakers and the Diversity Center, 

producer of the Trailblazers History Project.

Patrick Meyer, LCSW – active since the 1970s when he started to first Gay 

Men’s support group, esteemed therapist and educator.

Patti Maxine (aka Pat Smith) - out lesbian singer-songwriter starting in the 1970s, 

performing, building community and raising funds ever since. 

Ron Indra – leader in support of LGBTQ youth, founding and current director of 

the Safe Schools Project, consultant to school administration on LGBTQ+ issues. 

Scotty Brookie – political activist since 1970s, co-founder of Closet Free Radio, 

publisher of the Lavender Reader, the revered LGBTQ+ quarterly magazine, in 1980s and 90s.

Valerie Corral - co-organizer of the Santa Cruz Dyke/Trans March for 19 years. 

Vnes Ely - founder of QueerCruz.com, co-organizer of Dyke/Trans March, 

founding member of Frootie Flavors trans-tastic rock band.


Thank you to our individual sponsors: 

State Senator Bill Monning, State Assemblymember Mark Stone, Bob Correa & Denny Carroll, Clare Sheils & Margaret Leonard, Cynthia Druley, John Laird, Larry Friedman & Tom Ellison, Marc Zammit & Wayne Crabbs, Stella Moreno & Barbara Ingman, Randy Brock & Jeremy Turpen, Marile Robinson

 

Thank you to our very generous sponsors: 

Ty's Eatery, Lifestyle Culinary Arts, and Soif Wine Bar Restaurant & Merchants

 

2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients:

Deborah Abbott
Mardi Brown
Jorge Bru
Patricia Castagnola
Bob Correa and Denny Carroll
Terry Cavanagh
Dan Dickmeyer
Cynthia Druley
Larry Friedman and Tom Ellison
Jo Kenny and Glo Nieto
Curt Keyer and Maurice Carrillo
John Laird
Tracye Lea Lawsen
Stuart Rosenstein
Glen Schaller
Merrie Schaller
Jane Schwickerath
Clare Sheils and Margaret Leonard
Sandy Stone


The Diversity Center is producing the Trailblazers Lifetime Achievement Awards as part of the Trailblazers History Project.