Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Announces Members of New State LGBTQ+ Commission

Author: Donald Padgett

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the members of a new commission designed to advise the governor and others on affairs directly impacting the LGBTQ+ community.

Whitmer created the LGBTQ+ Commission in June via Executive Order 2023-5 as an advisory board with the Department of Labor and Education Opportunity. It is charged with reviewing the practices of government to ensure it meets the needs of the entire spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community.

The executive order requires that membership on the commission “should reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political, and geographic diversity of Michigan to the extent possible.”

Raúl Hernández Guzmán, an academic and LGBTQ+ advocate and volunteer, will serve as the commission’s first administrator. A native of Mexico, Guzmán has called Michigan home for two decades.

Advocates hailed not just yesterday’s announcement, but the work of Whitmer and others in the state to bolster support for the LGBTQ+ community.

“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,” Dakota Torolski, Michigan state director for the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement lauding the announcement. “Today, implementing the first-ever statewide LGBTQ+ commission is yet another stride toward making Michigan a more welcoming and prosperous place for all,”

The required representation and qualifications of committee members include educators, medical providers servicing the LGBTQ+ community, tribal members, folks living in underserved rural communities, parents of LGBTQ+ children, first responders, advocates, LGBTQ+ young adults, the trans community, and others.

Each of the commission’s members began their four-year term on Thursday, November 30, and will serve until November 29, 2027.

Here are the newly appointed commission members:

  • Al Gray (they/them) is a social worker and sociologist and represents rural communities.
  • Angela Gabridge of MiGen – Michigan LGBTQ+ Elders Network represents parents, guardians, and caregivers of an LGBTQ+ child.
  • Dr. Tonya Griffith is a clinical trauma therapist and owner of Limitless Possibilities Counseling Services. She represents social workers.
  • Erin Knott is the executive director at Equality Michigan and represents LGBTQ+ advocates.
  • Diane Kreger is a psychotherapist representing the private sector.
  • Lacey Mandoka is a member of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe and represents the native communities.
  • Dr. Renee McLaughlin, the national medical director at CIGNA Healthcare, represents LGBTQ+ medical providers.
  • Kevin Nguyen is a postgraduate student at the University of Michigan and represents LGBTQ+ members aged 18 to 25 years old.
  • Bishop Bonnie A. Perry of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan represents religious institutions serving the spiritual needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Brandon Shamoun is an assistant dean at Wayne State University and chair of Stonewall Sports Detroit. He represents educators.
  • Anthony Williams is CEO at Corktown Health and represents LGBTQ+ advocates.
  • Audra Wilson serves the community in a variety of roles including her work at the Great Lakes Bay Health Center and sitting as a board member of the Great Lakes Bay Pride committees.
  • Danielle (Dani) Woods is the LGBTQ+ Liaison Officer at the Detroit Police Department where she has worked for 24 years. She represents first responders.

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Original Article on The Advocate
Author: Donald Padgett

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