Rainbow Chamber Honors 2017-18 Scholars

Rainbow Chamber Honors 2017-18 Scholars

The Rainbow Chamber Foundation awarded nine $1,000 scholarships for the 2017-18 school year to the following students: Marshall Dankbar, Junior, Sac State; Augistine Garcia, SCOE; Nyree Hall, 2nd year Master’s student, Sac State; Jaela Harding, Freshman, University of Southern California; Travis Legault, Junior, Sac State; Kenneth McBride, Sophomore, UC Merced; Reina Miller, 2nd year, Lincoln Law School; Heidi Nguyen, Freshman, UC Davis; and Vanessa Vallarta, Sierra College. The scholarships were awarded as part of the Rainbow Chamber of Commerce 15th Anniversary Crystal Gala, held Sept. 14 at Dante Club.

“Every year, we are inspired and uplifted by the stories of our amazing scholars, the challenges they have overcome, and their determination to succeed,” said Foundation Chair Diana DePaola. “By helping these outstanding young people get their start, the Chamber is planting seeds for the future of our community.”

Rainbow Chamber Scholar Marshall DankbarMarshall Dankbar is channeling his passion for all things technological into a pursuit for a Computer Science degree at Sac State. “The LGBT community in Sacramento has also been there for me when I needed them for support when I was younger,” he writes. “I came out when I was 13, and I didn’t know any other peers in my situation. I visited the Lambda Center [now Sacramento LGBT Community Center] in midtown Sacramento, where I was able to meet other teenagers who were part of the community, and this helped me greatly in terms of my identity. Since then, I have always been proud to be gay and to be a part of the LGBT community.

“One day after I’ve completed my degree, I would love to contribute back to the community by helping LGBT youth and the community with what I have learned during my studies, so hopefully I can make the same difference in other people’s lives.”

Augistine Garcia is a 4th grade teacher in San Juan Unified School District, and, with his partner, father to four adopted children. The scholarship will help him obtain an administrative credential from the Rainbow Chamber Scholar Augistine GarciaSacramento County of Education and a master’s degree in Education from National University. With the additional accreditation, Garcia hopes to become an elementary school principal, “to create a safe environment, welcoming and open campus for all students.”

Rainbow Chamber Scholar Nyree Hall 2017Nyree Hall, who is seeking a master’s degree in Sociology at Sac State, is the first in her family to attend a university. After struggling for years to feel accepted, she came out to family, friends and campus community when she ran for student body president. “I decided that the best way for me to make a contribution to social justice is to educate others…,” she writes. “With my degree, I hope to educate students in higher education about the importance of diversity, inclusivity, feminism, the LGBTQ community, and about positive representation.”

Jaela Harding has been an exceptional scholar all her life, beginning high school at just 12 years old, graduating high school with a 4.38 cumulative GPA, now majoring in biochemistry at USC. Rainbow Chamber Scholar Jaela Harding 2017At her conservative, Catholic high school, she bonded with other LGBTQ students and challenged the logic of homophobic church teachings. “By standing up for myself and my LGBT+ community, I have made small, yet significant changes,” she writes.

Rainbow Chamber Scholar Travis Legault 2017Travis Legault, a third-year government major at Sac State, has been interested in public service since high school and plans a career in legislative advocacy and campaign consulting. He is active in the College Democrats, Sacramento County Young Democrats, Stonewall Democratic Club of Sacramento Valley, and California College Democrats and is serving an internship in the office of Sacramento Councilmember Eric Guerra. He is interested in higher education policy and getting LGBT candidates elected to office. “No matter what, I will always take time to put my skills to use for this community that I am so proud to be a part of,” he writes.

Currently majoring in Business Management and Economics, Kenneth McBride plans to seek an MBA and is passionate about community service. At UC Merced, where 7 percent of the student population is African American, he serves on the executive board of the Black Student Union, is a member of Afrikans for Outreach and Development Program and the Baseball Club. He was named “Most Outstanding Freshman” in 2016-17. “I’m not on campus just to focus on grades,” he writes. “I really try to be that positive role model for other students around me.”

Rainbow Chamber Scholar Reina Miller 2017Reina Miller graduated from Sac State with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, earning dean’s honors and becoming first in her family to earn a college degree, all while holding down two jobs. She currently volunteers for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) as an advocate for foster youth. At Lincoln Law School, she serves as vice president of the newly formed Lambda Law Student Association and on the boards of LLSA (Latina/Latino Law Student Association), WJS (Women’s Justice Society), and APALSA (Asian Pacific American Law Student Association).

Heidi Nguyen holds a degree in business marketing and works at AT&T. She says she was inspired to seek her MBA in Organizational Behavior by friends and mentors in the LGBT Rainbow Chamber Scholar Heidi Nguyen 2017community. Through the AT&T Aspire Mentorship program and its partnership with Boys & Girls Club, she discovered a passion for helping at-risk youth. “I have not stopped my support the LGBT community, because the introduction into this community has been made me a better person,” she writes. “My desire to make the world a more inclusive place for everyone has pushed me to pursue my education.”

Rainbow Chamber Scholar Vanessa Vallarta 2017Vanessa Vallarta is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in kinesiology, with a major in exercise science. Originally from Philippines, she emigrated to the United States with her family six years ago and is the first in her family to attend college. Growing up with a gay cousin, she became aware of the bullying and discrimination he experienced. “I promised him that he will never feel alone, because I will always be there for him and support him for everything that he chooses to do…,” she writes. “We all need someone to lean on, and I can be someone’s shoulder to lean on. I stand with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Rainbow Chamber Scholars are selected via a competitive application process, including a written essay. Because the program’s mission is to support local students, applicants must reside in or plan to attend a university, college, or school in the counties of Amador, Calaveras, Colusa, El Dorado, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Joaquin, Sierra, Solano, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tuolumne, Yolo, or Yuba. Applicants must be enrolled or planning to enroll in senior year of high school or in a university, college, or qualified vocational school and must have a minimum 2.9 cumulative GPA to qualify.

Since 2008 the Rainbow Chamber Foundation has contributed almost $50,000 to fund college and vocational education scholarships for LGBTQ and LGBT-supportive youth. The organization also provides funding support and sponsorships for youth service organizations including the Sacramento Gay & Lesbian Center, National Suicide Prevention Program Trevor Project, GSA Network, Transgender Law Center and Gender Health Center.

The Rainbow Chamber Foundation was established by the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce as a separate, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization in 2007, with the mission to promote mentoring, guidance, and education, and to support programs that improve quality of life for the LGBTQ community. The scholarship program is designed to motivate and assist LGBTQ and supportive students in pursuing educational degrees or vocational certificates. Applications for 2018-19 scholarship awards open March 1, 2018, and close June 30, 2018. For more information and the scholarship application form visit https://www.rainbowchamber.com/scholarship-program/.

 

 

Rainbow Chamber Denounces Trump Administration Roll-back of Transgender Student Protections

Roll-back of Guidelines Guaranteeing Access to Gender-Appropriate Facilities Violates Civil Rights of Transgender Youth

Richard A Hernandez, Rainbow Chamber PresidentSacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce President Richard Hernandez has released the following statement on behalf of the Chamber Board of Directors in regard to actions of the Trump administration revoking guidelines protecting transgender students:

“The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes the recent actions taken by President Donald Trump and his administration to overturn guidelines issued in 2016 guaranteeing all students access to gender-segregated facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms in federally funded schools.

“Growing up is hard enough for any child. Transgender children, faced with the added challenge of living in bodies that do not match their gender identities, are particularly vulnerable to bullying, discrimination, depression and suicide. Yet, with support from the institutions and the adults in their lives, we know that these courageous young people can succeed in school and become healthy, productive members of our communities and our workforce.

“No person, adult or child, should be singled out to use a separate facility or forced to seek special permission simply to use a restroom or shower facility where he or she feels safe. Protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender should not be left to the discretion of state officials, just as protection from discrimination based on religious affiliation or ethnicity is not applied on a state-by-state basis.

“As many of America’s largest corporations continue to affirm, prejudice and discrimination against any group of people is harmful for families and bad for economic growth. The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, which represents LGBT business owners and their allies in a six-county region, urges the Trump administration to reconsider its action and to reinstate the 2016 guidelines advising federally funded schools to ensure the safety, dignity and equal rights of all students in using gender-segregated facilities.”

The Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce is a regional chamber serving LGBT business owners and professionals across the Sacramento Valley, as well as straight allies who support its mission of fostering a prosperous, diverse and inclusive business climate. For more information about the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce, visit www.rainbowchamber.com.

 

Rainbow Chamber Endorses Measure B, Prop 55

RainbowPAC, the non-partisan political action committee of the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of commerce, has endorsed two ballot measures in the November 2016 general election: Sacramento County Measure B and California Proposition 55.

Sacramento County Measure B: THE ROAD MAINTENANCE & TRAFFIC RELIEF ACT OF 2016, proposes a 30-year, half-cent sales tax that will be used for road and infrastructure maintenance and upgrades and transportation projects. Measure B is a local, Sacramento County ordinance that specifies in a spending plan approved by all the municipalities in the county how the funds must be spent. Portions are allocated for improving mass transit—and requiring Regional Transit to reach certain goals before receiving funds—road and bridge maintenance and some new projects, including extension of the existing light rail system. Changes to this plan can only be made every 10 years, again with ratification of all municipalities in Sacramento County. The funding allocated in Proposition B also will allow Sacramento to qualify for increased federal transit funding. Infrastructure maintenance and improvement are critical to the economic growth and prosperity of our region.

California Proposition 55 would extend for an additional 12 years an added income tax on the highest earners in the state passed by state legislature four years ago (Proposition 30), with funds allocated to schools, hospitals and healthcare and the state’s Rainy Day Fund. New provisions will provide mandated tracking of the funds spent. The sales tax portion of Prop 30 will not be extended.

In accordance with RainbowPAC endorsement procedures, the PAC board, after careful consideration and research, recommended endorsement of both measures to the Rainbow Chamber Board of Directors. A majority of board members voted to endorse both measures, and an overwhelming majority of Chamber members who participated in an email vote also voted for endorsement.

RainbowPAC Endorses Measure B, Proposition 55

 

Darrick Lawson Named Rainbow Chamber’s 2015 Business Leader of the Year

Darrick Lawson, Rainbow Chamber Business Leader of the Year 2015Dr. Darrick Lawson, owner of Healing Touch Chiropractic, civic leader and LGBT activist, has been named Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce 2015 Business Leader of the Year.

Lawson is a former board member and past president of the Sacramento Rainbow Chamber of Commerce and founded the organization’s RainbowPAC. He was instrumental in helping to pass AB 1960 in 2012, which requires the state Department of General Services to collect and report voluntarily submitted information on LGBT-owned companies who contract with the state.

“I am proud to have built a successful business as an openly gay man, and to have worked with organizations such as the Chamber, the Stonewall Democrats and other institutions to create a diverse, inclusive economic environment in Sacramento where all people can be valued for their contributions rather than excluded for their differences,” Lawson said. “I am honored to receive the Business Leader of the Year recognition.”

“Darrick is an example to all of us of someone who has succeeded in business, in his family and personal relationships, and in his community,” said Chamber President Paul Weubbe. “Despite the demands of running a thriving practice Darrick gives generously of his time and leadership experience. He is an excellent choice for our 2015 Business Leader of the Year.”

The Business Leader of the Year is selected by a panel of Chamber and community leaders and recognizes an individual who has demonstrated leadership success within his or her business and the business community as well as within the Sacramento LGBT community and who has and will continue to serve as a role model for the Greater Sacramento community.

Lawson received his doctorate from the Cleveland Chiropractic College in 1991, passed his state exam and joined a Central Valley practice, where he became a partner within one year. In 2000 he relocated to Sacramento, helped build a successful practice in Orangevale, and in 2003 opened his own Midtown Sacramento office, which has grown steadily every year since.

Lawson has served on the Human Rights/Fair Housing Commission for six years and is a former chair of the commission. He was appointed by then Senate Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg to the Capitol Area Committee, which oversees development of state-owned property located near the Capitol. He has served on U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner’s Hate Crimes Task Force.

Lawson is a founding vice president and former president of the Stonewall Democratic Club of Greater Sacramento and a co-chair of the LGBT Redistricting Committee, which helped establish Sacramento’s LGBT community as a “community of interest” for city and county redistricting purposes. He is a 2012 recipient of the Stonewall Democrats Founder’s Award.