The Atlanta Pride Committee has announced the 2019 Atlanta Parade Grand Marshals. This list is comprised of outstanding individuals and organizations that are recognized by people across Atlanta for their work advancing the LGBTQ community in the city and across the state. This year’s twelve Grand Marshals will be honored by leading the Pride parade on October 13.
“Each year, the APC seeks to select Grand Marshals doing great work for our community, as a way for us to honor and show gratitude for the positive difference each individuals or organization has and continues to make for all of us,” said Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director Jamie Fergerson. “Our organization is proud of our effort and commitment to select Grand Marshals from the wide range of diverse activists and community members among us. It is important to us that our slate of Grand Marshals represent all the varied and beautiful segments of our Queer community and our allies.”
Meet the twelve outstanding people and non-profits that are making a difference in LGBTQ Atlanta:
Dr. Annise Mabry is the founder of the Dr. Mabry Foundation, a non-profit founded for community growth and development, and the executive director of Tiers Free Academy, Georgia’s only non-profit alternative diploma program for sex-trafficking survivors, homeless LGBTQ youth, and high school dropouts. Dr. Mabry is also a retired Dean of Graduate Studies, a GA Certified Peace Officer, a best-selling author of the home school memoir Education Disobedience, and an experienced home school mom.
Rev. Dr. Beth LaRocca-Pitts has been the senior pastor of Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Midtown – a church where 90 percent of the worshipping congregation is LGBTQ – for nine years. Saint Mark was one of the first Midtown churches to open its doors to the LGBTQ community in 1991 and has been active in Georgia Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, Pride, the AIDS Walk, and other LGBTQ advocacy groups. LaRocca-Pitts led her congregation in voting to join the Reconciling Ministries Network, a group within the United Methodist Church that promotes full inclusion of the LGBTQ community.
Chanel Haley is the Gender Inclusion Organizer for Equality Foundation of Georgia, leading efforts to ensure non-discrimination laws and policies are passed. Haley also facilitates “Trans 101 Humility” training for organizations and builds relationships with business and corporate environments that have little to no LGBTQ knowledge or background. In 2018, Haley designed a one-year Leadership Academy cohort of Transmen and Transwomen, in which participants learned to effectively communicate about the transgender community, gain an understanding of how to communicate with elected officials, and more.
Emily Halden Brown is the director of Absolute CARE Medical Center in Atlanta, serves on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ LGBTQ Advisory Board as co-chair of the health committee, is a member of the board of directors of THRIVE Support Services, and is an interim board member of the Philip Rush Center. In past roles at Georgia Equality and Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health, Brown created the Youth HIV Policy Advisors’ Program and the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth.
Feroza Syed is a transgender activist and advocate. She facilitates PFLAG John’s Creek, works with organizations like Georgia Safe Schools Coalition, and serves on Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms’ LGBTQ Advisory Board. Syed works with groups locally to help with intersectionality, specifically cultural and religious background issues targeting the Asian LGBTQ community. She has spoken at multiple schools and colleges, has been featured in magazines and articles, and was appointed AID Atlanta Ambassador for 2018.
Rev. Kimberly Jackson, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, made history as the first ever out Queer Person of Color ordained in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Jackson has worked closely with legislators at the Georgia State Capitol to advocate for just laws, on every side of the aisle. As a clergy person, she has officiated weddings, funerals and other services for the LGBTQ community regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation. Jackson has served as an unapologetically Black and Queer EMT, university chaplain, Freedom School director, and pastor.
Volunteers at Latino LinQ have been serving Georgia’s Latinx community by providing direct services and facilitating information, education, and training sessions for individuals and groups interested in expanding the organization’s mission of closing the ever-widening equity gap that exists when accessing health and legal service practitioners. Latino LinQ’s founders were aware of the diversity, including gender identity, represented across the Latinx community and, for that reason, were intentional about creating awareness within the Latinx community about the most critical disparities that the LGBTQ community faces. Latino LinQ aims to advance LGBTQ equity by facilitating support services to Latinx LGBTQ people, and their families, in the areas of health care and legal assistance.
Raksha, founded in 1995, is a non-profit organization for the South Asian Community. Raksha works towards healing, empowerment, and justice for South Asian survivors of violence and all those who face similar barriers to justice, regardless of ability, country of origin, race, religion, caste, socioeconomic status, gender identity, age, immigration status, or sexual orientation. The community includes people from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Raksha’s mission is to promote a stronger and healthier community through free and confidential support services, education, and advocacy.
Royce Mann is a 17-year-old poet, activist, and rising senior at Grady High School. In 2016, his spoken-word poem “White Boy Privilege” went viral, receiving over 20 million views on social media. Since then, Mann has spoken at the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit and the MLK Day Commemorative Service at Ebenezer Baptist Church. He has also performed at annual GLAAD events in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta and was a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at the 2017 True Colors Conference, a national gathering of LGBTQ youth and allies. Mann helped lead the effort to organize the Atlanta March for Our Lives, and now serves as Legislative Director for MFOL Georgia. Mann is also a Student Activist Coordinator for Amnesty International Georgia, volunteers at multiple local LGBTQ organizations, leads a youth writing workshop with SOJOURN, and interns with Lost-n-Found Youth.
The Honorable Stacey Abrams is a New York Times best-selling author, serial entrepreneur, non-profit CEO, and political leader. IN 2018, after serving for eleven years in the Georgia House of Representatives – seven as Minority Leader – Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia. She made history by winning more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history and being the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. A proud LGBTQ ally, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. She is a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the 2012 recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, and a current member of the Board of Directors for the Center for American Progress.
Stephanie Cho is the Executive Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, the first nonprofit legal advocacy organization dedicated to advancing, protecting, and defending the AAPI (Asian American & Pacific Islander) and AMEMSA (Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, South Asian) communities in the Southeast. Cho has been a community organizer, program director for LGBTQ youth programming, director of training for a national fellowship program, a labor organizer, and organizational consultant. In 2015, Cho became the Executive Director of Advancing Justice-Atlanta and has since expanded programs to include robust litigation and immigration legal services departments to build a powerful advocacy for AAPIs and AMEMSA communities.
Thrive SS, created by three black SGL men living with HIV to create a sense of belonging and community for other positive black SGL men in the South, implements innovative solutions to improve support and linkage to HIV care. The model, designed by the founders based on their own lived experiences with input from others in the community, is a 3-tiered support approach coupling 24-hour online support with 4 in-person support meetings allowing continued assessments and opportunities to link to needed services. In 4 years, THRIVE has recruited over 3,300 black SGL men living with HIV into their various networks. The Atlanta network has 900 SGL men living with HIV across Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, and Washington, DC.
“If you know any of this year’s Grand Marshals, please take a moment to congratulate them on their much-deserved recognition,” Fergerson said. “And if you don’t know them, I encourage everyone to take a little time to get to know these honorees and their work. The APC is proud to be able to bring a small amount of attention to their accomplishments by giving them a place of honor in leading our 2019 Parade.”