State Rep. Keisha Waites, one of three openly gay members of the Georgia House of Representatives, recently graduated from the David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellowship program at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“The Harvard Kennedy School leadership experience provided me with tangible solutions to take back to my home state of Georgia and my district to continue the work of resolving the day-to-day challenges in my community and home state,” Waites said in a prepared statement.

“This has been an invaluable experience that not only has benefited me both personally and professionally, but also I am confident that it will benefit the citizens of Georgia that I proudly serve,” she added.

The David Bohnett Foundation and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute has worked together since 2002 to send select members to the fellowship for its summer program, an intense three-weeks spent studying and learning about state local government. This year Waites was one of three participants for the June 2014 program.

“I congratulate Keisha on this accomplishment—this intense program for senior executives at the Harvard Kennedy School is transformational,” said Torey Carter, managing director of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute, in a statement.  “It provides a continuum of leadership development that bridges personal and professional growth with the skills necessary to address challenges that affect his community.”

Other LGBT alumni of the program include Houston Mayor Annise Parker and New York State Sen. Tom Duane.

“The current graduates from the Leadership Fellows program will join their alumni colleagues in leading exemplary lives of public service as open LGBT American citizens,” said David Bohnett, chair of the David Bohnett Foundation, in a statement. “The Fellow program empowers LGBT leaders who are making a difference in the world, honing skills and furthering their leadership potential.”

Waites was elected to the General Assembly in 2012 and she represents portions of Atlanta, Hapeville, Clayton and DeKalb counties. She is a member of the Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security and Children & Youth Committees. Waites works as a contract intergovernmental affairs officer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, working with members of Congress during domestic and international incidents including Hurricanes Sandy, Ike, and Katrina, as well as the BP oil spill and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

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