The Agenda

Excitement builds for LGBTQ Leaders 2015

The International LGBTQ Leadership Conference is the world’s largest meeting place of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender elected officials, appointed officials, and advocates from around the world. The conference has been going strong for 31 years, and Jaan Williams, Victory’s Director of Domestic Programs, has been planning it for the past three years. Williams took the time to talk about last year’s conference and outlined why you should be excited about LGBTQ Leaders 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada from November 19 to 21.
“The conference is three days of skills building, relationship building, connections, thinking about how to be really excellent public servants, no matter what field people are coming from,” says Williams. This past year, at the 30th annual LGBTQ Leaders conference in Washington, D.C., there were people in attendance from 40 different countries, including the United States. “About 30 percent of the attendees were elected or appointed officials, which is incredible,” he says.
LGBTQ Leaders has a history of bringing together LGBTQ public officials and other thought leaders from all over the world. From panels to networking events, the conference allows attendees to connect and strategize. “We recognize that people not only need to get into office, but they need to do a good job when they get there so they can stay in office and be effective legislators,” says Williams.
Each year, the conference has a unique selection of panels and speakers that cover a wide range of topics. “Last year, one of my favorites panels was led by Houston Mayor Annise Parker about women parliamentarians from around the world,” says Williams. “It was a conversation about both what it takes to be a parliamentarian and a good legislator, but also what it means to be a woman in all of these different countries, and an LGBTQ woman advocating on behalf of the community.”
In Washington, a panel on international issues featured Claire Byarugaba, an activist from Uganda. “The panel shed light on the work that she was doing in Uganda,” says Williams. “She was a dynamic speaker.”  
This year’s conference is not one to miss. Victory’s organizers are in the process planning programming, and they hope to have some big name speakers attend—last year’s opening reception in Washington included a speech from out lesbian Senator Tammy Baldwin.  
What else awaits you in November? “The conference is made for anybody who cares about LGBTQ politics or advocacy, elected officials. It’s really an excellent place to build connections and find out what’s happening at the city level, at the state level, and at places around the country and outside of the U.S. as well,” says Williams. “We cover everything from planning infrastructure, to LGBTQ homelessness, to how to do good fundraising for your campaigns. And it’s really that kind of marriage of all of those skills that makes the Victory conference unique.”  
The 31st International LGBTQ Leadership Conference will be held November 19-21 in Las Vegas, N.V. The early bird registration rate ends on July 31st, so register now to save almost 50%.