The Agenda

Victory Institute David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows off to Harvard

The Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute’s 2014 class of David Bohnett LGBT Leadership Fellows are leaders in politics, government and non-profit organizations who receive scholarships to attend an elite executive development program at the prestigious Harvard Kennedy School. Since 2002, the foundation in partnership with the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute has sent over 110 accomplished LGBT professionals to participate in the summer program.

“Graduates of this program include some of the country’s most visible and successful openly LGBT public leaders.  We’re proud to partner with Victory to help them grow their potential to make lasting change,” said Michael Fleming, executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation.

These fellows will join the Bohnett alumni network, creating bonds well past their time at Harvard. Many of our alumni work together in and out of government making sure that LGBT people have a strong voice in our society. “The time the fellows spend at Harvard this summer will strengthen the skills they need to serve their communities effectively, and it will prepare them for even greater challenges ahead.” said Denis Dison, Senior Vice President for Programs of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute. “It is so important for these professionals to gain this valuable experience to be even better representatives of the LGBT community.”

2014 David Bohnett LGBT Leaders


Steven Llanusa

President, Board of Education, Claremont, California

Currently the President of the Claremont School Board of Education, Steven was first elected to the Board in 2007 and its first openly gay member. He was also elected in 2007 to the Board of Directors for LACSTA, the organization made up of representatives from School Boards throughout Los Angeles County. He was appointed to the Youth Master Plan Update Task Force and the Claremont Sustainability Committee where he worked to develop goals that were adopted by the City Council. He is a past co-chair of UCLA Lambda Alumni. Steven was selected by KCET as a Community LGBT Hero in 2012.

LaWana Mayfield

City Councilmember, Charlotte, North Carolina

LaWana Mayfield represents District 3 on Charlotte City Council. She was elected in 2011 and is serving her second term. Her previous public service includes chairing the Youth and Gang Violence subcommittee of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, and working as a community advocate with the Charlotte Community Justice Coalition. She has served as Grants Committee Chair and a board member of the Charlotte Lesbian and Gay Fund, as Board Co-Chair of the Ujamaa Institute, has served on the Board of Governors and as National Female Diversity Co-Chair for HRC, and was appointed to National League of Cities Human Development Committee.

Keisha Waites

State Representative, State House of Representatives, Atlanta, Georgia

Representative Keisha Waites was elected on Feb 6, 2012 to the Georgia House of Representatives where she represents portions of Atlanta, Hapeville, Clayton, and DeKalb counties. Waites is a member of the Transportation, Public Safety & Homeland Security and Children & Youth Committee. Outside of her work in the State House, 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.


Diana Bishop

Chief of Police, Santa Clara, California

Chief of Police Diana Bishop has led the San Rafael, California police force since 2012, where she leads of team of 87 and serves the largest community in Marin County. Bishop began her career in 1985 in the Santa Clara Police Department, rising to through the ranks to retire as a Captain. She has an Executive Master of Public Administration from Golden Gate University and a Bachelor of Public Administration from the University of San Francisco. She is also a graduate of the 219th Session of the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Academy.

Steve Hansen

City Councilmember, Sacramento, California

Councilmember Steve Hansen was elected to represent District Four on the Sacramento City Council in November 2012. Steve has worked as an advocate for neighborhoods, civil rights, and responsive government. For more than two years, Steve worked for Equality California, a statewide advocacy group for the rights of LGBT Californians. During Steve’s two years as Legislative Director, California made tremendous progress in recognizing the LGBT movement as a civil rights issue. Steve is a graduate of University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law and has a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from Gonzaga University.

Darden Rice

Councilmember, St. Petersburg, Florida

Councilmember Darden Rice is a civic leader who brings over 15 years of experience in working for national, state, and local organizations in communications and issue-based advocacy campaigns for the public interest. Those issues include promoting access to affordable, quality healthcare; defending voting rights by fighting unfair voter suppression laws; protecting clean water; and promoting clean energy. She received her B.A. in American Studies from Eckerd College. Rice was President of the St. Pete League of Women Voters and was elected in November 2013 to St. Pete City Council.

Chris Seelbach

City Councilmember, Cincinnati, Ohio

Named by the White House a “Champion on Change” in 2013, Cincinnati City Councilmember Chris Seelbach made history in 2011 when he became the first openly gay person ever elected in Cincinnati. Since taking office, Seelbach led efforts to extend equal partner health insurance to all city employees, create a domestic partner register, LGBT police, fire and mayoral liaison, and require all contractors to adhere to an inclusive non-discrimination policy. These combined efforts should lead to a score of 100 on HRC Municipal Equality Index, making Cincinnati one of the most LGBT friendly cities in the country.

Photo:  Diana Bishop, Keisha Waites, Steven Llanusa, LaWana Mayfield, Chris Seelbach, Darden Rice, Steven Hansen and David Bohnett