The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has announced that transgender community activist and former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck wil receive the 2014 National Leadership Award at the 18th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner. The event, co-hosted by star of Bravo TV’s “The Real Housewives of Miami” Lea Black and South Beach icon Elaine Lancaster, is set to take place on Saturday, October 11, 2014 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach.
“I am honored and truly humbled to receive the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s National Leadership Award,” said Kristin Beck. “The Task Force, as the nation’s oldest and longest running LGBT advocacy organization, has always been at the forefront of the movement for justice, fairness, and equality for all. ”
The Miami Recognition Dinner honors individuals for their work to secure ful equality for the LGBT community. Also being honored at the awards gala is James G. Pepper, a longtime LGBT rights activist, community leader and philanthropist, who wil receive the 2014 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award.
“Kristin’s courage in coming out as a transgender woman is an inspiration to LGBT veterans and service members,” said Rea Carey, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Executive Director. “A highly accomplished and decorated retired Navy SEAL, her resilience and determination are a testament to anyone who simply wants to be themselves, honestly and openly. We are proud to honor Kristin Beck and Jim Pepper at this year’s annual Miami Recognition Dinner.”
During her twenty years of service as a Navy SEAL, Beck conducted special operations in her 13 deployments. In 2010, she received the coveted National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) Special Operations Award because of her outstanding achievements in the military. After retiring from the military, Beck came out as a transgender woman and became involved in the work for LGBT equality in the US military. She currently serves as a board member of the Military Freedom Coalition, a nonprofit organization working on issues affecting LGBT service members in U.S. Armed Forces, and has also served as a spokesperson for The 296 Project—a nonprofit Veteran therapy organization.
James G. Pepper, who will receive the 2014 Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award, is a longtime LGBT rights activist and philanthropist, and he played a key role in helping people living with HIV/AIDS in the early years of the epidemic.
Pepper’s long list of achievements includes inspiring young people to become outspoken community advocates and nurturing activists to step into leadership positions. He served as mentor to both of this year’s event co-chairs, Bradley R. Carlson and Josue Santiago.
“Jim Pepper is a legend in the fight for justice and equality. He has had a profound impact on countless lives, including my own for more than 20 years. His compassion and generosity of spirit are unparalleled, and everyone who knows him is inspired by his example,” said Carlson, who also serves on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s board of directors.
A figure in the equality movement for over 40 years, Pepper was involved in creating awareness of the significant impact of HIV/AIDS in the 1980s. His contributions began with Lambda Legal and eventually expanded to key leadership positions such as the board of directors of New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, one of the nation’s largest AIDS service and prevention organizations. Pepper is also a co-founder of Stonewall Community Foundation, the LGBT public charity of New York City. In South Florida, Pepper has supported a number of LGBT causes and groups, including Pridelines Youth Services, SAVE Dade, ACLU of Florida and various programs of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
Tickets to the awards gala include an intimate cocktail reception, a gourmet three-course dinner, the awards ceremony, and live music entertainment. Attendees wil also have the opportunity to bid on a variety of silent auction items. Proceeds from the Miami Recognition Dinner and its sister event, Winter Party Festival, support the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s work to secure ful freedom, justice and equality for LGBT people and their families. A significant portion of the proceeds also funds multiple organizations serving the LGBT community in South Florida.
More than 50 sponsors, underwriters, and a sold-out crowd of over 850 guests contributed to last year’s record-breaking awards gala. In total, the event grossed wel over $600,000—making it the most successful Miami Recognition Dinner in Task Force history.
Tickets to the 18th Annual Miami Recognition Dinner are $450 and are available online at miamirecognitiondinner.org or by calling 305.571.1924. Become a fan of the Miami Recognition Dinner on Facebook by visiting facebook.com/MiamiDinner. Follow on Twitter and Instagram at @SparkleMRD. Join the conversation now by using the hashtag #2014SparkleMRD.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds power, takes action and creates change to achieve freedom and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender people and their families. For more information, visit TheTaskForce.org or call (202) 393-5177.