DGLA board embraces diversity

Posted on 12 Jan 2006 at 7:24pm
By Staff Reports

Gay advocacy group’s leaders want membership to reflect all ethnicities, ages, genders, orientations, political affiliations



The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance board of directors includes, front from left, Felix Arrieta, Bob Watchorn, Patti Fink, Pete Webb, back from left, Joshua Becker, Steve Krueger, Suzanne Hickman, Danien Duckett and Jeff Strater. Not pictured are board members John Ames and Carla Halbrook.

The Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance has announced its new slate of officers and board members for 2006-2007, with officials hailing the new board as the most diverse in the alliance’s 30-year history.

Pete Webb, the alliance’s newly-elected president, said he is very excited about the new batch of officers and board members.

“Each director has a wealth of passion and seasoned experience, each brings a unique perspective to everything we do, and we work well together,” Webb said.

Patti Fink, alliance vice president, praised what she called the board’s “amazing diversity.”

“We are gay, lesbian, transgendered, straight, African-American, Asian-American, Latin-American, Democrat, Republican, Independent, veteran, parent, young and not-so-young,” she said.

Rounding out the slate of board members and officers for the alliance and the DGLA Education Fund are Bob Watchorn as secretary, John Ames as treasurer, and board members Jeff Strater, Steve Krueger, Fellix Arrieta, Suzanne Hickman, Damien Duckett, Josh Becker and Carla Halbrook Webb, a real estate agent with Worth Ross and Associates, is in his fourth year on the board. He has a long record of service with the DGLA Political Action Committee was elected unanimously to his first term as president. Pete works as a Realtor with Worth Ross & Associates. He has a long history of community involvement working with various projects and he has been active in local politics for the last several years, volunteering on nonpartisan campaigns as well as for Democratic and Republican candidates.

Webb is also a board member of the Turtle Creek Chorale and the Resource Center of Dallas, and a member of the Black Tie Dinner Silent Auction Committee. He is a former board member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and AIDS Services of Dallas, and served on the AIDS LifeWalk Steering Committee Fink returns for a fifth year on the DGLA Board and has been a community and political activist for many years. Before joining the Alliance’s board, she was a DGLA volunteer and served on the DGLA Political Action Committee. She has also been on the Human Rights Campaign national Board of Governors and the DFW HRC Steering Committee, and she is a DFW HRC Federal Club member and a past co-chair of the HRC DFW National Coming Out Project.

Fink is also a sustaining member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Equality Texas, Dallas County Democratic Party and Democracy for America. She has been a co-host of the Lambda Weekly radio show on KNON since 2000, and in 2003 the Dallas Transgender Alliance honored her with its Community Ally Award, She was elected to serve as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Boston in 2004, and was an active volunteer in last year’s No Nonsense In November campaign against Texas’s anti-gay-marriage amendment.

Watchorn is new to the Alliance board this year, though he has been actively involved for many years with Leadership Lambda as a student, a co-chair and board member, and is now serving as the DGLA board liaison with the Leadership Lambda Steering Committee and as secretary for both groups. A native of California, Watchorn was director of the Crisis Intervention Hotline for the Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center for Greater Orange County prior to moving to Dallas in 1990. He has played an active leadership role in homeowner/neighborhood associations throughout his adult life, including serving as president of the Wynnewood North Neighborhood Association in Dallas. He is founder of the Summit Lawn Neighborhood Association in Oak Cliff where he lives now.

Ames is a past president and past secretary of DGLA, and was active in Leadership Lambda before, during and after the 2004 reorganization of Leadership Lambda as a program of the DGLA Don Baker Education Fund.

In addition to his many years with DGLA, Ames has been active in the Human Rights Campaign, HRC DFW National Coming Out Project, the Dallas Board of Directors of The Experience workshop series, GLAAD, LULAC, Equality Texas and the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. He served in the United States Air Force from 1985 to 1992, earning the rank of first lieutenant, and in the Individual Ready Reserves from 1992 to 2005. He is a past president of the North Texas chapter of the American Veterans for Equal Rights, and now co-chairs the Military Equality Alliance.

Strater has served DGLA as a board member for five years and co-chairs the Political Action Committee. He is a past DGLA vice president and a graduate of Leadership Lambda, and is currently Dallas City Council member Ed Oakley’s appointee to the Planning & Zoning Board. Strater has also been appointed to the Permit and License Appeal Board for which he was vice chair, and has served on the Urban Rehabilitation Standards Board and the City of Dallas 2003 Bond Election Campaign Operations Committee.

Strater is involved with the Human Rights Campaign, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas and the Dallas County Democratic Party, where he has served as the party’s fundraising committee chair. He was a funding panel member for the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas and was awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the Dallas Junior Chamber/Dallas Jaycees for his community involvement.

Krueger returns for his third year on the Alliance’s board, and was treasurer of Leadership Lambda at the time of its transition to a program of the DGLA Don Baker Education Fund. He is co-chair of LEGEND, the GLBT employee resource group of Texas Instruments, and is active in the First Unitarian Church. He is a member of Family Pride Coalition, Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas, and he and his life partner of 16 years, Roger Grape, have a 12-year-old son.

Arrieta, born and raised in Panama City, Panama, is another returning board member. He has worked for the city of Dallas since 1997, and served in the United States Air Force from 1981 until he retired in 2004. He is a founding member and regional coordinator of the Military Equality Alliance in Dallas, a member of the Dallas Independent Volleyball Association, Valiente and Gay LULAC.

Hickman, who first joined the DGLA board in 2005, has been active in community outreach and coalition-building in North Texas for several years. She is a former board member of Razzle Dazzle Dallas and last year was a campaign staff member in the final weeks of the No Nonsense In November campaign against Texas Proposition 2.

A professional photographer, Hickman is a member of the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce as well as Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, and she serves as a Dallas County Democratic Party precinct chair. She works a trainer at People Empowerment Project, an educational program founded by former Texas state Rep. Harryette Ehrhardt that teaches students in Dallas schools about active citizenship through the act of voting.

Duckett, at 21, is the youngest member of the Alliance’s board. He began as an activist at age 16 with his efforts to establish the first Gay Straight Alliance at Mansfield High School in 2001, and in 2003 he became the youngest person to serve as co-chair of the Tarrant County chapter of the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

While still in high school, Duckett became the first Youth Ambassador for Tarrant County’s chapter of Parents, Family, Friends of Gays and Lesbians (PFLAG), and he co-founded the Coalition of Tarrant County Gay Straight Alliances. He has been honored by the Imperial Court de Fort Worth/Arlington, and received three “Excellence in Community Service” awards from the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association. He created the Tarrant County “Getting Active Politically” conference and co-created several charitable functions such as “Queer Variety” and “Fort Worth GLBT Youth Night Out.” He now lives and works in Dallas.

Becker was born and raised in Dallas but first embraced political advocacy while living and studying in Washington, D.C. for five years. While new to the Alliance’s board, he has been an active volunteer in the community for many years. Becker is a female-to-male transgender person and has been active in a number of North Texas transgender advocacy organizations. He co-founded GEAR (Gender Education Advocacy and Resources), now a program of the Resource Center of Dallas. He volunteers with the Human Rights Campaign and its National Coming Out Project and was profiled in a feature article in the upcoming National Coming Out Project special section last week in the Dallas Morning News.

Halbrook joins the board for the first time this year. She also serves on the DGLA Political Action Committee, is a national board member of Log Cabin Republicans and a past board member of the Dallas chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans.

Halbrook has served as a board member of Women’s Communities Association and the educational group Public Affairs Luncheon Club. She was active in the Log Cabin Republican’s No on Prop 2 campaign last year. She and her partner, Brian Welker, own a graphic design business in Dallas.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, October 13, 2006.

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