GALA North Texas’ First Annual Ally Awards

A Cause for Thanks

On November 17, GALA North Texas’ monthly happy hour featured a very special twist. A well-dressed and fabulously diverse 100 or so guests gathered at Plano’s Hilton Granite Park hotel to celebrate and honor the leaders of the City of Plano at GALA’s first annual Ally Awards.

This event was co-sponsored by the North Texas GLBT Chamber and honored the allies who work to enhance equality for LGBT North Texans and their families. The President of GALA, Jeanne Rubin, remarked, “Tonight we want to celebrate the work of our allies because their courage is an incredible asset to our work. Their dedication to changing hearts and minds makes North Texas a better place for all of us.”

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GALA NTX President Jeanne Rubin opened the Ally Awards ceremony // photos Jennifer Shertzer

Phillip Pierceall, the evening’s emcee and ally to the LGBT community, spoke about the courage our city leaders have shown and how far we’ve come in the last 26 years thanks to the folks in charge doing the right thing to support equality for all.

Throughout the evening, there were many hugs and thanks, and one statement was heard over and over again, “I’ve lived and worked in Plano for years [some said since the 70s] and let me tell you, Plano has come a long, long way.” They shared stories of having to stay in the closet for fear of being fired from their jobs. They showed resounding enthusiasm and gratitude for the support from leaders like City Manager Bruce Glasscock, Deputy Manager Jim Parrish, HR Director Shante Akafia and Economic Development Director Sally Bane because–thanks to their efforts–today you can work as an open LGBT employee for the City of Plano. Even when there was strong push back against the Equal Rights Ordinance in Plano a couple years ago, Mayor Harry LaRosiliere was steadfast and unrelenting in his commitment to ensuring that the rights of all Plano citizens and visitors were protected.

“Texas is still a very conservative state and when a city leader like Police Chief Greg Rushing reached out to us to offer his support and condolences on the morning of the mass shooting in Florida to show his deep concern for the treatment and continued protection of our own LGBT citizens, it’s cause for thanks,” declared Jeanne Rubin.

Plano leadership honorees at the first annual Ally Awards:

Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere
Plano Mayor Pro Tem Lissa Smith
Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock
Plano Deputy City Manager Jim Parrish
Plano Police Chief Greg Rushin
Plano Economic Development Executive Director Sally Bane
Plano Human Resources Director Shante Akafia
Plano City Council Place 1 Angela Miner
Plano City Council Place 3 Rick Grady
Plano City Council Place 8 David Downs
Former Plano City Council Member Pat Miner
Former Plano City Council Member André Davidson
Plano Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Jamee Jolly

GALA North Texas is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization committed to celebrating diversity & enhancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender North Texans in our schools, workplaces, and communities.

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The Ally Award honorees with GALA NTX board members. (Front Row:) Plano Human Resources Director Shante Akafia, Plano Economic Development Executive Director Sally Bane, Plano City Council Place 1 Angela Miner, Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere, North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Tony Vedda, GALA NTX President Jeanne Rubin, Plano Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Jamee Jolly, GALA NTX Vice President Dawna Hubert, GALA NTX Social Committee Chair Wendi Hollenbeck-Loyet, GALA NTX Founder and Treasurer Blue Martinez, GALA NTX Board Member and Ally Committee Chair Rosemarie Odom, (Back Row:) Plano Deputy City Manager Jim Parrish, GALA NTX Board Member Bob Shimmin, GALA NTX Board Member Kameron Lewellen, Former Plano City Council Member Pat Miner, Plano City Manager Bruce Glasscock, GALA NTX Founder and Board Member Emeritus Dawnetta Miller, Plano City Council Place 3 Rick Grady, Event Emcee and Ally Phillip Pierceall, GALA NTX Board Member Rich Milam, GALA NTX Board Member Cristina Hayes, Chair GALA Ally Awards Committee Tom Venner.
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GALA NTX Board of Directors. (Front Row:) Rosemarie Odom, Jeanne Rubin, Dawnetta Miller, Blue Martinez, (Back Row:) Rich Milam, Cristina Hayes, Dawna Hubert, Wendi Hollenbeck-Loyet, Kameron Lewellen, Bob Shimming, (Not Pictured) Michael Wren

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