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Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



Center on Halsted's signature Human First Gala to return
--From a press release

This article shared 8451 times since Mon Mar 11, 2024
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CHICAGO, IL — Center on Halsted's signature Human First Gala will be held on Saturday, April 20 at The Geraghty. The gala brings together LGBTQ+ community members and allies for an evening of celebration to recognize the contributions of individuals, businesses, and other organizations to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community in Chicago.

The Human First Gala focuses on celebrating the Chicagoland LGBTQ+ community and the Center's mission, vision, and impact over the years. Center on Halsted is looking forward to celebrating and recognizing the many individuals that contribute to the thriving LGBTQ+ community. Center on Halsted furthers their mission of advancing community and securing the health and well-being of the LGBTQ+ people in Chicagoland through a variety of programs and services, including youth and family focused efforts, senior services, connection to care around HIV testing and prevention, behavioral health services, access to technology through the Cyber Center, and more. 2024's event will be even more special as the Center spotlights the new horizons for the organization with the recent appointment of the new Chief Executive Officer, Joli Robinson.

"It's been an absolute honor and privilege to be embraced by and embedded into the vibrant, caring, and creative LGBTQ+ community of Chicago," says Center on Halsted CEO Joli Robinson. "I'm thrilled to raise a glass to the incredible community members that have been pivotal in creating such a strong base and have contributed to such a rich history and legacy of Center on Halsted. This strong foundation allows us to focus on our ongoing impact and growth."

Funds raised at the Human First Gala support all of Center on Halsted's programming to advance the vision of a thriving LGBTQ+ community, living powerfully in supportive inclusive environments.

Human First Gala Saturday, April 20, 2024

The Geraghty, 2520 S. Hoyne

6 p.m.: Cocktails & Reception

7 p.m.: Awards, Dinner, Performance & Dancing

The gala is supported by Champion Sponsor, McDonald's. Additional support is provided by the following sponsors:

Atkore, Avita, BDO, Susan Betteridge, BMO Bank, Bravo Hospitality Group, C-Strategies, Chicago Blackhawks, CIBC, Comcast, Duane M. DesParte and John C. Schneider, GCM Grosvenor, Hard Rock Casino Northern Indiana, HausCo, Brent & Katie Gledhill, Illinois Tool Works, Jackson National, Koya, KPMG, MINI Cooper of Glencoe, Northern Trust, Peoples Gas, Perrier, Plante Moran, Rush University System for Health, SC Johnson, Sikich, Ted Grady & Ross Slotten, and US Bank.

For sponsorship, ticketing, and event information, visit: .

Each year the Human First Gala uplifts members of the community, recognizing supporters, advocates, and champions through awards presented during the evening. This year, the Center is proud to honor:

- Human First Award Recipient: Donald M. Bell - longtime LGBTQ+ activist and advocate,

- Community Spirit Award Recipient: RUSH - leader in gender affirming care and Center collaborator in community vaccine delivery, and

- Corporate Impact Award Recipient: McDonald's - who provides impactful support to the Center through both their Pride Employee Business Network and their Chicago Community Impact Grants program. This award spotlights McDonald's dedication to partnering with LGBTQ+ organizations in Chicago and throughout the U.S. to help accelerate cultures of inclusion and belonging and to help reduce barriers to employment and education opportunities. Marion Gross, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Supply Chain Officer and Executive Sponsor of McDonald's Pride Employee Business Network, will accept the award on behalf of McDonald's.

"Our aspiration is that when you interact with McDonald's, all people feel welcome, comfortable and safe to live their authentic self," says Gross. "This means the full expression of diversity across different genders, races, cultures, identities, sexual orientations, ages, religions, abilities, languages and experiences. We're proud of our work with Center on Halsted and all of our community partners that help us to use our influence and scale to help accelerate In the summer of 2022, Rush University System for Health mobilized quickly in partnership with Center on Halsted to offer COVID vaccinations in concert with Mpox vaccinations as the LGTBQ+ community faced a dual pandemic.

RUSH continues to support those that frequent the Center providing Mpox, COVID, and flu vaccines. "RUSH is an ideal community partner to recognize," says Joli Robinson. "They authentically stand for affirming care for the LGBTQ+ community during a time where our surrounding states are eyeing harmful legislation around such care. We are humbled to partner with them in a variety of ways, connecting care to all our community members."

Additional information on our honorees is below.


Human First provides an opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate past accomplishments, while we look forward to the work ahead as we continue to build a human first work, together. In addition to raising vital funds to support Center on Halsted programs and services, the Human First Award, Community Spirit Award, and Corporate Impact Awards will be presented to several outstanding civic leaders for their important contributions to the advancement of Chicago's LGBTQ movement.


Center on Halsted advances community and secures the health and well-being of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer people of Chicagoland. As the Midwest's most comprehensive LGBTQ+ community center, the organization now includes Center on Addison, an LGBTQ+ Senior Center, and Center on Cottage Grove, a space to better serve LGBTQ+ community members living on the South Side, especially those vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.

More than 1,000 community members visit the Center every day. Learn more at


Donald M. Bell — Human First Award

Donald M Bell (He, Him, His) identifies as a 74-year-old, single, cisgender, pro-feminist gay or same gender loving man of African, Indigenous, and Scots-Irish roots. He is a third-generation native-born Chicagoan, South Sider, and lifelong White Sox fan. He is retired from a professional career in social welfare, higher education administration, and HIV/AIDS advocacy. He is now civically engaged in challenging ageism and ableism in intersection with other forms of social marginalization as they impact the aging community, in general, and the LGBTQ+ community, in particular.

He currently serves as the Chairperson of the Illinois Commission on LGBTQ+ Aging, and as a member of the Mayor's Advisory Council on LGBTQ+ Affairs. He also sits on the Boards of Directors of The Village Chicago (TVC), an organization supporting engagement and connection in the aging stages of life; One Roof Chicago (ORC), the initiative to bring an intergenerational LGBTQ+ culturally-affirming housing development to the South Side of Chicago; and the National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS), the nation's oldest pro-feminist men's organization.

RUSH — Community Spirit Award

Together with residents, community leaders, nonprofit organizations and other health care institutions, RUSH's goal is to be a catalyst for community health and vitality by dismantling barriers to health, and by promoting health equity both within and outside of RUSH.

RUSH has a history of being a champion for the LGBTQ+ community and has been recognized as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality in the Healthcare Equality Index, an annual survey of how health care facilities in the United States treat LGBTQ+ patients and their families, as well as LGBTQ+ employees. RUSH's commitment to equity of care for the LGBTQ+ community extends to all aspects of our institution — from patient care and clinical expertise to employment opportunities and employee benefits.

Rush University System for Health is a national leader in outstanding patient care, education, research, community partnerships and empowering a new generation of health care providers. RUSH is a nonprofit health system that includes RUSH University Medical Center, RUSH University, RUSH Copley Medical Center and RUSH Oak Park Hospital, as well as an extensive providers network and numerous outpatient care facilities. RUSH University comprises Rush Medical College, the College of nursing and the College of Health Sciences.

McDonald's Corporation — Corporate Impact Award

Amidst a global footprint, the community of Chicago holds a special place for McDonald's, whose roots in the city date back to 1955.

Through their Chicago Community Impact Grants program, McDonald's partners with organizations, like Center on Halsted, whose work is focused on addressing inequities, empowering non-majority communities, and reducing barriers to employment and educational opportunities.

McDonald's has a long history of supporting LGBTQ+ causes and organizations, including Center on Halsted, AIDS Foundation Chicago, Human Rights Campaign, Equality Illinois, Out & Equal, and more. Through their Pride Employee Business Network, McDonald's strives to build awareness, equity, inclusion and opportunities for employees and customers from the LGBTQ+ community, which includes volunteerism at organizations like Center on Halsted.

For the last 9 years, McDonald's has received a 100% on the Human Rights Campaign's Corporate Equality Index.

Accepting the Corporate Impact Award is Marion Gross, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Supply Chain Officer, and Executive Sponsor of McDonald's Pride Employee Business Network.

McDonald's is the world's leading global foodservice retailer with over 40,000 locations in over 100 countries.

Approximately 95% of McDonald's restaurants worldwide are owned and operated by independent local business owners.

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