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Dallas LGBTQ Global Symposium on Equality & Human Rights

Friday, February 24, 2023 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Time Zone: America/Chicago
Local Time: Friday, February 24, 2023 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM

LGBTQ Save the Date 2023

In February of 2020, the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth hosted the inaugural Dallas LGBTQ+ Global Symposium on Equality & Human Rights in partnership with several area organizations, designed to be an annual forum for diversity, inclusion, finding common ground, respecting others, and sharing/listening to stories that validate the human experience. Unfortunately, the pandemic forced a two-year hiatus. Since that initial gathering, national and state legislation has dramatically shifted and the rights of LGBTQ+ people – particularly trans individuals – have been stripped away.

Join us February 24 for the second installation of this critical conversation.

Keynote speaker:

Andrea Jenkins HeadshotAndrea Jenkins (she/her) is president of the Minneapolis City Council in addition to being an avid writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She made history in 2017 as the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. After moving to Minnesota to attend the University of Minnesota in 1979, Jenkins worked for a decade as a vocational counselor for Hennepin County and as a staff member on the Minneapolis City Council for 12 years. She later worked as curator of the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota's Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies. Jenkins earned her B.A. in human services from Metropolitan State University, her master’s in community development from Southern New Hampshire University, and a M.F.A. in creative writing from Hamline University. She is a an internationally recognized writer and artist, honored as a Bush Fellow in 2011 for her work in transgender inclusion. In 2018, Jenkins completed the senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University. Jenkins was one of many women featured on the cover of Time Magazine (January 29, 2018) who ran for political office between 2017-2018.

Panel 1: The State of LGBTQ Equality in Texas Today

Featuring a recorded video from Representative Jessica Gonzalez

Rep. Jessica GonzalezJessica Gonzalez (she/her) is one of the few openly queer members in the Texas House of Representatives. Gonzalez has dedicated her life to public service as an attorney. She was elected in 2018 and serves the 104th district. She is the vice chair and co-founder of the Texas House LGBTQ Caucus and the vice chair of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators' Human and Civil Rights Task Force. Gonzalez was born and raised in Dallas and is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants.


Shelly Skeen HeadshotShelly Skeen (she/her) is a senior attorney for Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization working to secure equality and civil rights for the LGTBQIA+ community. Skeen boasts 20 years of experience in law as a litigator, meditator, trial advocacy instructor, and appellate practitioner. Skeen has served in many roles from council member to council chair of the LGBT Law Section for the State Bar of Texas and as president and vice-president of the Dallas LGBT Bar Association. She is a public servant in and outside of work, frequently sought after as a speaker and sitting on many nonprofit boards. Skeen is a founding member of and co-chair for the Policy & Advocacy Committee for the “Coalition for Aging LGBT” and for “Legal Aid of Northwest Texas.” She has been involved in Texas-based name and gender marker change legal clinics, has coordinated many fundraising and volunteer events, and is currently serving a three-year term on the State Bar of Texas CLE Committee. Last year, she earned her LL.M. from UCLA School of Law with specializations in constitutional law and law and sexuality (LGBTQ Law).

Lisa Hermes HeadshotLisa Hermes is the President of McKinney Chamber of Commerce. She began her work with the chamber in 2006 as their Communications and Public Policy Director. She later served as President of the Rowlett Chamber, Vice President of Lewisville Chamber, and President of the Metrocrest Chamber (serving Addison, Carrollton, and Farmers Branch). Hermes has a background in journalism where she began her professional career at the Star Group of Newspapers in Burleson. In 2018, she was named one of the top 40 under 40 by the Business Journal. In addition to her work in the chambers, she serves on the Texas Association of Business Board, North Texas Commission Board, Imagine International Academy of North Texas, and the Community Lifeline Center Board.

Moderator: Carisa Lopez, Texas Freedom Network

Panel 2: Global Issues

Bishop Joseph ToltonBishop Joseph W. Tolton is the founder and president of Interconnected Justice, which was established in 2019 to be a uniting force for the global racial justice movement. He serves as a LGBTQ faith leader and is the Bishop of Global Ministries for The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM), where he leads justice ministries and collaborations outside of the U.S. (primarily East Africa). Bishop Tolton’s passion is connecting the Black Lives Matter movement and Pan Africanism. Bishop Tolton works directly with leaders to form justice movements that connect activists with civil society advocates, media professionals, academics, and political leaders.

Arsham Parsi headshotArsham Parsi (he/him) is an Iranian gay activist and founder of the International Railroad of Queer Refugees, dedicated to helping LGBTQ+ refugees fleeing oppressive policies of nations in the Middle East. Parsi founded the Iranian Queer Organization in 2004 – the first Iranian gay group of its kind. He escaped the pursuit of police and fled to Turkey in 2005 where he continued to publish the plight of LGBTQ Iranians. He found safety and asylum in Canada where he served as director of the cultural committee at the Iranian Association of University of Toronto. in 2007, he was a founding member of the Rainbow Railroad group based in Toronto and the advisory committee of the Hirschfeld Eddy Foundation. Currently, he is an Iranian member of the International Lesbian and Gay Association, and ambassador of Iran in the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network.

Albert McLeodAlbert McLeod (he/him) is a recognized pioneer in HIV education for Indigenous people. He has ancestry from Nisichawayasihk Cree Nation and the Métis community of Norway House. McLeod has been a known leader, actively organizing North American Indigenous LGBTQ people under the name “Two Spirit (2S),” remembering and honoring the fundamental and spiritual roles of non-binary gender people in pre-contact First Nations since 1986. He served as the director of the Manitoba Aboriginal AIDS Task Force from 1991 to 2001. In 2018, McLeod received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Winnipeg where he still lives today, working as a consultant specializing with indigenous peoples, cultural reclamation, and cross-cultural training.

Moderated By:

Gary SanchezGary Sanchez (he/him) is the director of public affairs at VisitDallas (formerly the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau) and the current board chair at the North Texas LGBT Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.He also serves on the Dallas Regional Chamber Board of Directors - Public Policy Advisory Council and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Sub-Council. In 2021, he was appointed as co-chair of Mayor Eric Johnson’s Anti-Hate Advisory Council. Sanchez has more than 15 years of experience in marketing and public relations in the private and public sectors. He is a native of Laredo, Texas and earned his degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio.



LGBTQ Symposium Partners

Presenting Sponsor

Location: Southern Methodist University - Crum Auditorium
Collins Executive Building
3150 Binkley Ave, Dallas, TX 75205
Fees: $25
Calendar: Council Events
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