(Community Matters) W0w – what a great HRC black tie dinner – Billy Wilkinson & Kathrin Kersten were the co-chairs. Randi Shade & Kayla Shell received the Bettie Naylor Award and wowed the crowd with personal stories. Alisa Weldon & Lynn Yeldell were presented the Visibility Award for their L Style G Style and their community leadership. John Hogg & David Garza should receive the Generous Award for auctioning the New Mexico home x3, which raised $27k. Camille Cook & Siri Hutcheson brought the house down speaking about a personal experience and for Federal Club appeals; they should take it on the road. I think they brought in an extra $100k+. Kirk Rice introduced HRC President Joe Solomenese who’s announced his retirement. Judge Robert Pitman was a gracious recipient of much attention. And, what a surprise to have comedian George Lopez serve as auctioneer, even disguised as Police Chief Art Acevedo.
HRC’s come a long way since the 18k members & $8mm budget when I was on the board. We launched Austin’s blacktie in ’92 or ’93 at Patrick & Rhett’s High Road Estate, the second at the Wildflower Center, the third at the Perry Mansion, then the Driskill. Of course, all after Avant Garage at GSD&M’s offices on 360. The original HRC launch team in Austin included Stephen Skaggs, Charles Santos, Tana Christie, Joe Cloud, Alice Reynolds, Michael Mitchell, Tom Henderson, Bettie Naylor, David Kurio, Victoria Hentrich, Suzanne Bryant, Sarah Goodfriend, me and a few others I don’t recall. I was the first Austinite on the HRC board while Bettie was the first on the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force. John Boardman, Mikal Grimes and a bunch of great guys & women were the second wave in Austin. Jill Wilcox, Billy & John Kerrigan, Alisa & Lynn, Kathrin, Joel Baldazo & Chris Breed, Todd Canon, John Hogg & David Garza and others carry the water today and have taken it to the next level. I believe HRC now has 700k members and a budget > $50mm. Joe Solomenese is gonna be missed; he’s made a huge difference during his 6 years. And, the current job finalists bode well for the next iteration of this organization.