May 21, 2018
Lauren Gray, NCLR Communications Director
lgray@nclrights.org / (215) 983-3099

Moved by the Departure of Outgoing Executive Director Kate Kendell, NCLR’s Annual Gala Raises a Million Dollars for the Future of NCLR  

SAN FRANCISCO—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) hosted its 41st Anniversary Celebration gala on Saturday night at San Francisco’s Palace of the Fine Arts. Earlier this year, NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell announced on March 15  that after more than 22 years of leading NCLR, she will be stepping down at the end of this year. In response, more than 1,000 people turned out for NCLR’s annual dinner and 1,300 for the after party—raising $1 million for the future of NCLR, with more than $500,000 donated in the room.

In an emotional speech, Kendell thanked NCLR founder and early leader the Honorable Donna Hitchens and Roberta Achtenberg, respectively, shared stories about her early work at NCLR, as well as her vision for the future of a broader, more inclusive LGBTQ movement: “LGBTQ people are in every community. Every issue is an LGBTQ issue. We cannot be bystanders. We are the ones that can make a difference.”

Other evening highlights included moving speeches from Doe v. Trump transgender military ban plaintiffs Naval Academy Midshipman Regan Kibby, University of New Haven freshman Dylan Kohere, and NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter—one of two transgender attorneys at the center of the fight to stop the Trump-Pence transgender military ban. Born Perfect Strategist and conversion therapy survivor Mathew Shurka also spoke, sharing his personal story and discussing NCLR’s work with producers and directors on two upcoming major films that will address conversion therapy issues—Boy Erased, starring Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which is starring Chloë Grace Moretz and won best dramatic feature at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.

In a humorous nod to vintage Kate Kendell style, Sara Sperling also took to the stage with her daughter, both wearing mullet wigs. Sperling, the founder of Facebook’s Diversity & Inclusion function, is now a partner at Oxegen Consulting LLC and is a longtime supporter of both Kate and NCLR as a member of the National Leadership Council.

In response to a number of signs that evening stating, “When I grow up, I want to be Kate Kendell,” Kendell inspiringly urged those in the room to “aim higher” and expressed her confidence in young LGBTQ leaders and the future of the LGBTQ movement.  


The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. www.NCLRights.org