Staff from the Cook County State's Attorney's Office wrapped up Pride Month June 26 with its Ninth Annual Pride Recognition & Awards Ceremony, which was held at Center on Halsted.
State's Attorney Kim Foxx was ill and could not attend, but Chief of Staff and Chief Diversity Officer Jennifer Ballard Croft spoke in her place, reiterating the office's commitment to diversity, noting that both providing an inclusive and affirming workplace for LGBT staff and engagement with the LGBT community at large were of paramount importance.
Krista Peterson, an assistant state's attorney who is vice-president of the Office's LGBT+ Employee Resource Group, said that, with the current resources, she and other employees have mentorship and communication.
"That's something that wasn't there back when I became an assistant state's attorney," she added.
Award recipients included Aaron Kreider, a DePaul law student who was given the LGBT Pride Celebration Scholarship Award, as well Judge Mary Colleen Roberts and The Night Ministry, both awarded the Pride Community Service Award.
Activist Julio Rodriguez, co-founder and Board President of Association of Latinos/as Motivating Action ( ALMA ) was given the Vernita Gray Lifetime Achievement Award.
Gray was for many years a victim's advocate in the Office. Rodriguez spoke warmly of her mentorship and advice, noting that Gray was a person who could "talk the talk, but, more importantly, walk the walk."
He added that, in the long struggle for securing rights and freedoms, "We have to remember that the fight is never over."
Among those also speaking were State's Attorney's Office LGBTQ & Hate Crimes Specialist Angelica D'Souza; John Litchfield, secretary of the Lesbian & Gay Bar Association of Chicago; and Thomas Sondergeld, vice-president of Global HRIS Health & Mobility at Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. WGN-TV's Mike Lowe emceed.