At the 15th Annual 30 Under 30 Awards, thirty individuals under thirty years of age from all parts of the LGBTQIA communities will be honored. Windy City Times receives community nominations for the awards each spring and selects the best in LGBTQIA activism, business, culture, non-profit work and more. The awards are co-sponsored by the Center on Halsted, AIDS Foundation of Chicago and Chicago House. 5:30pm, Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted.
[See coverage of the event at the link: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/WCT-30-Under-30-Awards-presented/48088.html . ]
Matthew Adamczyk, 29, was born and raised in central Massachusetts.
From a very early age he has focused on two things: drawing and dancing. Deciding to pursue the career in dance first, Matthew enrolled in a local studio and after a few years, at the age of 16, he enrolled in the Harid Conservatory for classical ballet in Boca Raton, Florida. While there, he spent much time at school in art class honing his talents for visual art. One painting won a Gold Key in the Scholastic Arts and Writing competition and went on to the National competition held at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC.
Upon graduation in 2003, he was offered a position at the Joffrey Ballet as an Arpino Apprentice, and was promoted to full company member in 2005. After a few years establishing his place in the company and Chicago, Matthew decided to focus on his art and make it into a second career. In 2011, he created his website DancingPainter.com, showcasing his creations as well as his extensive resume as a dancer.
Ever the philanthropist, he has volunteered his talents to events like Dance For Life and Embarc, and has submitted works of art for several silent auctions benefitting both local and national charities. Matthew also sits on the Joffrey Ballet marketing comity and has assisted Executive Director Greg Cameron in establising a new relationship with Chicago's LGBT community.
DID YOU KNOW? In his senior year of high school, Matthew spent two periods testing and creating recipes as the teacher's aide in the culinary arts department.
Jacques Agbobly, 16, was born in Togo, Africa, and came to the U.S. seven years ago. He moved to Chicago with his family to seek treatment for a family member with HIV/AIDS as well as better educational opportunities for his siblings and himself.
The transition was very difficult for Jacques and he suffered from frequent bullying, he was ostracized not only because of his skin color and accent, but for his sexual orientation as well. Rather than focus on the prevalent hardships or dwell on the traumas of his past, Jacques chooses to look at the bright side of his story. In eighth grade, Jacques ( who now identifies as gay ) produced an anti-bullying PSA that was featured in Time Out Chicago; he was later asked by the organization "Facing History and Ourselves" to speak at its national benefit dinner.
Jacques currently attends high school at the Chicago Academy for the Arts on a full scholarship. He is also an ambassador for the National Youth HIV and AIDS Awareness Day foundation, where he volunteers as a fundraiser and speaker on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS. This past year, Jacques helped his school raise more than $4,000 for Children's Place, an organization that provides day care for children who's been affected/effected by HIV/AIDS.
DID YOU KNOW? Jacques just won a Youth Courage Award from Colin Higgins Foundation for his activism in the HIV/AIDS and LGBTQ community.
Ricardo Albarran, 24, is currently the testing together coordinator at Howard Brown Health Center.
Born and raised in the Little Village and West Lawn neighborhoods of Chicago, Ricardo attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign ( UIUC ), where he earned a Bachelor of Science in community health. He dedicated much of his free time volunteering at Frances Nelson Health Center, Champaign County Health Care Consumers, and assisting in two different research projects alongside UIUC professors that related to health disparities in Latino/a populations.
He also served as president of the Aspiring Latinos in Medicine Association ( ALMA ) and finished his junior year, receiving a Student Leadership Award at UIUC.
After volunteering in the Latino/a community of Urbana-Champaign, Ricardo then felt personally compelled to focus his time on the other side of his identity after leaving UIUC, serving the LGBTQ community in Chicago. In May 2013, he applied and was hired as a clinic-based health educator at Howard Brown Health Center, and has since provided HIV testing and counseling services to hundreds of individuals in the community, while incorporating Personalized Cognitive Counseling into some of his work.
This past May, he was promoted to coordinate the Testing Together program at Howard Brown, a program in which couples can receive their HIV test results together. Ricardo hopes to one day combine his love for travel and passion for health care to serve different communities not only within his hometown of Chicago, but across the nation.
DID YOU KNOW? Ricardo is a huge fan of horror films. He also has two 1-year old Pomeranian pups, LoLa and Rocco, who jump at him in excitement every time he comes home from work.
Trian Alexander was born and raised in the Uptown area of Chicago. After attending Connecticut College, they returned to Chicago in 2013 to complete their bachelor's degree. Due to complications Trian had to leave their family home, and rely on the kindness and support of individuals of LGBT community.
Through that support, Trian became a volunteer videographer and editor for the Trans Oral History Project and an intern for Affinity Community Services. In the early spring of 2014, Trian spoke on a panel for Amnesty International about their experience as a homeless non-binary trans* youth of color. Trian continued to support homeless youth advocacy through assisting at the May 2014 Windy City Times LGBTQ Homeless Youth Summit. Trian is continuing to work through Affinity Community Services as an advocate of the Black and brown trans* communities, in the hope to see conditions improve for current and future generations.
DID YOU KNOW? Trian doesn't like the moon. Seeing a full moon makes them physically uncomfortable.
Lucy Baglin, 25, grew up in Guildford, England, and moved to the United States at age 13. Lucy returned to England to complete her master's degree in public health at the University of Surrey in 2010, before finally deciding on Chicago as a place to start working in public policy.
As policy coordinator for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago ( AFC ), Lucy's role is to lead state and federal mobilization efforts to enhance and expand grassroots support for HIV/AIDS and LGBT-related advocacy issues, including helping to recruit and engage new AIDS advocates for the statewide Illinois Alliance for Sound AIDS Policy ( IL ASAP ). A critical, and favorite, part of her work is helping HIV/AIDS advocates develop their stories, speak up and become strong leaders in their communities.
She also works to implement key non-discriminatory provisions of the Affordable Care Act ( ACA ) by contributing to HIVHealthReform.org as well as Chicago's Trans Healthcare Access coalition.
Lucy's goal is to always work in a field where she can contribute to the fight for political, economic and social justice.
DID YOU KNOW? Lucy does not have a middle name.
Johnny Begale, 27, grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. Throughout his schooling, he focused on athletics, good grades, and quality time with family and friends. He received his bachelor's degree in accounting at Illinois Wesleyan University, where he played club volleyball and was involved with the Office of Residential Life.
Staying on track, Johnny obtained an audit winter internship with McGladrey & Pullen in Chicago during his junior year, which turned into a full-time position following graduation. Before facing the real world, Johnny backpacked through Europe for a month, and upon coming home, was was ready for a new chapter in his lifeand came out to his family and friends.
Shortly after coming out, Johnny realized a career in accounting was not the best route for him. He left the accounting industry to figure things out, and started working at the family meat market in Lake View. Feeling more comfortable with his current job and himself, Johnny was on the lookout for a career he could be passionate about. Almost a year ago, he had the urge to "pay it forward" and started a non-profit called Equality America. His goal in creating this group was to help people visually show their support for marriage equality and the LGBTQ community as a whole.
Since creation of the group, Johnny, alongside his family and friends, has sold hundreds of wristbands and key chains bearing the name "Equality America" in the hopes of offering visual support to those struggling with their sexual orientation. Equality America continues to evolve and through transparency and vulnerability is an organization which hopes to motivate members of the LGBTQ community who struggle with their sexuality to become confident in who they are and be true to themselves.
DID YOU KNOW? During Johnny's Eurotrip in 2009, his group of friends decided to bypass hostels and hotels for a night in Nice, France, and instead sleep on the beach. Just their luckthe beach was full of stones and not sand, but it was nothing grapefruit and wine for dinner couldn't cure.
Monica Beverly Hillz, 29 has been through many transformations in her life. The latest one has turned her into an advocate for transwomen everywhere. She came out as a transgendered woman as a cast member in the fifth season of RuPaul's Drag Race. Monica has been telling her story and spinning across dance floors since.
Monica's glory is a tribute to the two women who gave her life. Elsie De Jesus, Monica's biological mother, gave birth to Monica when she was impossibly young and tormented by life on the streets. At the age of 4, Monicaor "Meño," as she was known as a childwas adopted by her mother's sister, Gladys. Raised on the rough streets of Chicago's Latino Northwest Side, Monicawho sashayed and stole her sisters' clothes and high heelswas like no other boy. When Gladys died tragically, leaving behind five children, Monica, then 15, moved to Kentucky to join her biological mother.
In small-town Kentucky, Monica was the only openly gay person at her high school. Monica soon moved back north to Chicago, where she began performing in drag. By 18, she became the main diva at various Latino gay clubs like Rancho Luna, Mambo Cafe and Club Dulces. When street life in Chicago proved too brutal, Monica followed in her mother's footsteps and moved to Kentucky. There Monica became a cast mate at her town's only gay bar. Soon after Monica was called to Hollywood to compete in RuPaul's Drag Race. The rest, my beautiful humans is history in the making!
DID YOU KNOW? Monica is horrifically scared to get behind the wheel of a car? She would rather ride a bike or get a piggy back ride to her gigs.
Annie Castronova, 23, originally from Worcester, Massachusetts, studied political science at Saint Michael's College ( SMC ) in Burlington, Vermont.
As a student at SMC, Annie became involved with HIV/AIDS activism through the Student Global AIDS Campaign. To develop a better understanding of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic, Annie studied abroad in Gulu, Uganda. In Uganda, Annie researched the positive impact community health-workers had on HIV/AIDS prevention strategies as well as the delivery and destigmatization of ARV treatment.
After graduating in May 2013, Annie joined the Episcopal Service Corps and began working at Chicago House & Social Service Agency's TransLife Center. At the TransLife Center, Annie assists program staff with housing, medical, legal, and pop-in programming. Annie also volunteers at the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois' Name Change Mobilization, where they assist transgender and gender variant individuals with obtaining their legal name change. Annie has committed to a second year of the Episcopal Service Corps and will be continuing their work at Chicago House. After their service year, Annie plans on attending law school in hopes of developing skill sets that will make them a better advocate for the LGBTQAI+ community.
DID YOU KNOW? Annie auditioned for the Real World during their Senior year of college and got through to the second round, but tanked the group interview and never got called back again?
Breezy Cephus 22, born in Chicago and raised in Hopkins Park, Illinois.
Breezy started volunteering at an early age , first at Pembroke Nursing Home in 2003 and then at New Beginnings shelter for abused cats and dogs. In 2009 she relocated to Chicago. She attended Dawson college to obtain her GED and NCCER certification in 2011.
She received an award from the Center on Halsted for leadership and activism in 2013. Also, Breezy was part of a group of people who went to Springfield to talk to senators about funding for homeless youth in 2014. In addition, she was a youth organizer for an LGBTQ homeless youth summit held this year. She is currently volunteering with the SAGE program and belongs to a group called the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.
DID YOU KNOW? Breezi collected stuffed animals until she turned 20 years old.
Dustin Erikstrup, a native of Minnesota, now calls Chicago home after nearly 11 years in the Windy City. Dustin studied Marketing Communications and Retail Business at Columbia College. He was a key member of the management staff that launched Taverna 750, a popular bar/restaurant in the Lake View neighborhood.
Dustin began his fundraising career in 2009, leading his CMSA flag football team in the annual benefit, Leather & Lace. After four years of this popular event, the group has raised more than $7,000 for Birch Family Camp, with donations and participation growing each year.
As the manager of special events for Center on Halsted, he has successfully developed and executed LGBTQ community events, exceeding fundraising goals while increasing the visibility of Center on Halsted and its mission.
Dustin is a leader in the Network of Development Professionals for many LGBTQ non-profits; meeting quarterly to stay connected about how to partner on community initiatives including the Unity in the Community Pride parade entry. He is also a member of the Gay Marketers of Chicago.
DID YOU KNOW? Dustin is usually eating somethingand his eyelashes are real.
Jamie Frazier A fresh voice..." These are words that people often use to describe Jamie Frazier, affectionately known as, Pastor J. A native of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, Jamie owes much to the mother, Irene Frazier, and grandmother, Dorothy Frazier, who raised him. These two women taught Jamie the importance of serving God and loving people.
Jamie attended Vanderbilt University on a full-tuition scholarship. While at Vandy, he, among other things, launched a successful campus ministry.
Now a seminary student, Jamie, 28, recently started The Lighthouse Church of Chicago. The heart of this church's mission is clearly expressed in its motto: "Passionate About Jesus. Serious About Justice." The Lighthouse strives to be a congregation where Christ is worshipped, all are welcome, and justice is pursued! You can learn more about both Pastor J, as well as The Lighthouse, at www.lighthousechicago.org .
DID YOU KNOW? Pastor J can't cook, and finds single men who can simply irresistible!
Nick Furtwengler, 29, was born in the suburbs of Cincinnati, Ohio.
After earning his bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati, he moved to Chicago to attend the Chicago-Kent College of Law. While in law school, Nick joined the board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago ( LAGBAC ) as a student board member. After law school, Nick joined LAGBAC as a full board member and became the chairperson of the Programming & Events Committee.
In his capacity as chairperson, Nick organizes free legal-education seminars for students and practitioners that focus on LGBT issues in the legal world. Nick works in the Chicago office of Deloitte Tax LLP in the firm's corporate tax-consulting practice. His practice includes analyzing tax returns for potential refund opportunities and corporate controversy issues.
Did you know? Nick's pinky fingers are crookedand Anthony Bourdain has Nick's dream job.
Steve Grand, 24,Not long ago, Grand was a little-known Chicago singer-songwriter.
That changed July 2, 2013, when his self-funded music video, "All-American Boy," posted to YouTube. The songabout unrequited love between two menwent viral, accumulating more than 3 million views, landing Steve on Good Morning America and CNN and catapulting the song to Buzzfeed's list of the "24 Most Brilliant Music Videos from 2013."
Steve has been hailed as a "viral sensation" and one of this country's "first openly gay country stars."
Steve released a second single, "Stay," then a third, "Back to California," which offers a sneak peek at his first full-length album due out this fall.
DID YOU KNOW? Steve has the third most-funded music project in Kickstarter's history.
Zach Haller, 30, was born and raised in the Twin Cities suburbs, graduating with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006.
Since college, Zach has been recognized for leadership and creativity in the fields of fitness, technology, entrepreneurship and immigration law. As a fitness instructor with the Chicago Athletic Clubs, Zach has created original class formats while bringing new styles and perspectives to age-old formats, and has been featured in TimeOut Chicago, WCIU-The U and NBC Chicago. While living in Chicago, he was inspired by the lack of a universal, Web-based lost-and-found system, and went on to launch FoundInTown.com in January 2012 to solve this problem with a patent-pending lost device recovery service. He and his work with Found in Town have been featured in Fast Company, Business Insider, MSNBC, Crain's Chicago Business, TimeOut Chicago, and WGN Radio. Zach was a 2013 Fellow of the Startup Leadership Program, a highly selective, world-class training program for outstanding founders and innovators.
Having more than seven years of experience in immigration law as a corporate paralegal, Zach has also volunteered coordinating and facilitating pro bono visa clinics around Chicago, and recently had editorial work published in Crain's Chicago Business advocating for pragmatic immigration reform. Currently he is employed by Microsoft Corporation, managing key aspects of Microsoft's nonimmigrant visa program.
DID YOU KNOW? Zach is fluent in Spanish, stemming from a love affair with Shakira's first album while in high school, and typically eats breakfast several times a day.
Anna Rose Ii-Epstein, 30, and Hannah Ii-Epstein, 30, have been married since July 2011 and live in Chicago. They are both founders of Nothing Without a Company ( NwaC ), and are artists who strive to create fulfilling work wherever they go.
They have both worked with companies such as Mary-Arrchie Theater Company, Silent Theatre, The Inconvenience and Nothing Special Productions. Anna Rose has also worked with The Goodman, Steppenwolf, Victory Gardens Theater, Redmoon, Pride Films and Plays, About Face, and Windy City Performing Arts. Anna Rose is a licensed massage therapist who focuses on energy work and body awareness through breath control. Hannah is finishing Columbia College Chicago with a major in fiction and a minor in playwriting. You can contact them through their website at iiepstein.com .
DID YOU KNOW? Anna and Hannah had their ceremony on a beach in Hawaii. When they kissed, a rainbow appeared across the sky.
Iu-Luen Jeng, 28, is an art therapist and social justice activist working with LGBTQ youth who experience homelessness and trauma in Chicago.
Over the past five years, she has provided clinical services and supervised numerous students in a concerted effort to develop mental health leaders in the LGBTQ community. After chairing the Ethics Committee of the Illinois Art Therapy Association over the past two years, she was recently elected to lead the association as director of committees and community. At the intersection of her clinical and activist passions, she organizes rallies to defend the rights and equality of LGBTQ individuals, women, and immigrants and facilitates LGBTQ competency trainings for practitioners in Chicago and in her native Taiwan.
DID YOU KNOW? Iu-Luen is born to be an enthusiastic foodie. She is passionate about every detail in this experience, from the table arrangement to the new restaurant review. She believes that food is an essence of daily living.
Joe Kaiser, 27, is a lifelong Chicago resident who received bachelor's degrees in political science and computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2009.
Joe joined Chicago Bruise Brothers Roller Derby in 2011, skating under the name Rude Gus. Gus is currently the president of the Chicago Bruise Brothers, head referee for the Chicago Red Hots and an announcer for the Windy City Rollers. In 2013, Gus refereed at the USA Roller Sports Roller Derby national championships. Gus is a founding member of the Trans, Gender Non-Conforming and Intersex Athlete Network and earlier this year wrote the Men's Roller Derby Association's non-discrimination policy, hailed as "incredible" by derbyfrontier.com for welcoming nonbinary individuals and removing definitions of genders and barriers for inclusion.
This fall, Gus will be skating in the Chicago Bruise Brothers' 2014 home season at the Lombard Roller Rink.
DID YOU KNOW? In addition to Rude Gus, Joe has skated under the names Merb Ferguson, Pope Trans/cis and Benedict Thundersnatch.
Jacob Kosior, 27, is originally from Indianapolis, Indiana. He graduated from Princeton University in 2010 with a bachelor's degree in politics before moving to Chicago for a public service fellowship position at Center on Halsted. Jacob served as the Center's director of special events & volunteers for two years, during which time he oversaw the organization's fundraising events and volunteer program.
In 2012, he left his position at Center on Halsted to begin graduate school and, this May, he received his master's in urban planning and policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Jacob is now a project manager for Luxury Living Chicago Realty, where he manages leasing at the firm's exclusive rental properties.
Jacob lives in East LakeView with his wonderful boyfriend, Paul, and can usually be found running along the lakefront trail.
DID YOU KNOW? In 2013, Jacob lived in the woods for ONE month as a participant on The CW's Capture, a reality competition based on The Hunger Games.
Iggy Ladden, 24, is a LGBTQIA therapist and co-project manager of the TransSafe resource center at Chicago House's TLC. They ( Iggy uses gender-neutral pronouns ) helped shape and run TransSafe from its inception and continue to support its growth in meeting the needs of Chicago's trans and GNC ( gender non-conforming ) community.
Iggy has been particularly instrumental in developing TransSafe's policies, procedures, community relationships and trauma informed clinical approach. In addition to their work at Chicago House's TransLife Center, Iggy offers LGBTQIA-oriented yoga, meditation, and counseling services at IntraSpectrum and Chicago Counseling Associates.
Iggy moved from Fort Collins, Coloradowhere they did volunteer work supporting LGBT youth at the Lambda Center ( now called "The Center" )to Chicago to study non-profit management and social entrepreneurship from the University of Chicago School of Social Service and Administration. They received their undergraduate degree from Naropa University in Boulder, Coloradoan education which laid the bedrock for Iggy's unique Buddhist-inspired, social justice-oriented,and somatically-focused approach to therapy and community leadership.
DID YOU KNOW? Iggy has now spent more than a year of their life in meditation retreat. Iggy goes on days-long/monthlong meditation retreats to deepen themself emotionally and spiritually.
Keyshia Laymorris, 24, was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, and came to Chicago when she was 14. She spent time in jail and was awarded to DCFS at a young age. She is an openly HIV-positive worker in the LGBT community, and went to Chicago House when she was 23.
She worked with Bonn Wade as an LGBT youth organizer. She currently works as a HIV prevention outreach worker at Howard Area Community Center. She also worked with Tracy Baim, Kim Hunt, Breezy Connor and Bonn Wade on the Windy City Times LGBT Homeless Youth Summit.
Keyshia's passion in life is to help build leadership for young members of the LGBT community, especially transgender women of color letting them know there is positive work being done in the community. She really wants to do her best in giving back and trying to be a better person. Her mantra is, "Being successful starts from within. You can do anything you put your mind to as long as you don't let anyone take you for granted and show that you're here to stay and people will not dictate your pace."
Katya Mazon, 18, is a straight ally in the LGBTQ rights movement. She has been a member of the Alliance Youth Committee for two years, where she organizes youth summits for up to 400 youths. At these summits she has led workshops on strengthening gay-straight alliances, developing leadership skills, addressing racism in schools, supporting friends with mental illness, and understanding the impact of misogyny.
In addition to education and organizing, Katya has been leading Youth Committee efforts to advocate for policies supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students in Chicago public schools. Katya is also involved with InTransit Empowerment Project, supporting immigrant, undocumented, displaced and refugee people through art and activism.
She is on theboard of the National Runaway Safe line, where she is also a liner and has been trained in crisis intervention. Lastly, Katya has organized events and helped with funding and the
development of QYES ( Queer Youth Exploring Spirituality ), a grassroots organizationbased in Cicero, Illinois.
DID YOU KNOW? Katya and her family have found more than 10 dogs in the past two years, one of which they have kept and named Pepper.
Parker Marie Molloy, 28, is an essayist and transgender media advocate from Chicago, focusing her writing on feminism and gender-related topics.
She currently works as a freelance journalist, and has contributed writing to The Advocate, Rolling Stone, The Huffington Post, Salon and Talking Points Memo, among other outlets. Her commentary following the death of Dr. Essay Anne Vanderbilt was praised by The Nation's Dave Zirin as something that "should be read in journalism classes."
A passionate conversationalist, Molloy espouses the belief that through a change in the media's treatment of trans people, society can begin breaking down some of the systemic oppressions trans individuals face. Earlier this year, Molloy released her first book, which Thought Catalog Books published. She is currently working on a novel. She blogs at parkthatcar.net and regularly posts updates on her twitter profile: @ParkerMolloy
DID YOU KNOW? Parker is a classically trained guitarist who spent her first three semesters in college majoring in classical and jazz guitar performanceonly to realize that a degree in guitar performance would be virtually worthless in the job market.
Carlos Orengo, 28, Born and raised in Chicago, Orengo didn't always know he would go into social services.
His desire to become a comic book artist, writer or even an interior designer led him to believe he would be an artist in one way or another. However, after working several jobs in customer service and clothing retail, he knew his desire to help others would be more fulfilling than existing in a merchandising world.
Carlos studied at Northern Michigan University and later at Loyola University. He found rewarding work at the Howard Brown Health Center, where he became a patient services representative. Shortly after, he worked on cutting-edge research studies such as Project PrEPare and iPrEx OLE, and then became an outreach health educator. About a year and half later, he was promoted to manager of HIV/STI dervices at Howard Brown Health Center, and has learned so much in this new role.
As a bilingual Latino gay man, Carlos understands that there is great need for HIV/STI education that caters to individuals not speaking English as their first language. Through his work, he will continue to break down the barriers that exist due to language and overcome stigma surrounding HIV/STIs.
DID YOU KNOW? Carlos is writing a sci-fi/fantasy novel based on his teen years, during which he came to terms with his sexuality and dealt with family issues. Look out for it in the upcoming years!
Charlie Rice-Minoso, 25, worked as a lead field organizer in 2013 for Equality Illinois and Illinois Unites for Marriage, the campaign that successfully secured the freedom to marry in Illinois.
Born and raised in Chicago, Charlie graduated Columbia College with a bachelor's degree in marketing communications with a concentration in public relations. During his time at Columbia, he established his bonds with the LGBT community by becoming vice president of Common Ground, the school's LGBT student organization, and by interning for Equality Illinois' 2010 get out the vote campaign, "Vote Naked."
After graduating in 2011, Rice-Minoso began his career at industry leading public relations agencies representing top consumer and corporate brands. Charlie later returned to Equality Illinois in 2013 for the marriage equality fight. From Rogers Park to Belleville, Rice-Minoso traveled the state to inform, engage, recruit and empower Illinois' LGBT and allied community on ways that they could help pass SB 10.
Charlie continues to give back to the community through his involvement with local nonprofits Equality Illinois, After School Matters and Firsthand Aid to Cuba.
DID YOU KNOW? Charlie is a textbook Scorpio and a EuroCuban mutt. When he's not giving back to the community, Charlie enjoys boating, working out and traveling.
Rachel Schipull, 29, spent her early years in the Florida panhandle before moving to the Chicago suburbs at the age of 7.
She has a bachelor's degree in English literature from Calvin College ,and a master's in higher education from the University of Toledo. After working in higher ed for a number of years, she recently quit her job, became a holistic life coach and went back to school for a certificate in urban agriculture through the Windy City Harvest program. She's currently interning at the Regenstein Fruit and Vegetable Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden.
Her end goal is to incorporate her love of growing her own food and environmental sustainability into her life coaching practice. She would like to help people learn to grow food in whatever urban space they have, be it a deck, a windowsill, a backyard or a community garden plot. In her spare time, she sings with Windy City Performing Arts, where she met her wife, Kristl. Together they started a blog about sustainable living and queer issues, called Sustainably Queer.
DID YOU KNOW? When Rachel was a kid, she had a one-eyed cat named Randy, after singer Randy Travis.
Sara Semelka, 30, was born in Chicago and raised in the western suburbs. Early on, she fell in love with the art of storytelling and the power of truth-telling, and moved to Columbia, Missouri, to earn a degree at the University of Missouri's School of Journalism. She became a member of the NLGJA, the national association of LGBT and allied journalists; interned at Chicago Reporter magazine; and then returned to Columbia, where she worked a news reporter for three years at the Columbia Daily Tribune.
Sara eventually earned a master's degree in public policy, and landed back in Chicago in 2011. She began interning at the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and now leads AFC's Chicago Female Condom Campaign. She is also a lead organizer for the National Female Condom Campaign and Global Female Condom Day. She also helps manage and creates content for HIVHealthReform.org, a national project focusing on HIV health care in the post-Affordable Care Act era.
Her goals for the coming year include broadening outreach to young MSM ( men who have sex with men ) and the health care providers that work with this population to promote the use of internal condoms as a risk-reduction safer-sex tool.
DID YOU KNOW? Sara also interned at a voter education non-profit based in Montana, where she lived in a cabin on the edge of a national park, swam in mountain springs and biked alongside moose for a summer.
Bradley Setter, 24, was born in the suburbs of Detroit. Brad joined the Marine Corps at the age of 17 and was based in California and did two tours during the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" era.
He is currently the president of Pride Alliance at College of DuPage, the school's gay-straight alliance. He won the Benjamin P. Hyink Student Leader of the Year for his activism on and off campus. Brad has led Pride Alliance to be designated Club of the Year, and has brought more visibility to the LGBTQ community through such efforts as organizing the Second Annual Drag Show, getting students to the March on Springfield, and being a host committee member for the Friend Movement's anti-bullying panel at the Center on Halsted.
Chadwick Stadt, 27, is a singer songwriter full of midwestern heart, charm and fresh confidence. He currently volunteers annually at the Center On Halsted and has led painting workshops, performed live acoustic shows, as well as serving as a mentor to LGBT youth in the youth program. Chadwick believes community cohesion can be created through the visibility of strong mentors through the advocacy of young people embracing their artistic talents and using them to change the world.
Chadwick has performed at various benefits and fundraisers for philanthropic ventures in Chicago. Last year he was prominently featured at the third annual Over the Rainbow fundraiser at Sidetrack, which generated close to $15,000 for Gilda's Club Chicago, an organization that supports families and friends impacted by cancer. Chadwick has been seen performing at Chicago PrideFest, Parlour On Clark, Wang's Chicago and The Twisted Vine.
DID YOU KNOW? As a kid, Chadwick used to collect Pez dispensers and has a collection of over 300 different kinds!
In addition, Brad has been a host for QHub at Project Vida, has been educating students about HIV/AIDS, and worked with Illinois Unites for Marriage in the suburbs.
DID YOU KNOW? Brad keeps two blank dog tags on his key chain to remember the military members who have died and will die for our country.
Em VanderLinden, 23, works at Center on Halsted in Community and Cultural Programs.
Born in Chicago and raised in Des Moines, Iowa, xe returned to Chicago with the Princeton Project 55 Fellowship. Xe graduated from Princeton University with a degree in politics, specializing in Latin American politics. Xe will attend Northeastern University School of Law in the fall.
Em plans to continue xir work in gender non conforming and trans communities in the legal sphere.
DID YOU KNOW? Em has a pet rabbit named Regina, who xe hid underneath xir dorm room bed during fire inspections.
Jenine Wehbeh, 26, is a Palestinian, born in a refugee camp in Lebanon; she lived in a refugee camp in Syria until the age of 6.
Following her arrival to Chicago, she spent a great deal of time with her mother at work as an organizer in the Arab communities on the Southwest Side. When she was old enough, she became a youth leader and then youth organizer and worked to build solidarity across struggles.
She is currently the education justice coordinator at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance. Her work centers on creating equitable access to education for all students by working to end school pushout and the school-to-prison pipeline. In addition, Jenine is currently pursuing her master's degree in elementary education at Roosevelt University.
DID YOU KNOW? Jenine has a birthmark shaped like a dancing man on her left arm.
Kasey White, 23 poet, painter and advocate for homeless and LGBTQ youth. Born and raised on the South Side of Chicago, she spent a portion of her teenage years bouncing around between friends, family members and sleeping on the street. Kasey is prominently featured in the 2014 film The Homestretch, a documentary about unaccompanied homeless youth. On behalf of herself and the film, she regularly addresses crowds, conferences and thought leaders. Kasey's insights provide an intimate look at the problems that face homeless and LGBTQ youth.
DID YOU KNOW? Before Kasey was the subject of a film, she made her own short documentary, Home Sweet Home?, that played at the National Film Festival for Talented Youth.
For full list of last year's honorees, see: www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Windy-City-Times-to-present-30-Under-30-awards-/43433.html .