Equality Illinois to honor Danny Wirtz, Channyn Lynne Parker and the Illinois AFL-CIO

Wed. December 19, 2018 8:50 AM

art johnston addresses equality illinois 2018 gala

photo credit // equality illinois/c. grost photography

Nabeela Rasheed will chair the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala on Feb. 2

Chicago, IL - For their dedication to social justice and equality, Danny Wirtz, Channyn Lynne Parker and theIllinois AFL-CIO will be honored at the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala. Community leader Nabeela Rasheed will serve as the Chair of the 2019 Gala.

More than 1,200 attendees, including more than 100 political figures and community VIPs, are expected to celebrate the accomplishments that advanced LGBTQ civil rights over the last year and hear about Equality Illinois' work ahead in 2019.

"The Gala is also an opportunity for LGBTQ and allied Illinoisans to celebrate our historic wins and for Equality Illinois to share our vision for a more inclusive and affirming Illinois" Equality Illinois CEO Brian C. Johnson said. The Gala serves as the single-largest fundraising event for the Equality Illinois Institute, fueling the ongoing educational and outreach work for LGBTQ equality throughout the state of Illinois.

The 2019 Gala will be chaired by attorney and community leader Nabeela Rasheed, who has been a longstanding & passionate advocate for diversity, inclusion and freedom in Chicago. She has worked with and supported Legal Council for Health Justice for over a decade and is currently a member of the Chicago Commission for Human Relations. In the wake of the tragic shooting at Pulse Nightclub in 2016, Rasheed was a founder of the Trust Collective, a Chicago gathering of key members of the LGBTQ, Muslim, LatinX, and other communities seeking to form bridges among marginalized communities.

Rasheed is proud to serve as Chair of the Equality Illinois Gala and bring together diverse communities in full support of full equality for all LGBTQ Illinoisans. "I am a biochemist by training, I am a lawyer by profession, I am British by birth, I am Pakistani by heritage, I am American by choice, I am an immigrant, I am a Lesbian and I am a proud Muslim. You can't have one part of me without having and honoring all those other identities," Rasheed said. "I am honored to work with Equality Illinois as they stand up in support of so many communities of which I am a part."

"United Airlines, the Presenting Sponsor of the Equality Illinois Gala and the Exclusive Airline of Equality Illinois since 2014, is a longtime champion of our work and of LGBTQ rights," Johnson said. "Chicago's hometown airline, United was one of the earliest U.S. corporations to prohibit discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation and, later, gender identity. We are proud to have a global champion of LGBTQequality like United Airlines serving as our Presenting Sponsor for the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala."

"United stands tall among our peer companies by promoting equality, diversity and inclusion; and our 90,000 employees are proud to partner with Equality Illinois as its official airline sponsor and presenting sponsor of its annual Gala," said United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz. "Our longstanding partnership is emblematic of United's championing of LGBTQ rights; indeed, it is a core principle for which the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce recently recognized United with their "Best of the Best" Award. As Chicago's hometown airline, we are proud to help make Illinois a beacon for diversity and inclusion across all communities."

At the Gala, the Equality Illinois Organization Leadership Award, given annually to organizations that demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois, will be presented to the Illinois AFL-CIO.

"We are proud to honor the Illinois AFL-CIO for the many ways the Illinois labor movement has courageously stood up for the rights of LGBTQ workers and families. A staunch advocate for marriage equality, non-discrimination, and inclusive curriculum in schools, the Illinois AFL-CIO has helped LGBTQ Illinoisans achieve remarkable wins over the years." Johnson said.

Responding to the recognition, Michael Carrigan, President of the Illinois AFL-CIO said, "I am humbled and honored to accept this recognition on behalf of the women and men of the Illinois AFL-CIO. We must stand together to fight oppression in all forms. We proudly stand with Equality Illinois for the rights and protections for LGBTQ workers and their families. Your fight is our fight."

The Equality Illinois Freedom Award honors individuals who demonstrate remarkable vision, courage, and leadership in the effort to achieve full equality for LGBTQ individuals in Illinois, will be presented at theGala to Danny Wirtz and Channyn Lynne Parker.

Danny Wirtz serves as Vice-Chairman of Breakthru Beverage Group. "Danny has been a long-standing ally of the LGBTQ community in Illinois," Pat DePoy, Equality Illinois Institute's Board Chair, said. "He helped lead Breakthru Beverage to be among the strongest early corporate supporters of LGBTQ equality. By championing Breakthru's support of Equality Illinois, Danny helped send the message to Illinois businesses that supporting LGBTQ equality is not just the right thing to do, it's good business."

"I'm honored and humbled to be recognized by Equality Illinois as a recipient of the 2019 Leadership Award," Wirtz shared. "Years ago, Art Johnston helped us see the great opportunity in joining forces with the LGBTQ community. Art is a friend to our organization and valued business partner. His advocacy has inspired us to continue our efforts to foster an inclusive workplace for all of our associates. Here at Breakthru, our core values are to be inclusive, be courageous, be passionate and be true. Helping to drive the future of these values will be my sister Hillary, who can now raise her family in Illinois with her wife Erin thanks to the hard work and advocacy by Equality Illinois. Under Hillary's leadership as Director of Diversity & Inclusion at our company and through these values, Breakthru will continue to be a committed partner to Equality Illinois."

Channyn Lynne Parker serves as Manager of Youth Drop-In at Howard Brown's Broadway Youth Center. "There are few champions of transgender Chicagoans who have done as much for as long as Channyn," said Equality Illinois Board Member Reyna Ortiz. "Channyn has been a fierce advocate helping scores of transgender Illinoisans find mentorship and access needed services. She is truly a model of what dynamic, powerful, community-centric leadership looks like."

In response to the recognition Channyn Lynne Parker said: "Equality is the firmest pillar upon which human value stands. I am beyond honored to receive this award, and to be named amongst those who are ambitious, and maybe even crazy enough to believe that we, somehow, through our actions can leave this world a better place. If I have played some small part in reducing the burden of injustice, then I have lived a life well served."

 Tables and individual tickets for the 2019 Equality Illinois Gala are now available at From a press release