Fifteen members will form a new committee tasked with formulating policy recommendations for Mayor Ron Nirenberg that address the well-being of the local LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual or allied) community.

The mayor’s office appointed a seven-member selection committee that spent several weeks combing through 193 applications to serve on the new LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee, his staff said Wednesday.

“I am excited to work with this dynamic group to improve the lives of our LGBTQ+ friends and neighbors,” Nirenberg said in a prepared statement. “This is a historic moment for our city and I encourage everyone to lend their voice to the work that we’re doing.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg dons his Grand Marshal 2017 sash for the PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg serves as Grand Marshal for the 2017 PRIDE Bigger Than Texas Parade. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Although the LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee is not an official City board or commission, the group will report directly to Nirenberg, said Maria Luisa Cesar, a senior policy advisor for the mayor.

“The 15-member committee offers a diversity of perspectives, including LGBTQ+ parents, members of the military, clergy, and subject-matter experts,” Cesar said. “More than half of the committee is represented by people of color.”

Choosing committee members “was not easy,” Cesar said. “We received so many qualified applicants. It was incredibly competitive.”

Applications were accepted between Feb. 23 and March 23. The committee will start holding quarterly public meetings beginning in May. Here’s a list of members as provided by the mayor’s office and slightly modified for clarity.

  • Rev. Naomi Brown, founding member and vice chair of The Center-Pride Center San Antonio board.
  • Ginger Chun, parent of a transgender child who started a support group, TransAllies San Antonio, for transgender families.
  • Alexander Darke, who is working on building recurring fundraisers to support homeless LGBTQIA youth.
  • Anel I. Flores, author and international performer who co-founded LeZRideSA, an organization that raises money for LGBTQIA youth.
  • Daniel Graney, former co-chair and member of Stonewall Democrats of San Antonio who helped mobilize support for the City’s nondiscrimination ordinance, which was approved in 2013.
  • Jamie Hash, a management analyst for the U.S. Air Force who has worked with Lackland AFB officials to streamline the transition process for transgender personnel.
  • Barbie Hurtado, community organizer who has worked with the Queer Corazones group at the Esperanza Peace and Justice Center to bring attention to issues of gender diversity and representation.
  • Rev. Dr. William H. Knight, national speaker and activist for the LGBTQ+ community who has emphasized protecting students and employees from discrimination based on sexual and gender identity.
  • Erick “LaRue” Macias, who is a member of various boards advocating for transgender rights in the workforce. He also founded Men In Transition, a local transgender support group for men.
  • Chad Reumann, chapter president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) who serves on diversity councils with his employer, Wells Fargo.
  • Luka Rios, the co-chair for Human Rights First San Antonio who advocates for Latinx trans women.
  • Maria Salazar, a family law attorney with a background in representing parents and children who has worked with New York’s Sylvia Rivera Transgender Law Center, San Francisco’s Harvey Milk Democratic Club, and San Antonio’s CAUSA.
  • Melissa Shiplett-Jupe, a board-certified counselor who is pursuing her PhD in Counselor Education and Supervision with a research focus in LGBT mental health and queer family creation.
  • Ashley Smith, an architect and president of San Antonio Gender Association (SAGA) who has advocated for the transgender community.
  • David Solis, president of the LGBT Chamber of Commerce who has worked against the passage of the “bathroom bill” and other legislation affecting LGBTQIA people.

“I’m honored and delighted, and I’m humbled to be a part of the committee, specifically to be a representative for transgender people,” Smith said.

Enforcement of the nondiscrimination ordinance and violence against the LGBTQIA community, especially against transgender women of color, are two issues Smith would like to see explored by the new group.

“But at a more systematic level, [we need to] look at how discrimination in housing and employment and education and health care has a cumulative effect on LGBTQ people that can put us at great disadvantages and sometimes places of risk,” Smith said.

Nirenberg will likely suggest areas of focus for the advisory committee, Cesar said, but “he wants the committee to have the autonomy to establish its own points of focus.

“We’ll give them a charge to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ community members in San Antonio by giving us policy recommendations that highlight the challenges in the community and bright spots,” she said.

Iris Dimmick

Senior Reporter Iris Dimmick covers public policy pertaining to social issues, ranging from affordable housing and economic disparity to policing reform and workforce development. Contact her at iris@sareport.org