Sep302014
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Tom Yates of Dignity/Washington Receives Capital Pride 2014 Heroes Award

L-R: Bernie Delia, Capital Pride President; Tom Yates, Capital Pride 2014 Hero; Raymond Panas, Capital Pride Board MemberEach year, Capital Pride awards members of the community who have furthered the causes important to DC’s LGBT community and have brought about positive changes to our lives and our community. On Wednesday, May 21, 2014, Tom Yates was honored for his longstanding contributions to the community as a Capital Pride 2014 Hero.

Yates was born in Utica, NY and graduated from the State University of New York-Potsdam with a mathematics degree. He continued his education and earned an MA in mathematics from the State University of New York-Binghamton. Yates is a civilian mathematician with the U.S. Navy and lives in Silver Spring, MD.

Yates has been a steadfast leader and supporter of the Leather/Levi community, particularly in charitable works. He is a long-time member of the Defenders, the leather/Levi group associated with DignityUSA. His service to the Defenders has included the Washington, D.C. chapter and the organization’s national board. Yates was vice-president (1998-1999), president (1999-2006) and executive director (2010-2012) of Brother, Help Thyself (BHT), the umbrella fundraising charity that helps fund LGBTA organizations throughout the Washington and Baltimore metropolitan areas. Since its founding in 1978, BHT has raised and distributed more than $2.3 million in grants to more than 130 groups. For nearly half of BHT’s history, Yates has been an integral part of the leadership that has made that success happen.

In addition, Yates has been a long-time member of both Dignity/Washington and the national DignityUSA organization. He joined Dignity/Washington in 1983. Not only is Yates a generous member of the local chapter, but he was also a member of the board of directors for DignityUSA for six years. At three DignityUSA national conventions he donated audio-visual equipment and his skills at running it, thereby saving the organization a significant amount of money.

Whether Yates is working at Dignity/ Washington, helping organizations function smoothly, hosting a social event to move a cause forward, he is helping make the LGBT community and world more humane and equal.

Yates was presented his award by Bernie Delia, Capital Pride President and Raymond Panas, Capital Pride Board Member. Delia and Panas are both former Presidents of Dignity/Washington. In addition to Yates, other Capital Pride 2014 HEROES included Nicholas Benton – Publisher of the Falls Church News-Press, David Perez – Board President of the Latino GLBT History Project, Rev. Dean Smith – Senior Pastor of Foundry United Methodist Church in D.C., Dr. Imani Woody, founding director and CEO of Mary’s House for Older Adults, the first LGBT-friendly residential housing development project in Washington, D.C.

Democratic Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam was in attendance to congratulate all the awardees. Northam was presented with the Paving The Way Award as he and other members of the Virginia leadership work to enhance acceptance and quality of lives of the LGBTA community. Others receiving awards were Robert York (Larry Stansbury Award for Exemplary Contributions for Pride), Al Pellenberg (Bill Miles Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service). Engendered Spirits Awards were given to Amy Nelson, supervising attorney at Whitman-Walker Health’s Legal Services Program, and Alexa Rodriguez, advocate for Latina transgender equality.