Courtesy of Pride Portland!, we recognize the individuals serving as Grand Marshals of the 2017 Pride Parade. Each of them make up the Exploratory Committee of the Equality Community Center (511 Congress St.), which was formed in 2014 in an effort to expand services, assess community needs, and develop a larger and more comprehensive center for LGBTQIA people in Portland. Their expanded of the Center, including retail space, space for additional non-profits, increased programming, and housing — all with the organizational infrastructure necessary to maintain an expanded Center into the future.
Matt is a most well respected elder law attorney with a practice in Portland. He’s contributed to many LGBTQIA efforts, including serving as Board President of Equality Maine, as well as being a board member of The AIDS Lodging House, and SAGE Maine.
As a well-known philanthropist and local real estate professional, Ed has contributed greatly on both the local and state levels. He’s also been a front-runner on preservation efforts, most recently serving as President of Greater Portland Landmarks and President of the Maine Association of Realtors. As the owner of 511 Congress Street and Ocean Gate Plaza, his generosity has provided the Equality Community Center with its current home.
Dale has created a remarkable history of service and political activism in Maine. She helped found and was the first President of the Maine Lesbian Gay Political Alliance, which is now EqualityMaine. Dale was the first openly gay member of the Maine State Legislature and served three terms in the Maine Senate; was Maine's first female constitutional officer when elected Maine State Treasurer; served eight years as the Director of the Maine State Housing Authority; served Augusta as a City Councilor; and was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. Dale was the first woman in the U.S. to complete the carpentry apprenticeship with the Carpenters Union and in 1984 she founded Women Unlimited, a program to train women for trade and technical jobs and has written two books on carpentry. She is the mother of three wonderful girls. In 2017, Dale joined forces with the Exploratory Committee for the Funding of an Equality Center.
Betsy Smith is an organizational leader, having served as executive director of two non-profits for nearly 20 years. She was executive director of EqualityMaine during the multi-year effort to win the freedom to marry, resulting in Maine being the only state to win marriage equality without legislative or court approval. During Betsy’s tenure at EqualityMaine, our community also won statewide non-discrimination protections, numerous rights and benefits for domestic partners, and anti-bullying protections for LGBT youth.
Rich has been an educator and social worker practicing in southern Maine for 40 years. Prior to the establishment of The AIDS Project, known now as The Frannie Peabody Center, Rich was on the frontlines doing initial HIV testing, and was appointed to the Governor’s Task Force on AIDS. As a social worker he’s implemented hospice and cancer support services, and consulted to Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Barb has been an active and outstanding leader in the Portland community for more than 30 years. She was one of the founding members The Maine Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance before it became known as EqualityMaine. Additionally, she was the first openly LGBTQ official in the state of Maine when she was elected to the Portland City Council.