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David Cicilline Elected Mayor of Providence

David Cicilline on Election Night in 2002.
David Cicilline on Election Night in 2002.

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund supported four-term state Representative David Cicilline’s 2002 bid for Mayor of Providence, which he won with 84 percent of the vote. His election made Providence the largest city with an out LGBTQ+ mayor, replacing Mayor Neil Guiliano in Tempe, Arizona. Despite homophobic and anti-Semitic comments, it was clear the voters wanted a change from incumbent Mayor Buddy Cianci, who was on his way to prison for corruption charges. Ultimately, the mainly three-way race broke in Cicilline’s favor. 

“Most voters make their decision based on the quality of your character and the strength of your ideas, not on your race or religion or gender or sexual orientation,” Cicilline told the Associated Press in September 2002. 

After serving two terms as mayor, Cicilline ran for Congress in Rhode Island’s 1st District in 2010 and won with LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s support.

California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus Founded

The first four out members of the California Assembly, Christine Kehoe, Carole Migden, Sheila James Kuehl, and Jackie Goldberg.
The first four out members of the California Assembly, Christine Kehoe, Carole Migden, Sheila James Kuehl, and Jackie Goldberg.

California’s four out legislators officially formed the country’s first LGBTQ+ state legislative caucus in June 2002. The group – which was dedicated to being the LGBTQ+ community’s voice in the California Assembly – grew by two the following year after the elections of Mark Leno and John Laird, the legislature’s first gay men members. California’s LGBTQ Legislative caucus has been one of the country’s most significant sources of progress on LGBTQ+ rights.

Members of the California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus in 2018. Courtesy of California LGBTQ Legislative Caucus.

Massachusetts Trailblazer Jarrett Barrios Wins State Senate Seat

Jarrett Barrios circa 2000.
Jarrett Barrios circa 2000.

Having first been elected to the Massachusetts state House in 1998, Jarrett Barrios was no stranger to making history. A Cuban American immigrant, the Bay State’s first out LGBTQ+ Latinx legislator ran for the state Senate with Victory Fund’s support in 2002 – and won. 

“I encourage people to run for office; I encourage people to participate in local government to make their opinion heard,” Barrios said in an interview with “Out and Elected in the USA: 1974–2004” for OutHistory.org. 

As state senator, Barrios helped protect marriage equality in Massachusetts. He gave an emotional speech describing a fight with a hospital nurse over whether he was actually his adopted son’s real parent as the boy burned up with fever, something his colleagues would never have to suffer.

Less recognized is Barrios’s role in permanently establishing the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth. Gov. William Weld first created the commission in 1992 in response to an epidemic of suicides among gay youth. It sponsored conferences for Gay Straight Alliances where, according to an article in the September 2003 issue of Phi Delta Kappan, students shared their struggles and received mentorship. “I don’t see much hope,” said a taunted transgender student. “I used to think that being an adult would make things better, but I don’t anymore.”

Jarrett Barrios. Courtesy of Stand4Security

In 2006, Gov. Mitt Romney, preparing for a presidential run, was apparently angry that his name was associated with an LGBTQ+ pride parade that the right-wing group MassResistance inaccurately claimed was being run with taxpayer dollars. Romney threatened to dissolve the commission, according to the Boston Globe, May 12, 2006. After an onslaught of LGBTQ+ community pushback led by Barrios and others, Romney rescinded the threat.

In response, Barrios introduced legislation to create the new Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth “so its mission to reduce teen violence and suicide among teenagers is protected and does not fall prey to the political whims of a governor who would be president.”

After leaving office, Barrios became the head of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation in 2009.

Bonnie Dumanis Wins San Diego Campaign and Becomes America’s First LGBTQ District Attorney

Bonnie Dumanis
Bonnie Dumanis

With experience as a judge and prosecutor, Bonnie Dumanis ran for district attorney in San Diego County in 1994, earning LGBTQ+ Victory Fund’s endorsement. A Republican, she campaigned on a tough-on-crime platform that resonated with conservative San Diego. She defeated incumbent Paul Pfingst by about 3,500 votes, becoming the country’s first out LGBTQ+ district attorney and San Diego’s first woman and first Jewish district attorney. Dumanis was reelected in 2006 and 2010 with no opposition, and was reelected in 2014 despite primary challengers. 

Bohnett Leaders Fellowship Launches

Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, Claremont Unified School District Board Member Steven Llanusa, and Georgia State Representative Keisha Waites outside the Harvard Kennedy School of Government during their Victory Institute Bohn
Charlotte City Councilmember LaWana Mayfield, Claremont Unified School District Board Member Steven Llanusa, and Georgia State Representative Keisha Waites outside the Harvard Kennedy School of Government during their Victory Institute Bohn
David Bohnett. Courtesy of Susan Young

LGBTQ+ Victory Institute (known then as Victory Foundation) began its collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School in 2002, sending its first cohort of outstanding LGBTQ+ fellows to the school's Senior Executives in State and Local Government program for further leadership development. Among the fellows were city council members, state legislators and mayors.

The intensive, three-week executive education training enables senior-level executives working with state and local governments—including government officials and elected officeholders—to hone their professional skills and then join the alumni network for further leadership development.

The fellowship, conceptualized by Fred P. Hochberg, was made possible in its first years thanks to a number of funders, including Hochberg, Ron Ansin and David Bohnett. The program proved so impactful that the David Bohnett Foundation agreed to sponsor all fellowships after the first few years -- and it became the David Bohnett Leaders Fellowship program.

“Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program had existed for decades, but even by their own admission, they suffered at times from a lack of diversity, including the absence of exceptional LGBTQ+ elected and appointed officials,” Bohnett explains. “In 2002, at the suggestion of our good friend Fred Hochberg, a number of funders met in the sunroom of the Washington, D.C. home of Marylouise Oates to pool their funds to cover a couple of partial scholarships to this renowned leadership program.

“The Fellowship was immensely popular, and it quickly became clear to all of us that a larger long-term commitment was required,” he continues. “With our investment, the David Bohnett LGBTQ Leaders Fellowship Program has become not simply a signature program for Harvard and Victory Institute, but a great example to other funders about the power of investing in the leaders who will determine the future of our community and, indeed, our country.”

Notable alumni include: Venezuela Deputy Tamara Adrián (2016); California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (2004); Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (2009); Pennsylvania Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (2019); Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker (2005); and U.S. Senator Kyrsten Sinema (2008). 

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund Endorsed Candidates in 2002

LGBTQ+ Victory Fund endorsed 63 candidates in 2002.


Mark Aguirre, Rehoboth Beach City Comms., Delaware

Tammy Baldwin (D), U.S. House of Representatives, Wisconsin

Jarrett Barrios (D), State Senate, Massachusetts

John  Brady (R), Sussex County Recorder of Deeds, Delaware

Ray Buckley (D), State House, New Hampshire

David Catania (R), Washington City Council, DC

Tim Carpenter (D), State Senate, Wisconsin

David Cicilline (D), Providence Mayor, Rhode Island

Corey Corbin (R), State House, New Hampshire

Dave Coulter (D), Oakland County Comms., Michigan

Gail Dekreon (D), San Francisco Superior Court, California

Scott Dibble (D), State Senate, Minnesota

Kevin Dowling (D), Hayward City Council, California

Karla Drenner (D), State Assembly, Georgia

Tom Duane (D), State Senate, New York

Bonnie Dumanis (R), San Diego Superior Court, California

Deborah Glick (D), State Assembly, New York

Jim Graham (D), Washington City Council, DC

Scott Gruendl (NP), Chico City Council, California

Jack Jackson (D), State House, Arizona

Christine Kehoe (D), State Assembly, California

Chris Kolb (D), State House, Michigan

John  Laird (D), State Assembly, California

Mark Leno (D), State Assembly, California

Rich Madaleno (D), State House, Maryland

Liz Malia (D), State House, Massachusetts

George Maurer (D), State House, Florida

Maggie McIntosh (D), State House, Maryland

Larry McKeon (D), State House, Illinois

Carole Migden (D), San Francisco Board of Equalization, California

McKim Mitchell (D), State House, New Hampshire

Jim Moeller (D), State House, Washington

Daniel O'Donnell (D), State Assembly, New York

David Parks (D), State Assembly, Nevada

Gary Resnick (D), Wilton Manors City Council, Florida

Jim Roth (D), Oklahoma County Comms., Oklahoma

Victoria Sigler (D), 11th Circuit Circuit Court, Florida

Jim Splane (D), State House, New Hampshire

Wally Straughn (D), State House, Arizona

Jennifer Veiga (D), State House, Colorado

Carole Williams (D), State House, New Hampshire


Paris Bouchard (D), State House, Missouri

Carol Burney (D), State House, New Hampshire

Michael Chapman (D), At-Large Tribal Legislature, Wisconsin

Xavier Cortada (D), 11th Circuit Circuit Court, Florida

Marlene DeChane (D), State House, New Hampshire

Cornell English (D), Cathedral City City Treasurer, California

Ed Flanagan (D), Vermont State Treasurer, Vermont

Chad Foust (D), State House, Ohio

Patrick Howell (R), State House, Florida

Mark Leffler  (D), Louisville City Council, Kentucky

Susan Longley (D), U.S. House of Representatives, Maine

Steve May (R), State House, Arizona

Peter Moraga (D), State House, Arizona

Rick Musiol (D), State House, Massachusetts

N Panagopoulos (D), State House, New Hampshire

Greg Pettis (D), State Assembly, California

Michael Quint (D), State Senate, Maine

Karl Rhode (R), State Senate, Oregon

Charlie Smith (D), State House, South Carolina

Kendall Stagg (D), Reno City Council, Nevada

Sharon Thompson (D), State House, North Carolina

Thom VonHapsburg (R), State House, Arizona

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