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Transgender advocate to speak at GCEF event

Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen
 Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen

AKRON, Ohio (April 7, 2017) – The Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation will welcome Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, a nationally recognized transgender policy expert, as the keynote speaker at its May 7 annual gathering. 

Donors, supporters and community leaders are invited to attend the event, which celebrates the fund’s impact in the community and recognizes its most recent grant recipients. The meeting will take place at the Akron Art Museum, beginning with an hors d’oeuvres and cash bar reception at 2 p.m., followed by the program and featured speaker at 3 p.m.  

Heng-Lehtinen is the public education director for Freedom for All Americans, where he develops nondiscrimination messaging to build public support of transgender Americans and defend against anti-LGBT legislation. As a transgender man and an alumnus of Brown University, Heng-Lehtinen has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights of LGBT people. He has trained thousands of advocates on nondiscrimination protections, lending his expertise to organizations such as the National LGBTQ Task Force, Gender Justice LA, Liberty Hill Foundation and GLAAD. Known for being the first openly transgender child of a member of Congress, Heng-Lehtinen has shined a light on the nation’s transgender movement and the ongoing battle for equality. His mother, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, was the first Republican member of Congress to co-sponsor the Respect for Marriage Act. 

“We’re thrilled to welcome Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen as our featured guest at this year’s annual gathering,” said Cindy Christman, GCEF Advisory Board chair. “His work to shift public opinion about transgender Americans and build support for nondiscrimination protections is critical on both a national and local level. We invite our friends and neighbors in the community to join us for this timely discussion on equality.” 

Tickets to the event are $40 for individuals or $75 for couples and can be purchased at www.akroncf.org/GCEFannualmeeting or by calling 330-376-8522. The event is sponsored by PFLAG; Sheila Martin, CFP®, Ameriprise Financial; and Ed & Audrey Kancler. For more information, contact Ed Kancler at 330-963-7758. 

About the Gay Community Endowment Fund
Founded in 2001, the Gay Community Endowment Fund is a permanent philanthropic endowment of Akron Community Foundation. It facilitates and perpetuates philanthropy by supporting programs and services that support or positively impact the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, as well as the entire Greater Akron community. Since its inception, the fund has grown to more than $1 million while reinvesting more than $435,000 into the community. Contributions of any amount are welcome and support future grantmaking. Checks may be sent to the Gay Community Endowment Fund of Akron Community Foundation, 345 W. Cedar St., Akron, OH 44307-2407. For more information, or to contribute, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.gaycommunityfund.org.

About Akron Community Foundation
Celebrating 62 years of building community philanthropy, Akron Community Foundation embraces and enhances the work of charitable people who make a permanent commitment to the good of the community. In 1955, a $1 million bequest from the estate of Edwin Shaw established the community foundation. As of Dec. 31, 2016, it is a philanthropic endowment of nearly $196 million with a growing family of 560 funds established by charitable people and organizations from all walks of life. The community foundation and its funds welcome gifts of all kinds, including cash, bequests, stock, real estate, life insurance and retirement assets, just to name a few. To date, the community foundation’s funds have awarded nearly $138 million in grants to qualified nonprofit organizations. For more information about Akron Community Foundation or to learn more about creating your own charitable fund, call 330-376-8522 or visit www.akroncf.org.