GLSEN Phoenix, the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network, will be honoring four individuals and groups for their contributions towards making Phoenix-area schools more inclusive for LGBTQ students and their allies. Over 300 prominent community members are expected to attend the event.
Michael Mazzocco, President of The Herb Box Catering and Events, long time donor, supporter and former board member of GLSEN Phoenix will be presented with GLSEN’s Legacy Award recognizing his generous contribution that continues to touch the lives of the LGBTQ youth across Maricopa County.
Mazzocco’s relationship with GLSEN began 13 years ago when he was living in New York. He attended a local GLSEN event with a friend, which is where he first learned about the organization’s work with student-led Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs in schools. Remembering his own painful and unsupportive high school experience, he was immediately compelled to get involved. “Hearing about the amazing support these kids were receiving from GLSEN through their GSAs moved me deeply on a personal level. I remembered how difficult high school was for me, and it made me so happy to know that I could be part of an organization that helps young LGBTQ people feel accepted and become comfortable with themselves – something that wasn’t available to me when I was in school”, said Mazzocco. <
In 2008, Mazzocco relocated to Arizona and immediately sought out the GLSEN Phoenix Chapter. After a period of volunteering he was nominated to join the board and has since served the Chapter consistently as both a board member and a dedicated ally.
“Each year, we present the Legacy Award to a former GLSEN Phoenix board member or volunteer in acknowledgement of the incredible dedication and leadership they have shown towards helping us develop school communities that affirm, value and respect all students in K-12 schools”, said GLSEN Phoenix Chair, Ricardo Martinez, “Michael Mazzocco’s many years of unyielding service and support make him a most worthy recipient of this award”.
Thom Brodeur will receive the GLSEN Phoenix Ally Award. Deeply committed to serving youth and the broader Phoenix community, Brodeur is a donor and strategic supporter of GLSEN Phoenix, serves on the board of local LGBTQ non profit one•n•ten, and is a former board member of the Southwest Center for HIV/Aids and Make-A-Wish Arizona.
Said Brodeur about his passion for working with youth, “As a man who remembers being bullied in school for being ‘different’, and not quite understanding what ‘different’ meant then; I knew that helping youth – LGBTQ youth in particular – would be part of my personal and community work in the future. If there is any way that I can be involved meaningfully in helping young people find their way to who they’re meant to be and the purpose they’re meant to serve, then I am honored to bring whatever support, influence or value I can.”
The GLSEN Ally Award is presented annually to a local leader who has notably used their influence, experience, and the platforms they have available to them to support local efforts and specifically elevate dialogue around the urgency and importance of addressing the ongoing anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment in K-12 schools in Greater Phoenix.
“We are so proud to be honoring Thom Brodeur with the Ally Award”, said Martinez, “his contribution to the youth of our community is significant and we are delighted to have him as one of our strategic advisors. The sustainability and effectiveness of an organization is dependent on the long term investment of people that intimately understand its mission. Thom believes in what we do and has partnered with us to ensure we are impacting even more LGBTQ youth in even more schools across Greater Phoenix”.
Celebrate these community heroes with GLSEN Phoenix at the 3rd Annual Sparkle Glitter GLSEN (pronounced glisten) fundraiser and awards ceremony on November 16, 2017 from 6-9:30pm at the Heard Museum. Tickets are $55 each and include a free drink, appetizers and free parking. All proceeds go directly towards GLSEN Phoenix’s work to ensure safe and affirming school environments for all. Exciting items will be up for silent auction, and this year’s Emcee is Miss Gay Arizona America, Olivia Gardens. Tickets can be purchased at www.sparkleglitterglsen.com