Ronald Owens is a Saginaw native and Deputy Political Director for Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Ronald’s passion for Public Service includes working alongside other volunteers to knock on doors and support politicians such as Representative Adam Zemke, Congressman Dan Kildee and Senator Debbie Stabenow. Ronald worked in the office of Former House Democratic Leader Sam Singh to increase inclusion for the SOGIE community within the State of Michigan. Ronald played an incremental role in inspiring Governor Whitmer to sign an executive directive in her first week in office, to strengthen prohibitions against LGBTQ discrimination in state employment, contracting and provision of services. Ronald will continue to fight for and support the SOGIE community, in the next steps of his career of setting up a progressive agenda in Michigan to move families forward.
Allison Matthew has proven to be a supporter of Perceptions and the SOGIE community within the Great Lakes Bay Region. In her roles of parent, student (graduating with a master’s degree), and employee for Consumers Energy, Allison has found time, over the past 4 years to work on numerous projects, most notably: The Great Lakes Bay Pride Festival, and Perceptions Holiday Gala “successes” as well as being a Perceptions Trustee, and overall supporter of Perceptions. As a trustee, she volunteered to assist with facilitating a listening session with Transgender individuals taking part in the Perceptions programming efforts. In October of 2018, she assisted in planning and being a part of a panel offering a presentation regarding SOGIE and rural collaborative issues at the global ‘Out & Equal summit’ event in Seattle, Washington. Allison worked alongside her peers at Consumers Energy along with representatives of Dow and Perceptions. She has worked as a liaison between ‘PRIDE Alliance at Consumers Energy’, the employee resource group representing the SOGIE community at Consumers Energy, and Perceptions; her efforts have assisted in having Consumers Energy recognize Perceptions’ programming efforts and impact within the Great Lakes Bay Region, and becoming a sponsor of Perceptions activities.
Kat Champagne went from a concerned mother to an all-around volunteer and advocate for the SOGIE community. Kat’s involvement was wide and varied. Kat started with her involvement with the Perceptions Transgender Groups where she took an active position to broaden its scope, ensure the physical safety, and advocate for the betterment of the trans community. Kat was a member of the 2018 Pride Committee and was vital in making decisions that shaped the event to become stronger. Kat was on the 2017 Perceptions Holiday Gala Committee and made it her mission to gain as many silent auction items from our Friday Night Dinner hosts as possible and was very successful. Kat organized the Perceptions Friday Night Dinner, one of Perceptions longest running programs and expanded the selection of restaurants to gain more diversity of selection. She advocated the change of the name of this program to “Friday Night Out” so that offerings could be expanded to include events such as “Game Night”. Kat and her son, Jamie, were members of Perceptions Harmony Diversity Choir. Kat organized the Perceptions Thanksgiving Gathering in 2017 and 2018 where she cooked food and meats and led marketing for the event. In 2018, when she was ill, she put on her “advocacy hat” and approached The Savory and through her advocacy abilities she managed to get the meal donated from them. Kat was a Perceptions Event Representative where she volunteered to represent Perceptions at various community events running tables. Kat was also a member of SOGIE YAK and PFLAG. Kat was always looking for new information and partnerships. She made connections both locally, regionally, and nationally. Kat passed away in December 2018 and is dearly missed by her Perceptions friends and family.
Emily Simbeck is an outpatient therapist at M.P.A. Group and one of a very few gender specialists in the Mid-Michigan area. Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology, graduating from coastal Carolina University. She received her Master’s in social work at the University of Michigan. Emily has furthered her education by attending the University of Michigan transgender specialized training, receiving a Certificate in Transgender Practice Focus. Emily has attended many other professional development opportunities and always brings back advice and guidance to the rest of her co-workers for improving their skills.
Emily organized a Transgender 101 training for the Bay City community. The event happened on April 24, 2019 with a 100% positive rating on exit surveys. Emily consistently demonstrates a commitment to the LGBTQ community and to provide guidance and brainstorming to the M.P.A. leadership so that they can keep the agency on the front lines as we strive to learn, grow, be open and welcoming, and provide the very best possible care to all out consumers, including those among the SOGIE and Ally communities.
William “Bill” Ostash, was born and raised in Bay City. Bill moved to Saginaw in 2004 and has been involved with the Saginaw Historic District Commission since 2006 where he served as Chairperson from 2008-2014. Bill created “Preservation Saginaw”, a Facebook page to advocate, educate, and preserve Saginaw history for the importance of Saginaw’s past and future.
Bill is the first openly gay person to be elected to the Saginaw City Council in November 2018. Bill has attended many local and state SOGIE events and is very aware of equality issues. Bill has been featured in “Between the Lines” during his campaign and on WNEM TV5 after his election, along with other SOGIE people who won their elections. As a Saginaw City Councilman, Bill has a stronger voice for the SOGIE community.
The Midland Center for the Arts, through the efforts of Katie Miller, Manager of Community Engagement, was able to build partnerships to open doors to conversation through education, storytelling and creativity. Partnerships included: Perceptions, Family & Children’s of Mid-Michigan, Midland Public Schools, and GLAD (the employee resource group – ‘Gays & Lesbians at DOW’) and organizing the ‘Perspective Series’. The project centered around the horrific death of Matthew Shepherd – a gay American student at the University of Wyoming who was beaten, tortured, and left to die near Laramie on the night of October 6, 1998. Events included Understanding LGBTQ Communities, presented by Equality Michigan – Victim Advocacy Services, ’Love Simon’ film showing, ‘Matthew Shepard is a Friend of Mine’ film showing, Here: Say Storytelling presents: Stories We Don’t Share, and Considering Matthew Shepard, Professional National Tour, the Grammy®-nominated three-part choral work composed by Craig Hella Johnson.
It is estimated that a total of 1,400+ individuals were impacted by the project.
Jenny Bell is a loving, kind, compassionate person that is teaching all communities what it means to be transgender, while navigating her own transition. Jenny is a member of the Perceptions Transgender Groups and a member of the newly formed Transgender Groups Steering Committee. She is looking forward to bringing new ideas and topics to the Transgender Groups. Jenny is an active volunteer and has attended multiple events running tables to bring awareness to the community about Perceptions and the transgender community. Jenny represents the transgender community with enthusiasm, understanding, and has a passion for teaching the Great Lakes Bay Region about the transgender community at all events she works. No matter where she goes, Jenny leaves the Great Lakes Bay Region in a better place than it was when she arrived.
Howard Ungerleider is the President and CFO of Dow and an active member of Dow’s inclusion Council. Through his position and personal actions, Howard has been a vocal advocate for a safe, inclusive and supportive workplace for all employees. He has advocated for Great Lakes Bay Region LGBT citizens’ equality and respect both within the Dow employee base and in the community. He has increased the visibility of the SOGIE community, provided both influential and financial support, and provided needed counsel and advice to the Great Lakes Bay Region SOGIE and Ally non-profit leadership.
Through Howard’s actions and influences, he has advocated for better lives for the Great Lakes Bay Region’s SOGIE community, its right to be seen and heard, and its need to be in a safe and supported environment. He has assured funding – both personal and corporate – to ensure key events and programs were offered to the community needs. His advice has helped guide the current SOGIE programs and future growth initiatives, which will continue to raise the quality of life in the region for generations to come.
Stuart Barbier has been a professor of English at Delta College since 1998. In 2006, Stuart formed the Delta Prism Alliance to establish and maintain a safe and affirming environment at Delta College for LGBTQ+ students, staff, and faculty and their allies. Some of the accomplishments of Delta Prism Alliance are establishing Delta’s Safe Space program to directly benefit LGBT student success on campus, revitalizing Unison, the student LGBTQ/allies association, producing and updating Delta’s LGBTQ Resources web page through Counseling/Advising and Career Services, and establishing the Standing Committee on LGBT Awareness Month through Diversity and Inclusion Programs. The Delta Prism Alliance has numerous additional accomplishments.
Stuart has planned, conducted, and documented thirteen years of meetings of the Delta Prism Alliance, keeping LGBTQ+ issues on the Delta College administration’s radar, challenging at times. Stuart has been a major contact for LGBTQ+ speakers, forums, etc. at Delta College. He was the leader on getting an officially designated LGBTQ+ administrative liaison, which is now part of the job duties of the Dean of Students.
Leo Romo has given of himself, his time, his efforts for the LGBTQ+ community of the Great Lakes Bay Region and beyond, especially though PFLAG and Perceptions for over 20 years. Leo also has worked on researching, compiling, and preserving area LGBTQ+ history for the Great Lakes Bay Region. Leo has served as President of PFLAG and Editor of its LINK newsletter. Leo has served on Perceptions’ Board and Chair of Perceptions Pride Awards Banquet & Awards. Leo has hosted fundraisers and earnestly supports others’ projects and activities.