HRC to Honor Actress Jamie Clayton, Teacher Sam Long at Time to THRIVE Conference

by Madeleine Roberts

Singer/songwriter Shea Diamond to kick off annual gathering for youth-serving professionals; Special guests to include U.S. Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Today, HRC announced it will honor actress Jamie Clayton and Westminster, Colorado, high school biology teacher Sam Long during the organization’s seventh annual Time to THRIVE Conference, held February 14-16 at the Renaissance D.C. Downtown Hotel in Washington, D.C. Singer and songwriter Shea Diamond will perform at the Feb. 14 opening event, and U.S. Congresswomen Angie Craig (D-Minn.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) will speak at the conference.

Jamie Clayton is an actress who currently stars as Tess Van De Berg in Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q”. She is also known for her roles on two Netflix Original Series, Nomi Marks on “Sense8” and Sasha Booker on “Designated Survivor.” Clayton’s authentic performances have resonated with audiences, especially LGBTQ youth, throughout her acting career. In 2011, she was honored as one of Out magazine’s “Out 100.”

“Jamie Clayton has been blazing trails as an openly transgender actress with her exceptional work on ‘Sense8’ and ‘The L Word,’” said HRC President Alphonso David. “Her portrayal of transgender characters has given LGBTQ youth, especially transgender youth, someone to look up to and aspire to be. Jamie continues to inspire us through her visibility and willingness to speak out on behalf of LGBTQ youth everywhere, and we are proud to honor her at Time to THRIVE.”

Sam Long, a biology teacher at Standley Lake High School in Westminster, Colorado, is the co-founder of Colorado Transgender/Nonbinary Educators Network. The community-organizing group works to support  transgender and non-binary teachers and others working in the education system. Sam’s presence in the classroom as an openly transgender teacher, along with his advocacy work, sets an example for LGBTQ youth everywhere.

“Sam Long perfectly represents the values that Time to THRIVE stands for, and we’re thrilled to be honoring him at this year’s conference,” said David. “The conference was founded to provide training and resources to educators and other youth-service providers across the country, ensuring that they have the tools they need to teach and serve all youth. That’s exactly what Sam does every day in the classroom and beyond.”

Singer, songwriter and advocate Shea Diamond released her debut EP “Seen It All” through Asylum Records in 2018 and that same year performed at HRC’s National Dinner, and multiple HRC events across the country. A proud Black transgender woman from the South, she also participated in HRC’s Americans for the Equality Act video series last spring, which featured actors, athletes, influencers and musicians calling on Congress to advance the Equality Act.

“Shea Diamond’s powerful story and message of resilience and hope resonates with LGBTQ youth across the country,” said David. “Through her music, Shea uses her voice to amplify the experiences of her community, and to assert a truth that everyone needs to hear: that we all deserve our piece of the American Pie. We are so excited to welcome Shea at this year’s Time to THRIVE.”

In 2018, Congresswoman Angie Craig made history as the first openly lesbian and LGBTQ congressperson elected from Minnesota. Since her election, Craig has supported the Equality Act and has been a strong voice for the rights of all LGBTQ people. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton has been a voice for equality since her election in 1991, championing protections for the LGBTQ community in Washington, D.C. Norton has also met with Black transgender activists to hear and respond to their concerns about the rise in violence against Black transgender women in D.C.

“Congresswomen Craig and Norton are key advocates for LGBTQ equality in the U.S. House of Representatives,” said David. “When LGBTQ youth hear from these leaders at Time to THRIVE, they will see the strength of their support in Congress and beyond. We are thrilled to welcome both of these strong and inspiring women to Time to THRIVE.”

HRC’s Time to THRIVE Conference is the premier event to promote safety, inclusion and well-being for LGBTQ and questioning youth. The event brings together a wide range of youth-serving professionals to discuss best practices for working with and caring for LGBTQ youth and their families in schools, community centers, health care settings and beyond. It is co-presented by the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association. BBVA, AT&T and Toyota are presenting sponsors of the event.

The Time to THRIVE Conference features 65 workshops by more than 45 national and grassroots organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. HRC’s Youth Ambassadors will also be featured at the conference. Additional speakers and honorees will be announced at a later date. To register, visit