HRC to Honor ABC’s John Quiñones; Feature HUD Secretary Julián Castro

by HRC Staff

February event for youth-serving professionals also featrues Jim Obergefell, Transgender Teen Jazz Jennings, and Trans Supermodel Andreja Pejić

WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation, the educational arm of the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, announced that Emmy Award-winning John Quiñones, anchor of ABC’s powerful “What Would You Do? newsmagazine, will be honored at HRC’s national Time to THRIVE conference in February.

The HRC Foundation also announced today that featured speakers at the third annual event, scheduled for February 12-14 near Dallas, include Secretary Julián Castro, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); Jim Obergefell, one of the many courageous plaintiffs at the forefront of last June’s Supreme Court marriage equality ruling; transgender teen Jazz Jennings, an HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador featured in the TLC reality program “I Am Jazz”; and Andreja Pejić, the first transgender model featured in American Vogue.

HRC Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference is held in partnership with the National Education Association and the American Counseling Association.

“We are thrilled to honor John Quiñones with our Upstander Award for the tremendous work he is doing addressing LGBTQ bullying and bias on episodes of ‘What Would You Do?’” said Vincent Pompei, chair of Time to THRIVE and director of the HRC Foundation’s Youth Well-Being Project. “He has used his highly-rated program to not only reveal the bigotry that LGBTQ people, including youth, continue to face in going about their daily lives, but also to feature the goodness of many Americans who--without knowing their actions are being recorded-- choose to personally confront discrimination.”

Quiñones, during his 25 years at ABC News, has reported extensively for all ABC programs, and anchored Primetime. The Texas native has been collecting awards since 1980 when, working for WBBM-TV in Chicago, he won his first Emmy for reporting on the plight of undocumented immigrants from Mexico. His prize-winning work for ABC News has taken him from Panama City to Congo’s rainforest, and he spent nearly a decade reporting for World News Tonight in Central America. Quiñones’ consequential reporting on world hunger, and on child slavery in the Dominican Republic, has been recognized by the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards.

His “What Would You Do?” episodes have made headlines across the nation by revealing unscripted reactions to actors playing gay military service members, parents confronting their child about being LGBTQ, same-sex parents, and teens bullying LGBTQ youth.

“In addition to John Quiñones, we are also excited and privileged to have a lineup of stellar speakers who are dedicated to helping all youth, and who demonstrate every day to LGBTQ youth that anything is possible for them -- from starring in a reality show raising awareness about transgender youth and appearing on the pages of major fashion magazines, to changing laws to make our country more fully LGBTQ-inclusive,” Pompei said.

HUD Secretary Julián Castro, appointed by President Obama in 2014, previously served as mayor of San Antonio, where, while making his name as a national leader in urban development, he also appointed an LGBT liaison and guided his city to pass an LGBT non-discrimination ordinance. Continuing to advocate for LGBTQ rights, Castro has pledged to use HUD’s resources to address the epidemic of LGBTQ youth homelessness. The Stanford University and Harvard Law School graduate has been honored as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Young Global Leaders,” and in 2010 made Time magazine’s list of “40 under 40” rising stars in American politics.

Ohio native Jim Obergefell is one of the many courageous plaintiffs who brought last June’s Supreme Court marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges. After he and husband, John Arthur, suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease, married legally in Maryland in 2013, they sued to have Ohio recognize their union. After his husband died, Obergefell and his fellow plaintiffs in five other pending marriage recognition lawsuits saw their cases consolidated for arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court. Last June, the court ruled in their favor. Obergefell, once a teacher, has described himself as an accidental activist, now committed to fighting for equality. He has used his voice to speak out for LGBTQ families.

Transgender teen Jazz Jennings, an HRC Youth Ambassador who spoke at last year’s conference, keeps blazing new trails. Co-author of the children’s book “I Am Jazz,” about growing up transgender, she is the star of her own reality show on the TLC cable network, and was featured in a commercial for Clean and Clear. Jazz first made headlines in 2007 when she, with her family, was interviewed by Barbara Walters on ABC’s 20/20. She has twice been named to Time magazine’s annual “25 Most Influential Teens,” and is co-founder of TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation.

Supermodel Andreja Pejić was discovered in 2007 as a teen working at a McDonald’s, and has gone on to walk in top runway shows including Galliano, Marc Jacobs, Raf Simons, and Jean Paul Gaultier. During London Fashion Week last year, Pejić, a native of Australia, made her debut as a transgender model, and since has made history as the first transgender model to be featured in American Vogue. She has continued to help pave the way for others in the fashion industry.

The Time to THRIVE conference features 72 workshops by more than 45 national and grassroots organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. Special conference guests and additional speakers include Jane Clementi, co-founder of the Tyler Clementi Foundation; Marsha Aizumi, author, educator and LGBTQ advocate; Judy Shepard, founder of Matthew Shepard Foundation in honor of her gay son, murdered in a 1998 hate crime; and Dr. Beverly Hutton, Deputy Executive Director of Programs and Services at the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Time to THRIVE is the premier national convening of educators and youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts and national organizations in the field.  Time to THRIVE will take place over Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 12-14, 2016, with AT&T and BBVA Compass as the presenting sponsors. To register, visit  

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation is the educational arm of is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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