The Human Rights Campaign North Carolina Gala has announced that they will be the only one in the country to host a Cabinet Member of President Barack Obama’s administration as their keynote speaker. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will speak to Gala attendees with a special message on behalf of the Obama administration. The HRC North Carolina Gala will be held Feb. 25.
Sebelius, who served as governor of Kansas from 2003 until 2009, was sworn in as the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services in April 2009. Since her appointment, Sebelius has worked on improving the delivery of human services to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, individuals with disabilities and children. Under Sebelius, the Department of Health and Human Services has also made progressive steps in dealing with LGBT health concerns and inclusion in health studies.
In October of 2011, Sebelius spoke at the National Coalition for LGBT Health, where she highlighted her department’s accomplishments in working within the LGBT community. Among the accomplishments of the Dept. of HHS since her appointment, Sebelius acknowledged the development of an LGBT Data Progression Plan to begin including the variables of sexual orientation and gender identity into national HHS surveys, as well as requiring hospitals to honor visitation rights for same-sex couples. Both of these accomplishments were changes highlighted in the HRC’s resource Blueprint for Positive Change.
“Where once we failed to study LGBT health at all, today researchers engage LGBT populations and are looking to collect the data we need to ground our work in science and shape our vision for the future,” said Sebelius during her speech at the National Coalition for LGBT Health. “We have begun to push open doors that seemed shut forever. Looking ahead, the future gives me real hope. And, I’m looking forward to working with you to make it as bright as possible.”
In our Feb. 18 print edition of qnotes, we announced that 2003 “American Idol” finalist Kimberly Locke would be the entertainer for this year’s 2012 HRC North Carolina Gala. Since press time, there has been a change in the upcoming entertainment. Beverly McClellan, a top four contestant on NBC’s “The Voice,” will bring her soulful voice and guitar to entertain at this year’s gala.
McClellan has been described by singer Christina Aguilera, her coach on the show, as “a vocal powerhouse to be reckoned with, who holds her own with the best of them.” McClellan is not new to the music scene; she has been performing to crowds in bars and club.s around Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for 20 years. Following her success with “The Voice” McClellan released her newest album “Fear Nothing” in November of 2011. Prior to her participation in “The Voice,” McClellan won Best Overall Performer at the 2004 New York National Music Festival competing against more than 500 contestants.