Eugene Leadership Action Team Member, Leslie Prieto shares why she is passionate about the movement for full equality, and why she is involved with Pride Foundation.
When did you first get involved with Pride Foundation?
I first got involved with Pride Foundation in the winter of 2010, when speaking with Karen Peterson and Amy White about the possibilities of an LGBTQ and Ally Prom for the 4J school district here in Eugene. Our GSA had just gotten back from the Youth Empowerment Summit in San Francisco, and we were so inspired. Karen, (former Pride Foundation staff in Oregon) and Amy were supportive and encouraging every step of the way.
We were also granted monetary support from Pride Foundation that greatly helped get the event off the ground and running. The first 4J Pink Prom happened that spring, put on by the Churchill High School GSA that included 7 different high schools. It was such a successful event, and I have been working with Pride Foundation ever since!
What has been your proudest moment working in the movement?
There have been so many. I volunteer because it makes me proud of my community. If I had to pick just one, I would say it has been working with youth and community members for Pink Prom, the annual LGBTQ and Ally Prom in Eugene. The engagement, grit, and compassion from the adults is amazing, and the involvement, commitment, passion, strength, and pure joy of the youth is inspiring!
I am also really happy about the launch of the now annual event, Values + Vino! The process of putting that together with my friends, family, and local businesses has really resonated with me. The support from Pride Foundation staff like Jett and Jody has been great. I’m always so moved by how much people do really care, that they want to be present and actively participating in the movement, contributing for positive outcomes for the LGBTQ community. It warms my heart.
You mentioned an annual summer event called Values + Vino; tell us more.
Values + Vino originated out of a coffee shop in Eugene when Jett and I were meeting to share ideas about an end of the summer fundraising event for LGBTQ and Ally scholarships in Oregon. The original name was Gays and Grapes! I still like that name, and perhaps we can use it for a future event. Values + Vinos is held at Sweet Cheeks Winery, which generously donated its space. This year’s event is on June 29th from 6-8 pm. There will be a Bluegrass band, speakers, Ninkasi beer, Sweet Cheeks wine, light appetizers from the Excelsior Inn Ristorante, and desserts from so many local bakeries. We are lucky to have guest speaker Val Hoyle, State Representative and Majority House Leader. Last year we raised close to five thousand dollars for the LGBTQ and Ally Scholarship program in Oregon!
With so many organizations to give to, why do you give to Pride Foundation?
Pride Foundation recognizes the value of intentional investment in supporting and strengthening community members, as well as its leaders and building leadership talent, which results in building strength across the movement.
I am both a community member and part of the Leadership Action Team.
I also know that giving to organizations matter—in this case I am giving to what I believe to be one of the best organizations for LGBTQ equality. To be a part of the close to $40 million dollars we have awarded to organizations and scholars across the Northwest is awe-inspiring.
What do you do when you’re not Volunteering for Pride Foundation?
I work as the Runaway & Homeless Youth Program Supervisor (Rural Program) for Looking Glass Youth & Family Services. I also work for the City of Eugene as a Facilitator for the Challenge Course during the summer, and coach high school girls’ basketball and soccer.
It’s people like you who are the superheroes of the movement! Who is your favorite superhero?
Wonder Woman. The ultimate heroine with beauty, brawn, and brains! DC Comics said it best: “Wonder Woman is torn between a mission to promote peace and her own warrior upbringing, and fights evil while hoping to unlock the potential of a humanity she doesn’t always understand.”
Thank you so much for all you do, Leslie. We are proud and honored to have you as one of our superheroes, supporters, and strong community members in Oregon.
Jett is Pride Foundation’s Regional Development Organizer in Oregon. Email Jett.