The Utah Pride Center was one of four individuals and three organizations honored with a Pete Suazo Social Justice Award on Friday, March 21.
The University of Utah’s College of Social Work created the award seven years ago. Named after former state Sen. Pete Suazo who tirelessly advocated for minority rights, the award recognizes people and organizations in Utah who work to assist minority populations.
The Utah Pride Center received the Pete Suazo award for program development and organizational advocacy in recognition for its several adult and youth programs and for its efforts to advance gay rights concerns.
Executive Director Valerie Larabee said that she and the Center’s staff were “really thrilled” to be selected.
“Sometimes our work is very difficult and on those hard days you remember those who have come before you and that somehow makes it easier to move forward,” she said.
Larabee added that the award honored the Center’s employees and volunteers who work tirelessly to keep its programs and services running.
“This really was for the work the staff does in supporting people in the community and the center’s role in advocating for the GLBT community – mostly with the media when we get the chance,” she said.
The award’s individual recipients were Attorney Mary Jane Ciccarello for her work in securing legal representation for senior citizens, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon for creating the Mayor’s Office of Diversity affairs and Rep. David Litvak, D-Salt Lake City, for his work to pass hate crimes legislation in the wake of Suazo’s 2001 death. Passing a hate crimes bill inclusive of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people had been one of Suazo’s goals for several years. Lyn Lee also won the Pete Suazo Award for Lifetime Community Service for his work in bringing a college campus to San Juan County in1977 to serve its largely Native American population.
Organizations receiving the award were KUED Channel 7 for its minority-focused programming and the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice for its training and awareness-building efforts.