Illinois Safe Schools Alliance to honor Dr. Christie Aird, Clinton Rosette Middle School GSA & student activist at Annual Brunch

Event celebrates expanded efforts to make Illinois schools safe for LGBTQ students

CHICAGO—October 2, 2013—The Illinois Safe Schools Alliance (the Alliance) will honor Dr. Christie Aird, Clinton Rosette Middle School Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), and student activist Emma Leff for their leadership in making Illinois schools safer for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.

The awards will be presented at the annual Alliance Brunch: On the Road on Sunday, October 6, 2013, with a Founding Members’ Reception taking place at 11 a.m.and the annual brunch at noon.  The event will be held at The Chicago Cultural Center located at 78 E. Washington.  Limited tickets still available at

“I commend these leaders for taking strides to ensure all students in their schools, including students of different sexual orientations, are being educated in safe and inclusive environments,” said State Superintendent of Education Chistopher A. Koch, a founding member of the Alliance.

This year, the Alliance will offer three awards to recognize Illinois leaders who have worked to ensure schools and communities are safe for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression:

Advocate of the Year: Dr. Christie Aird (Assistant Superintendent in East Aurora Dist. 131)

The Advocate of the Year award recognizes a person or organization that demonstrates policy advocacy leadership, and this year, the Alliance recognizes Dr. Christie Aird who, in the face of public outcry, had an unwavering commitment for policies to protect transgender and gender nonconforming students in her district.

Activist of the Year: Emma Leff, Alliance Youth Committee member and Senior at Northside Prep High School

The Activist of the Year award recognizes an individual who consistently demonstrates leadership and takes actions that advance the LGBTQ safe schools movement from the ground up. This year, the Alliance recognizes Emma Leff for her role in creating systemic change and impacting the lives of her peers through her leadership on the Alliance Youth Committee and of her Gay-Straight Alliance.

Ally of the Year: Clinton Rosette Middle School GSA (DeKalb Dist. 428)

The Ally of the Year award recognizes a person, business, or group for their generous support – or exemplary demonstration –of the Alliance’s programmatic work. This year the Alliance is proud to honor Clinton Rosette Middle School for their pioneering leadership as one of the first middle school Gay-Straight Alliances in the state.

The Alliance also is appreciative of the committed leadership and generous support of the following partners at this year’s Brunch:

Event Chairs: Rocco Claps, Mary F. Morten, and Casey Horton

Corporate Sponsors: BP, Chicago Parking Meters LLC, EY, Morten Group, Skadden Arps, Verizon, Development Specialists, Inc., Kraft, MillerCoors, Motorola Solutions, Sidley Austin, Winston & Strawn LLP, and others.


Media Contact:
Shannon Sullivan, 312-368-9070, ext. 312,