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  • Ondrea Li

Georgian Leaders Explore LGBTQI+ Advocacy in Eastern Iowa

From March 24th to 27th, we welcomed six international leaders from Georgia for the program titled “Promoting Human Rights and Civic Engagement for LGBTQI+ Communities in Georgia.” The aim of their visit to eastern Iowa was to gain insights into the local government leadership on LGBTQ+ issues, the collaboration between law enforcement and civil society for LGBTQ+ safety, and the support programs for LGBTQ+ youths. 

Nic Hartmann and his daughter, Mari, at the Cedar Rapids airport, waiting for the Georgian delegation

Upon their arrival at the Cedar Rapids airport, the leaders were greeted by volunteer Nic Hartmann and his daughter, Mari. Later, at the hotel, they were welcomed by volunteers Annie Judge and Brad Kelly. 

Their first full day in eastern Iowa started with a visit to the scenic Iowa countryside in Kalona, Iowa for a visit to the Kalona Historical Village. There, they immersed themselves in a tour of Kalona and learned about the largest Amish and Mennonite community and their settlement. 

After their tour, they went to Roaster Café at the Cedar Rapids Public Library and enjoyed boxed lunches before their next meeting at the LGBTQ+ Clinic at Tanger Place. 

At the Tanger Place LGBTQ Youth Center, the international leaders met with the Director of the LGBTQ+ Youth Center, Lor Ampey. They learned about the center’s role in providing a safe and confidential environment for LGBTQI+ youth, families, and allies. Additionally, they discussed the variety of programs the center provides such as support groups and a mentoring program called “Pride Café” and how these services benefit LGBTQI+ individuals in the community. 

Following their meeting with the Tanger Place LGBTQ Youth Center, the delegation then traveled to the Pride Alliance Center for a tour and a meeting with the Director and Multicultural and International Student Support and Engagement Interim coordinator, Diego Rodrigeuz. During the meeting, Diego informed the international leaders of the Pride Alliance Center’s role in supporting students and their wellness by providing a nurturing and affirming space for LGBTQ students to authentically exist and engage. 

International leaders posing outside the Pride Alliance Center

After the tour of the Pride Alliance Center, the international leaders had the rest of the day to explore Iowa City on their own. 

The next morning, they started their day with Executive Director Amy Alice Chastain for breakfast. Then, the delegation headed to the Iowa City City Hall with volunteer Brad Kelly for a joint meeting with Mayor Teague, Doug Kollasch, the Chair of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Reverend Mark Pries, public theologian and member of the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, and the investigator for the Iowa City Department of Equity and Human Rights. The joint meeting showcased diverse leadership in local government and effective city initiatives and policies that promote LGBTQI+ inclusion and ensure civil rights at the municipal level. 

Then in the afternoon, the international leaders were accompanied by Program Intern Berkley Barnett for their meeting with the Iowa City Police and Iowa City Pride. They met with Joe Reilly, Director of Iowa City Pride, Lisa Skriver, at-large Board Member of Iowa City Pride Lisa Skriver, Ann Thompson, Victim Services Coordinator, and  Sergeant Kevin Bailey. During their meeting, the international leaders learned about how the Iowa City Police Department places special emphasis on eliminating gender bias and addressing the needs of underserved communities—like the LGBTQ community. Additionally, they also learned how the Iowa City Pride executes a variety of inclusive, diverse, and fun activities throughout the year.   

After the meeting with the Iowa City Police Department and the Iowa City Pride, the international leaders had the rest of their time to explore the city. 

The next day, the international leaders headed to the airport for Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

We would like to thank Nic Hartmann, Annie Judge, Brad Kelly, Amy Alice Chastain, and Berkley Barnett for volunteering and interacting with the delegation! Additionally, we extend our gratitude to Kalona Historical Village, the Tanger Place LGBTQ Youth Center, Pride Alliance Center, Mayor Teague, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission, Iowa City Police, and Iowa City Pride for serving as our professional resource for this program! We appreciate the time and effort you have taken to engage with our delegation. 



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