Announcing Equity Award Honorees

Equity Awards

Equity Awards


Equity Foundation is proud to announce the third annual Equity Awards. This black tie event will be held on November 8, 2014 from 6pm-9pm at the University Club in downtown Portland. The event will honor Oregon and Southwest Washington businesses that have exceptional policies and practices promoting diversity and inclusion. The awards event will also honor individuals, groups and institutions who have served as catalysts for equality in the LGBTQ community.

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2014 Honorees:

Fire Chief Erin Janssens


When Fire Chief Erin Janssens joined Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) in 1988, she was one of two female firefighters out of some 700. She contended with open bathroom stalls and locker rooms and had to prove herself mentally and physically. She worked her way up, earning the respect of colleagues and was promoted to lieutenant, then captain, then battalion chief, then fire marshal. In 2012 she was sworn in as Fire Chief. She’s the first female fire chief in Portland’s history and she is one of the highest ranking lesbians at the City of Portland.  She has always put a special focus on making sure women have the same opportunities in the fire service as men and has paved the way for new generations of female firefighters to join PF&R (there are currently 50 in service in Portland).

Chief Janssens participated in some of the City of Portland’s earliest diversity training programs that she brought back to the bureau. From supporting a fire camp for girls to retooling recruitment and equity outreach strategies, her eye has always been on opening opportunities in the career she loves to people who have historically been excluded.

Kurt Beadell – Vibrant Table


Kurt Beadell is co-owner and creative director of Vibrant Table Catering & Events. He helms this small business through which he quietly helps many LGBTQ causes (e.g., Our House, Cascade Aids Project and Equity Foundation, among many others). Kurt‘s generosity seems to never stop; he donates personally to several causes and contributes greatly with in-kind support thought Vibrant Table.

The heartbreaking impact of AIDS/HIV motivated Kurt to become personally involved in the fight against this devastating disease and he currently sits on the board of Cascade Aids Project – an organization whose mission is to prevent HIV infections, and support and empower people affected and infected by HIV/AIDS.  He has been an active contributor to Cascade AIDS Project and Our House for over 21 years.

His involvement with HIV/AIDS organizations as a philanthropist, volunteer, and a leader has made him a champion for social equity and generosity in the community overall exemplifies the standards set forth by Equity Foundation.


Paul Southwick & Jayce M.

JandPPaul Justin Carlos Southwick is a native Oregonian and an attorney at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP. He graduated from George Fox University and received his law degree from the University of Michigan Law School. While in college, Paul spent two years in a reparative therapy program at the University’s strong suggestion. Those experiences led him to be a co-founder of OneGeorgeFox, an organization composed of LGBTQ and allied alumni from George Fox University.

In 2013, Paul took on pro bono representation of a Filipino nursing student whose admission to California Baptist University was revoked after administrators became aware she was transgender. Southwick filed a discrimination suit on her behalf and prevailed in an early ruling.

Currently, Paul is representing Jayce M. in a housing dispute over gender identity at George Fox University. Jayce is a student who identifies as male and wants to live with a group of male friends. However, the college considers him a woman and turned down his request. Jayce, who grew up in Portland and describes himself as deeply committed to his faith, began his transition to male more than a year ago. Jayce has said that in spite of everything, he has found strong support from students and faculty members and wants other LGBTQ people to see that they can have a place in faith-based education.

Both Paul and Jayce are at the forefront of one of our community’s most pressing and current issues. It is both their work on behalf of the LGBTQ community and their bravery that we recognize by awarding them Equity Foundation’s Equity Award.