Tag Archives: Communities

We are clergy and missionaries shepherding our congregations to welcome everyone into their hearts, openly and without judgment. We are veterans who have fought for the freedom of others across the ocean and who will continue to fight for basic human rights on our own native soil. We are citizens who believe in everyone’s right to pursue their own happiness.

PRESS: Arbus Magazine Mar/Apr ’14 Issue

We Are Straight Allies has been featured as one of TEN One Spark Creator Projects (out of over 700) in the March/April issue of Arbus Magazine! Thank you, Cinda Sherman! Also, check out page 45 to see Hope McMath’s Ally Ad, then click to read her profile here:  http://wp.me/p3PnKk-ef

We would also like to send a special thank you to our ad participants: Gloria Steinem, Steve Halverson, Rachel Thomas Vitti, Pat Geraghty, Frieda Saraga, Brennan Campa, Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Ronald Breaker, Pastors William & Victoria Hamilton, Luis Lopez, Darnell Smith, Gary & Nancy Chartrand, Meredith and Mark Frisch, Pastor Bruce Havens, John Delaney, Pedro Cohen and Hope McMath.

One Spark, “the World’s Crowdfunding Festival” is April 9-13, 2014 in downtown Jacksonville. Creators from all over the world will light up our city with projects in art, innovation, music, science and technology. They’ll showcase their best ideas for a chance to access $310,000 in crowdfunds and cash awards, 3.25 million dollars in capital investments and direct contributions from more than 150,000 attendees and backers around the globe.

You can check out our project profile by clicking on this link:

PRESS: Florida Times-Union on Rachel Vitti

Thank you to Rachel Vitti for being a fearless ally. Thank you Mark Woods, of The Florida Times-Union, for sharing her and her husband’s journey and the importance of a comprehensive HRO in Jacksonville.

“When it’s mentioned to Rachel Vitti — that she publicly jumped into one of the most controversial local issues of the past year, something that some prominent people in town repeatedly tap-danced around — she doesn’t pause to think about how to carefully explain this.

She simply says, ‘Of course.'”

Please read the full article on Jacksonville.com.

Ally Profile: Darnell Smith

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Darnell Smith is Florida Blue’s market president for the North Florida Region.  In his role, Smith is responsible for Florida Blue’s business market growth, as well as customer and community engagement across 36 North Florida counties, stretching from Palm Coast through Pensacola.

Prior to his current role, Smith was group vice president, Service Organization and Business Process Management Organization (BPMO) where he was responsible for leading a team of approximately 2,000 people who provide service to more than 3 million customers each year. Within BPMO, he oversaw the company’s business process management strategy and deployment of Continuous Improvement and Six Sigma methodologies. Prior to that role, Smith was vice president of Virtual Office where he helped transform operations by streamlining services for providers and members. In 2003, virtual office and private business operations combined to form what is now known as the service organization. Smith assumed leadership as group vice president and helped the Company achieve a market leadership position in customer satisfaction.

Throughout his career, Smith has been very active in the community serving on the board of directors for the PACE Center for Girls in Jacksonville, the Otis Smith Foundation, Ritz Theatre & LaVilla Museum, Communities in Schools-Florida (CISFL), and the Cathedral Arts Project. Smith also serves on the board of directors for Incepture, OptaComp, YMCA and the Florida Blue Foundation, Florida Blue’s philanthropic affiliate.  Darnell states it quite simply:

I am an ally because every human being is a child of our God and, therefore, deserves the same basic human dignities and rights afforded the rest of us.”

Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Florida State University. He is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School, the Advanced HR Executive Program at University of Michigan and Leadership Jacksonville.

Rabbi Jesse Olitzky, Jacksonville Jewish Center

Rabbi Olitzky serves as Rabbi and is part of the clergy team at the Jacksonville Jewish Center in Jacksonville, FL., He received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. In addition to ordination, he received an MA in Jewish Education from JTS’ William Davidson School of Education. Prior to relocating in Jacksonville, Rabbi Olitzky served communities in Kingston, New York and Parkchester, New York. His mission as a rabbi is lower barrier of access to Jewish ethics and values, promoting social justice in order to fulfill the Divine vision of peace, equality, and harmony. Read more about Rabbi Olitzky here: http://wp.me/p3PnKk-bs

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Ally Profile: Steve Halverson

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Steve Halverson is President and Chief Executive Officer of The Haskell Company, one of the nation’s largest integrated design-build organizations, with operations throughout the United States and Latin America and headquarters in Jacksonville, Florida.  During his 12-year tenure as CEO, Haskell has expanded its operations internationally in Latin America and more recently into Asia.

Steve received his Bachelor of Arts degree from St. John’s University, his Juris Doctorate degree from American University in Washington, D.C. and has completed executive business education at Dartmouth University and Wharton.  He is co-author of two books, as well as numerous articles in professional publications.  He is admitted to the bar in Minnesota and Virginia (inactive status).

Steve is active in both professional and civic organizations.  He serves as Chairman of the Construction Industry Roundtable and was past Chairman of the Design Build Institute of America and the National Center for Construction Education and Research.  He is also a corporate director of CSX Corporation (NYSE:CSX) and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Florida (Florida Blue).

In terms of civic activities, Steve is Chairman of the Jacksonville Civic Council, Immediate Past Chairman of the Florida Council of 100, and Past Chairman of the Florida Chamber of Commerce.  He is also Chairman of the Teach for America Jacksonville Advisory Board, past chairman of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, past Vice-Chairman of Regis University and the University of North Florida, and a life trustee of the Council for Educational Change in Miami.   He is a member of the Jacksonville University Public Affairs Institute Advisory Board and was 2002 campaign chair for the United Way of Northeast Florida.  Steve is a 2007 recipient of the Prime Osborn Distinguished Business Leader Award and in 2008 was elected by the Florida Council on Economic Education to the First Coast Business Hall of Fame.  He is a recipient of the UNF Presidential Medallion (2011) the Governor’s Business Leader of the Year Award (2012) and the OneJax Humanitarian Award (2013).

Steve believes that employees want to work for a company that is both fun and exciting, but also safe and fair.  Work should be a “place that they feel comfortable” and a “place that is tolerant”.  Steve says, “if Jacksonville is not that, it won’t attract the best talent….We’ve lost people who wanted to come to Jacksonville…because they didn’t feel it was a safe, tolerant place to live.”  For these reasons, Steve supports the passage of a comprehensive Human Rights Ordinance in the city of Jacksonville and is a Straight Ally.

Steve lives with his wife Diane in Jacksonville.  They have two children, John and Anne.