By Shannon Wentworth
As the executive director of NCLR for the past 22 years steps down, I wanted to pay tribute to Kate Kendell and all she has done to enrich our lives and uplift our community.
No. 5: Bold hair
She’s also responsible for bringing more hair choices to the lesbian community as she lead us through landmark victory after landmark victory, we no longer had to identify each other by our coiffure. Thank you for liberating our hair, Kate (and finally liberating yours).
No. 4: Bold fashion
Sears called, they want their couches back. But, seriously, they were recalled because of a formaldehyde issue and I am worried about your safety.
I think one of the strongest things that comes through being in a room with Kate Kendell is her keen sense of humor and genuine love of people. She’s always quick with a laugh or a hug. And when I say laugh, I mean a full-throated-chortle-like-no-one-is-watching laugh. It’s a beautiful thing to behold.
Upholstery jokes aside, I particularly admire Kate’s bold fashion choices. It’s one of the many, many ways in which she’s completely unforgettable.
No. 3: Bold choices
As the oldest child of a deeply Mormon family growing up in Utah, young Kate did not imagine that she would be dropping F-bombs on live television in support of same-sex marriage in defiance of a Mormon-funded ban. A series of bold choices led her to where she is today, like her choice to be the first person in her family to go to college, her choice to study the law, her choice to be an out and proud lesbian at a time when it was not widely accepted (you know, before everyone fell in love with Ellen) and her choice to take the reigns at NCLR. As one of the myriad beneficiaries of all these bold choices, thank you.
No. 2: Bold statements
You’d never know she came from a nice Mormon family in this clip where she drops an F-bomb at City Hall on live television. But, as Kate always says, “Feminism is her second favorite F-word.”
No. 1: Bold leadership
Over the past two-plus decades, Kate Kendell has lead our community through changes even she did not imagine, like marriage equality. NCLR has won many battles, large and small, throughout Kate’s tenure, all of them important to the parties involved. From child custody cases to access to education cases, and more, the people touched by NCLR’s work remember because they hold children in their arms or college degrees because of her efforts. I think Kate tells the story best in her poignant farewell letter.
In that letter, you will see another of her attributes shine through, her humility. Through it all, Kate has kept the spotlight on the issues, not herself. She gives credit to her staff and tirelessly works to get them the resources they need to keep shining for all of us.
Let’s all hope Kate decides to run for governor or president when her time with NCLR draws to a close at the end of this year.
Thank you, Kate, for your courage, your bravery, your humor and your integrity.
Visit NCLR to learn more about their amazing work and the battles ahead.