PFLAG Cleveland has awarded Phyllis “Seven” Harris, executive director of the LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, with its 2020 Bruce G. Kriete Community Award. Harris was recognized for her work in providing Northeast Ohio with a new Center and for inspirational leadership on social justice issues during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The award presentation took place virtually. In addition to Harris and several Center team members, PFLAG Cleveland co-founders, officers and advisory board members participated in the celebration.
“PFLAG Cleveland congratulates Phyllis Harris for her advocacy and leadership,” said Tom Falcone, PFLAG Cleveland president. “Through your mission and the people you serve at the Center, you’ve done more than create a beautiful destination that serves LGBTQ+ people and allies. You’ve been willing to be the voice of, and speak up for, some of the most vulnerable people in our community. Our respect for you deepened last summer in the way that you addressed social injustice and racial inequality in our community. You spoke out, engaged other leaders and shared your knowledge, making you the perfect recipient of the 2020 Kriete Award.”
The Bruce G. Kriete Award is given annually to a person, or organization, who, in the past year, has stepped out of their comfort zone or taken a risk to support the LGBTQ community in Northeast Ohio. Previous award recipients include: Jennifer Romanic, a Hudson High School teacher whose advocacy is credited with saving a student’s life; Tammi Brown, who pioneered Cleveland’s first LGBT Visitors’ Guide; Dick Feagler and Regina Brett, Plain Dealer columnists; and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, for advancing marriage equality and affirming support for his gay son. Bruce Kriete was a longtime member of both PFLAG Akron and PFLAG Cleveland. He consistently attended meetings at both chapters, offering wise and compassionate advice through his family’s story. After Bruce died, PFLAG Cleveland named its annual community award after him to remember the ways he supported, educated and advocated for LGBTQ people.
“I’m excited to receive this recognition from PFLAG Cleveland,” said Harris. “For many of us, PFLAG is where we start when we come out. We learn the language to use, meet people we can identify with and watch as families come together. As I’ve listened to this ceremony, my cheeks hurt from how much I’ve smiled! I feel safe and warm among you as my partners and friends. You appreciate me for the Black lesbian feminist that I am and make me feel that I am living well and building strong collaborations.”