Pride Honorees 2024

Araceli “Cheli” Mohamed

She/Her

Founder of Volunteer with Cheli

Araceli “Cheli” Mohamed is the Partnership Development Manager for National University’s Public Safety Outreach, embodying her role with unwavering commitment towards community growth and cohesion. With a distinguished background as the former Director of Volunteer Services and Community Leadership Development at the San Diego LGBT Community Center and COO for the United States  Police & Fire Championships, Cheli’s leadership prowess is indisputable. Recently appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom as a Commissioner to California Volunteers, she helps shape the landscape of community engagement in California. Hailing from Brawley, California, and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego, Cheli’s career spans two decades in non-profit social services and seven years in local government.

Bruce M. Abrams, Esq.

He/Him

Attorney at Law, Philanthropist, and Leadership on LGBTQ+ & Jewish Advisory Boards

Bruce M. Abrams, Esq. is a dedicated attorney, activist, philanthropist, and pillar for the LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities. He serves in various leadership positions, including on the San Diego Jewish Federation’s Israel and Overseas Committee, San Diego Diplomacy Council Advisory Board, San Diego Sheriff’s LGBT Advisory Board, Anti-Defamation League Board’s Executive Allyships Committee, and as the Co-Chair of the 16th Annual Harvey Milk Breakfast, among others. His commitment to service includes a long list of prior board experience with the Anti-Defamation League of San Diego, National Conflict Resolution Center, American Civil Liberties Union, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Equality California.

David Giron

He/Him

Vice President of Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride

David Giron is a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, whose journey began in the vibrant city of Long Beach. He settled in the Inland Empire in 2019, where he observed a glaring lack of resources for the LGBTQ+ population. David joined the board of directors for Riverside LGBTQ+ Pride, where he has played a pivotal role in creating safe spaces for the queer community. Riverside Pride was instrumental in organizing the first Pride festival in Riverside in over a decade, a monumental achievement. David continues to volunteer his time in many organizations, embodying his commitment to creating a more inclusive and supportive world for all.

Jai Rodriguez

He/Him

Actor & Producer - Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Renowned as the original “Culture Vulture” of the Fab Five in the groundbreaking series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, for which he won his first Emmy, Jai’s influence has been indelibly woven into the fabric of American culture for well over two decades. While well known to New York Broadway audiences, Jai has carved a name for himself in entertainment for over two decades including several firsts. Jai starred in the first all gay cast in network history (Queer Eye), became the first reality star to become a series regular on a network scripted show (Malibu Country), helped launch and host the first coast-to-coast LGBTQ+ FM radio station (Channel Q), and starred in the first major motion picture featuring an all LGBTQ+ cast (Bros). Jai lends his voice and support to causes close to his heart, including AIDS Walk, Project Angel Food, and The Trevor Project.

Jonny Cota

He/Him

Fashion Designer

Jonny Cota is an American fashion designer known for his unique approach to avant-garde design, blending streetwear and high fashion. Born and raised in California, he rose to prominence through his work with his Los Angeles-based label, Skingraft, designing custom pieces for top musicians and celebrities. Jonny’s career reached a broader audience when he participated and won the first season of Amazon Prime Video’s fashion competition series Making the Cut. His success on the show led to the launch of his eponymous fashion line, Jonny Cota. Jonny has used his platform to highlight social issues such as LGBTQIA+ rights, Skid Row housing, and Black Lives Matter.  

Les “DJ Les” Ortiz

She/Her

Artist, CEO of Social Events ENT

Les Ortiz was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. She moved to the San Fernando Valley in 1992, and grew up in the City of San Fernando. She has dedicated over 20 years of her life to inspiring others through her work as a community leader, event producer, DJ / Party Curator, and now as the CEO of her own company. She travels the country representing the LGBTQ+ community and leaves a positive and lasting mark everywhere she performs. She is proud of her LGBTQ+ family, proud of her team, and proud of herself.  No matter where she goes, she knows she and her team have the support they need to support others.

Lori Risso

She/Her

Director of Educational Services for Stockton Unified School District

Lori is an educator with over 33 years of service with the Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) and is a State Commissioner for the California Children and Families Commission (First 5 California).  She has dedicated her professional career to the children of Stockton, her hometown.  Lori taught fifth and sixth grades and served as a school administrator  before moving to the district office, overseeing 17 schools in SUSD.  One of her greatest accomplishments occurred while she was Principal at August Elementary School. Under Lori’s leadership, the school moved a Title I population with 93% low socio-economic status to a certified AVID National Demonstration Site. 

Nguyện Phạm

He/Him

President of San Francisco Pride

A native of California, Nguyện Phạm is the first Vietnamese  person to serve as President of San Francisco Pride: San Francisco’s largest annual event and one of the world’s largest annual gatherings of LGBTQ people and allies. In 2019, Nguyện helped to establish the annual SF Pride Golf Tournament, the first and only PGA-endorsed event ensuring diverse queer visibility in one of the most cis-heteronormative spaces in the world. Nguyện continued that tradition with the tournament’s fifth annual return in 2023, which was a resounding success. Nguyện has also raised more than $3 million in charitable giving while serving as Director of Philanthropy at Frameline, a San Francisco-based media arts organization that is the world’s first and largest LGBTQ film festival, as well as the largest film festival of any kind in California. These successes have followed a long list of accomplishments for the LGBTQ community.

Paris Antoinette Quion

She/Her

Entertainer

Paris Antoinette Quion is a Southern California-based drag entertainer, businesswoman, activist, and advocate for the LGBTQ community. Born and raised in San Diego, California, Paris is always proud to boast about the impact the Hillcrest community has had on her upbringing. Her parents used San Diego’s LGBT Center services during her coming out and throughout her transition, which inspired her to help further their outreach now as an adult. She has devoted her life to the betterment of the queer community with a focus on youth and the most vulnerable community members. Offstage, she is a regular fixture in government spaces, corporate businesses, and school campuses - training others on LGBTQ rights and gender sensitivity. She also shares her journey as a trans person in the hopes of fostering a gentler and more accepting world.

Raúl Ureña

She/All

Former Mayor of Calexico

Raúl Ureña is the daughter of California farmworkers. Representing Calexico, she is the first transgender Latina Mayor of a California city, along the entirety of the U.S. – Mexico border. Ms. Ureña is a progressive activist for a better environment, government accountability and a better distribution of economic opportunity. She is currently a Master’s candidate of Statistics at San Diego State University, previously earning her BA in Economics from UC Santa Cruz. She fights for dignity in the agriculture industry as her home city of Calexico sees thousands of housing-insecure farmworkers cross the border every day to feed America.

Ronn Ruiz

He/Him

Co-Founder & CEO of Apartment SEO™

Ronn Ruiz is the Co-Founder & CEO of Apartment SEO™️, an award-winning international digital marketing agency and Google Premier Partner™️, as well as the Founder and CEO of iZone Marketing™️. Ronn is the Board President of VIVE Substance Use Recovery Centers, a new non-profit startup for individuals struggling with substance use in LA County, and a board member at Latino Equality Alliance, a non-profit that empowers our LGBTQ+ youth. He is a filmmaker who just Executive Produced Unveiling the Rainbow: Long Beach Pride’s 40 Year Evolution, and a philanthropist, who together with his husband of 26 years, give back to many notable causes.

Sal Rosselli

He/Him

Founder of National Union of Healthcare Workers

Sal Rosselli is President Emeritus of the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the first openly gay leader of a California-based healthcare union. During his four decades at the helm of California healthcare unions, Sal has pioneered a bottom-up, democratic approach to union leadership, in which workers are empowered to set their own agenda.

Sera Fernando

She/Her/Siya

Manager - County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs

Sera Fernando is the Manager and leader for the County of Santa Clara Office of LGBTQ Affairs. As an equity and inclusion practitioner and lifelong learner, she also served as Chief Diversity Officer for Silicon Valley Pride, Executive Steering Committee member for the Human Rights Campaign, and Executive Board member for Microsoft’s GLEAM employee resource group. Sera grew up as the daughter of first-generation Filipino immigrants in San Jose’s Eastside and Evergreen neighborhoods, graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in Radio, Television, and Film. County projects she leads include LGBTQ+ Health and Wellness, Transgender Workplace Inclusion, LGBTQ+ Youth Well Being, LGBTQ+ Older Adults Initiative, and Menstrual Equity.

Sir Lady Java

She/Her

Entertainer

Sir Lady Java is a transgender entertainer and activist. She emerged as a trailblazer in the 1960s and 1970s by challenging discriminatory laws that hindered the rights and livelihoods of transgender and nonbinary individuals in Los Angeles. Her courageous battle against Rule No. 9 of the Los Angeles Police Department, which prohibited transgender performers from being employed in entertainment venues, marked a pivotal moment in the fight for transgender rights and equality. Through her activism, Lady Java spotlighted the injustices faced by transgender individuals, inspiring legal and social changes that continue to benefit the LGBTQ+ community. Her performances and public presence enriched California’s cultural life, promoting acceptance and equality. As a symbol of enduring strength, Lady Java’s legacy continues to inspire advocates and allies in the ongoing effort to achieve full rights and recognition for transgender and nonbinary people.

Soni Wolf

She/Her

Co-Founder of Dykes on Bikes

Soni Wolf, born on September 19, 1948, in Rhode Island, was an influential American lesbian activist and a pioneering figure in the LGBTQ+ community. After serving as a medic in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War, she moved to San Francisco’s Castro District. There, in 1976, she co-founded Dykes on Bikes (DOB), a group that became a powerful symbol of LGBTQ+ pride and empowerment. Wolf played a crucial role in securing the legal right to use the “Dykes on Bikes” name and logo, winning significant trademark battles against the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Throughout her life, she nurtured DOB’s growth into a global organization, engaging in philanthropic work for LGBTQ+ causes. Wolf passed away on April 25, 2018, in Daly City, California, leaving a lasting legacy honored by her inclusion on the National LGBTQ Wall of Honor at the Stonewall Inn.

Tyller Williamson

He/Him

Mayor of Monterey

Tyller Williamson has been a member of the Monterey City Council since 2018, and has served as Mayor since 2022. Tyller also holds a human resources position in the Department of Veterans Affairs. A graduate of Cal State Monterey Bay and Naval Postgraduate School, Tyller’s leadership skills were refined as Deputy Regional Field Director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign. A champion of inclusivity, he founded Monterey Peninsula Pride in 2017 and served as the President of Cal Cities’ LGBTQ Caucus from 2022-2023.  Committed to enhancing public engagement, Tyller collaborates regionally on critical issues such as housing affordability and advancing LGBTQ rights across the California Central Coast.