I have always believed that I live a charmed life and that I must acknowledge my good fortune by paying back to those who have less or suffer from prejudice or misfortune. I usually root for the underdog and try to lend my support to overcoming their challenges. To me, mentoring is designed to give an advantage to those who might not have one.

In high school, I was a candy striper. I was honored to spend precious time with children who suffered from terrible illness and injury. I learned so much from their strength and courage. After graduation from law school, I chose to work for our local legal services (legal aid) office. I realized that my freedom to spend countless hours on my cases presented many of my indigent clients with one of the few experiences in which they had an advantage over those with much more and that often provided a bit of self-esteem to help improve their lives in the future.

I am being honored by this publication, primarily for my work as the executive sponsor of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) employee resource group. However, the real honor in my mind is to have the privilege to stand arm in arm with members of the LGBT community in their struggle for their civil rights. The courage and resilience I have seen demonstrated is truly inspiring.

People often ask why I am such a passionate ally. As a liberal, Democrat, Jewish feminist, in a conservative southern town, I know how it feels to be in the minority. I am often asked how I can continue to live in such a conservative environment. It is much easier to live in a like-minded environment, but how will we ever change narrow-minded and bigoted individuals if we do not make the case every day?

My employer for the last 24 years, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, has continued to demonstrate its commitment to the LGBT community by providing continually expanding benefits to LGBT employees and their families. They have empowered me to make a difference!

My passion comes from my spiritual belief that we are put on earth to do good things and what could be more important than to help people get the fundamental rights and respect that they deserve? My goal is to help create an environment where people are free to be who they are without fear.