Out With Clout

In corporations and churches, in classrooms and capital corridors, these 100 Queers have contributed to the "Good Life" in Minnesota.

Lisa Albrecht

The recently appointed chair of Minneapolis' Civil Rights Commission is a woman of multiple talents. "My main initiative," says Lisa Albrecht about her work on the Commission, "is to do grass-roots education and outreach to marginalized communities." But Albrecht has already begun this work outside the commission. As an associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Albrecht teaches women's studies, as well as writing, to students in the General College. She also helped found two local GLBT institutions: the GLBT Programs Office at the U and the literary journal, Evergreen Chronicles. When she's not teaching and organizing, she's apparently traveling or writing: Before the Gulf War broke out, this self-identified "American Jew" traveled to Palestine as part of a peace brigade, then came home and taught classes on women in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. She also published a book, Bridges of Power: Women's Multicultural Alliances, with co-editor Rose Brewer. As for all her work and her previous nine years serving on the civil-rights commission, Albrecht says, "I am really committed as a white lesbian to do anti-racism work and that's why I am involved in the commission." Whew! Does this woman do anything for just plain fun? "I am the 'Mistress of Ceremonies' and percussion player for the Jewish Klezmer band, Tatskelehs," Albrecht adds with a laugh.

Chris Andersen

Laura D'ambrosio

Your hosts for this year's mega-fundraiser, the Human Rights Campaign dinner, have both been part of HRC for the last five years. Working their way up from table captains to vice chairs, and now co-chairs, Laura D'Ambrosio and Chris Andersen are proud to be a part of this growing and sophisticated organization. "HRC has begun to make more of an impact nationally in the last three years," says D'Ambrosio, "and that is due to the gay community." Outside of her HRC duties, the Chicago native, who moved here in 1989, says she runs her own 3-year-old business, D'Ambrosio, Inc., a technology consulting firm for mid- to large-size companies. Andersen has been the executive director of the Lutheran Community Foundation since its inception in 1995. During his tenure, Andersen has raised $100 million in gifts to the foundation, which supports Lutheran charities throughout the country. "I'm proud of the success of the foundation," Andersen says with true Minnesota modesty. When he's not busy traveling for work, Andersen sings with the Minnesota Chorale and swims as a member of Team Minnesota, which will compete in Amsterdam's Gay Games in August.

Robert J. Booker

The buck doesn't stop here. Robert J. Booker, Executive Director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, makes sure financial funding for artists keeps going and going and going. Financing art in all its aspects has been Booker's professional aim ever since he graduated from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., with an arts-administration degree. "I'm one of the few people I know who is doing exactly what I wanted to do since college," says fortysomething Booker. The Virginia native has not only spent the last 13 years with the State Arts Board in various roles, he's also served on a number of boards for arts organizations and was instrumental in the early development of Arts over AIDS. "I'm a relatively conservative guy who has a deep-seated love of the arts," says Booker, "When it comes to art, I look at quality first, background second." Though he once dabbled in visual art and theater, Booker says his interest in the arts covers a wide variety of fields -- including auto design, which he supports by driving an '87 red Porsche 911.

Karen Louise Boothe

The reporting life began early for Karen Louise Boothe, who started penning a neighborhood newsletter at age 11. A self-confessed news geek, Minnesota Public Radio's government-affairs reporter spent her childhood watching the Watergate hearings and names Barbara Walters as her first role model. After college, Boothe spent 11 "and counting" months in Marshall, Minn., where she broke a national news story detailing the 1983 farm-crisis murder of two bankers by father and son, James and Steven Jenkins. Next came a stint at KSTP and the Minnesota News Network before becoming a public-radio fixture. Here in the river cities, Boothe enjoys such metropolitan vices as Cosmopolitans and Bloomingdales. Yet, the salt-of-the-earth Taurus possesses a passion for justice, which underscores her work as board president of the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association. Her declarative Andrea Marcovicci-style voice, lighter and kinder than most, clips upward and many ask, "Are your Canadian?" No, Boothe hails from St. Cloud and Minneapolis, where her fourth grade teacher endowed her with a passion for research. Catch her top-notch stories on 91.1 FM.

Monica Bryand

"Pat Buchanan inspired me," says Monica Bryand, the employee-involvement manager of community affairs for The St. Paul Companies. Watching the Republican National Convention in 1992, Bryand experienced a life-changing moment: "Buchanan was spewing hate, and I thought, 'He's talking about me!'" she remembers. "I realized I had to stop bitching until I did something." So in 1993, Bryand, who had always thought of herself as out, decided to be more out, and spearheaded The St. Paul Companies Gay/Lesbian & Friends Network, a support network for gay/lesbian employees of the insurance-services behemoth. The results were more than satisfying. "It changed my life," Bryand admits. And the lives of others as well, for the Network helped establish domestic-partnership benefits, awareness of GLBT issues in the workplace, and a social outlet for company employees. In 1996, Business Ethics magazine ranked The St. Paul Companies seventh among the nation's employers in terms of its work environment for gays and lesbians. Bryand, however, has moved beyond the limits of her own workplace: She currently serves as the co-chair of the Workplace Alliance Network, a group she helped establish in 1994.

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