Community Grand Marshal – Susan Jester
2017 Spirit of Stonewall Awardees
Every year, San Diego Pride accepts nominations from the community for the annual presentation of the Spirit of Stonewall Awards. The awards recognize individuals or groups who contribute significantly to the LGBT community through their leadership, activism, and/or fundraising efforts.
Spirit of Stonewall Award – Community Grand Marshal
Awarded to an individual or couple who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the LGBT community over an extended period of years with consideration to service to San Diego Pride.
2017 Recipient – Susan Jester
Susan Jester is a third generation Californian who grew up in Palm Springs and was raised in a strict evangelical home. Susan struggled with her sexuality until finally coming out at age 40 in 1983. Susan quickly immersed herself into LGBT rights issues, becoming a well-known lesbian activist, speaking frequently with other LGBT leaders at press conferences, debates, and LGBT rights demonstrations. In 1984, Susan created the first LGBT Police Liaison Committee and was the first openly gay person appointed as a San Diego City Commissioner.
When the HIV/AIDS epidemic struck the gay community in the early 80’s, Susan used her political experience to raise public awareness by mobilizing the LGBT community and its allies to produce the first San Diego AIDS Walk in 1986. Susan has been a fierce warrior and voice for all affected by the virus in San Diego and across the country. Susan moved to the east coast in 1991 to work for the Human Rights Campaign. In 1994 she was the Executive Director of New York city’s “Stonewall 25”, an international march celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, when over two million people marched past the United Nations Headquarters and into Central Park for AIDS/LGBT rights.
She also served New Jersey Governor Whitman at the New Jersey Affordable Housing agency, which created housing programs for HIV-affected families. Susan returned to San Diego in 2011, and served on the Board of San Diego Pride, The San Diego Sheriff’s LGBT Advisory Council, The AIDS Memorial Task Force, the California Advisory Committee to the United States Civil Rights Commission, the San Diego City Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission, and as the Co-Chair of the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Council. As a result of all of her efforts, Susan was inducted into the San Diego LGBT Center “Wall of Honor” in 2014.
Susan currently works with St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral as their public relations and media director. She is also the City Commissioner of the Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission (CEOC), the Co-Chair on the Mayor’s LGBT Advisory Council, a member of the Sheriff’s LGBT Advisory Council, the San Diego AIDS Memorial Task Force, and the CA Advisory Committee to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.