On April 16, members of the LGBTQ community lost one of our most passionate and impactful trailblazers. Donna Red Wing passed away after a courageous battle with lung cancer on that day.
Donna’s legacy of service for the LGBTQ community is unparalleled. She was a national leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality, dedicating over three decades of her life to advocating for our community. Over the years, she held leadership roles at organizations like Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, the Gill Foundation, Interfaith Alliance, and others. While directing the Lesbian Community Project in Oregon, she was featured in a Sundance Award-winning film about the 1992 struggle (and victory) against Ballot Measure 9, a proposed amendment to Oregon’s constitution that, among other things, compelled public schools to teach youth that being LGBTQ is “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse”. She also advised both President Barack Obama and Howard Dean on LGBTQ issues.
Donna moved to Iowa in 2012 to begin her tenure as One Iowa’s executive director. Despite living here for a relatively short time, she made an enormously positive impact in the fight for LGBTQ equality in our state. In addition to leading One Iowa for four years, she launched an LGBT Advisory Council while serving as a Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commissioner and briefly served as director of the Eychaner Foundation during her time in Iowa. The Des Moines Civil and Human Rights Commission recently renamed their Lifetime Achievement award after her to honor her extraordinary work championing equality for all in our state.
Over the past few weeks, One Iowa staff who worked with Donna during her time with our organization have been reflecting on our work with her, the enormous impact she had on our community, and our personal connection with her. We’d like to share some of those reflections with you: