Leadership Blue Gala Speakers Include Trailblazers, Spouses of Presidential Hopefuls
The Florida Democratic Party announced speakers for the annual Leadership Blue Gala — the list includes the head of the Democratic Party, elected officials from across the country, and the spouses of presidential hopefuls.
Party and elected officials include Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, and Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York.
The spouses for presidential hopefuls already include Chasten Buttigieg, the husband of Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Douglas Emhoff, the husband of Senator Kamala Harris.
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Florida Democratic Party, expressed excitement about the diverse group of speakers for the Leadership Blue Gala:
"June is going to be an exciting month for Florida Democrats! The top Democratic Presidential candidates will make their way to Miami for the first Democratic debate later this month, and today we are thrilled to announce an all-star line-up for our Leadership Blue gala, including Senator Kyrsten Sinema, Chair Tom Perez, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, and the spouses of presidential hopefuls, including Douglas Emhoff and Chasten Buttigieg. This year's Gala will be an opportunity to hear from diverse voices and Democratic leaders from across the United States. Trump can't win the White House without Florida, and Democrats are investing across the board to do the hard work it will take to win."
This year's event will be held at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club in Orlando, FL from Friday, June 7th to Sunday, June 9th.
Senator Kyrsten Sinema
In the few months since Kyrsten was sworn-in as Arizona's senior Senator, she has already taken big steps to get things done for everyday Arizonans and folks across the country.
She's worked to protect public lands, shaping and helping pass a major lands bill — and she helped pass a multi-state drought contingency plan to help secure Arizona's water future. As a member of the Senate Aging Committee, Kyrsten is continuing her work to protect seniors from fraud and financial abuse, support families who serve as caregivers for aging relatives, and protect Medicare and Social Security. She's continuing to support working families —— cosponsoring the Paycheck Fairness Act to guarantee equal pay for equal work, backing a bill to help address student loan debt, and working to expand health care options in underserved rural communities.
And Kyrsten — who also serves on the Veterans' Affairs Committee — is continuing her work to keep our military strong and ensure our veterans get the benefits they've earned. Her first sponsored bill in the Senate — the LEGION Act — expands membership to the American Legion so thousands of veterans who honorably served in undeclared conflicts can join this important service organization. Kyrsten also opposed the administration's emergency declaration, citing its potential harm to military readiness.
Kyrsten's hard work is already seeing results. Her bipartisan bill to help combat illegal robocall scams has been approved by a key Senate committee.
As she said during the campaign, Kyrsten feels a duty to serve and give back to the communities and country that gave her so much.
Chairman Hakeem Jeffries
Hakeem Jeffries represents the diverse Eighth Congressional District of New York, an area that encompasses large parts of Brooklyn and a section of Queens. Serving his fourth term in the United States Congress, Rep. Jeffries is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and House Budget Committee.
Rep. Jeffries is Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, having been elected to that position by his colleagues in November 2018. In that capacity, he is the fifth highest-ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives. He is also the former Whip of the Congressional Black Caucus and previously co-chaired the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee where he helped develop the For The People agenda.
In Congress, Rep. Jeffries has emerged as a tireless advocate for social and economic justice. He has worked hard to help residents impacted by the devastation of Superstorm Sandy, reform our criminal justice system, improve the economy for everyday Americans and protect our health care from right-wing attacks.
Prior to his election to the Congress, Rep. Jeffries served for six years in the New York State Assembly. In that capacity, he authored laws to protect the civil liberties of law-abiding New Yorkers during police encounters, encourage the transformation of vacant luxury condominiums into affordable homes for working families and improve the quality of justice in the civil court system.
Rep. Jeffries was born in Brooklyn Hospital, raised in Crown Heights and is a product of New York City's public-school system. He lives in Prospect Heights with his family.
Chairman Tom Perez
The son of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Tom grew up in Buffalo where he learned the values of a union town: hard work, integrity, service, and perseverance.
After putting himself through college with Pell Grants and working on the back of a garbage truck, Tom passed up offers from white-shoe law firms, instead choosing to start his career as a civil rights attorney for the U.S. Justice Department prosecuting racially motivated hate crimes.
Tom had the privilege of serving in President Obama's administration. First as head of the department's Civil Rights Division, where he led the charge against police misconduct, voter suppression, anti-LGBT discrimination, and immigrant-bashing sheriffs' departments. Then as Secretary of Labor, fighting to protect and expand opportunities for America's working people — from better wages and overtime pay, to retirement security and collective bargaining rights.
But Tom's strongest roots are in local organizing. In 2002, he became the first Latino elected to the Montgomery County Council. And as board president of CASA de Maryland, Tom helped grow the organization from a small service provider in the basement of a church to one of the largest immigrant advocacy groups in the mid-Atlantic.
Chasten Buttigieg was born and raised in Traverse City, Michigan. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Theater and Global Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire. Chasten found his footing as a Teaching Artist at First Stage, one of the nation's premier children's theater and academies, where he brought drama to thousands of students throughout the greater Milwaukee region and inspired students with autism and learning differences to pursue the performing arts. Chasten holds a Masters of Education in Curriculum Studies from DePaul University, where he wrote his thesis on the importance of creative curriculum and arts integration. He has worked in Chicago Public Schools, South Bend Public Schools, and previously served as the head of Junior High and drama teacher at Montessori Academy Edison Lakes. He lives in South Bend with his husband Peter, and their two dogs, Truman, and Buddy.
Doug Emhoff is a lawyer, dad to Cole and Ella, and the immensely proud husband of Senator Kamala Harris. Born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey, Doug has spent the majority of his adult life in Los Angeles, California. He put himself through college at Cal State Northridge, law school at the University of Southern California, and has gone on to a distinguished legal career. Doug currently serves as a partner at DLA Piper, where he practices in the firm's worldwide Media, Sports & Entertainment group.
When he's not practicing law, he's spending time with the kids, and on the road with his wife, visiting communities across the country to speak truth, listen and learn. In addition to his legal career and political spouse duties, Doug is an avid (wannabe) golfer, and passionately involved in numerous community, civic and charitable activities, including legal aid, human rights and social justice.