West Palm Beach attorney and LGBT advocate Rae Franks, who has served on PBCHRC's Board of Directors for more than two decades, was presented with a Diversity Honors Award by the Harvey Milk Foundation and The Pride Center at Equality Park at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on May 13, 2016.
Diversity Honors spotlights those people who live their lives by advancing inclusiveness. In addition to Rae, this year's honorees included Peter Clark, publisher of Hotspots Media Group; Enbar Cohen, City of Aventura Commissioner; Mark Denker, M.D. of Palm Berach Fertility Center; Robert Runcie, Superintendent of Broward County Public Schools; and Judge David Young. In addition, the annuak Milk Foundation Rosza Award will recognize eight year old Ryland Whittington, a transgender child whose family chronicled their son's transition from girl to boy on YouTube.
"It is such a privilege to host this annual event where we come together to honor men and women who, in their extraordinary lives remind us all of the diversity of the human spirit, the values that define us as not only as the South Florida community, but as a nation, and the potential that lives inside of all of us," said Stuart Milk, co-founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation and global human rights advocate. "We are thrilled to join together again with The Pride Center and the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino to present this ongoing celebration of those who exemplify the best examples of authenticity, leadership and courage in our community."
Rae Franks was brought up in Cuba and came to the United States in 1962, so she has a personal interest in serving the Hispanic community and in protecting the rights of all minorities. She is a founding member of the Palm Beach County Hispanic Bar Association and served on its Board of Directors for many years. Rae has also been a strong supporter of feminist issues and served as Treasurer of the both West Palm Beach Chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and the Women's Political Caucus in Palm Beach County.
She became a board member of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in 1991, through her friendship with then President Norman Aaron, who was one of the early out-and-proud LGBT seniors in South Florida. Rae became actively involved with the drafting of the City of West Palm Beach's Human Rights Ordinance, and its subsequent winning battle in the court and in the referendum challenge. For her work, in 1995 Rae was awarded the Legislative Advocacy Award by the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society, along with former PBCHRC Vice President Joseph Fields, Esquire. This was one of the first citywide "human rights ordinances" in Florida which provided protection for gay and lesbians .
Rae is currently the Chair of the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity/Fair Housing Board, the Chair of the City of West Palm Beach Zoning Appeals Board, and Secretary of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
Showing her commitment to service, Rae's law practice includes representation of domestic violence victims, assisting LGBT clients in navigating the currently changing landscape of property and probate rights, and in assisting non-English speaking clients through legal advocacy.
In her role as candidate outreach coordinator for the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Voters Alliance, Rae has personally contacted and interviewed more than 250 candidates seeking office in Palm Beach County.