6th Annual Red Gala

A trailblazer or “Flame Thrower” is defined as an individual or pioneer who lights a path or passageway for future successors to follow in a particular field or endeavor through unexplored territory.  Through a formal ceremony to be held Saturday, June 9, the 2018 SOS Planning Committee, Board and Volunteers of The Red Door Foundation are excited to announce the 2018 Flame Throwers.  Official Press Release

Red Gala Information

Date and Location: Saturday, June 9, 2018 at Sheraton Birmingham

Time: 6:00 pm - 6:45 pm | Cocktail Hour

7:00 pm - 10:00 pm | Plated Dinner & Presentation

10 pm | After Party

Cost: In - Advance: $75.00, At the Door: $65.00 limited space

Table: $450.00 (10 seats)

Attire: Black Tie with African Accents

2018 Flame Thrower Honorees

  Carmarion Anderson

Carmarion Anderson

Carmarion Anderson

Carmarion D. Anderson is a vibrant and visible person who has worked tirelessly to spread the Gospel of Inclusion to the world. Having been reared in the Church of God in Christ, a Pentecostal-Holiness Christian denomination, Carmarion accepted her calling into ministry as a young teenager. It was during this time she truly discovered herself and became an Ambassador for Christ. As an advocate, Carmarion is the Executive Director of Black Transwomen, Inc., a national nonprofit 501 (c)(3) organization with a mission to uplift the voice, heart, and soul of black transwomen. As well, a Prevention Public Health Consultant with a focus on HIV/AIDS and other health disparities in marginalized communities. Carmarion graciously serves The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, Inc., under the leadership of Presiding Bishop Yvette Flunder, as the National Moderator for TransSaints, and is a proud chartered/associate minister at Living Faith Covenant Church, Dallas, Texas. Carmarion resides in Austin, Texas, and is the proud parent of one son and an adorable grandson.


A. Cornelius Baker

Mr. Baker is a lecturer in the Hubert Department of Global Health of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory and a senior advisor to the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) at the Office of  AIDS Research, National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of States’ Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator and Health Diplomacy (S/GAC).

Cornelius Baker previously served as the Chief Policy Advisor to U.S. Global AIDS Coordinator and Special Representative for Health Diplomacy Ambassador-at-Large Deborah L. Birx, M.D. to advance the PEPFAR 3.0 Framework to achieve an AIDS-free generation, with a particular focus on human rights, partnerships and the engagement of U.S. leadership in the global response, including faith-based organizations and minority serving institutions.  From May 2014 though October 2015, he served as S/GAC’s Acting Deputy Coordinator for Affected Populations and Civil Society Leadership establishing a new programmatic section addressing human rights, gender, key populations and civil society.

Over the past three decades, Mr. Baker has worked at every level of the HIV response, from being a volunteer fundraiser throughout the early days of the epidemic, to being a co-creator of the National HIV Testing Day in the mid-90s, and on to leading prominent organizations and initiatives during the past decade.  Previously, he has served in leadership roles as the senior policy advisor for the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition, acting director of the HIV/AIDS Unit and senior technical advisor at FHI 360, the executive director of Whitman-Walker Clinic, and executive director of the National Association of People with AIDS.  Mr. Baker was appointed as a confidential assistant to the assistant secretary for health at the US Department of Health and Human Services in the National AIDS Program Office in the George H.W. Bush Administration.  From 2009 – 2014, he was an appointee to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS (PACHA).

He has been recognized for his efforts by a wide array of organizations, including receiving the Courage Award at the Washington AIDS Walk for his leadership in living with HIV, the National Lesbian and Gay Health Association’s Diego Lopez Award for leadership in HIV advocacy, the American Foundation for AIDS Research Award of Courage for Community Building, the National Association of People with AIDS’ Braveheart Award, and Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington in 2004 for his support of women’s health and community leadership.  Mr. Baker serves on the boards of Public Responsibility in Medicine & Research (PRIM&R), Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, and Us Helping Us.

Mr. Baker received his Bachelor of Arts at Eisenhower College/Rochester Institute of Technology.  In July 2014, he was named Distinguished Alumnus by the Eisenhower College Alumni Association.

   Cecilia Chung

Cecilia Chung

CeCilia chung

Cecilia Chung, Senior Director of Strategic Projects of Transgender Law Center, is a Health Commissioner of San Francisco and an internationally recognized human rights leader who advocates for HIV/AIDS awareness and treatment access, LGBT equality, and social justice.

An immigrant from Hong Kong, Cecilia arrived in San Francisco in 1984. Cecilia has worked locally and internationally to advance equality and justice. Over the past 25 years, Cecilia has broken ground in a number of ways including: being the first transgender woman and first Asian to be elected to lead the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Celebration; the first transgender woman and first person living openly with HIV to Chair the San Francisco Human Rights Commission; and, an architect of the nation’s most ambitious publicly funded program addressing economic justice within the transgender community. Her community service spans nearly two decades. In 1994, she was a member of San Francisco’s Transgender Discrimination Task Force, which documented widespread discrimination against transgender people through a groundbreaking report. The work of the Taskforce led the City to adopt many pioneering anti-discrimination ordinances and policies. During her tenure as President of the SF Pride Board, she led the organization in achieving a new standard of inclusion and excellence.

In 2004, as a founding producer of Trans March, she helped organize one of the world’s largest annual transgender events which has since been replicated in cities across the U.S. In 2005, she became the first Deputy Director of the Transgender Law Center and is widely credited with shaping the organization’s mission and programs. In 2013, she was appointed to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. In 2015, Cecilia launched Positively Trans, a first-of-its-kind leadership development project that focuses on trans leaders of color living with HIV.

Cecilia’s accolades include the Levis Strauss & Co. Pioneer Award, the San Francisco AIDS Foundation Cleve Jones Award, the Human Rights Campaign Community Service Award, California Women of The Year, Out and Equal Champion of the Year Award, to name a few.

As one of the seven commissioners in San Francisco Department of Public Health, Cecilia chairs the Finance and Planning Committee that provide oversights and approve contracts with a combine budget of US$ 2.2 millions. As an Asian transgender woman living with HIV, she has dedicated herself to ending stigma, discrimination, and violence in all communities.

   Deon Haywood

Deon Haywood

Deon Haywood

Deon Haywood is the Executive Director of Women With A Vision, Inc., a New Orleans-based community organization founded in 1991 to improve the lives of marginalized women, their families, and communities by addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and well-being. Since Hurricane Katrina, she has led the organization to a vibrant locally-rooted international network addressing the complex intersection of socio-economic injustices and health disparities.

Coming to this work from a black feminist analysis through a harm reduction lens led Deon to create holistic means to address the needs of Black women including: harm reduction kits to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDs from IV drug use, community outreach to directly connect with and support community, condom distribution, and case management services.

In 2009, Deon oversaw the launch of WWAV’s NO Justice Project, a campaign to combat the sentencing of cis and trans women arrested for street-based sex work under Louisiana’s 203-yr-old “crime against nature” felony-level law. This resulted in a federal judicial ruling and the removal of more than 700 women from the sex offender registry. Deon was also the representative from the U.S. South to the 2013 Frontline Defender’s Dublin Platform, has testified in front of the United Nations Global Commission on HIV and the Law and been honored with numerous awards by groups across the United States in recognition of her leadership at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, harm reduction, LGBTQ rights, reproductive justice and anti-criminalization and ending (mass) incarceration.

At the 7th Annual 2020 Leading Women’s Society Awards, Deon received the Pandora Singleton Ally Award for 20 years of service as a non-positive ally in the movement. Deon was also part of the inaugural class of Public Voices Fellows with the Ms. Foundation (2016), and was the 2017 recipient of the 41st Ben Smith Award from the A.C.L.U. of Louisiana. She is also the recipient of the 2017 Warrior Women Award from SisterSong.

  Valerie Rochester, MPA

Valerie Rochester, MPA

Valerie Rochester, MPA

Valerie L. Rochester has used her 25 years’ experience as a leading wellness architect to provide programmatic, administrative, and technical support services in the public health field.  A native of Indianapolis, she was exposed to public service at an early age.  Her passion for other people’s health and well-being has guided her both professionally and personally, instilling in her the drive to be a purposeful disruptor for bringing about change.  

In June 2017, Valerie became Vice President for Program Strategy for AIDS United, a leading national HIV advocacy, policy and educational organization in Washington, DC.  There she guides the organizations expansive program portfolio and is grantmaking efforts investing in communities affected by the HIV epidemic.  Prior to joining AIDS United, Valerie was Director of Programs & Training with the Black Women’s Health Imperative, where she led the organization’s national programmatic responses to address racially and gender-based health inequities; managing health initiatives addressing the priority health issues of diabetes, breast and cervical cancers, HIV/STIs, obesity, and chronic disease prevention.   She designed, received CDC funding for, and led the development of what has become a signature program for diabetes prevention among African Americans – Change Your Lifestyle. Change Your Life., based on the National Diabetes Prevention Program.

As a health strategist, Valerie recognizes the importance of engaging and mobilizing communities to help bring about improved health outcomes and has applied these approaches to her work with local, Federal, national, and state agencies.  She has also served on the board of directors of numerous national and community-based organizations, including her current tenure as a board member of the National Minority AIDS Council, where the holds the position of Treasurer.  Because of her commitment to addressing health inequities in communities of color, Valerie was awarded the Congressional Black Caucus Healthcare Hero Award in 2002 at the annual Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, presented to her by former Congresswoman Donna Christensen. 

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Reverend Elder Kevin E. Taylor

He’s a noted author (JADED, UNCLUTTER, BECAUSE HE LIVES, IT’S TIME FOR SOME ACTION, ENVY: the darkest shade of green, GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING and MEET THE HENDERSONS). He’s a pastor (Senior Pastor of Unity Fellowship Church NewArk since 2012 and Unity Fellowship Church New Brunswick for 12 years prior to that). He’s been a writer and producer for television (22 years in television and more than 20 years running TaylorMadeMultiMedia (TM3), his own video production company. He is a lecturer and empowerment speaker, who has spoken at colleges, universities and community groups and who has preached around the country and internationally, for the last 20 years. He has been conducting a series of workshops on everything: “Living In Your Greatness,” “Uncluttering Your Life!” “How To Pitch a Show Idea,” “This Is My Story and You Should Write Yours, too!” and so many others. Taylor offers this, “It seems like I’m a multi-tasker who’s got too much on his hands, but I’m successful at it because I don’t try to do it all at one time. I know how to focus on each task at hand. It’s about balance.” Brought up in and raised well by his mother in the projects of Washington, DC, but directly across the street from condos housing powerful lawmakers and business owners, the juxtaposition made him a dreamer. From an early age, Kevin E. Taylor knew that better was available for him. “I remember finding a pocket dictionary in the trash. I would learn a new word everyday. People thought it was crazy, but I knew I would need those words. I knew that there was a power in those words.” THOSE WORDS CAME IN HANDY when Taylor applied for college and his English essay is what got in him into several schools. Those words helped the English student, who also studied primarily in Accounting and Spanish. Those words helped when he transitioned from a safe municipal position as a Budget Analyst to Black Entertainment Television (BET) and soon became a producer, where he interviewed such icons as Tina Turner, Maxwell, Stevie Wonder, Luther Vandross, Sade, Diana Ross, Lenny Kravitz, Patti Labelle and later her reunited group Labelle and his personal favorite Natalie Cole, with whom Taylor developed a personal relationship and later did research for and wrote the discography to her 2000 “Angel On My Shoulder” autobiography, which later became an award-winning NBC made-for-TV movie. During his tenure at BET, Kevin created such shows as ACCESS GRANTED, TESTIMONY, LYRICALLY SPEAKING and NOTARIZED, which gave the network its highest day-ratings in its history in 1999 and where he won a Gold World Medal for International Programming for a special (24 HOURS WITH DRU HILL) and a pair of NAACP Image Award nominations, competing against himself in 2001 for his Aaliyah episode of ACCESS GRANTED and his interviews with Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige for TESTIMONY. Taylor also wrote biographies for projects or featured articles on Anita Baker (“Rhythm of Love” and “My Everything” cd releases), Shai, Jon B., Jennifer Holliday (cover story for REAL magazine), Rachelle Ferrell (The Black Guide) and Tina Turner for the 1996 cover feature of Sister2Sister magazine. Taylor has also done EPKs (electronic/video press kits) for various record labels and recording artists. NOW, TAYLOR IS HOSTING HIS OWN show/webseries called NOW WHAT?! WITH KEVIN E. TAYLOR. The crowdfunded online series has featured the likes of singers Rachelle Ferrell, B.Slade, Kenny Bobien, and Kelly Price, actor and playwright Keith Hamilton Cobb, RHOA stars Cynthia Bailey and Peter Thomas, renowned choreographer Desmond Richardson, model/actor/fitness expert Garrain Jones, author Victoria Schmidt, wellness icon Queen Afua and many more. The new season of the show will take Taylor on a cross-country tour and will be a series of speaking engagements with featured live interviews and community engagement. In 2017, Taylor recently released his own autobiography, titled NEVER TOO MUCH: this is my story of big words, big dreams and an audacious big life! And 2018 will bring the release of a new novel (“MOMMA, PLEASE!”) and two new empowerment tomes titled “RELIGIOUSLY SPIRITUAL | SPIRITUALLY RELIGIOUS” and “WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!?,” both in support of his continuous quest to guide people in living their greatest lives and as his church’s 2018 theme denotes “LIFE...MORE ABUNDANTLY!”

  The Counter Narrative Project

The Counter Narrative Project

The counter narrative project

Founded in 2014 as a catalyst for social and cultural change, the Counter Narrative Project's (CNP) mission is to build power among Black gay men (BGM) and work in solidarity, partnership, and coalition with the broader Black LGBTQ community. Led by Executive Director, Charles Stephens, and Mobilization Director, Johnnie Kornegay, CNP amplifies the voices of black gay men and strategically responds to issues impacting our community. Collective memory is also critical to our work. The organization was founded on the beautiful legacy of our forefathers; black gay artists, writers, activists, and warriors such as Essex Hemphill, Marlon Riggs, Joseph Beam, Craig Harris, Donald Woods, and Tony Daniels. CNP is committed to fighting for a world in which all oppressed people are free.

Past Flame Thrower Honorees

2013 - Memphis, Tenn.

Terryl Buckner

Dwayne Jenkins

Dr. June Gipson

Diedra Levi

Dr. Leando Mena

Cornelius Mablin

2014 - Memphis, Tenn.

Dr. Marye Bernard

Anthony E. Fox

Reverend Edwin Sanders

Chris Sinnock, LMSW

Rudolph Carn

Young Brother's United- Nashville, Tenn.

2015 - Memphis, Tenn.

Michelle Allen

Dr. Dazon Dixon Diallo

Dorcas Young- Griffin, MPH

Ernest Hopkins

Delta Phi Upsilon Fraternity Inc.

2016 - Memphis, Tenn.

Leisha McKinley- Beach

Rashad Burgess

Dr. David Malebranche

Greg Millet, MPH

Valerie Spencer, MSW

My Brother's Keeper- Jackson, Miss.


Gina Brown, MSW

Toya Green, MPH

Keith Green, MSW

Trina Scott

Cedric Sturdevant

Dr. Darrell Wheeler

MUSED Magazine Online