Saturday, October 9, 2021
Hilton Denver City Center

Hybrid Event – In-Person & Virtual

Thank you for joining the Matthew Shepard Foundation for our annual gala celebrating individuals and organizations for their leadership and commitment to replacing hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance.

2021 Gala Photos

2021 Gala Awards

Making a Difference Award
Wilson Cruz

The Making a Difference Award recognizes individuals and organizations committed to replacing hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. We honor their unwavering and longstanding leadership in working towards a world free of hate.

Past Making a Difference Award Honorees:

Lily Tomlin & Jane Wagner (2020)

Samira Wiley (2019)
Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. (2019)
Adam Rippon (2018)
Lesléa Newman (2018)
Secretary Eric Fanning (2017)
Sean Hayes (2016)
Jonathan Capehart (2016)
Nathan Lane (2015)
Jason Collins (2014)
Stephen Fry (2014)
George Takei (2013)
Alan Cumming (2012)
Jennifer Beals (2011)
Congressman Tim Walz (2011)
John Sullivan (2011)
Bishop Gene Robinson (2010)
Governor Barbara Roberts (2010)
Darcelle XIV: Int. Imperial Court System (2010)
Sir Elton John (2009)
Leslie Jordan (2009)
Del Shores (2009)
John Amaechi (2008)
Elizabeth Birch (2007)
Congressman John Lewis (2007)
Terry DeCrescenzo & GLASS (2007)
Cindy & Ellen Lauper (2007)
Lead Sponsors of Shepard/Byrd Act (2007)
Judith Light & Robert Desiderio (2006)
Ryan Olson (2006)
Moises Kaufman & Tectonic Theater Project (2006)

Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership
Craig Hella Johnson

The Dennis Dougherty Award is named in memory of a loving, generous and inspiring member of the MSF family. Dennis was a friend, mentor, philanthropist and visionary who was instrumental in giving the Foundation a strong beginning and a vision for the future. This award is given to those who have played an essential role in the Matthew Shepard Foundation’s growth and integrity.

Past Dennis Dougherty Award Honorees:

Julie Chavez & Chavez for Charity (2020)

Anthony Aragon & David Westman (2019)
Chance Mitchell & Justin Nelson (2018)
Daniel Ramos (2017)
Morris W. Price, Jr. (2016)
Jeffrey & Jennifer Kustock (2015)
Representative Leslie Herod (2014)

Spirit of Matthew Award
Schuyler Bailar

The Spirit of Matthew Award recognizes a young person who embodies the spirit of Matt – kind, forward-thinking, and advocating for their peers. A youth who demonstrates a profound personal commitment to social justice, equal rights, and activism, while showing the same passion to foster a more caring and just world. . . just like Matt.

Past Spirit of Matthew Award Honorees:

Jude (2020)

Brooklyn Owen – formerly Seth Owen (2019)
Drew Adams (2018)
Ose Arheghan (2018)
Jaimie Wilson (2017)
Alyssa Sileo (2017)
Zachary Mallory (2016)
Nicole Maines & the Maines Family (2015)
Jaime Kruse (2014)
Jacob Stallman (2013)
Connor Norton (2012)
Meg Dukes (2011)

Thanks to our sponsors

Presenting Partners

Marriott Int Logo

Premier Partners

Bedrock Landscaping
Dominion Energy

Ambassador Partners

Iron Horse

Patron Partners

Tito's Vodka
Barr ADR
CAPE Inclusion
Plante Moran

Hope Partners

GRE Logo

Wine Sponsor

Iron Horse

Marketing Mainstay