Sat, Oct 11, 2014
5:00 PM

Matthew Shepard Foundation Honors

Introducing the Matthew Shepard Foundation Honors Gala

As the Matthew Shepard Foundation passes our 15th anniversary, we owe it to the movement for LGBT equality to lift up and honor those who have committed themselves to securing justice for our community. We are excited to introduce the Matthew Shepard Foundation Honors, the new iteration of Bear to Make a Difference.

Judy and Dennis care deeply about this event and share our belief that this new vision for our annual celebration reflects the maturity of the foundation and our commitment to an enduring, sustainable movement that embraces and recognizes all contributions. We are incredibly grateful to the community that created Bear to Make a Difference 12 years ago and look forward to celebrating the future of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and honoring those who have brought us this far.

Our transition in 2014 was spurred from an amazing year of growth and progress for the Foundation. Judy and Dennis Shepard spoke to students, teachers, workers, and politicians in Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, Europe, and across the U.S. We worked with more than 68 productions of The Laramie Project in 2013, igniting community-wide discussions on how to create a more civil, compassionate, and just world. has more than doubled its web traffic that provides youth visitors with a safe online environment as well as access to resources to make their community safer, happier, and healthier. We are also very proud to be adding new programs that will be announced during Honors 2014!

This year, we are pleased to present the Making a Difference Award to Stephen Fry. Stephen Fry is an English actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director and all round national treasure. 

Whilst at university, Fry became involved with the Cambridge Footlights, where he met his long-time collaborator and friend Hugh Laurie. As half of the comic double act Fry and Laurie, he co-wrote and co-starred in A Bit of Fry & Laurie, and took the role of Jeeves (with Laurie playing Wooster) in Jeeves and Wooster.

Fry's acting roles include the lead in the film Wilde, Melchett in the BBC television series Blackadder, the titular character in the television series Kingdom, a recurring guest role as Dr. Gordon Wyatt on the crime series Bones, and as Gordon Deitrich in the dystopian thriller V for Vendetta, Mycroft Holmes in Warner’s Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows and The Master of Laketown in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. He has also written and presented several documentary series, including the Emmy Award-winning Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive, and is also the long-time host of the BBC television quiz show QI. He played Prime Minister Alistair Davies in the 9th season of Fox TV’s 24: Live Another Day.

As a proudly out gay man, the award-winning Out There, documenting the lives of lesbian, bisexual gay and transgender people around the world is part of his thirty year advocacy of the rights of the LGBT community.

 As well as his work in television, Fry has contributed columns and articles for newspapers and magazines, appears frequently on radio, reads for voice-overs and has written four novels and three volumes of autobiography, Moab Is My Washpot, The Fry Chronicles and his latest, as yet untitled. 

In an unusual twist, this year we are presenting a second Making a Difference Award. We are very pleased to announce that Jason Collins will also be joining us. Jason Collins is an American professional basketball player of the National Basketball Association (NBA).

Collins attended Stanford University, where he was an All-American in the 2000-2001 season. He was also maned to the All Pac-10 First Team and awarded the NABC Pete Newell "Big Man of the Year" Award. He finished his college career ranked first in Stanford history for field goal percentage and third in blocked shots. Upon graduating with a B.A. from Stanford, Collins was selected in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft with the 18th overall pick. Now a 13-year veteran, Collins has played center for six teams including New Jersey, Memphis, Minnesota, Atlanta, Boston, Washington and, most recently, the Brooklyn Nets (formerly the New Jersey Nets). Doc Rivers, who coached Collins during his time with the Boston Celtics said of Collins: "He's the best. HE literally is one of the best guys I've ever had in the locker room, player or coach." In his 13 years in the league, Collins' teams earned 10 trips to the playoffs including 2 NBA Finals appearances.

After the 2012-13 NBA season concluded, Collins publicly came out as gay in a cover story for Sports Illustrated, becoming the first male active player in any of the four major American professional sports to announce that he is gay. President Obama expressed his gratitude to Collins for his courageous announcement and said he "couldn't be prouder" of Collins, recognizing this as a point of progress for the LGBT community, and one more step in America's goal to treat everyone fairly and with respect. Collins has travele the country with the mission of empowering people to live their lives as their true selves, and has become an active member of numerous charities, foundation and organizations. In 2013, GLSEN honored Collins with the Courage Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards. In 2014, Logo TV honored Collins with its inaugural Trailblazer Award. Collins is also the face of Nike's "Be True" sportswear line and Marriott's global #LoveTravels campaign.

For many years, the Matthew Shepard Foundation gave out the Essential Piece award to community activists from around the country who had demonstrated a deep commitment to erasing hate. This past year, we lost a great friend of the Foundation, Dennis Dougherty, who had been a loyal supporter and a visionary leader in the Colorado community. In his honor, the Essential Piece award has been renamed the Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership and we are pleased to present this award to Dennis' good friend and local leader, Leslie Herod.

Leslie Herod is passionate about making a difference in her community and the world around her through advocacy and civic engagement. Leslie has been a long time supporter of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and dedicates her time and career to organizations and causes that make a difference and change peoples' lives. Leslie is particularly dedicated to organizations that support equality for all people regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender expression. She focuses her energy on LGBT equality, anti-bullying, youth homelessness, and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

Leslie is a strategic planning and community partnerships professional. Prior to starting her own consulting practice, Leslie was a program officer with the Gill Foundation where she led philanthropic initiatives focusing on LGBT equality and alliance building with communities of color. Her previous professional experience includes senior policy advisor to Governor of Colorado, Bill Ritter, Jr., and the Deputy Political Director for PResident Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. LEslie serves on multiple community boards and commissions including as a gubernatorial appointee to the state's Judicial Performance Commission and a mayoral appointee to Denver's Cultural Affairs Commission. She also serves on the boards of Urban Peak, Colorado's leading homeless youth service agency, and the Colorado Women of Influence Leadership Circles. In 2006, Leslie co-founded New Era Colorado, the state's leading organization focused on the civic engagement of young people. This year, Leslie was one of three emerging Rocky Mountain Region leaders named a 2014 international German Marshall Fund Fellow.

Leslie was born and raised in Nuremburg, Germany. Her mother was an officer in the U.S. and spent 20 years in the Army Nurse Corps. Her mother's service allowed Leslie and her brother to live in different cities in the U.S. and around the world. This helped shape Leslie's appreciation and curiosity about different cultures and communities. Leslie completed here Bachelor's Degree in Political Science and Media Studies from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Her home and her heart are in the Mile High City with her Labradoodle, Theodore. 

Join the Celebration
Saturday, October 11th, 2014
Seawell Grand Ballroom, Denver, Colorado

Silent Auction & Reception

Dinner & Awards

Presented By Platinum Sponsors:

Gold Sponsor:

Silver Sponsor:

Patron Sponsor:

Hotel Accommodations Available at the Hyatt Regency:

Matthew Shepard Foundation Honors is produced by:



Event Location

Seawell Grand Ballroom
Denver Center for the Performing Arts
Parking Entrance at 1350 Arapahoe Street
Denver, CO 80204

The registration deadline for this event has passed.