Celebrating Toby Jenkins, 2017 Visions Honoree
by Kristyn Hale, OKCNP Fall 2017 Intern
The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits is honoring five nonprofit leaders at Visions: A Celebration of Nonprofit Leaders on November 28, 2017. We are spotlighting each of the five honorees.
Visions honoree, Toby Jenkins is the executive director of Oklahomans for Equality. Oklahomans for Equality provides advocacy, education and resources for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and their families. The organization also provides support groups and counseling services for LGBT individuals and youth. The organization began as Tulsa Oklahomans for Human Rights, in 1980, by a group concerned about human rights and equality for LGBT individuals. Jenkins has served as executive director for Oklahomans for Equality for since 2008.
In his time as executive director, Jenkins has implemented and strengthened numerous programs and events through Oklahomans for Equality. Programs such as Equality Business Alliance, SAGE Tulsa and Equality Sports Alliance of Tulsa.
Before working at Oklahomans for Equality, Jenkins served as a Baptist minister for 16 years and through the Tulsa County District Courts for 15 years.
Beyond is duties with Oklahomans for Equality, Jenkins serves as a community leader and civil rights activist working on the perceptions and policy changes for the LGBT community.
Equality Business Alliance works to strengthen gay-welcoming businesses in Tulsa through providing a directory and networking opportunities where businesses can be voice issues affecting how business is conducted and quality of life.
SAGE, which stands for Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders, is a national program for individuals over 50. A day time program is available for retirees and those with spare time during the day, which allows issues related to LGBT aging to be discussed. SAGE Tulsa is working to provide higher quality of life for aging LGBT adults, supporting and advocating for their rights and fostering understanding in all communities to promote a positive image of LGBT life in later years.
The Equality Sports Alliance of Tulsa is a group intended to support, promote, recruit and grow LGBT welcoming sports in the Tulsa Metro Area. Sports such as softball, dodgeball, bowling and women’s tackle football are participated in through the Equality Sports Alliance, which was formed July 2011 with Tulsa’s LGBT oriented sports organizations.
Oklahomans for Equality opened the first anonymous HIV testing clinic in Northeast Oklahoma, which became a state leader in HIV/AIDS testing and education. The clinic became a separate nonprofit organization in 1998 called H.O.P.E. (Health Outreach, Prevention and Education.) Oklahomans for Equality and H.O.P.E partner together for health testing today.
In 1996, Oklahomans for Equality opened the first LGBT Community Center in the state. The organization opened the 18,000-square foot Dennis R. Neill Equality Center in 2007. The facilities include the David Bohnett CyberCenter, a full-service lending library with 3,500 LGBT-related titles and an event center. Oklahomans for Equality is responsible for starting the Tulsa Pride celebration.
Toby Jenkins will receive the Rodney Bivens Innovation Award. This award is given to a visionary leader with new, dynamic and innovative ideas inspiring groundbreaking changes bringing newfound success to the mission of an organization or pioneering exciting program changing lives.
The award carries a grant worth $10,000 provided by the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation, in honor of Bivens’ lifetime achievements with the Regional Food Bank.
Visions is a celebration of nonprofit leadership and will recognize Jenkins, along with four other Oklahoma-based leaders and visionaries, on November 28th at the Skirvin Hilton in downtown Oklahoma City. For more information, visit the Visions page.