Almost every LGBT organization in Columbus has been touched in some way by this year’s recipient of The Legacy Fund Honors Award. Steve Shellabarger has shared his unending energy, strong passion for justice and gracious leadership with The Legacy Fund, Human Rights Campaign, the Columbus AIDS Task Force (now AIDS Resource Center, ARC), and Stonewall Columbus. Steve began his career not as an activist, but as an American History teacher at Whitehall-Yearling and as President of the local chapter of the Ohio Education Association. As an early investor in German Village, Steve served on the board of the German Village Society and was co-chair of the Village Candlelight Tour. Every organization he has served is now better off because of him.
Steve’s involvement with gay activism began in 1983 when he and some friends collaborated to raise money for an AIDS awareness television program on public access channel 3. Shortly after the show aired, he received a letter that would change his life and the lives of all who lived in Central Ohio. The letter was from the still very young Human Rights Campaign Fund (then the only national LGBT political organization), asking him to start a local chapter in Columbus. In 1983, Steve recalls “I was still teaching school, and I just could not believe that someone gave my name to a gay group. Things were different then.” However, Steve decided to step forward to begin the local chapter. Thankfully for the LGBT community, Steve did not stop with the HRC. In the many years since, Steve has continued to be a pivotal leader in LGBT initiatives.
1983 Helped Start the fight against AIDS in Columbus 1983 Co-Founder Human Rights Campaign Fund Columbus Committee 1984-1987 Co-Chair Human Rights Campaign Fund Dinner Columbus 1987-1991 Board Vice President of the Columbus AIDS Task Force 1989-1993 National Board Member, Human Rights Campaign Fund – Washington, D.C. 1990 Recipient Stonewall Union Gay and Lesbian Leadership Award 1991-1993 Co-Chair National Board of Directors Human Rights Campaign 1996 Co-founder and first president of Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio 2000 Grand Marshal Stonewall Columbus Pride 2000-2008 Co-Founder and Member of The Legacy Fund Board
The Legacy Fund of the Columbus Foundation is proud to add Steve Shellabarger to its list of previous award recipients.