2019 Bruce Kriete Community Award honoring Robert Helmer, PhD, President and the BW Board of Trustees

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PFLAG is a volunteer, non-profit self-help organization. We are an inclusive group of family members, friends, and individuals who are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.

Commends BWU for Its Diversity and Inclusion Values and Support of LGBTQ People

Cleveland, OH – PFLAG Cleveland recently awarded Baldwin Wallace University president, Robert C. Helmer, and the university’s Board of Trustees with its 2019 Bruce G. Kriete Community Award. The award was given to President Helmer and the board after they formally disaffiliated with the United Methodist Church due to the church’s decision to tighten prohibitions on same-sex marriage and exclude LGBTQ people from clergy. The presentation took place at Baldwin Wallace with students, faculty, staff, board members and parents of BW’s community attending the ceremony.

"PFLAG Cleveland congratulates President Helmer and the Baldwin Wallace Board of Trustees for the courageous way the university has remained true to its founder’s, John Baldwin, values,” said Tom Falcone, PFLAG Cleveland president. “Nearly 175 years ago, Baldwin stated that the mission of BW was to educate all persons regardless of race, class, national origin or any differences. And today, BW still abides by these values in supporting LGBTQ individuals as an essential part of its mission. PFLAG Cleveland’s advisory board is particularly aware that religion is probably the greatest impediment to acceptance of LGBTQ persons. The actions taken by BWU leaders took courage, making it the perfect recipient of the 2019 Kriete Award.”

The Bruce Kriete Award is given annually to a person, or organization, who, in the past year, has stepped out of their comfort zone or taken a risk to support the LGBTQ community in Northeast Ohio. Previous award recipients include: Jennifer Romanic, a Hudson High School teacher whose advocacy is credited with saving a student’s life; Tammi Brown, who pioneered Cleveland’s first LGBT Visitors’ Guide; Dick Feagler and Regina Brett, Plain Dealer columnists; and U.S. Senator Rob Portman, for advancing marriage equality and affirming support for his gay son.

Bruce Kriete was a longtime member of both PFLAG Akron and PFLAG Cleveland. He consistently attended meetings at both chapters, offering wise and compassionate advice through his family’s story. After Bruce died, PFLAG Cleveland named its annual community award after him to remember the ways he supported, educated and advocated for LGBTQ people.