GLAAD announces inaugural Rising Stars Grant recipients

March 28, 2017


GLAAD is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2017 inaugural Rising Stars Grants.

The GLAAD Rising Stars program, presented by Delta Airlines, Coca Cola Company, and Barilla Group, empowers and invests in the next generation of LGBTQ change makers, whose advocacy is changing their local communities and the culture at large. Grants are awarded annually to LGBTQ youth and support initiatives that champion intersectional LGBTQ issues, including racial justice, immigration rights, trans equality, and more.

All recipients will be recognized at the Rising Stars Luncheons taking place at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles on March 31, 2017 and the Hilton in New York City on May 5, 2017.

The Rising Stars Luncheon will be hosted by Hannah Hart with presenters Troye Sivan, Victoria Justice, Alexandra Grey, and Gigi Gorgeous, and featuring special appearances by Harmony Santana, Isabella Gomez, Angelica Ross, Zoey Luna, Elliot Fletcher, Cetine Dale, Jacob Tobia, Trevor Moran and Bobby Brooks, all of whom are notable for their contributions to LGBTQ visibility and fair representation in the media.

Recipients of GLAAD Rising Stars Grants will also attend the 28th Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City and Los Angeles, which honor media for fair and accurate representations of LGBTQ people and the issues that impact their lives.

Congratulations to the recipients!

2017 Rising Stars grant recipients


Aisha Bibbs

Aisha Bibbs is a senior majoring in Communications at the University of Louisville in Louisville, Kentucky. She currently serves as the marketing director for U of L’s LGBT Center, an organization dedicated to meeting the needs of LGBTQ identified students in the city. She plans to continue her studies in an MBA program this upcoming fall. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, she will work to create mass media content, including the design of branding, training, and student resource materials, for both the university and the city of Louisville to further promote equality and inclusivity.


Lizeth Urdiales

Lizeth Urdiales is a senior majoring in Mexican American Studies with a certificate in Social Entrepreneurship and Nonprofits at the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. Lizeth is a Queer, Undocumented, Latinx, differently-abled student, and her work at UT Austin has predominantly surrounded assistance for Undocumented communities. Upon graduation, Lizeth will pursue an MBA in Entrepreneurship, and will use her role as a Rising Stars Grant recipient to empower Undocumented communities in the workplace by by creating awareness for workers’ rights abuses, and by building stronger relationships between Undocumented and U.S. Resident and Citizen allies regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, class, nationality, ability, and citizenship status.


C Mandler

C Mandler is a junior double majoring in Philosophy and Written Arts at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York. They run a campus DIY music venue called the Root Cellar, sing in their school’s sole a cappella group, and work as an Event Coordinator at the Difference and Media Project. They recently presented at Princeton University’s Compass Philosophy Workshop, which was specifically held for women, non-binary, and trans people in Philosophy, and are in the process of self-publishing their third book of poetry. C will use their role as a Rising Stars Grant recipient to continue to bring queer and trans musicians of color to Bard to perform, lecture, and workshop with students and faculty on campus and beyond.


Kylan Kester

Kylan Kester is a junior majoring in Business Marketing with a minor in International Affairs at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. On campus, Kylan serves as a fierce advocate for innovation and inclusion, and serves as an editor at large with LinkedIn’s Student Voices platform and The Huffington Post. Kylan prides themself as a global citizen who has been recognized for intersectional leadership and outstanding achievement by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Apple, Proctor & Gamble, the Human Rights Campaign, and the National Black College Hall of Fame. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Kylan will build a holistic multimedia platform that speaks to the mission of diversifying the LGBTQ narrative by covering underrepresented stories on politics, entrepreneurship, world-travel, and technology.


Monique Swirsky

Monique Swirsky is a junior majoring in Environmental Studies with a focus on sustainable food production, and minors in entrepreneurship, leadership studies, and philosophy at Elon University in Elon, North Carolina. In her community, Monique is a member of the NAACP, and is currently doing research on how to create more empowering college campuses for LGBTQ+ students in NC in the wake of House Bill 2. As a Rising Stars grant recipient she will establish an online and print news source focused specifically on highlighting stories of marginalized communities, such as LGBTQ people, people of color, and religious minorities, and emphasizing what allies of these communities can do to get involved and help combat active hate groups in Elon.


Joon Park

Joon Park is a junior majoring in Economics at Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Intersectionality is Joon's favorite word: they believe that the intersections of being a first generation college student from an immigrant family and their gender non-binary, queer, Asian, and Korean-American identities have played a pivotal role in shaping their lived experiences. Much of their activism focuses on fostering intersectional spaces, specifically for Queer/Trans People of Color. As a Rising Stars Grant recipient, Joon plans on strengthening the relationship between the queer alumni network and the current undergraduate LGBTQ+ student body at Boston College, and creating a robust, united front that can help facilitate the ongoing creation of intersectional and LGBTQ-inclusive spaces at their university.