On Monday, May 23rd, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), the leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for all students, honored Optimedia at their annual GLSEN Respect Awards—New York, held at Cipriani 42nd Street. The Respect Awards showcases the work of students, educators, individuals and corporations who serve as exemplary role models and have made a significant impact on the lives of LGBT youth. Ilene Chaiken (L Word, Empire), George Stephanopoulos (Good Morning America) and his wife—actress/comedian Ali Wentworth—were also honored. An Educator of the Year and GSA of the Year award were announced and presented as well.
Optimedia was honored for its leadership in media and business as a true ally to GLSEN and LGBT youth
everywhere. Optimedia CEO Dave Ehlers accepted the corporate partnership award and delivered a very
personal and inspiring speech. Publicis Media CEO Tim Jones, and Ezra Morales—transitioning GLSEN
student featured in GLSEN’s ads placed by Optimedia—introduced and presented the award to Dave. Optimedia has partnered with GLSEN for years to develop and place meaningful public service announcements and advertising that promote all aspects of GLSEN’s work. Optimedia has secured close to $3 million in pro-bono donated ad space to share this work nationwide, from flagship programs like GLSEN’s Day of Silence® to the launch of GLSEN’s fi rst-of-its-kind lifestyle brand supporting LGBT youth. The placements have included highway billboards and mall kiosks in rural regions of the country and a sky scraper-high billboard in the heart of Times Square. Additionally, Optimedia has invested over 5,000 employee hours towards GLSEN’s initiatives, provides educational and leadership development opportunities for youth at career days (hosted by Égalité) and welcomes GLSEN staff to various programs that celebrate this partnership and elevate GLSEN's profile.
“For me, because of the support I received, I’m now in a position to make a positive social impact on a large scale. That’s how we’ve built our company’s culture. And that’s what we’re committed to doing nationally through our partnership with GLSEN. We are committed to making sure that every school serves every child equally, whether they’re LGBT or not” Dave addressed to a room of about 600 attendees, many of whom were family, friends and partners there to support Optimedia and GLSEN.