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Joe Hawkins is a noted, community organizer, LGBTQ advocate, non-profit executive, event producer, and social entrepreneur. Joe was named by Business Equality Magazine as one of America’s Top 50 over 50 LGBTQ Legacy Leaders for 2019 and the San Francisco Business Times honored him with the 2022, Selisse Berry – Leadership Legacy Award. Joe first came to national prominence as one of the first gay men to ever appear as a guest on the iconic Oprah Winfrey talk show during the early 90’s, defending his right to parent his son as an out gay man. He was one of the many early HIV/AIDS activist and appeared on numerous talk shows to include Geraldo Rivera and the PBS documentary series Frontline, to highlight the often overlooked, intersectional issues experienced by Black LGBTQ people, to a national audience. Among his many accomplishments, Joe is a co-founder and former co-chair of Oakland Pride and was voted Grand Marshall of both the San Francisco and Oakland Pride Parades. He worked as a founding program member and CEO of OpNet Community Ventures, one of America’s first high-tech training programs, launched in 1995, for low income youth and youth of color in San Francisco. Joe served as Regional Director for Innovative Housing, a shared housing non-profit for low income families and individuals in Marin County. He worked as the Director of Administration at AIDS Project of the East Bay (APEB), served on the Ryan White Planning Council and was a founding organizer of the East Bay AIDS Walk. Joe also created California’s largest and longest running Black LGBTQ Film Festival and produced California’s longest running LGBTQ Hip-Hop event that lasted 25 years. He produces Blatino Oasis, California’s largest and longest running gay and bisexual men of color getaway retreat, held annually in Palm Springs, California. In 2017, Joe co-founded and is the CEO of the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Oakland’s first all inclusive, intergenerational, LGBTQ+ service center and a new model for service provision in Oakland. A military veteran, Joe’s service to the community has been recognized with numerous awards, including proclamations from 7 mayors of 3 cities and 4 governors in the state of California. His work with youth technology training programs was recognized by the White House and featured on Good Morning America and in numerous publications including USA Today and the Wall Street Journal. In 2014, the City of Oakland presented Joe with the Mayor’s Proclamation, naming a day in his honor and in 2017, the Northern California chapter of the ACLU honored him with the Grover Dye award, their highest award for community activism. In 2018, his vision for LGBTQ wellness programming resulted in the LGBTQ center receiving the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Citation Award and in 2023 the Center was featured in a national ad campaign for its HIV prevention efforts. Joe loves living in Oakland and the Bay Area and spending his free with his husband Nico, camping on the beach, touring California and spending time with his son and three beautiful grandchildren.

Joe Hawkins
Board Member

Oakland LGBTQ Center

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