Photo: Judy Shepard and President Obama

by David Cohen

The Center on Halsted recently named Judy Shepard the keynote speaker to cultural center’s  H.E.A.L. wellness series. The press release, including the H.E.AL. series schedule, is posted below:
Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, speaks at Center on Halsted as part of H.E.A.L. Ourselves: Opening Eyes, Closing Wounds Thursday, September 30, 7PM.
Speaking from a mother’s perspective, Judy Shepard has made the prevention of hate crimes the focus of her efforts, and urges her audiences to make their schools and communities safer for everyone, regardless of their race, sex, religion, or gender identity and/or expression.
Mrs. Shepard’s keynote speech is the highlight of a series of advocacy events in Chicago related to anti-LGBT hate violence. Center on Halsted has created this programming to increase advocacy in response to violence, engagement in violence prevention efforts, and healing in our communities.

See below for the full schedule.
H.E.A.L. Ourselves: Opening Eyes, Closing Wounds (Healing, Engaging, Acting, Lifting)
Wednesday, September 29 – Friday, October 1
“Hear Me Out!”
Speaker: Greg Baird. Wednesday, September 29, 7:30PM. $5. online at, or at the door.
Greg Baird will present his lecture “Hear Me Out,” filled with stories and a motivating message of compassion in embracing a diverse community together for both gay and straight communities.
Greg is multi-faceted speaker with heart and wit, and he’s spoken around the country on topics like LGBTQ issues, diversity, acceptance, coming out, community, hate crimes and more. Greg explores how the LGBTQ community is faced with discrimination and the challenges involved with telling their families, friends and co-workers about their sexual orientation. He also focuses on the importance of diversity, community, acceptance and how everyone must contribute to the greater good of our communities.
He is the executive producer of an new documentary film with 89-Second Productions that explores the 1998 hate murder of Matthew Shepard and the town of Laramie, Wyoming eleven years later. The film focuses on educating young people in dealing with hate crimes, and Matthew’s continued impact on hate crime legislation.
Safer Schools: What’s My Role in Addressing Homophobia and Transphobia?
Speakers: Judy Shepard and the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance
Thursday, September 30, 9AM-2PM
A forum for educators, social workers, counselors and administrators only.
H.E.A.L. Ourselves Community Healing Event
Friday, October 1, 4PM-8PM on the 3rd floor. FREE and open to the public
Join us for an evening of activities including art, open mic, musical performances and a community healing ceremony to conclude the H.E.A.L. Ourselves series. Queer organizations will share local activism opportunities to demand accountability and create safer spaces so that LGBT people—young and old—can go through life free from the threat of hate.