Our Fund Honors Outstanding Leaders

David Jobin, Niki Lopez, Scott Bennet, and Mark Blaylock. Photo by Carina Mask.

The Our Fund Foundation and Presenting Sponsor Bank of America Private Bank hosted the Fifth Annual South Florida LGBTQ Philanthropy Awards which celebrated outstanding philanthropy, volunteerism, and emerging leadership. The sold-out event, which included a cocktail reception and awards ceremony, was held at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts on Feb. 3.

“We were honored to recognize these uniquely inspiring and generous leaders who lift our community and truly make a difference,” said David Jobin, president, and CEO, of The Our Fund Foundation, on their website. “They epitomize our mission of advocating for philanthropy to make South Florida the most livable and energetic community in the country for LGBTQ people.”

The 2024 South Florida LGBTQ Philanthropy awardees include:


Philanthropist of the Year

Michael Kalb’s philanthropic journey with The Our Fund Foundation began with a conversation about his vision to establish a brick-and-mortar LGBTQ-owned and managed facility to protect and uplift unhoused LGBTQ youth in South Florida. From that conversation, Michael drove a three-year exploration of research, including a one-year trial six-bed facility, which resulted in the development of the Sunshine Pride House, a 12-bed house in Fort Lauderdale slated to open in January 2024. The facility and is operated by the Sunshine Cathedral Foundation with programs and services provided by local non-profits, FLITE Center, and SunServe. Donating more in a single year than any philanthropist in Our Fund’s 13-year history, Kalb’s vision attracted philanthropist Terry Merlin, who was on a tandem journey to create a shelter for LGBTQ unhoused youth. Kalb’s leadership and leadership gift, along with Merlin’s extreme generosity and leadership, made the Sunshine Pride House a reality. It is the intention with this $1M+ investment that the Sunshine Pride House will serve as a model to be replicated in South Florida for LGBTQ marginalized youth.


Commitment to a Cause Award

An artist, teacher, mentor, and healer, Niki Lopez is known by many for the passion project she founded in 2014 – What’s Your Elephant – that uses the arts to create a safe space for life’s unspoken topics, including gender discrimination, sexual and emotional abuse, and other traumas. Her creative activism includes being a co-founder of Artists for Black Lives Matter, as well as 1310 Bandits, a nationally recognized, award-winning visionary team of female-led, predominantly LGBTQ filmmakers. Her extensive work has impacted LGBTQ and Afro-Latina communities, women/feminist groups, people of color, and sexual abuse survivors.


Next Generation Philanthropy Award

Spontaneously originating in 2020 during the height of the COVID lockdown, the volunteer-led FLoatarama, the country’s largest pride event on the water, has granted $125,000 to LGBTQ youth-serving agencies in South Florida. As importantly, FLoatarama has initiated a dialogue and awareness about the importance of philanthropy among a new generation of LGBTQ individuals. Founders Scott Schramm and Roderick MacKenzie are committed to expanding FLoatarama’s reach and influence, and along with it, the circle of donors and supporters that make their work possible.


Dick Schwarz Award for Lifetime Achievement

Larry Hyer’s lifetime of support for LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS causes and his personal involvement as a volunteer and leader of numerous agencies have cemented his reputation as one of South Florida’s leading philanthropists. He supports a variety of LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS organizations, including SAVE, YES Institute, Equality Florida, the AQUA Foundation, Communion, and the University of Miami’s LGBTQ and HIV/AIDS programs. Hyer’s work leading and supporting the OUTShine Film Festival has been instrumental to the organization’s success as one of the country’s leading LGBTQ film festivals.

Tickets to the cocktail reception and awards ceremony are $75 per person and may be purchased at our-fund.org/awards. For additional information please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 954-565-1090.

Established in 2011, The Our Fund Foundation has grown into the third-largest LGBTQ foundation in the nation. As South Florida’s only LGBTQ+ community foundation, The Our Fund Foundation promotes philanthropy, manages enduring investments, and conducts meaningful grant-making to improve the lives of LGBTQ people in South Florida. For more information or to donate, contact theourfund.org or call 954-565-1090.


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Corrections: editorial@outsfl.com

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