Scholar Class 2011
Kip Williams was raised by his single mother in a rural community outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. At 18, his childhood church dismissed him from leadership because he was gay. As a student at the University of Tennessee, he discovered a passion for community organizing through the Progressive Students Alliance and the anti-war movement. When his hometown ignored national news about same-sex marriages in 2004, he brought together lesbian and gay couples in his community to apply for marriage licenses and to speak to the media about being denied the rights of marriage. Following a peace walk from the nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee to the UN Headquarters in New York, Kip attended the first training of the New Organizing Institute in 2006 and moved to San Francisco to work for the League of Young Voters.
After several years of supporting progressive nonprofits with online strategies, he helped lead the wave of grassroots activism following the passage of California’s Prop 8 in 2008. He served as Co-Director of the National Equality March, which brought more than 150,000 people to rally in Washington, D.C. for LGBTQ equality in October 2009 and pressured Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He then co-founded GetEQUAL, a nonprofit that supports civil disobedience to pressure legislators to pass LGBTQ legislation such as federal employment protections and the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Currently, Kip is working on his MA in Counseling Psychology and working part-time with the Trevor Project, which provides crisis and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth across the country. An avid road biker, Kip remains close to his family in the South and often can be found playing his accordion in the streets of SF’s historic Castro district.