San Diego – June 19, 2018 – Alberto Cortés, executive director of Mama’s Kitchen, has been named Community Grand Marshal of San Diego Pride 2018. The annual San Diego Pride festival kicks off with a parade in the San Diego neighborhood of Hillcrest on Saturday, July 14, 2018. Cortés has served as executive director of Mama’s Kitchen for 16 years where he oversees the nonprofit’s efforts to support the nutritional needs of people living with critical illnesses, including HIV, cancer, congestive heart failure, and diabetes by providing home-delivered meals, pantry services and nutrition education services to over 1,200 men, women and children in San Diego County annually.
“As a proud and active participant in the LGBT community, I’m humbled and very grateful for this recognition,” said Cortés. “San Diego Pride events provide the wonderful opportunity to celebrate our community’s accomplishments, while holding space for those in our community who experience oppression, injustice, and hopelessness. Their challenges define our work. To them I dedicate this acknowledgment in the hope that they find their flock, experience contentment and purpose, and live in prosperity.”
Cortés will also be honored at San Diego Pride’s Spirit of Stonewall Rally on Friday, July 13 at the Hillcrest Pride Flag as one of six awardees who contribute significantly to the LGBTQIA+ community through their leadership, activities, and fundraising efforts.
In addition, Cortés has been chosen as a 2018 honoree for the California Legislative Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Caucus. He was presented with a resolution on June 18 in commemoration of his accomplishments and contributions to the LGBT Community at the LGBT Pride Ceremony in Sacramento, Calif. at the California State Capitol. Assemblymember Evan Low, Senator Ricardo Lara, Senator Toni G. Atikins, Senator Cathleen Galgiani, Senator Scott Wiener, Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes and Assemblymember Todd Gloria recognized Cortés for his efforts in helping to advance the cause of LGBT equality, as well as for being an inspiration to the LGBTQIA+ community. Previous honorees include Executive Director of Equality California Rick Zbur, journalist Helen Zia, Academy-Award winner Dustin Lance Black, and Bishop Rev. Dr. Yvette Flunder.
“It is certainly an honor to be recognized by our dedicated California State LBGT elected officials,” said Cortés. “Mama’s Kitchen was started in 1990 in the San Diego LGBT community in response to the AIDS epidemic. Our journey and work has allowed us the opportunity to broaden our scope of service to also include those affected by our critical illnesses. In doing so, we transformed the lessons learned in the throes of the homophobia experienced in the early days of the AIDS epidemic, into a statement of generosity and inclusion.”
Cortés moved to San Diego, Calif. in 1983 after serving in the United States Navy Submarine Force for four years. Soon after arriving he joined Dignity San Diego and also volunteered with the San Diego AIDS Information Line, one of the first responses to the AIDS epidemic in San Diego. He has worked in the field of HIV in San Diego for more than 30 years. His work has included some of the initial HIV prevention efforts in South San Diego County targeting the Latinx community, and other HIV prevention efforts targeting communities of color, as well as involvement in the establishment in the first needle exchange program in San Diego County. Cortés has served on the San Diego County HIV Health Services Planning Group for more than 25 years, a group that prioritizes services to be funded by federal HIV funds. He is also a founding member of the LGBT Community Leadership Council.
Over the years, Cortés has served on many nonprofit boards of directors, including McAlister Institute, Being Alive San Diego, and the San Diego Men’s Chorus. For the last six years, he has been a peer mentor to nonprofit leaders through the Fieldstone Leadership Network.
To learn more about Mama’s Kitchen’s impact on the San Diego and LGBTQIA+ community, and the organization’s upcoming events, visit mamaskitchen.org.
About Mama’s Kitchen
Mama’s Kitchen was founded in 1990 when volunteers from the AIDS Assistance Fund discovered that many of their clients were becoming too ill to take care of themselves. They realized that a reliable home meal delivery service was needed to ensure that these individuals would continue to receive nutritious, life-sustaining food. In 2004, Mama’s Pantry was opened to provide individuals with HIV who are able to prepare meals the opportunity to supplement their nutritional needs. During the past 28 years, Mama’s Kitchen has served over eight million meals and has never turned away a client who qualified for its services. The organization’s commitment to its clients remains unchanged and in May 2017 Mama’s Kitchen expanded its mission to serve San Diegans affected by HIV, cancer or other critical illnesses. Mama’s Kitchen currently provides delivered meals, pantry services and nutrition education services to over 1,200 men, women and children in San Diego County annually. Learn more and make a donation at www.mamaskitchen.org. Connect with Mama’s Kitchen on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.