Mike Balaban, a former GLSEN Board member and current chairman of the Emeritus Board, recognized the importance of an accepting educational environment for LGBT youth, because none had existed in the deeply conservative southern county in which he had been raised. By playing sports and denying his sexual orientation, Mike had avoided outright bullying during his teen years, but the costs of his internalized homophobia took much longer to overcome. He also understood the value of having strong and supportive educators on your side, because his mother was a popular special education teacher who taught students with disabilities and helped them overcome the social barriers they typically encountered.
When Mike Balaban was first approached by GLSEN's founder and Executive Director, Kevin Jennings, in 1996 and asked to join the organization's newly-reconstituted governing board, he accepted the invitation and served in various capacities on different GLSEN Boards since
then. Since the beginning of Mike's service with GLSEN, he understood how critical its work was and that the only way to insure its continuance was to endow it with a guaranteed future stream of revenue. While he's given generously on an annual basis since he first became affiliated with GLSEN, he decided more was needed. When he created a last will and testament for the first time, he included GLSEN as one of his prime beneficiaries.
Today, Mike and his partner of 10 years, Jeff Boncher, have provided for GLSEN in their estate planning to insure the continuance of the valuable work that the organization does on behalf of LGBT youth and educators across the nation. GLSEN is lucky to have Mike and Jeff in our family and feels honored to be a part of their estate planning.