Awards Ceremony 2023
Carl Nassib, Rayze
The PowerOn Change Agent award honors an individual in public service or social justice whose significant contributions to connectivity have helped support underserved populations, including the LGBTQ+ community. PowerOn is honored to present the 2023 Change Agent award to Carl Nassib, Founder & CEO.
After a moving experience while volunteering with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2019, Carl was inspired to build a mobile app where users could easily find ways to give back to causes they are passionate about. In July of 2022, Carl Nassib launched the first volunteer-based social media platform, Rayze.
Carl is a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. He made history as the first openly gay active player in the NFL and announced a donation of $100,000 to the Trevor Project [link] in his coming out video posted on Instagram. Recently he has worked with The LGBTQ Center of Southern Nevada to bolster their fundraising efforts through Rayze and played a pivotal role at a fundraising event for LGBT Tech at Joyface in New York earlier this year.
Through his efforts to increase LGBTQ+ visibility in professional sports, his dedication to facilitating volunteerism and philanthropy, and his unwavering support for the LGBTQ+ community, Carl Nassib embodies the essence of a true Change Agent.
Founder & CEO, Rayze
The Mckenzie Project Inc.
Miami & Dania Beach, Florida
The McKenzie Project Inc. is a new Black trans-led organization in South Florida. We are the only Black Trans-led organization based in Miami Dade county. We aim to uplift Black TGNCNB+ individuals ages 14 and up, throughout Miami Dade and Broward County, with a primary focus on those facing homelessness and engaging in survival sex work. We promote HIV awareness through a lens of creative arts and promote entrepreneurship studies as an avenue to change the economic landscape that leads many of us to be disproportionately impacted by HIV.
The Role Model award honors a youth who sets the bar for themselves and their peers while participating in the PowerOn Program.
At just 21 years old, Kayona has emerged as a remarkable beacon of hope and inspiration within the LGBTQIA community. Her journey is one of unwavering strength, resilience, and the triumphant spirit that has not only helped her rise above the adversity she faced but has also made her a role model for countless others.
Born into a world that didn't always understand her truth, Kayona faced adversity from the very beginning. Struggles with abandonment and adoption cast shadows across her early years, leaving her feeling isolated and longing for acceptance. Battling the demons of anxiety and depression, Kayona grappled with her own identity and the relentless stigma that society often casts upon LGBTQIA individuals. It was an uphill battle, one that many wouldn't dare to face, but Kayona emerged victorious, stronger and more resilient than ever.
One of the turning points in Kayona's life came when she found refuge and support in the form of Lion House, a Transitional Living Program (TLP) designed specifically for LGBTQIA young adults. This haven became a sanctuary for Kayona, offering not just a roof over her head but a community that understood her, embraced her, and empowered her to be her authentic self. In this nurturing environment, Kayona was not just surviving but thriving.
While living in Lion House, Kayona defied all odds, overcoming her past and the challenges that had threatened to break her spirit. She turned her experiences of abandonment, adoption, anxiety, and depression into a powerful testament of strength and resilience. Her story is a testament to the fact that adversity does not define us, but it is how we rise above it that truly matters.
Kayona is not just a survivor; she is a trailblazer. Her unwavering commitment to self-acceptance and her tireless advocacy for the LGBTQIA community make her a source of inspiration for people of all ages, backgrounds, and orientations. She has proven that no matter where you come from or what struggles you face, you can rise above and become a guiding light for others.
This young, dynamic, and compassionate woman has now received an award recognizing her as a role model in the LGBTQIA community. It is a well-deserved acknowledgment of her resilience, courage, and dedication to making the world a better place for those who, like her, have faced adversity.
Kayona embodies the spirit of hope and determination, reminding us all that no matter what we've been through, we can create a brighter, more inclusive future. Her story serves as an inspiration to anyone who has ever felt marginalized or misunderstood, proving that it is not where you begin but where you're headed that truly matters.
Our Spot KC
The Trailblazer award honors an adult who has taken full advantage of the opportunities provided by access to technology.
Tamara Thomas Arkansas Black Gay Men's Forum
Tamara Thomas is a proud native of Los Angeles, California but calls Little Rock, Arkansas home after moving to the South to attend college. Tamara received a degree in Business Administration from Philander Smith College. While attending Philander, Tamara joined the prestigious Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. Tamara Thomas, owner of The Jasmine, has made history in Little Rock, Arkansas, as the first Black woman to own a multi-purpose center on Main Street in the historic Soma District. Tamara has embarked upon; courageous entrepreneurship that aids economic growth in the city of Little Rock and provides employment within the community and entrepreneurs who do not have a brick and mortar. The Jasmine is a creative, innovative center that offers a collaborative environment as a citywide resource with a diverse mix of cultural, educational, entertainment, and commercial uses. The activities within are multi-generational and multicultural, providing a citywide and neighborhood resource that is financially sustainable for years to come. Tamara has worked diligently for years as an Outreach Representative for the community. Tamara has traveled throughout the state of Arkansas as an advocate in healthcare for those in need. Tamara Thomas is the prophetic driving force behind Jasmine Soiree. Her love for storytelling drew her to the art of journalism. Tamara has become a world-class Vlogger with the pulse of the people and an eye for beauty. Tamara can effectively capture those life-changing moments that have impacted the world through the views of people, places, and journeys. Tamara loves to travel and document every single fantastic experience. Her mantra is: “So many people have stories, but their graves won’t speak for them; she delivers flowers to the living, gets the stories, and eloquently shares them with the masses.” Her mantra alone ushers her forward to success, but her passion and love for what she does help her exceed beyond measure.
The Visionary award honors an individual or company whose work has empowered LGBTQ+ individuals to achieve success through technology and the internet.