Born in Nebraska and raised in the San Fernando Valley, Susan A. Simons became an LGBT ally and activist early on.
“I know so many people who, when they first came to Los Angeles, the Center was their savior,” said Simons, who has worked as a talent agent for the past two decades. “My life could be very different if it hadn’t been for the gay men in my life. I’ve had the best life because of them.”
Simons became particularly connected to the community in the early days of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, when little was known about the virus that was killing so many young gay men.
“I was going to a funeral every other month,” she recalled.“It’s the loss that I feel so personally with so many friends who passed.”Simons, who began as a production assistant and worked her way up to become a network television executive, used her influence as chairwoman of the DaytimeEmmy Awards in 1983 to encourage celebrities to wear red AIDS-awareness ribbons on the awards show for the first time.
She became co-chair of the Ribbon Project, which saw that the ribbons were distributed at all major award shows on the West Coast, including the Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes, and Primetime Emmy Awards well into the 1990s.
These days, Simons is particularly enthusiastic about the Anita May Rosenstein Campus.
“It is heartbreaking to me what is going on with kids being kicked out of their homes by their families and seniors who need affordable housing,” she said. “I’m beyond thrilled with the plans for the Campus because it will help those who need services the most.”
She believes so strongly about the work of the Center that she has included it in her estate plan as a Circle of Life member. “One of the things I learned early on is that the money goes to where the money is supposed to go and to the people who need it,” she said. “I donate to the causes I feel the most passionate about, and I want the Center to be part of my legacy.”