Hall of Champions Recipients

The SAVE Hall of Champions was designed to honor long-term volunteers who have contributed mightily to advance the cause of equality for the LGBT community in Miami-Dade County.


Based on Lincoln Road, Elizabeth Schwartz is in her 15th year of law practice. Elizabeth’s practice emphasizes representation of the LGBT community in family formation (adoption, insemination, surrogacy) and dissolution matters. Her practice has a focus on estate planning and probate matters and she lectures locally and nationally about the importance of gay couples protecting their loved ones through estate planning and contract.

Elizabeth serves as President-Elect of the Miami Beach Bar Association and is the Chair of the City of Miami Beach’s Human Rights Committee. She is the Parliamentarian of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation’s Women’s Philanthropy.

She is chair of the Gay and Lesbian Lawyers Association of South Florida and a member of the National Family Law Advisory Council of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She has served as pro-bono counsel in several cases seeking to overturn Florida’s uniquely bigoted 1977 ban forbidding gays and lesbians from adopting children. Elizabeth is a founding member of the Aqua Foundation for Women, raising money by and for South Florida's lesbian community.

A native of Miami Beach, she received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1993. She received her Juris Doctor, cum laude, from the University of Miami, in 1997. A lefty and a Scorpio, she lives with her partner, Lydia Martin and their dog, Buttercup, in downtown Miami's urban core.


In 2002, Richard Milstein and Eric Hankin combined their personal lives and their activism finally. They had been working in parallel and sometimes intersection paths for civil action, but did not initially connect. Eric was working with people with AIDS and as an architect was trying to develop alternative housing in Miami-Dade while he volunteered for the then developing Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, helping plan and develop the Pride Seder and its Haggadah, among his many volunteer positions for the LGBT community and throughout.

Richard was active with SAVE Dade and the Foundation and served on those boards for over a decade and assisting in the passage of the Human Rights Ordinance and worked behind the scenes with the City of Miami Beach and other municipalities to pass domestic partnership protections. He too volunteered his time and energy for people with AIDS through Care Resource (formerly Health Crisis Network) and chaired the committee to merge the organizations when they were merging as well as raising funds for the annual AIDS Walk.

When Eric and Richard combined their efforts, one could find them door knocking and at the polls for SAVE to secure voters and to sign up supporters for the causes of the GLBT community and for equality for all through civil activism. They worked diligently to prevent the Human Rights Ordinance from being repealed, they registered as domestic partners on Miami Beach and were the 7th couple to register as domestic partners in Miami-Dade County. When not able to legally marry in Florida, they eloped to Iowa in March, 2010 to assure that their relationship is recognized as a committed couple.

Richard and Eric continue to work with the growing number of supportive organizations in Miami-Dade, the State of Florida, and nationally for the equality for same sex couples, for the protection of youth particular from bullying, for people with AIDS and HIV spectrum, for women's rights issues, for children's issues, and for the issues of the aging population. Their personal dedication to these causes operates on a very personal private level assisting anonymously those in need and assisting through the organizational structure.


Joan Schaeffer moved to South Florida just one month before Anita Bryant began her anti-gay crusade in Miami-Dade County in 1977; the ensuing battle ignited a political activism in Schaeffer that is now in its fourth decade. She attributes her strong passion for justice of all varieties to the teachings of her family and that of the Jewish faith.

Joan’s desire to make a difference in the community compelled her to leave her civil service job in 1982 after several Miami communities were ravaged by three days of race riots. She became the Assistant Director of a Liberty City community development corporation created in response to the civil disturbance.

Joan has been a supporter, activist, volunteer and/or Board member for many South Florida non-profit organizations. She was the first woman to serve on the Board of the Dade Human Rights Foundation, the organization which launched the Miami Recognition Dinner and she is the 2008 Recipient of the Eddy McIntyre Community Service Award. She has served on the Boards of SAVE, SAVE Dade Action PAC and Health Crisis Network; President of Miami Behavioral Health Center and Treasurer of Tigertail Productions. She assisted in the creation of Project YES (YES Institute). 

Joan is an active member of Temple Israel of Greater Miami where she currently serves as Vice President for Administration and Vice Chair of the Social Justice Committee. She is one of the founders of Ru’ach: the Gay and Lesbian Havurah (community) at Temple Israel.


Since meeting in 1985, while volunteering at Health Crisis Network (HCN), Mark Steinberg and Dennis Edwards have been a part of Miami’s cultural and political scene, both individually and as a couple.  Both served on the Board of HCN, now called CARE Resource, where Dennis became Director of Development ,creating the first AIDS Walk Miami and later chaired the Community Speakers Bureau.  Mark was the Treasurer of the organization for 12 years.

Each were active in SAVE Dade, and its predecessor, the DADE Action Pac, from inception, and Mark served on SAVE’s Foundation Board as Treasurer.  They both helped found the Guardian Society, which Mark chaired for three years, while Dennis chaired the organization’s membership efforts.  They have volunteered for and supported numerous progressive organizations, including People for the American Way, Pridelines, YES Institute, the Human Rights Campaign and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF).

Together they helped found the contemporary ballet company Maximum Dance, which they led for eight years.  Mark had previously chaired the Board of Miami City Ballet, and has served on the Boards of ACME Acting Company, Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival and First Night Miami Beach.  Dennis was a Board member of Area Stage and Dance For Life.

They have been honored with numerous awards, including the Dade Human Rights Foundation’s  recognition award, and “Arts Advocates of the Year” from the Dade Cultural Alliance.  Mark has received the State of Florida’s Arts Recognition Award, and Dennis has been honored by Leave a Legacy.  They were honored jointly, on the occasion of their 20th anniversary, by Miami-Dade County, with a proclamation declaring July 16, 1985 as “Mark Steinberg and Dennis Edwards Day.”

Currently Dennis chairs the Foundation Board of New World School of the Arts, and serves as Vice-President of Thomas Armour Youth Ballet.  Mark serves on the statewide Florida Cultural Action Alliance Board, and is on the Executive Committee of NGLTF’s Recognition Dinner.
Dennis and Mark were married in 2009, and support arts, education and human rights organizations through the charitable Foundation they formed in 2004.


Liebe Gadinsky is dedicated to building community through her volunteer efforts, and has distinguished herself as a strong supporter and advocate for human rights. Through her volunteer work for SAVE Dade, she worked tirelessly to help pass and defend the Miami Dade Human Rights Ordinance. She has served on the Board of Trustees of The Miami Foundation (formerly Dade Community Foundation) since 2006, and is currently Vice Chair. She also serves on the Foundation's GLBT Community Projects Fund Advisory Board. For five years, Liebe has worked on the steering committee of the Miami Recognition Dinner, the premier fundraiser for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and currently serves on the Board of the Trustees of the Task Force.


Damian Pardo was a founder and the first Chairman of the Board of SAVE Dade. He recently completed his term on the boards of The Miami Foundation and Sister Emmanuel Hospital. He served on the national Board of Hispanics in Philanthropy, and is an appointed member of the Miami-Dade County Equal Opportunity Board. He has held previous board positions for Hands on Miami, The Art Center (South Beach), and The Bake House. Damian was a two- term Board Chairman and ten-year board member of Care Resource, formerly known as Health Crisis Network. In addition, he has served in an advisory capacity to The Celia Cruz Foundation and the Key Biscayne Community Foundation.


Juan B. Talavera has been with SAVE Dade since its inception; he has served as a board member and volunteer coordinator during the Lambda Conferences and during the organization’s successful campaign to add LGBT protections to Miami-Dade County’s human rights ordinance.

Serving as board chair from 2006-2009, Juan was also the driving force behind the creation of two of SAVE Dade’s signature fund and awareness-raising efforts: the SAVE Guardians Society, which he now chairs, and the Champions of Equality awards event, which is now in its sixth year. Juan’s service to Miami-Dade County extends beyond his involvement with SAVE Dade, including employment and volunteer work with Health Crisis Network, other LGBT organizations, and on the Spanish board of directors for Kairos Prison Ministry.


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