San Antonio LGBT advocate Robert Salcido went back to school in May.
He attended a four-day Candidate and Campaign Training workshop in Florida, part of the yearlong training and mentoring program organized by the Victory Fund and Institute.
Salcido joins other fellowship recipients forming part of the institute's inaugural fellow program class.
Salcido is currently a field organizer for Equality Texas and also serves as Chair of Pride Center San Antonio, President of Orgullo de San Antonio (LGBT LULAC Council 22198), Vice President of the San Antonio LGBT Chamber of Commerce and he's also a member of the mayor's LGBT advisory team.
The fellowship is a yearlong mentorship program that includes training in both campaign management and effective political candidacy. Its goal is to advance LGBT rights and boost the number of gay, lesbian and transgender representatives in elected office.
The institute will offer another intensive four-day workshop later in the summer in San Antonio. Even in its infancy, the project has already produced tangible results: A testimonial on the organization's website credits the course with helping elect the first openly lesbian sheriff in the country (Lupe Valdez of Dallas County).
"The program itself gives you the skills necessary to hold office or run campaigns," Salcido told the San Antonio Current.
He explained that the course included a mock campaign scenario in which participants learned about fundraising, drafting a solid campaign message and navigating a political career without becoming a "single-issue" candidate.
The Victory Fund was established in 1991, after a network of LGBT activists saw the success of Emily's List, an organization designed to advance the presence of women in politics. The Fund was instrumental in helping elect both the nation's first African-American lesbian city council member (Sherry Harris of Seattle) and the first openly lesbian in U.S. Senate history (Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin).
In partnership with the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials, the Victory Fund launched its training institute in 2004 and has gone on to help elect more than 120 LGBT members into municipal, state and federal government positions.
While he doesn't yet know whether he'll seek political office, Salcido does hope this fellowship will allow him to further his current involvement with city and statewide politics.
Salcido has already helped to create and launch the city's Non Discrimination Ordinance website and is entrusted with helping promote the new Office of Diversity and Inclusion created by Ivy Taylor, who was just elected to permanently hold the mayor's seat.
When asked what other members of the LGBT community can do to help further gay and lesbian rights, Salcido said: "Be present. Be aware of what's going on, aware of initiatives. Join local organizations. Education is the biggest thing."
Clarification: Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 6:35 p.m.
Our story stated that Victory Fund has helped elect more than 120 LGBT candidates into political office. Turns out that information was a bit outdated. The organization told us a more accurate and updated count is nearly 500, pointing out that there were less than 50 when the group was formed in 1991.