History of Gay and Lesbian Life in Wisconsin - Organizations - Health

Diverse & Resilient


(still active 2021)

Eliminate Health Disparities
Capacity Building
(male and female)

View the Diverse & Resilient web site at this link (will open in a separate browser window).


Diverse & Resilient was founded in 1995 as a program of Sinai Samaritan Medical Center, in cooperation with Wisconsin AIDS/HIV program and St. Luke's Family Practice Program. Gary Hollander was the Founding President and CEO until 2015. The group's initial stated purpose of "capacity building" was unclear to most people. That term as defined by D&R, and their evolving purpose, was explained by then-President and CEO Gerald Coon PhD in an interview with Quest magazine in April 2016:

    "Originally, 'build capacity' was what we wanted to do, through support for other organizations. The idea was to make connections between smaller locations like Eau Claire, La Crosse, and the Fox Valley, to give them the resources and expertise to do what they do, but better. We would have staff help them do the work they felt was important. We still do that. We work with youth groups around the state, in Appleton and Green Bay, for example. We do training and education related to substance abuse, primarily alcohol, safe dates (helping people make decisions about healthy dating) and interpartner violence. We do very specific work using evidence based interventions. Those are the biggest ways we do capacity building.

    "The world has changed dramatically since the organization started 20 years ago. The impetus of working with young people now has the goal of reducing the exposure to HIV and STIs (sexually transmitted infections). Every other year we hold a summer institute for young people from throughout Wisconsin, male and female, across the gender identity spectrum about HIV. We partner with GSAFE (Gay Straight Alliance for Safe Schools) to put on the Safe Schools Safe Communities Conference to bring students, administration and staff together to make their environments safe for all, particularly LGBTQ kids. Since younger LGBT folks are now more likely to interact with non-LGBTs, one recent development is the broader application of the strategy to include everyone."

According to their web site in 2021:

    History: Diverse & Resilient was founded in 1995 as a program to build the capacity of LGBTQ groups in Wisconsin. They engage in advocacy and provide both capacity-building and direct-service work to address the health disparities experienced by LGBTQ people in Wisconsin. Their work is focused on Anti-Violence, Cultivating Leaders, Sexual Health, and Substance Use.

    Our Work: At Diverse & Resilient, we see a future where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in Wisconsin thrive, living healthy, satisfying lives in safe, supportive communities.

    Our long-term objective is to eliminate health disparities between LGBTQ people and the general population, as measured by commonly accepted indicators of physical and mental health. These health disparities occur in four areas:

      • Mental Health
      • Sexual Health
      • Partner & Community Violence
      • Substance Use

    The key social determinant of these health disparities is anti-LGBTQ discrimination. To that end, our work also includes efforts to increase acceptance, end discrimination, and build leadership skills and confidence among LGBTQ people.

    Our Mission: To achieve health equity and improve the safety and well-being of LGBTQ people and communities in Wisconsin.

    Our Vision: At Diverse & Resilient, we see a future in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people in Wisconsin thrive, living healthy, satisfying lives in safe, supportive communities.

    Our Name: Our name serves as reminder that LGBTQ people are everywhere, engage in interesting and meaningful lives, and contribute to the welfare of each other and the broader community.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit early in 2020, and even well into 2021, other organizations such as Cream City Foundation and Milwaukee Pride Inc. struggled to be relevant. But Diverse & Resilient, under the continued leadership of President and CEO Gerald Coon PhD, has proved itself to truly be 'resilient', and has continued to be relevant even as other organizations sometimes falter.



Early advertisement for the
GLBT Partnership, October 1997
(Quest, vol 4-17)

Invitation to
Tenth Anniversary celebration

Advertisement: 2021
(Our Lives, July 2021)

Credits: web site concept, design and format by Don Schwamb.
Mission, Vision and other website info from Diverse & Resilient website, July 2021.
Last updated: August-2021.

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