Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made history this summer by creating the LGBTQ+ Commission to ensure that Michigan’s LGBTQ+ community is represented at all levels of government, including its executive branch. She has now announced appointments to the commission, including Brandon Shamoun, assistant dean of student involvement in Wayne State University’s Dean of Students Office.
Shamoun is one of 13 commissioners selected from approximately 300 applicants. The appointees are pioneers and leaders in advocacy, activism and education in the LGBTQ+ community.
Shamoun, who earned his bachelor’s degree in Spanish and is currently pursuing his doctor of education with a focus on higher education administration at Wayne State — and who has taught in K-12 schools in the United States and in Spain — has been appointed to represent educators.
He received a phone call informing him of his selection about half an hour before it was announced publicly.
“I was ecstatic and proud,” said Shamoun. “This is not just a committee representing an organization, this is representing the LGBT community in the whole state — and with it being the first ever, I think we have an opportunity to shape it. It also highlights that while other states may be moving backward, Michigan is moving forward.”
Shamoun is co-chair of Wayne State’s Queer Employee Organization (QWSU) and, in the community, chair of Stonewall Sports Detroit, an LGBTQ+ sports organization in metro Detroit.
Shamoun learned about the opportunity from his boss, Dean of Students David Strauss, who also wrote him a letter of recommendation.
“When I read about this opportunity in the newspaper, Brandon’s name immediately popped into my head as the perfect person to be on the commission,” said Strauss. “On campus, Brandon is a role model and mentor to hundreds of students, and in the southeast Michigan community, he is a change agent rallying and supporting the LGBT+ community.”
His four-year term began Nov. 30, 2023, and expires on Nov. 29, 2027.
The commission has not yet received its charge, but Shamoun has already given thought to what his priorities will be.
“I want to make sure that the marginalized voice is being heard, and that students in the LGBT community feel safe in being their true selves.”
The appointees and structure of the commission are meant to reflect the socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, gender identity, sexual orientation, occupational, political and geographic diversity of Michigan.
In addition to Shamoun, appointees include two other Wayne State alumni. Dr. Renee McLaughlin, national medical director at CIGNA Healthcare, who has a master’s degree in biology from Wayne State, will represent medical professionals who regularly provide care to the LGBTQ+ community. Anthony Williams, the chief executive officer at Corktown Health, a nonprofit, LGBTQ-focused medical home, earned his juris doctor from Wayne Law.