WASHINTON, DC – This coming Monday, June 7th, the District of Columbia Democratic State Committee will host its annual Kennedys-King Gala in honor of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Senator Robert F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s 25th Anniversary Gala will also pay special tribute to Senator Edward M. Kennedy as well as honor two DC activists for their civic contributions, Richard Rausch and Angel Luis Irene.
Mr. Rausch attended every Democratic National Convention for the past 50 years and helped rally support for the D.C. home rule effort in the early 1970s. In 1976, he was a founding member of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the District's oldest gay and lesbian political organization. For nearly 30 years until his retirement in 1995, he worked as a Capitol Hill legislative assistant for Democratic lawmakers, including Iowa Rep. Neal Smith and Calif. Rep. Phillip Burton, who was a close friend.
Mr. Rausch began his political activism in his home town of Carroll, Iowa, where he campaigned for Adlai Stevenson, the Democratic presidential candidate in 1952 and 1956. In 1960, when he was named executive director of the national Young Democrats, Mr. Rausch moved to Washington. Still in his 20s, he was a regular visitor to the Kennedy White House and became friends with other young leaders of the party, including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (Md.). Mr. Rausch served on the local and national boards of Americans for Democratic Action and was elected to the D.C. Democratic State Committee in 1975. He served as vice chairman, among other leadership positions, before stepping down in 2001. He was also a member of the D.C. Statehood Commission and a D.C. commission on disabilities, and he lobbied legislators on behalf of environmental causes.
In his 50s, Mr. Rausch was stricken by Guillain-Barre syndrome, a nerve disorder that had a crippling effect on his hands and feet. After hospitalization, he regained his ability to walk, but he was unable to button his shirts or tie his shoelaces. In 2006, Mr. Rausch campaigned for the election of Adrian M. Fenty (D) as D.C. mayor and for D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Phil Mendelson (D-At Large). Mr. Rausch also traveled to his native Iowa to work for Chet Culver, who was elected governor in 2006. From his hospital bed, Mr. Rausch worked the phones for presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) until the day before Mr. Rausch's death. Nov. 11, 2005, Mr. Rausch's 70th birthday, was proclaimed "Richard Rausch Day" by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
Angel Luis Irene
A Puerto Rican by birth, Angel Luis Irene has a distinguished public service career finding resources for the needs and solutions for the problems in the growing Latino community in the District of Columbia. In 1974, Mr. Irene served as the first Latino Social Worker with the DC Chapter of the America Red Cross. In 1977 he worked as the first Latino Legislative Aide to the District’s Delegate to Congress. From 1979-1981, he served as the Executive Director of the DC Council of Latino Agencies. In 1981, Mr. Irene worked for the DC Office of Personnel to establish a citywide Hispanic recruitment program and later served as special assistant to both the Associate Director of Operations and the Deputy Director of Personnel. In 1999, he was recruited by the DC City Administrator to assist with the establishment of the new DC Department of Motor Vehicles where he held a variety of key positions including Chief of the Management, Planning and Analysis Division. He has also helped to establish the Bilingual Translation Act, the Council of Latino Agencies, the Office of Latino Affairs, and the Latino Commission. Mr. Irene currently serves as Executive Director of Vida Senior Centers (formerly known as EOFULA, Educational Organization for United Latin Americans), the oldest Latino community-based organization in the District of Columbia.
Special guests for the 25th anniversary celebration include Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes North, DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and DC Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray among others.
The gala will take place on Monday, June 7 at 6pm at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Avenue, SW in Washington DC.
For tickets to the Kennedys-King Gala or for more information go to http://www.kennedyskinggala.com.