Chad Griffin - HRC President
John Zimmer – Co-Founder and President
John Zimmer is the co-founder and President of Lyft. His interest in transportation began in college where he learned that cars remain parked 96% of the time and when used, only 20% of seats are occupied. After graduating first in his class from Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, John spent two years at Lehman Brothers. In 2008, he left Lehman to rideshare his way from New York to San Francisco and join co-founder Logan Green in launching Zimride, and eventually Lyft. With Lyft, John’s goal is to improve people’s lives by creating transportation and cities that are more affordable, sustainable, and community oriented. The company was launched in 2012 and today employs nearly 2,000 people, including a world-class executive team from companies suchas Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, and Walmart. Lyft is currently available to 94% of the US population and provides over one million rides a day.Lyft will receive the HRC Corporate Equality Award for their exceptional commitment to equality for the LGBTQ community. Lyft has been a trailblazing corporate ally to the LGBTQ community, both with its inclusive internal policies for employees and its outspoken executives who have made clear that the company strongly supports pro-equality legislation and policies across the country. Lyft President John Zimmer will accept the HRC Corporate Equality Award on behalf of Lyft at the event on October 14th.
To witness Syesha Mercado's rendition of Sir Andrew Lloyd Weber's "One Rock and Roll Too Many" from Starlight Express on American Idol was such a defining moment. That performance brought the audience to its feet and elicited rapturous praise from judges Randy Jackson ("you will be a huge Broadway star"), Paula Abdul ("you brought the house down!") and even generally sour Simon Cowell ("as sexy as Michelle Pfieffer - one of your strongest performances!")
"When I was young, I was exposed to many kinds of music in my home," Syesha explained. "I loved everything from gospel legend Yolanda Adams to Lauryn Hill. My sister had For my sixteenth birthday, my mom bought me my first Alicia Keys CD, which was a major influence."
Encouraging their talented daughter, her parents enrolled Syesha at the Manatee School for the Arts, a charter middle school. "I was exposed to so much there -- visual art, acting, dance, and, of course, singing." She began pursuing on-camera acting, resulting in booking national spots for Kentucky Fried Chicken, Ford Motors, Winn Dixie and many others. She also added modeling to her resume during this period, something she still enjoys, having appeared over the last few years in the pages of many periodicals, from ELLE to Okay!
In 2008, Syesha audition for the 7th season of American Idol, Fox's phenomenally popular show and one of the top-rated programs in the country. That season saw a record turn out of over 100,000 hopefuls, but Mercado breezed through the audition process, nailing Aretha Franklin's "Think" with the confidence and poise of a skilled veteran. Syesha's American Idol experience in Hollywood found her rubbing elbows with legends like Dolly Parton, Donna Summer, Seal, and Mariah Carey, and winning the hearts of millions of fans who responded to her warmth, beauty and stylistic range. Ultimately, Syesha ended the season as second runner-up (and the last female standing), creating many memorable moments, like her stirring rendition of the classic "A Change Is Gonna Come."
Syesha's success on American Idol resulted in a windfall of accolades and professional opportunities. In addition to being awarded the keys to the city of former hometowns Bradenton, Florida and Bridgeport, Connecticut, she participated in the American Idol LIVE Tour 2008, performing 53 concerts in 49 cities both in the United States and Canada and garnering a slew of positive reviews that singled her out. Mercado earned the night's first (and only real) standing ovation for her rendition of the "Dreamgirls" tune 'Listen.' Nature gave Mercado her undeniable beauty, but poise, vocal showmanship, style, and persona, established Mercado as the tour's leader by far."
As fate would have it, her rendition of the song landed her a lead role in the national touring production of "Dreamgirls." Mercado has been touring the US and Japan in the role of Deena Jones since the newly conceived production of the stage musical opened at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in November 2009.
In 2013 Syesha was cast to star in the role of "Nabulungi" in the smash hit musical "Book of Mormon." Whether it is modeling, acting, recording, live performances, or charitable work, Syesha Mercado approaches each new endeavor with grace, humility, enormous talent, and a work ethic that is rare for a young performer. There is no doubt that for Syesha Mercado, the future is paved with gold.
Syesha lives in New York.
DJ Carole C
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