Spirit Awards

Friday, October 19th, 2018

Iowa Events Center Ballroom

5:30 pm Drink Reception, 7:00 pm Dinner & Program

Emcee: Shangela 

The Iowa Safe Schools Spirit Awards is our annual celebration dedicated to recognizing the successes of our LGBTQ community, friends, and allies. This year marks the 16th anniversary of Iowa Safe Schools providing safe and nurturing educational environments and communities for LGBTQ youth and allies. Iowa Safe Schools is proud to present 8 awards at the 2018 Spirit Awards: The Lee Stafford & Jarad Ellars Advocate of the Year, 2018 GSA of the Year, 2018 Outstanding Media Coverage, 2018 Lynn Reinicke Educator of the Year, 2018 Corporate Inclusivity Champion, 2018 College Group of the Year, 2018 Ally of the Year, and the 2018 Partner in Progress.

The goal of the 2018 Spirit Awards is to emphasize the significant amount of work we have left do.. starting with our most vulnerable citizens– “Our fight continues for LGBTQ Youth”! We need your help as we continue to build inclusive communities, schools, and create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth to thrive! Eliminating at-risk behaviors and creating ladders to success for thousands of students in Iowa takes everybody, most of all, it means every child has an equal shot of getting off on the right foot and pursuing their dreams!

Shangela is best recognized as the only contestant to compete on three separate seasons of the Emmy-award winning reality series Rupaul’s Drag Race (seasons 2, 3 and All Stars 3).

As an actor, Shangela (aka D.J. Pierce) has guest starred on network television shows like “2 Broke Girls,” “Glee,” “Bones,” “The Mentalist,” “X-Files,” and more. She has appeared in films including “Hurricane Bianca” (2016), ”Kiss Me, Kill Me” (2015), “Hurricane Bianca 2” and “A Star Is Born” with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper. In 2012, she co-starred with Jenifer Lewis in a four-part scripted YouTube series called “Jenifer Lewis and Shangela.”

Pierce continues to climb in notoriety. He has been named one of OUT Magazine’s “100 Most Compelling People” and in 2015 was featured on for his drag management company Say What Entertainment. In 2018, Shangela was honored with the Rising Star Award by the LGBT Music Festival for his global contributions in performance and music.

He has written and released music (including the smash hit “Werqin Girl”), performed alongside Miley Cyrus on the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards, co-produced the successful Werq The World tour as creative director and will tour his newest self-written stand up comedy show “Shook” in 2018. As Shangela, he has performed on six of the seven continents, and has sights set on Antarctica next!

A native of Paris, Texas, Pierce graduated with honors from Southern Methodist University and currently resides in Los Angeles. He is involved in various charity work and remains a member of the SAG-Aftra Union.


Limited tickets available, please email

2018 GSA of the Year- Ames High, Spectrum








2018 College Group of the Year- UNI Proud








2018 Corporate Inclusivity Champion- Wells Fargo








2018 Partner in Progress- RAYGUN









Outstanding Media Coverage 2018- Pat Rynard, Iowa Starting Line











2018 Ally of the Year- Andy McGuire









2018 Lee Stafford & Jared Ellars Advocate of the Year- Representative Liz Bennett 












2018 Lynn Reinicke Educator of the Year- Andy Sutton 

Thank you to our gracious sponsors for making tonight possible!

Wells Fargo

Federal Home Loan Bank- Des Moines

University of Iowa Community Credit Union

Collins Community Credit Union


Rockwell Collins

Congressman Swallwell

John Delaney for President

Delta Dental


Joby Holcomb, LLC

Titos Vodka







Capital City Pride