Forty Under 40: Part Two
BY Advocate Contributors
April 13 2011 3:00 AM ET
33, Los Angeles, Business consultant
Being gay has never been an impediment for Matthew Lieberman, the go-to guy for information on consumer attitudes and behaviors in a swiftly changing media landscape, as USA Today, The Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Bloomberg Businessweek, MediaWeek, Reuters, and Bloomberg News well know—each has interviewed him. “In order to be a successful and balanced individual, it is critical to be true to one’s self,” says Lieberman, global entertainment and media advisory director at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “Being an openly gay man has never been a question at my firm.” His tireless work with the Point Foundation (where he is a member of the board of trustees), GLSEN, GLAAD, and HRC, among other groups, has earned him commendations for community service from President Clinton, Los Angeles magazine, the Los Angeles Times, and the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission. “I am proud to work closely with the Point Foundation to help support marginalized students with goals of becoming future leaders,” he says. “My firm supports many organizations in the community, and it is incredibly rewarding to be associated personally and professionally with a firm that emphasizes such values.”
29, Springfield, Mass., City council member
Visibility is important to Amaad Rivera, the Springfield, Mass., city council’s first openly gay member and one of its few people of color (he’s of African-American and Puerto Rican heritage), as is addressing his hometown’s economic problems. “We have lots of LGBT folks, but we’re kind of invisible,” he says. “We suffer, but we suffer in silence.” To change that, he’s helping organize the city’s first official LGBT pride celebration, set for July 16. He previously put together an antibullying event held in memory of Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, a Springfield youth who killed himself in response to antigay bullying. In his own youth, Rivera was homeless; he’s now working to help Springfield residents keep their homes, proposing an ordinance to stop foreclosures in the city, which has the state’s highest foreclosure rate, and set up a revolving loan fund.
26, Cambridge, Mass., Law student and Harvard Law Review president
How’s this for pressure in your mid 20s: Mitchell Reich, who was elected president of the student-run Harvard Law Review in February, joins a list of publication alumni that includes five of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices as well as President Barack Obama. That he’s the first openly gay president of the publication was rather a nonevent within the editorial staff, though The Harvard Crimson ran a feature on the milestone. “It’s one of those moments you always remember,” Reich says of the election. “I was stunned and overwhelmed.” Reich worked on political campaigns for Eliot Spitzer and Obama before realizing public policy left something to be desired. Law quickly filled the void. Even the more prosaic of legal issues (say, tax or administrative law), are surprisingly fascinating, he says. “Legal scholarship has become very specialized, which is a challenge for generalist editors. We need to find a way to continue to establish relevance in the field.… But law journals are just as important as they always were.”
30, New York City, Filmmaker
As the director of An Affirmative Act, cinema’s first courtroom drama about marriage equality, Jana Mattioli understands and appreciates the power of film as a way to educate the masses. “It’s the most effective in-your-face activism because you don’t have to be preachy,” she says. “It’s a very natural way of implanting thoughts in people’s minds. And it has the potential to reach everybody. A lot of times when you’re on a soapbox saying what you have to say, the only people listening are those who already agree with you.” The film’s story — about a lesbian couple charged with fraud for marrying under the false pretense of being a heterosexual couple—is both heartbreaking and unique. “There wasn’t a movie out there that dealt with gay marriage and the legalities of it, which is an important topic. Hopefully it will open people’s eyes a bit.” But educating isn’t this filmmaker’s only goal. She’s currently putting finishing touches on a comedic short called BIdentity Crisis that she hopes will lighten things up. “I loved directing the drama, but I felt like the gay community also needed something to laugh at, so I’m hoping I can offer that.”
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