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"Ecstatic" was the only word Michelle Kristel, the executive director of In the Life Media, could find to describe the feeling buzzing around the organization's Manhattan offices. This year the nonprofit, which creates LGBT-related TV and Web programming, is celebrating its 20th anniversary and that of its eponymous TV show, and is basking in the glow of the largest donation it's ever received, a $1 million gift from longtime In the Life supporter Henry van Ameringen.
A longtime philanthropist who made his money as an executive in the fragrance business, van Ameringen became involved with In the Life Media, which produces the Emmy-nominated program In the Life, the first and only LGBT newsmagazine show on public television, shortly after its founding in 1992.
"The fact that there was a program that represented LGBT people in such a genuine and accurate manner was stunning, and even more so that it had been produced by a tiny staff on a threadbare budget," van Ameringen wrote in The Huffington Post about the motivation for his donation.
Of the donation, $100,000 will be used to match new contributions, while the rest will help expand digital initiatives and marketing efforts.
"We're proud [that] we reach not only the LGBT community but our allies," Kristel says, "without whom our fight for social justice cannot be won."