Lindale’s Brewster honored for humanitarian efforts

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Since leaving his post as U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic in January, 2018, Lindale’s Wally Brewster has been able to remain busy, so much so that the University of Illinois at Chicago will honor him at a gala on May 11.

The school’s department of medicine, in conjunction with the UI Health Community Clinic Network and the Urban Global Medicine Program, will present the former Lindale High School graduate with its Global Humanitarian Award during the 5th Annual Urban Global Medicine Gala.

“We wanted to honor Ambassador Brewster because of his advocacy on behalf of sexual minorities and his concern with HIV prevention in the Dominican Republic, a country where we conduct some of our educational and scholarly activities,” said Dr. Max Brito, associate professor of medicine and associate head for urban global health in the UIC department of medicine. Brito has strong connections to the Dominican Republic, where he grew up. He teaches a yearly global medicine elective for medical students and residents in the Dominican Republic.

Brewster, an internationally recognized diplomat and human rights advocate, was appointed by President Barack Obama as the U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic in 2013, and he served in that role until January 20, 2017.

He was the first openly gay ambassador to be appointed in the Western Hemisphere alongside his husband, the Honorable Bob J. Satawake.

Brewster has been credited with advancing the rights of the marginalized around the globe, including the stateless population of people of Haitian descent in the Dominican Republic, LGBTQ individuals, women and young girls who are the victims of human trafficking and people who have experienced gender-based violence.

His expertise in increasing trade, fighting corruption and advancing public health has been recognized with numerous awards and honors.

The Urban Global Medicine program provides educational, teaching and research experiences both in the United States and around the world to UIC students, residents, fellows and faculty.

The program has a strong focus on public health with the underlying goal of addressing and eliminating health disparities in underserved communities.

Brewster, a 1978 LHS graduate, a 1980 Tyler Junior College graduate and a 1983 Texas A&M graduate, is proud of growing up in Lindale and feels his hometown helped him along his successful, but not always smooth, road.

Brewster moved to Chicago in 1996 to work for General Growth Properties, a real estate investment trust.

His rise in the company culminated in becoming senior vice president for marketing and communications.

In 2010, Brewster started his own company, SB&K Global based in Chicago.

While in Chicago, politics beckoned. It was during this time he met the senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who was also destined for bigger things.

He was named as the National Co-Chair of the LGBT Leadership Council for the Democratic National Committee and held the same role in the future president’s 2012 campaign.

To say his introduction to the Dominican Republic as an openly gay man was rocky would be an understatement.

The archbishop of Santo Domingo, Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez, used an expletive in reference to Brewster.

“Those were very disparaging words,’’ Brewster said in reference to the statements from the archbishop and auxiliary bishop. “But I’ve always told people that I learned a lot of good things while growing up in Lindale and one is that even if you have a difference of opinion, you don’t condemn that person for who they are.’’

Brewster said following that initial controversy, the people of the Dominican Republic have been more than accepting.

“The society here spoke up against what was said,’’ Brewster said. “And again, it goes back to the way I was raised. My parents brought us up to love and accept people for who they are. I’ve always tried to condone, not condemn.’’

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