As the spirit of Pride envelops New York City this June, New York Blood Center Enterprises (NYBCe) is proud to celebrate one of our own: DaShawn Usher. Named the 2024 Grand Marshal for NYC Pride on June 30, Usher, a native of the Bronx has amassed an impressive career spanning over 17 years in research, program development, and health communications. 

Each of the Grand Marshals for 2024 NYC Pride
Each of the Grand Marshals for 2024 NYC Pride.

DaShawn’s professional journey is deeply intertwined with New York Blood Center (NYBC). His work with Project Achieve at NYBCe laid the groundwork for MOBI. “MOBI was birthed out of NYBC. While at Project Achieve, we identified a gap between research and reality, which inspired the creation of MOBI to provide lifesaving information and support to the community,” DaShawn explained. This relationship continues to flourish, with MOBI still operating under the auspices of NYBCe’s Office of Sponsored Programs. 

NYC Pride is an annual celebration honoring the LGBTQ+ community’s fight for equality and rights. Held in June, it commemorates the Stonewall Riots of 1969, a pivotal event in the LGBTQ+ rights movement. NYC Pride includes a vibrant parade, rallies, parties, and various events that promote visibility, acceptance, and unity within the LGBTQ+ community and its allies. The event is a festive celebration and a platform for advocacy, highlighting ongoing struggles for equality and reflecting on past achievements. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of diversity, inclusivity, and the continuing fight for social justice.

As the Senior Director of Communities of Color and Media at GLAAD, DaShawn’s work has earned him accolades and features in Vanity Fair, Hollywood Reporter, Forbes, and Billboard. A creative force, DaShawn has executive produced award-winning content, securing Webby, Shorty, and Telly Awards. However, his contributions transcend media and communications; he is a visionary founder of the Mobilizing Our Brothers Initiative (MOBI), an organization dedicated to fostering social connectivity and personal development for Black gay and queer individuals, emphasizing holistic community wellness.

Being named a Grand Marshal for NYC Pride is a personal and professional milestone for DaShawn. Reflecting on this honor, he shared, “It feels like a full-circle, hometown hero moment. Growing up in New York City, particularly in the Bronx, I would never have imagined being the Grand Marshal of NYC Pride.” This recognition highlights his dedication to service and advocacy, allowing him to enter the spotlight and share the impactful work he has been championing. 

DaShawn’s role as Grand Marshal is particularly poignant as NYC Pride celebrates its 40th anniversary. He acknowledges the significance of this milestone, noting, “For 40 years, we have been fighting for rights, equality, and equity. This anniversary highlights our ongoing struggle and the many victories we have achieved along the way.”

DaShawn’s advocacy emphasizes the importance of community engagement, particularly within Black and brown communities. He aims to use his platform to spotlight these efforts and foster deeper connections between NYBCe and the diverse communities it serves.

As NYC Pride approaches, DaShawn has geared up for a series of engagements, including MOBIfest, a week-long celebration of wellness and community activities, which took place earlier this month. The annual wellness festival is in its 7th year and is a staple within the NYC Black LGBTQ+ community. The highlight, MOBIfest Live, featured live entertainment and underscored the initiative’s ongoing impact.