Oakland Pride Gained Blue Shield of California as a New Sponsor

Oakland Pride Gained Blue Shield of California as a New Sponsor

Blue Shield employee group Shield Pride staffed a booth, marched, and also participated in several elements of the Oakland Pride Run

Oakland’s annual Pride Parade and Festival is dedicated to providing safe, inclusive, and positive spaces for Oakland’s incredible LGBTQ+ community. Event organizers “pride” themselves for offering an event that reaches youth, seniors, families, and straight allies. Since 2008, organizers have successfully brought in multiple sponsors who are genuinely committed to the LGBTQ+ community — and Pride 2019 had an enthusiastic new sponsor, Blue Shield of California.


Sponsorship of Oakland Pride is part of Blue Shield’s #80ForOakland initiative, which introduces community partners to the company as it settles into its new downtown headquarters. Employee group Shield Pride staffed a booth, marched in the parade, and joined the Pride run. At the booth, attendees could ask questions about health insurance needs and job opportunities at the new office, which opened in October.

Pride That Shows

“Oakland Pride was a great opportunity for our staff to connect with the community in which we work, and also for the residents of Oakland to see who Blue Shield is and what we represent to all of our members, including the LGBTQ+ community,” said Blue Shield senior manager Chris Huber, who co-chairs Shield Pride.

Blue Shield principal brand manager Robert Birks, a member of Shield Pride and former co-chair of the group, was one of an estimated 150 company employees who participated in Pride events. He agreed that the booth was a success for both Blue Shield and Pride, particularly praising the company’s Talent Acquisition Team.

Kin Folkz, co-founder and co-producer of the Pride Run, said, “We are overjoyed that Blue Shield came aboard as a primary sponsor. Staffing our Pride Run Aftercare Station, Blue Shield employees provided “food for thought” and information about wellness resources in our community. Blue Shield stepped up to let the community know that they, too, are part of our community of care.”

More Than Lip Service

The success of the company’s sponsorship was echoed by Amber Todd, Oakland Pride founder and co-chair. “Blue Shield came on not just as a sponsor. They really wanted to be invested,” she said. “I loved working with them because they were so excited and had so much energy. Blue Shield understands the value of addressing issues unique to the LGBTQ+ community and the importance of providing needed services.”

“Blue Shield employees staffing the Pride booth knowledgably answered questions about numerous health topics,” she added. “They were not just handing out pamphlets.”

Todd emphasized that when large companies reach out to Oakland Pride about sponsorships, she looks for ones that “are doing meaningful work for their [LGBTQ+] employees as well as for the community.” In other words, the commitment needs to be more than just lip service and a logo on a banner. Shield Pride is an ideal example of that, she said.

Added Huber, “Our presence at Oakland Pride really did make an impact. Our mission to provide all Californians access to affordable and quality health care, worthy of our family and friends, really resonates, and those that came to the booth were interested to learn more.”

“#80ForOakland has resonated within Blue Shield, as well as outside it,” Birks said. “Employees are becoming a part of the fabric of the community.”

Huber agreed. “I love to say that I work for an organization that truly values each employee and allows them to be their authentic self at work each day.”