Howard Brown Health Center and Chicago’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community are mourning the loss of a women’s health champion, Christina Santiago, who was killed when a stage collapsed at the Indiana State Fair Saturday night.
The 29-year-old Chicago resident was one of five people who died when a gust as strong as 70 mph caused a stage rigging to fall onto the crowd before a Sugarland concert in Indianapolis.
“The sudden and devastating loss of Christina has left the entire community, including her Howard Brown Health Center family, heartbroken,” said Jamal M. Edwards, the center’s president and CEO, in a statement. “Christina was an amazing woman—one of our very brightest stars—who worked tirelessly to improve the lives of women, particularly lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer women.”
Edwards said their thoughts and prayers are with Santiago’s friends and family, as well as “her beautiful partner Alisha Brennon, who is also a dear friend of HBHC and was severely injured, but not killed, in the accident.”
Forty-four people were injured overall from the collapse.
Santiago worked for nearly six years at Howard Brown Health Center, where she was “a leading and driving force” in the expansion of its women’s health services division as the manager of programming for the Lesbian Community Care Project, Edwards said.
She was helping lead the LifeCycle Project, a new women’s health initiative that is designed to meet the needs of the whole LBTQ community throughout the lifecycle.
She received her organization’s highest staff honor, its Spirit Award, in 2010, and was named to the Windy City Times’ “30 Under 30” list in 2007.
The health center planned a vigil to mourn Santiago Sunday night.