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McKinney creates diversity scholarship in honor of longtime COO who left agency to join LGBT org

As North Carolina’s government continues to receive criticism for its controversial HB2 bill, more commonly referred to as “the bathroom bill” that requires transgender people to use restrooms that match the sex on their birth certificate, many businesses in the state have taken strikes to voice their opposition to the law.

One of those companies is McKinney, a North Carolina-based agency that protested HB2 last month by printing the entire bill on toilet paper rolls. The agency then sent the rolls to a number of local businesses and encouraged them to put the HB2 toilet paper in bathroom stalls.

Now, the agency is taking another step to show its support of the LGBT community by launching a diversity scholarship. The scholarship is in honor of the agency’s former chief operating officer Joni Madison, who left the agency in March to take up the same role at DC-based Humans Rights Campaign, the country’s largest LGBT civil rights advocacy group.

According to McKinney, the Joni Madison Mtern Diversity Scholarship was created to “help students from unrepresented minority groups learn from working at the agency as interns.”

The first recipient will have the opportunity to intern at the agency this fall, but future winners of the scholarship will work during the summer to allow more out-of-state students to apply. According to the agency, recipients will be selected by Madison and a scholarship committee based upon their “participation in campus or community activities and their demonstrated impact.” Preference will be given to first-generation college attendees, racial minorities and members of the LGBT community. The interns will be part of the agency’s 12-year-old Mternship program, which offers students training, hands-on work and a paycheck.

Madison joined McKinney in 1992 and in 2003 became chief operating officer, where she “helped create an agency culture that champions diversity.” After serving as a member of the board of directors at Human Rights Campaign from 2007-2014, she was named its chief operating officer and chief of staff earlier this year.

Of the scholarship, Madison said: “It was humbling to have a diversity internship named after me. Perhaps years from now, when someone asks who is Joni Madison and why is this scholarship named after her, someone will say that she believed that there was power in embracing each other's differences, because we are all unique. She also believed that life would be such a bore if we were all the same.”

With offices in North Carolina in New York, McKinney works with clients including Crocs, Sherwin-Williams and Mentos.

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