Jeri Dilno's 1961 military discharge--for being a lesbian--led her to risk personal safety over thirty years of path-breaking political and social justice work on behalf of women's and gay/lesbian rights. With other Philadelphians, she instituted a gay pride festival. The 8,000+ participants helped to debunk stereotypes and demonstrated their strength in numbers. Jeri brought her experience and style to San Diego in 1975. She helped plan the first gay pride march here and remained an active driving force in annual gay pride activities.
She developed the first formal presentation about gay/lesbian health issues to the American Nurse's Association; served as the first female Executive Director of the Gay Center (1975-77) and then served on and chaired its board. Jeri insisted the Center add "lesbian" and "community" to create a new name, "Lesbian and Gay Men's Community Center." She represented California as an out lesbian at the historic 1977 Women's Year Convention in Houston and served among the first out lesbians as a delegate in the Democratic Party. In addition, Jeri Dilno served as an openly lesbian woman on Mayor Maureen O'Connor's Commission on the Status of Women; on the San Diego Police Department's Gay and Lesbian Advisory Committee; and on the Citizen's Advisory Board on Police-Community Relations. Jeri worked with San Diego Pride in the 1980s, planning events commemorating the 20th anniversary of Stonewall and helping to establish a financially sound organization that would be able to contribute to the community. Jeri served on the Board of Directors from 1989-1994 and again from 200-2006. Jeri served as grand marshall of the Pride parade in 1984 and again in 1989.
In 1999 she received the Lifetime Achievement award for yer years of service to the community and to Pride. She was the first female executive director of the San Diego LGBT Community Center, four-term president of the San Diego Democratic Club, and the assistant editor and editor of the Gay and Lesbian Times.