About Us

A History of LIAM

While The LIAM Foundation is still evolving and transforming given the needs of the community, our organization has humble roots.

It began in 2015, when Phyllis Gallisath’s son, Liam, came out to her as transgender. To support his journey, Phyllis began her own research and quickly realized there were large gaps in resources and services for LGBTQIA+ folks in Northern Illinois. As a first step toward filling those gaps, Phyllis brought a PFLAG Chapter to the Rockford area. At this time, Liam also began his own advocacy work within the Harlem High School community, as the first transgender student to come out while attending.

Sadly, in 2018, Liam passed away, but his legacy and spirit of advocacy continued to live on.

A year after Liam’s death, Phyllis paid for a transgender teens’ name change as a Christmas present to Liam: this act was meant to posthumously continue the work he began during his life. After this first name change, Phyllis began collecting donations from friends and family to help others in the Rockford area.

As the small-scale donations continued, Phyllis began to dream about starting a LGBTQIA+ nonprofit in Rockford, IL. With the help of a hardworking and devoted executive board and a strong, dedicated committee, The LIAM Foundation was born and opened doors in an office building downtown on Water Street. In Summer 2023, the LIAM Foundation expanded to a larger office in the Midtown District of Rockford.

The name of the organization ‘LIAM,’ is not only Phyllis’ son’s name but also an acronym for our core values: Love, Integrity, Advocacy, and Mentorship.

* Image via Jason Leung

Our Vision

Provide services for persons within the LGBTQIA+ community – known as “our community”

Offer safe and welcoming facilities for our community

Provide support, services, and resources that take special consideration to the needs of our community

Provide mentorship in life skills to persons with special needs, and/or at-risk behaviors and/or circumstances in our community

Engage in the promotion of the overall health and wellbeing of our community

Continually educate ourselves and the community at large on issues that pertain to our community

Sponsor, host, and/or participate in events and activities

Painted mural with light shining through

Remembering Liam Burdick