November 2, 2011 By Guest Contributor

Equality California has seen a lot of change over the past year, most recently with the unexpected departure of Executive Director Roland Palencia. With change comes challenges, but also exciting opportunities. As board presidents for Equality California and the Equality California Institute, we believe it is our responsibility to seize those opportunities and use this transition time to carefully take stock of the organization at every level–from structure to programs to fundraising–to ensure that Equality California is well-positioned to continue to lead the LGBT equality movement in California.

So we are excited to share with you that veteran LGBT civil rights leader and nonprofit advisor, Joan Garry has agreed to serve as EQCA’s chief strategy and transition consultant over the next few months to conduct a focused assessment of the organization, create an interim management plan and develop a short-term strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap for a new executive director search. Joan will be joined in this effort by Dr. Julie Anderson.

Together, Joan and Julie bring decades of tested leadership and experience advising LGBT advocacy organizations–most notably from their days at GLAAD where Joan served as Executive Director for eight years and Julie served as Development Director for eleven years. They’ve guided clients like The Matthew Shepard Foundation, Hyacinth AIDS Foundation, Lambda Legal and The Trevor Project through challenges and transitions. Joan was also the co-chair of the LGBT Finance Committee for Obama for America, 2008.

Since 1998, Equality California has transformed our state from one with very few legal protections for LGBT people to one with some of the most comprehensive civil rights laws in the nation. And our talented and committed staff and skilled 36-member board continue to successfully press ahead in our fight for full and lasting equality.

This year, we’ve already made history by passing more pro-LGBT bills than in any other year in California history–two of which are the first of their kind in the nation. In the coming year, we’re prepared to protect these gains from attacks by opponents of equality and preserve our pro-equality majority in the legislature in next year’s election. We released our 2011 Legislative Scorecard yesterday and will soon begin our first wave of candidate endorsements for 2012. And we’ve just launched a cutting-edge public education project–The Breakthrough Conversation, designed to identify and overcome the emotional and psychological triggers around kids and LGBT people that drive down support for equality, which you’ll hear more about in the weeks ahead.

When we asked Joan to help lead Equality California through this transition process, she didn’t hesitate: “Count me in,” she said. “Equality California is such an important organization–and I truly believe that a strong, robust EQCA is essential not only to continued progress in California, but also to the strength of our entire movement. I am a real believer in seeing organizational transitions as an opportunity to really take stock and to develop a roadmap that can set up an incoming leader for success. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with the dedicated team at EQCA to assess, to plan and to help bring EQCA into 2012 strong and ready for new leadership.”

We hope we can count you in too–to continue to be a part of our work and part of our efforts to create real and lasting change for LGBT Californians.

You can count on us as well–to keep you posted on our transition and to continue to be out there every day, advocating for each of you.

With appreciation,

Clarissa Filgioun, Board President for Equality California
Cathy Schwamberger, Board President for the Equality California Institute

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