Posts Tagged ‘john o’connor’

Big changes at EQCA

April 22, 2014 By Josh Steichmann

John_and_Rick_compDear EQCA members,

Thank you. For the last year and a half, I’ve had an amazing opportunity to lead one of the premier organizations fighting for full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Californians, and I’m incredibly grateful for that.

I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished together: We had major legislative victories, like passing the first law in the nation to protect transgender students, and major victories in the courts — I’ll never forget the joy in the faces around me when news of the Proposition 8 decision came down and our supporters flooded the streets.

We’ve strengthened EQCA organizationally, helped to increase the LGBT community’s political power in California and initiated new programming that did more to directly enroll uninsured LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act rollout than any other LGBT organization nationwide. EQCA is in a better place now, and I’m proud of that too.

Which is why it’s with a mix of emotions that I’m letting you know today that I’ve decided to step down as executive director of EQCA effective July of this year.

While it was a difficult decision to leave EQCA at this time to handle personal affairs, I’m thrilled that our boards of directors have acted swiftly and decisively to select a new executive director.

Effective September 1, EQCA board member, LGBT and environmental advocate and senior partner with the law firm of Latham & Watkins, Rick Zbur, will succeed me as executive director of Equality California.

I’m confident that Rick is the right choice to lead EQCA into the next chapter. Rick is a dynamic leader who will continue our work and advance EQCA’s mission of securing full and lasting equality for LGBT Californians.

Rick is a father of three, and he grew up in a farming community in the Rio Grande Valley south of Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his mother, Erlinda Chavez Zbur and her family have lived for generations. Rick has been a lifelong LGBT trailblazer: He was Latham & Watkins’ first openly gay attorney and first openly gay partner. He also took a leave of absence from his firm in January 1996 to run for Congress in California’s 38th Congressional District, where he became the first openly gay, non-incumbent to win a contested primary for U.S. Congress.

Rick is also active politically and in the non-profit world. He has served and will continue to serve as president and chair of the board of the California League of Conservation Voters, the political action arm of California’s environment community. He has also served on the board of Lambda Legal and was a founding director and vice president at the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation.

Rick’s top priority will be continuing the trajectory of stability and effective work that we’ve achieved during the last 18 months. He will focus on the organization’s core mission of achieving full and lasting equality for LGBT people through smart and effective legislation, education and outreach, and by building and expanding our community’s political power. A key to EQCA’s success under Rick’s leadership will be to continue to strengthen our partnerships and alliances within and as a part of California’s emerging electorate.

I have loved my time with EQCA, and will continue on through July. I am only able to leave EQCA with satisfaction at this time due to the confidence I have in Rick, the board and staff to all continue on with the important work and to take EQCA to the next level.

Please join me in giving Rick Zbur a warm welcome as the next executive director of Equality California.

A New Chapter

December 3, 2012 By John O'Connor

john o'connor, eqca executive directorIt is with tremendous enthusiasm that I begin my tenure as the new executive director of Equality California today! This organization has a legacy that is nothing short of extraordinary and I consider it an enormous honor to be leading EQCA forward.

For over a decade, EQCA has worked tirelessly to make California a state with some of the most comprehensive legal protections in the nation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Building on EQCA’s legacy of accomplishment, I intend to move the organization forward as the statewide voice on LGBT equality.

While we’ve achieved much already, there is still so much more at stake. We must protect our achievements by continuing to build our political power. Advocacy on healthcare disparities and a strong voice in the implementation of the Affordable Healthcare Act is critical. Youth, transgender people and seniors continue to experience harsh discrimination and we must work for equality on their behalf. And we must continue to ensure that the laws we pass are fully implemented and enforced.

Outside the arena of legislation, we must continue to win people’s hearts and minds in communities throughout the entire state. We can legislate until we are blue in the face, but until people truly embrace us in all our diversity, we will not achieve full equality. So, together, we will continue this work, because we stand for full equality and nothing less.  Read the rest of this entry »