Wednesday, October 24, 2012

EQCA's New Executive Director is John O'Connor

Equality California board chairs Clarissa Filgioun and Cary Davidson sent out a press release today announcing that the state's largest LGBT political advocacy organization has named John O'Connor as its new Executive Director, more than a year after my friend Roland Palencia announced he was resigning as the previous head of EQCA. (Disclaimer: From 2002 to 2006 I served on the board of directors of Equality California and Equality California Institute.) It is good news to see that one of the most important organizations in the country regarding LGBT equality is no longer going to be leaderless. Some people might question my characterization of EQCA in that way, but by definition the largest LGBT political advocacy group in the largest state in the country will (and some would argue should, or must) have a national profile.

From the press release:
"I am honored to lead Equality California forward as the statewide voice on LGBT equality. The message will be that we are for full equality and nothing less," said O’Connor, who currently serves as the executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert. “That means enacting, implementing and enforcing legislation that expands the protections and freedoms afforded to LGBT Californians, supporting and electing pro-LGBT legislators, and winning the hearts and minds of Californians through effective education. I won’t just be speaking — I’ll be listening too, to our coalition partners, to the needs of LGBT Californians, and to everyone involved in building a state of equality.”

O’Connor has extensive experience leading non-profits through transition and into solvency and stability. Most recently, through his work at the LGBT Community Center of the Desert, he brought in new staff, established a new counseling center — which was fully staffed and operational within a year — and forged important partnerships with area schools in order to bring anti-bullying and suicide prevention workshops into every 9th grade and first year continuation class. From 2006 through 2010, O’Connor worked directly under former California First Lady Maria Shriver to establish the California Hall of Fame at the California Museum, and he played a key role in stabilizing the museum and leading fundraising and program development that brought the organization statewide visibility and acclaim.

O’Connor brings important national and foundation experience to his new role. From 2002 to 2004, O’Connor was national director of the Gill Foundation, a $220 million foundation dedicated to advancing LGBT equality. He also served as program director of The David Geffen Foundation, where he worked closely with charities and issues of importance to the LGBT community.

“On behalf of the boards of directors, we are very pleased to welcome John aboard, knowing that his background and experience will be valuable as we chart our future,” said Clarissa Filgioun and Cary Davidson, board presidents of EQCA and EQCA Institute respectively. “John is a bold leader with a history of leading nonprofits into the next phase of their journeys. He will enable EQCA and EQCA Institute to broaden our work and move forward on our path to achieve LGBT equality in California.”

O’Connor was selected by the Boards of Directors of Equality California and Equality California Institute after an extensive, national search conducted by executive search firm Morris & Berger.
Check out Karen Ocamb's LGBT POV for more information on this story.

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