A Good Friend, A Great Leader
July 31, 2013 by HRC staff
Post submitted by Sharon Groves, former HRC Director, Religion and Faith Program.
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, who leads the religious work for the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, announced to the faith community on July 29 that she would be stepping down. She has been a good friend to our community and we will miss her dearly.
In addition to over eight years as the faith director for the Taskforce, Voelkel has spent over a decade leading efforts to build up, empower, and equip a robust and diverse group of welcoming religious leaders helping change the landscape of faith in this country.
If you can worship at a congregation today that welcomes you or welcomes an LGBT person you love, you might want to say a word of gratitude for Voelkel’s leadership. She has been working to help spiritual people find a home and I, for one, who found my voice in a welcoming congregation, am deeply grateful.
Let me also say a word about the kind of leadership Voelkel has modeled for me. It is rare in this business that you find someone who has the spirit, grace and stomach for real collaboration. Voelkel does.
Voelkel models an “open tent” philosophy that made working collaboratively not an aspirational talking point but a lived reality. She’s been a keynote speaker at some of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s most important events, including our Scholarship and Mentorship Program for Religious and Theological students. She sits on our Religion Council and I sit on her National Religious Leadership Roundtable.
Perhaps what I am most proud of is our collaborative work to create and facilitate the promotion of a bilingual Latin@ guide, A La Familia. As our partner in this work, Lisbeth Melendez Rivera wrote, “I will forever be grateful for the initial meeting that Rebecca had in her own living room where A La Familia was born and for her courage and constant support for the Latin@ religious community even when told it was a losing battle.”
After ten years of non-stop whirlwind travel, Voelkel will be able to turn her dissertation into a book and to spend more time with her family, who will love having her at home.
Their gift is our loss.
Voelkel, we will miss you. For your great leadership, your gift of inclusion, your wicked sense of humor, even your signature black nylon pants. Thank you.
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