Ben Needham is the Director of Strategic Initiatives in the Policy and Political Affairs Department at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Ben oversees legislative and electoral strategy across several programs and departments. Ben helped create the strategy for the HRC Rising program, which is the largest grassroots and electoral organizing program in the organization’s history, working to elect more pro-equality candidates at every level of government. In addition, Ben works with the Human Rights Campaign Governmental Affairs team to develop a strategy to pass the Equality Act, which would codify full federal equality into law for all LGBTQ Americans.
Before being promoted to manage the Human Rights Campaign’s policy and political strategic work, Ben was Director of Project One America, HRC’s comprehensive, multi-year effort to expand LGBTQ equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi. Ben managed in-state staff and coordinated with HRC’s senior leadership in Washington, D.C. to make progress on three fronts—changing hearts and minds, advancing enduring legal protections, and building more inclusive institutions for LGBTQ Southerners from the church pew to the workplace.
Ben oversaw grassroots and grasstops campaigns on behalf of HRC in these three states, and led and implemented political strategy and public education campaigns to bring about a new era of inclusiveness and equality for LGBTQ people in the South. Ben’s work in the South has led to the passage of 5 LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinances in the following communities: Clarksdale, Jackson, and Magnolia, MS; and Birmingham and Montevallo, AL. His work has helped to provide legal protection to over 400,000 residents at work, in housing and public accommodations in Alabama and Mississippi. In addition, there are ten hospitals rated by HRC’s Healthcare Equality Index as having leader statues or rated as top performers on policies and practices dedicated to the equitable treatment and inclusion of their LGBTQ patients, visitors and employees. Ben also helped with the strategy to increase Tyson Foods score on HRC’s Corporate Equality Index from 30 to 100 in just two years, ensuring full workplace equality for LGBTQ workers at every level of the company.
Ben is a veteran political strategist with an extensive background in campaigns, issue advocacy, and providing strategy for political parties, progressive organizations, and candidates. He worked as Southern and Western Political Manager for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), with the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids and on several issue advocacy campaigns such as Houston Votes and, Missouri Cures. His experience with political organizations includes working with Obama for America, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and with several political candidates.