The Human Right Campaign’s Development & Membership department is entrusted with connecting the organization’s members and supporters, who are integral to the advancement of our mission, with vital information about our work. Our ongoing fight for full LGBTQ+ equality is contingent on their steadfast support, something that is not lost on Jennifer Bobb and Norman Watkins.
As senior director of membership fundraising and operations and associate director of membership communications, respectively, Bobb and Watkins work tirelessly to establish strong connections with HRC’s members and supporters in an effort to leverage their collective power to effect change. Bobb and Watkins, along with the entire Membership team, know the value and importance of empowering HRC’s membership and supporter base and are continuously identifying ways of galvanizing and mobilizing them. They also lean in with heart while attending Prides as an opportunity to directly connect with members in cities across the country.
Both Bobb and Watkins had previous careers in corporate and for-profit arenas but were drawn to advocacy work instead. Now, Bobb and Watkins help HRC strengthen its reach and engagement by using their professional expertise.
“Working at HRC provides the opportunity to engage in an important mission while utilizing my experience to impact change,” said Bobb. “As a fan of HRC’s work for a number of years, viewing the organization as the go-to for information and resources that impact the LGBTQ+ community, I am very passionate about the work we do and the ability to work directly with members to accomplish it. Members drive the mission, and knowing that is very important to me personally.”
For Watkins, who worked previously in the publishing industry, working at HRC is “a real gift and a privilege” which allows him to continue using written content to convey messages — in this case, the message that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality continues.
Norman Watkins, back row, right, with colleagues at an AANHPI & Proud event
Jennifer Bobb, center, at Charlotte Pride
Arguably, the movement for LGBTQ+ equality needs the support from HRC’s membership base more than ever. The LGBTQ+ community has endured an unprecedented vicious legislative season in 2023, with over 570 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the country. Consequently, HRC announced its first-ever state of emergency.
“The goal of our work is cutting through the noise, because we have so many issues currently impacting the community on local, state and federal levels,” said Bobb. “The main thing is to ensure that people are informed, engaged and connected. What we have to say is impactful. We, as HRC and our members, have to be present in this fight and also lean into the joy of our community. On the first day of June, we take the opportunity to thank our members through Membership Appreciation Day.”
“Advocacy work can be challenging at times. Recentering and leading with the heart is crucial to continuing this work,” said Watkins.
“The goal is to motivate our members and supporters to continue supporting HRC in so many different ways. It’s important to remind them that even small actions can help lead to big, noticeable changes, and let them know that in whatever capacity they’re able to help, they’re advancing our movement,” said Watkins.
Both Bobb and Watkins recognize that the fight for LGBTQ+ equality is shifting and becoming more intersectional with other progressive movements. They strive to highlight those who are more marginalized within the community and society. “The movement has changed,” said Watkins. “It’s much more intersectional, and it’s important for our organization to also lead in these spaces so that we are fighting for LGBTQ+ equality on all fronts.”
Watkins is also the co-chair for HRC’s Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander working group, which aims to celebrate and honor LGBTQ+ AANHPI people and their contributions to LGBTQ+ equality — and build their visibility, representation and political power.
“Undertaking the work with a keen perspective on intersectionality is critical,” said Bobb. “As a woman Caribbean ally and a child of immigrants, it’s important for me and others to show up. We can’t just passively let things happen. Our civil rights are being attacked on a daily basis. The state of emergency is a clear example of this. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s also a clarion call. The fight isn’t getting easier, so we need to prepare ourselves. Engaging our members and expanding our base is key. Identifying new people to hear our message is key. It’s going to take increased support from our members and beyond. Change just doesn’t happen. We have to work together as a community and with our allies to make real change happen.”
While Bobb and Watkins are relentless in their work; they are also good at finding joy and beauty in what they do.
“I’m a gay man who believes in progressive causes and freedom, justice and equality for everyone. Working here has given me the most satisfying and enriching professional experiences of my life,” said Watkins, who calls the work, “moving and inspiring.”
“In the wake of all the abhorrent anti- LGBTQ+ legislation, what we’re accomplishing as a community is empowering,” said Watkins. “I am motivated by my colleagues, yes, but also by our members and supporters. We connect with them on such a personal level. They trust HRC and want to see us out there in the fight. They express so much gratitude. They are very appreciative of the work. That’s amazing. I’m sure it re-energizes all of us at HRC.”