HRC Names Chad Griffin as Organization's New President

by Charles Joughin

Nation’s Largest LGBT Rights Group Selects Visionary Leader of Prop. 8 Lawsuit

WASHINGTON – Chad H. Griffin was appointed today as the next president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, by the organization’s Board of Directors. Griffin, a national communications and policy strategist, is widely credited for being the mastermind behind the federal lawsuit to overturn California's Proposition 8, which has now been ruled unconstitutional by two federal courts. 

Griffin’s appointment follows an extensive six month search by the board that included the consideration of over one hundred diverse and extremely well-qualified candidates from the worlds of business, academia and activism. Griffin will assume his new responsibilities on June 11, 2012. Current HRC president Joe Solmonese will continue to lead the organization until that time.

The founding partner of strategic communications and campaign firm, Griffin|Schein, Griffin has taken on entrenched, well-financed interests like Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the far right, and shaped national policy debates around equal rights, clean energy, universal health care, stem cell research, and early childhood education. He has also led groundbreaking ballot initiative campaigns including the largest ballot initiative ever recorded, Proposition 87: California’s Clean Alternative Energy Initiative; the Proposition 10 campaign, which generates $600 million a year for early childhood education; and Proposition 71, which secured billions of dollars for stem cell research despite the Bush Administration ban. 

Griffin is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of the Prop. 8 lawsuit.  He is personally responsible for recruiting the legal dream team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to successfully argue the case. Griffin will remain on the board of directors of AFER.

A veteran of the Clinton White House communications team, and a native of Arkansas, Griffin was highly motivated by young people in taking this new endeavor. “All over this country in big cities and small towns, there are families and young people who long to be accepted for who they are, and who want be treated with the same dignity and respect as everyone else," said Griffin. "I’m honored by the board’s confidence in my ability to lead HRC. While there’s no doubt that we’ve made tremendous progress on the road to equality, we must not forget that millions of LGBT Americans still lack basic legal protections and suffer the consequences of discrimination every day. Today's generation of young people, and each generation hereafter, must grow up with the full and equal protection of our laws, and finally be free to participate in the American dream. As HRC president, I’ll approach our work with a great sense of urgency because there are real life consequences to inaction.”

HRC Co-Chair Tim Downing and HRC Foundation Co-Chair Sandra Hartness spoke on behalf of their colleagues on the Board of Directors, “We’re ecstatic to have someone of Chad’s caliber as our next president. His superior credentials and achievements, both as a visionary and strategist, make him uniquely qualified to lead this organization forward. Chad has a proven track record of consistently delivering results during his career. That’s something that our community rightly expects and deserves.”

With over a million members and supporters, HRC works to secure equal rights for LGBT individuals and families at the local, state and federal levels by mobilizing grassroots supporters, lobbying elected officials, proactively educating and changing the hearts and minds of fair-minded Americans, and investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials. Founded in 1980, HRC seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans by advocating for equal rights and benefits in the workplace, ensuring families are treated equally under the law and increasing public support among all Americans through innovative advocacy, education and outreach programs.

HRC consists of two separate non-profit organizations: the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization that focuses on research, advocacy and education and the Human Rights Campaign, a 501(c)(4) organization that focuses on lobbying Congress, state and local officials for support of pro-LGBT bills, and mobilizing grassroots action amongst its members. The combined annual budget of both organizations was approximately $40 million in 2011.

Professional colleagues and friends have been unanimous in their praise of Griffin’s appointment:

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

“I congratulate Chad Griffin on his appointment as the new President of HRC. I’m confident Chad will continue to provide the strong leadership that HRC has become known for here in Washington. I’m proud to count myself as a strong supporter of issues important to the LGBT community and look forward to working with Chad and HRC to advance these issues.”

Judy Shepard, President, Matthew Shepard Foundation:

“I couldn’t be happier for HRC and my good friend, Chad Griffin. He’s just brilliant. The ways in which he connects with people on issues of equality continue to amaze me. He’s going to be a great leader for HRC, and the equality movement and I look forward to working with him.”

Kate Kendall, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights:

"Chad Griffin is a visionary and a force of nature. Chad sees around corners and finds ways to surmount obstacles and bring together disparate voices. The LGBT movement will benefit greatly from his unflagging confidence in the rightness of our cause and his career spent fighting for equality and fairness on a wide range of progressive causes."                                           

Evan Wolfson, Founder & President, Freedom to Marry:

“This is a terrific choice for HRC and our movement. I admire people who raise the bar and bring creativity, smarts, and, of course, more people into the work of getting important things done.  As we've worked together to win the freedom to marry, I have seen Chad do all of that with fresh energy and exceptional talent, and Freedom to Marry and I look forward to partnering even closer as he takes the helm of HRC.”

Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus, NAACP:

"Chad Griffin is a great choice - he is a major leader in the fight for equality. HRC has staged a coup!"

Anthony Romero, Executive Director, ACLU:

“Chad’s appointment to the Human Rights Campaign comes at a historic time for LGBT equality.  Chad is exactly the right person to lead the organization at this incredible time.  He has courage, passion, dynamism and a willingness to push tough issues forward in a thoughtful and strategic manner.”

Shannon Minter, Legal Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights

“Chad Griffin is an inspired choice.   In addition to his legendary genius and relentlessness, Chad has a deep understanding of how social and political change happen and an unflinching commitment to full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.  As someone who grew up in the South, he will bring a fierce commitment to ensuring that change comes to all parts of our country and that every young person can grow up with unqualified love, acceptance, and support.  Chad is exactly the type of creative new leader that we will need to make the most of the unprecedented opportunities opening up for our community in the years ahead.”


The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

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