HRC Names Dedicated Advocates to Lead Communications, Outreach and Public Education

by Elliott Kozuch

Washington - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, named Chris Sgro as Communications Director; Alejandro Avilés as the Director of Outreach and Engagement; and Ashland Johnson as Director of Public Education and Research.

“Over the last year and a half, we’ve worked side by side with Chris and Equality North Carolina to fight HB2 and attacks on LGBTQ people across the state of North Carolina,” said HRC Senior Vice President of Communications and Marketing Olivia Alair Dalton. “In that time, we have all come to admire Chris as a talented communicator, strategic thinker, and an inspiring leader. We are excited to have Chris joining our team to continue fighting for equality across North Carolina and every other corner of our country.”

“From his early organizing days in Arkansas to his incredible service in the Obama Administration, Alejandro leads with purpose, forges powerful connections and has achieved concrete victories for LGBTQ equality, economic justice, immigrant rights and more,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Trainings. “We are so excited to have Alejandro join the HRC team and lead strategic engagement with key allies and coalition partners to build a stronger movement for all of us, no matter what you look like, where you are from, or who you love.”

“From her years at Athlete Ally and the National Center for Lesbian Rights and more, Ashland brings a wealth of experience, a reputation for smart strategic thinking and a track record of winning incredible gains for LGBTQ equality,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC Senior Vice President for Programs, Research, and Trainings. “We are so thrilled to have Ashland leading our efforts on Public Education and Research, whether documenting discrimination, educating people about key issues like HIV & AIDS and transgender justice, or debunking junk science, with incredible resources like the new McHugh Exposed.”

Chris Sgro currently serves as Equality North Carolina’s Executive Director, where he has worked closely with HRC in fighting HB2 and its anti-LGBTQ replacement, HB124. In 2016, Sgro was selected to fill a vacancy in the North Carolina House of Representatives. He also worked on U.S. Senator Kay Hagan’s campaign staff, and served in her office as director of economic development. Before his time with Hagan, Sgro worked for America Votes, an organization that coordinates and promotes progressive issues; and CARE, a national anti-poverty organization. Sgro will formally begin his new role on June 5. Follow him on Twitter at @cristoferosgro.

Alejandro Avilés’ 15-year career in public service has focused on improving the lives of vulnerable and marginalized communities by holding the government accountable. Avilés previously worked as a senior advisor at the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Before HUD, Avilés worked at Legal Aid of Arkansas, where he advocated for domestic violence victims and people with limited-English proficiency. He began his career in public service in his hometown of Fayetteville, working at City Hall on community and economic development projects. Avilés will formally begin his new role on May 15. Follow him on Twitter at @janoaviles.

As Director of Public Education and Research, Ashland Johnson shapes HRC’s approach to generating research and educational campaigns. Leveraging her extensive experience in LGBTQ law and policy, she executes public education and programmatic initiatives that protect and promote LGBTQ equality. Johnson was previously at Athlete Ally where she served as the Director of Policy and Campaigns. She also served as Policy Counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights where she advanced LGBTQ policy and legislative priorities in health, employment, sports, and reproductive justice. Johnson began her new role on December 12. Follow her on Twitter at @ashlandj11.


The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.


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