HRC President Joe Solmonese to Depart in Early 2012

by Carolyn Simon

Board Announces Search Process, Salutes Leadership


Washington – The co-chairs of the Human Rights Campaign Board of Directors and the HRC Foundation Board today announced that HRC President Joe Solmonese has informed the boards that he will not renew his contract which expires March 31, 2012. Solmonese will remain at the helm of the organization until the completion of his contract to ensure a smooth leadership transition.

At the same time, the co-chairs announced the formation of a search committee to be co-chaired by board members Joni Madison of Hillsborough, N.C., and Dana Perlman of Los Angeles.

"Joe Solmonese is an outstanding leader," said Anne Fay who co-chairs the Foundation Board of Directors with Andy Linsky. "While we will miss his extraordinary leadership, we enter this next phase, thanks to Joe, in the best place the organization has ever been. Not only has our community secured historic victories, but our membership is larger and more active than at any time in our history, and our financial health is secure even in these difficult economic times."

"From the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', to the recent passage of marriage equality in New York, Joe has made sure that HRC is an effective and strategic force for positive change," said Tim Downing, who co-chairs the HRC Board of Directors with Rebecca Tillet. "Over the course of his tenure, he's set the tone for delivering real reform that matters in peoples' everyday lives."

"Leading HRC has been an inspiring experience and a complete privilege," said Solmonese. "I could not be more proud of our staff, our volunteer leadership and of the extraordinary progress we've made together as a community."

Solmonese's leadership has taken the organization from 750,000 members and supporters to more than 1,000,000. Additionally, he oversaw significant expansion of HRC's public education and outreach programs including the launch of the Healthcare Equality index, a more robust Religion and Faith Program and wider reach and success of the Corporate Equality Index. The HRC Foundation also launched the Welcoming Schools program to address family diversity, gender stereotyping, bullying and name calling in schools, as well as the All Children All Families initiative that helps open up adoption agencies to prospective LGBT parents. The grassroots field operation also expanded – most recently mounting the largest state-level campaign in LGBT movement history resulting in the passage of marriage equality in New York.

When Solmonese began at HRC in 2005, the organization was fighting the Federal Marriage Amendment and now marriage equality is a reality in six states and the District of Columbia with more within sight. Under Solmonese's leadership we saw the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' and numerous administrative changes from gender identity non-discrimination policies for federal workers to reversing the HIV travel ban to ensuring that equal visitation in federally funded hospitals. Read more on the community's record of success during Solmonese's tenure.

"HRC has never been stronger and after nearly seven years, this is the right moment for me to move on," said Solmonese. "As I explore new professional possibilities, I plan on continuing to pour my heart and soul into improving the lives of members of our community – from battling proposed marriage amendments to creating more equitable workplaces to ensuring the President Obama is reelected for a second term."

The four volunteer board co-chairs will work with the search committee co-chairs in selecting the full committee as well as securing an executive search firm to assist the organization.

"From the beginning, we asked Joe to give us six months of transition when he decided to leave and he's done that," said Tillet. "We have every confidence that we will find and engage a new leader within that timeframe."

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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