Friday, August 19, 2011

Being Recognized by our Peers: Pride Agenda at the Equality Federation Summer Meeting

A post by Executive Director Ross Levi

I am frequently asked whether New York ever talks to our colleagues in other states in an effort to share ideas and information. The Pride Agenda is a proud member of the coalition that allows for just that interaction: the Equality Federation, the national alliance of statewide LGBT advocacy organizations. Members of our staff travelled to Madison, Wisconsin this past weekend for the Federation’s summer meeting, where state LGBT organizations had the chance to learn from each other, strategize together and recharge our batteries with the inspiring tales of the amazing work being done in states throughout the nation, almost always with strained resources and in challenging environments.

This year, the Pride Agenda was able to provide some of that inspiration ourselves. It was truly humbling to have leaders from other states tell me how our marriage victory in New York has tangibly made a difference in their state. One talked about how the leadership of our governor was influential in getting their governor to come out in support of marriage; another said that the momentum we spurred in the Empire State might make the difference in a marriage ballot initiative they will be fighting soon. In recognition of the positive difference that our marriage victory has made nationwide, the Pride Agenda received an award (affectionately dubbed “The Feddie”) from our peers for 2011’s Most Amazing Accomplishment. The award was presented at the closing brunch where Tammy Baldwin, the out Wisconsin congresswoman, highlighted our achievement during her address to the group.

Among the workshops and panels, the weekend also featured a presentation by the class of Federation Summer interns who were placed with over a half dozen state organizations across the nation. Pride Agenda was pleased to be able to host Geoff Montes, an NYU Senior who worked in our Communications Department. This amazing group of young leaders in our movement received a standing ovation for their talent, passion and hard work, and we were very proud to have Geoff be part of the outstanding group.

This meeting also marked the end of my time on the Board of the Equality Federation, after having served during various points of my tenure as Secretary and Chair of the Governance Committee. I was honored beyond words to receive the Equality Federation’s very first Leadership Award for my service to the Federation and to the broader the movement. I am thrilled that the Pride Agenda will continue to be represented on the Board of this terrific collaborative by our Director of Governmental Projects and Community Development, Jonathan Lang.

Rejuvenated and back in New York, I look forward to putting to use the new ideas generated from the summer meeting, and racking up more victories to share with our sister state organizations next year.

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