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Equality California announces new director

By Seth Hemmelgarn| The Bay Area Reporter
Friday, October 26, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO — After a year without a permanent executive director, the statewide LGBT lobbying group Equality California announced Wednesday that the board of directors has selected John O’Connor, who currently serves as the executive director of the LGBT Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, to fill the position.

The openly gay O’Connor, 41, will start December 3. EQCA spokesman Steve Roth wouldn’t provide salary information.

John O’Connor

“I am honored to lead Equality California forward as the statewide voice on LGBT equality,” O’Connor said in a statement. “The message will be that we are for full equality and nothing less. That means enacting, implementing and enforcing legislation that expands the protections and freedoms afforded to LGBT Californians, supporting and electing pro-LGBT legislators, and winning the hearts and minds of Californians through effective education. I won’t just be speaking – I’ll be listening too, to our coalition partners, to the needs of LGBT Californians, and to everyone involved in building a state of equality.”

Clarissa Filgioun, EQCA’s board president, and Cary Davidson, president of the board of nonprofit’s educational institute, stated, “John is a bold leader with a history of leading nonprofits into the next phase of their journeys. He will enable EQCA and EQCA Institute to broaden our work and move forward on our path to achieve LGBT equality in California.”

EQCA officials said that O’Connor has “extensive” experience leading nonprofits through transition and into stability. Most recently, through his work at Community Center of the Desert, his actions included brining in new staff, establishing a counseling center, and forging partnerships with area schools.

From 2006 through 2010, O’Connor worked directly under former California first lady Maria Shriver to establish the California Hall of Fame at the California Museum. He’s also served as national director of the Gill Foundation, a $220 million foundation dedicated to advancing LGBT equality, and as program director of the David Geffen Foundation.

O’Connor will fill the gap that was left in October 2011, when former Executive Director Roland Palencia abruptly resigned. Palencia had joined EQCA just three months beforehand. Longtime Executive Director Geoff Kors left the nonprofit in early 2011.

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