Building Strong Leaders in the State-based Movement

November 3, 2022

We’re in the midst of a unique moment in the movement for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. As marriage wins continue in the courts, and national attention shifts to work in places where LGBT people aren’t protected from discrimination — strong leadership in the states is more important than ever.

That’s why, at our Summer Meeting this past month, we were thrilled to announce that we are building out a new program: the Equality Federation’s State Leadership Project.

The State Leadership Project is now home to our work that is tailored to the specific needs of state leaders. What makes this project unique is that our leadership work is not just one time trainings, but sustained partnerships with state groups. Our work is informed by the shifting political conditions of the movement, the capacity of statewide organizations, and the characteristics and skills of individual leaders.

We have created our program to help build leadership at the individual, organizational and movement levels.

And in the next three months, the State Leadership Project will be hosting two convenings in which we will help build the capacity and skills of the people doing work on the ground to bring equality to the communities they call home.

On November 12, with the help of member organization Equality Illinois, we will bring together state leaders based in America’s Heartland for the Midwest Leadership Summit. This meeting in Chicago provides groups in this region an opportunity for peer learning, leadership development training, and networking.

A month later, we will welcome new executive directors of state equality groups to our New Executive Director Boot Camp in Boston. For three days, our 2014 class will study personal leadership, organizational development, and management skills to help them have a successful first year on the job.

We focus on providing these new leaders, who have taken the helm of state equality groups in the past year, with some critical skills and intensive training they’re sure to need in these challenging roles. For the last four years, our New Executive Director Boot Camp has been one of our most popular convenings. After last year’s boot camp, one participant said:

“The New Executive Director Boot camp was a great opportunity to connect with other state leaders, pick up some best practices, and be assured that there are resources available for facing challenges."

That’s what Equality Federation’s State Leadership Project is all about — building strong, resilient, and adaptive leaders who propel their organizations and the movement for equality forward.

Not only will we host these two new and improved meetings, but in the next year we have many more exciting things to come.

  • From recruiting and interviewing to hiring and onboarding, we will continue to work with state-based groups through executive transition management.
  • Through our coaching program, we will help countless state leaders think through their thorniest challenges and share in insights we’ve gleaned through our work with other leaders across the country.
  • And in states across the country, we will keep working directly with leaders to develop strategic and advocacy plans that strengthen their organizations, and focus their work on proven strategies to increase their power, win hearts and minds, and secure policy victories.

We are excited and committed to continuing our work to build the capacity of the state-based movement and its leaders.

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With your support, we'll be able to continue our work to build the leaders of today and tomorrow, strengthen state-based LGBTQ+ organizations, and make critical progress on the issues that matter most—like protecting transgender people, ending HIV criminalization and ensuring access to care, and banning conversion therapy across the country.