When he departs as president of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) next March, Joe Solmonese will have served the LGBT community for over seven years. He leaves an organization with a $30 million annual budget and proclaimed one million members. This clearly makes the organization the largest LGBT entity in the country and without question the most powerful presence we have in Washington, DC.
You would be hard put to find someone in the LGBT community that doens't have an opinion - positive or negative - about HRC. No matter what your personal views the fact remains it is a huge presence in our community and the work done there impacts the entire community. They have tremendous resources and great credibility in many different communities and political circles.
Who they select as their next president is not only important to the continued health and well-being of the organization but it impacts the entire LGBT community.
There is no question that they will proceed with a professional search for their new leader. They will hire an Executive Search firm, consult with their Board members and I am sure many others in their vast network. However wouldn't it be both really smart and also genuinely a right move if they held town meetings where anyone can come and express where they think the organization needs to go at this stage of history? They could pick out six locations that would be sure to be reflective of all segments of the community from rural areas to large cities.
Yes, I know that at times it will require enormous patience for the panel listening to the suggestions. There are those who'll attend the town meeting to simply express anger. Also there will be a significant number of people eager to express their needs, constructive frustrations and some with amazing ideas. Listening is not hard and if the Board members listen carefully they will find additional information that could make their next selection of a leader a wise and respected choice ready to tackle the future challenges that face us all.
Expanding on HRC's "Marriage Equality" videos in New York they have started a national campaign and here is the first one by Mayor Cory Booker.