Highlights from the 2014 Equality Federation Summer Meeting

Posted by Katie Belanger, President & CEO

Katie Belanger with Rebecca Isaacs, Equality Federation and Brandie Balken, Equality Utah

Katie Belanger with Rebecca Isaacs, Equality Federation and Brandie Balken, Equality Utah

“Staff road trip” are usually not words that inspire a lot of enthusiasm at most organizations. But when the destination is the Equality Federation Summer Meeting, the staff and I get pretty excited.

Equality Federation is the movement builder and strategic partner to state-based organizations advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people — winning equality in the communities we call home. Fair Wisconsin is proud to be the Badger state’s representative in the Equality Federation, and we look forward all year to the one convening that brings all of our sister organizations together to learn, connect, and reenergize for the work back home.

Drawing from its 44 member states and national partners, the Summer Meeting is the premier gathering of LGBT movement leaders. Welcomed by our gracious hosts at OutFront Minnesota from July 30-August 2, the staff and I, accompanied by Board Treasurer Marty Fox, spent four days learning about what’s working in other states, sharing our successes from Wisconsin, and engaging in a broader dialogue about the future of the movement.

Though this event is for those of us who work at LGBT equality organizations, I wanted you, our members and supporters, to know how beneficial our participation in the Equality Federation is to the LGBT community of Wisconsin. During the Summer Meeting, we:

  • Participated in an in-depth conversation about the state of the movement in the Midwest;
  • Learned from the experiences of post-marriage equality states across the country to anticipate the changes that the freedom to marry will bring to our movement and organization;
  • Shared the success of the first Trans* Leadership Institute we hosted with our partners at Diverse & Resilient during the 2014 Wisconsin LGBT Leadership Conference;
  • Discussed ways to build bipartisan support for LGBT issues including marriage equality and trans* inclusive nondiscrimination;
  • Explored tactics to build strong boards and financially sustainable organizations;
  • Engaged in a robust dialogue about how LGBT advocacy organizations can engage in racial justice and anti-racism work; and,
  • Connected with leaders from national LGBT organizations like Freedom to Marry, Lambda Legal, The Task Force, Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and many more.

I was also humbled and honored when the membership re-elected me to the Equality Federation Board of Directors, and when my fellow board members re-elected me for a third year as Co-Chair of the Board. With our incredible Executive Director, Rebecca Isaacs, leading one of the best staff teams in the country, and our thoughtful and visionary Board of Directors, I am know Equality Federation will continue to empower local leaders to build a strong movement for equality that secures critical grassroots wins at every level.

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