From the Washington Blade:
The board of directors for Virginia’s statewide gay rights group announced Wednesday it has chosen a straight man to serve as its executive director.
Jon Blair, the newly appointed chief executive officer of Equality Virginia, joins the organization after working as campaign manager for freshman U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) in the 2008 election. Blair succeeds Dyana Mason, the former executive director for Equality Virginia, who left the organization Dec. 31.
Blair, who was unavailable for comment before Blade deadline, said in a statement, “I believe in Equality Virginia’s mission of basic human rights for all, and I am proud to fight for it.”
Blair’s experience includes work for Virginia State Sen. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and State Del. Paula Miller (D-Norfolk).
Equality Virginia’s 10-member search committee recommended the selection of Blair unanimously, according to the statement. Jay Fisette, a gay member of the Arlington County Board and a member of the committee, said Blair’s “experience and talents will take Equality Virginia to the next level.”
From Equality Virginia's press release annoucing the appointment:
Blair's selection concludes a six-month nationwide search by Equality Virginia’s eleven-member Search Committee, co-chaired by EV Board members Allison Weinstein and John Sternlicht. This diverse group of GLBT leaders and straight allies provided a broad perspective to the search effort. The Committee recommended Blair unanimously.
Mark Board, the Chair of EV’s Board of Directors, hailed Blair’s selection. "In his time working for federal and state legislators, Jon has built a reputation as a tough, results oriented manager,” Board said. “His leadership has been instrumental in winning victories for forward-thinking legislators across our country. Jon has earned the admiration and respect of voters and legislators, and the public service realm as a whole. He is the ideal leader to take the helm as EV's Chief Executive Officer."
"It is a privilege to take the reins of this great organization from one of the country's true trailblazers, Dyana Mason," said Blair. "I'm thrilled with the opportunity to be a leader in the continuing battle for human rights and to have a role in helping to achieve full equality, in law and spirit, for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians. I couldn't be more excited."
Jon Blair is the first straight ally to lead Equality Virginia. Blair commented, “I believe in Equality Virginia’s mission of basic human rights for all, and I am proud to fight for it.”
I applaud Equality Virginia for going outside the box with this appointment. Not all straight people are the enemy of or indifferent toward the important issues of equal rights the GLBT community has to deal with.
I believe a straight person can believe in this cause passionately enough to be an effective leader of an advocacy organization. After all, many other groups of this type are led by individuals who have not been directly impacted by the situation they are fighting for--you don't have to be a cancer survivor to lead a cancer support organization, for example,but you must be sensitive to their needs.
I wish Jon Blair much success as he leads Equality Virginia . Attending church in Northern Virginia, I am aware that there is still an uphill battle for equality in that state, even if it did turn blue in the presidential election. Gay, straight, or bi, he will have his work cut out for him.