Michigan Equality appoints Nemecek and Brown as co-directors

By |2018-01-15T20:48:44-05:00January 22nd, 2008|News|

LANSING – On Jan. 19, LGBT rights organization Michigan Equality announced the appointment of Michelle Brown and Dr. Julie Nemecek as co-directors for the organization. The announcement comes barely one month after previous Executive Director Derek Smiertka departed and the organization vowed to re-organize and plan for their future.

“I am proud that the board of Michigan Equality has people as capable and willing as Michelle and Julie to step into leadership roles during this transitional time for Michigan Equality and this important time for the civil rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Michigan,” Board President Douglas Meeks said of the appointments. “Both Michelle and Julie are nationally recognized leaders in our civil rights movement and bring strong leadership skills and experience to the tasks at hand.”
Brown is an activist, artist and author who has received acclaim for her equal rights work including awards from Michigan Pride, the city of Detroit, the Triangle Foundation and the Human Rights Campaign. She has significant non-profit leadership and board experience, including leadership with the Black Pride Society and the Ruth Ellis Center. Ms. Brown also does consulting work in management and marketing for non-profit organizations. Brown is a regular columnist for the Between the Lines newspaper and is the author of the “Jack With The Curly Tail” series of children’s books and “Wild Fruit Hidden in Open Spaces – Musings in Prose & Poetry.”
Brown lives in Southfield, Michigan with Sandra D. Smith, her partner of five years.
Nemecek is a former university professor who lost her job of 17 years when she came out as transgender. During the process of filing an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint, Nemecek shared her story with her local newspaper. The story was quickly picked up by the Associated Press and ultimately appeared in various media including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek and Christianity Today, among other numerous local, regional, national and international media outlets. To support her activism, Nemecek works as a consultant and part-time teacher for Lansing Community College and Jackson Community College. She is also a frequent guest lecturer on college campuses.
Nemecek lives in Spring Arbor, Mich. with Joanne, her spouse of 36 years.
Meeks noted that it was fitting to make the appointments on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. “Martin Luther King spoke 45 years ago about his dream for a day when his children would only be judged by ‘the content of their character,'” he quoted. “In its ongoing quest for human rights equality and the eradication of discriminatory practices, Michigan Equality also looks forward to that day.”
Brown added that Michigan Equality has “raised the bar for the LGBT community.
“One of the unfortunate gaps in our community is diversity – not by the numbers but with full inclusion,” she said. “By asking Julie Nemecek to share the helm of one of Michigan’s leading LGBT Organizations, we have had our own Obama moment. Never again will a board not consider a transgender candidate for any position because this move has said to everyone, but especially members of the transgender community, that there is a real seat at the table.”
Nemecek said she was thrilled and excited to be working with Michelle and encouraged by the passion, commitment, and confidence of the Michigan Equality Board. “I know it is a bit of a cliche, now but I sincerely believe in ‘Yes we can!,'” she said. “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are our rights, too, and we will not let them be taken away.”
“Michigan Equality takes great pride in reaffirming its efforts to take the political battle for the equality of our LGBT family to every level of government in the State of Michigan, from the smallest village, to the largest city and to the halls of the capitol,” board member Terry Kuseske added. “I look forward to working with Julie and Michelle as we break new ground under their incredible leadership. Michigan Equality anticipates working in collaboration with every LGBT and Progressive organization in the state in our quest for true equality.”

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.