Family Equality transgender advocate and Chief Policy Officer Denise Brogan-Kator has announced her plans to retire at the end of May. She has a history of LGBTQ+ activism going back nearly 30 years.
Brogan-Kator first started working for Family Equality, whose mission is to advance legal and lived equality for LGBTQ+ families and for those wishing to form them. The organization works to achieve its goals through building community, changing hearts and minds, and driving policy change. In 2012, Brogan-Kator was hired as director of state policy. She was promoted to her current position in 2017 and, recently, served for eight months as the agency’s interim chief executive officer while a search for a new CEO was conducted.
“It is time for me to retire,” Brogan-Kator said in her announcement. “I plan to enjoy more time with my grandchildren, play more tennis and take a lot of road trips with my long-suffering wife. And, possibly, I’ll also help out more around the house (you should see that honey-do list!). Of course, I also look forward to serving the community in new ways — just at a more leisurely pace.”
The decision to step down, Brogan-Kator said, was a long time in the making.
“Although I’ve been planning my retirement for several years, I’ve waited until now to announce it because I wanted to know that I was leaving Family Equality in good hands,” she said. “I’m excited to say that with our recent announcement of a new CEO, the awesome Stacey Stevenson, I am very confident that this organization will continue to thrive, as it advocates for and supports our families.”
Even before joining Family Equality, Brogan-Kator had a long career in LGBTQ+ activism. A Navy veteran, she went on to graduate from the University of Michigan Law School. She matriculated as the first openly trans law student and, later, returned as the first openly trans law professor. She earned her MBA from the University of Colorado. She has served in many roles and capacities for various organizations in the movement and was, for a time, the first trans executive director of Equality Michigan.
Like most agencies, Family Equality struggled to find its footing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The COVID-19 pandemic eliminated our ability to do in-person fundraising and policy advocacy,” said Brogan-Kator. “The need for community and virtual connection grew. We responded to our families’ needs by developing amazing resources and virtual gatherings including, of course, our first all-virtual Family Week. … If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that Family Equality will always continue to find new, creative ways to serve and advocate for our families.
“Given the past year, I am leaving this organization in an exceptional position,” she continued. “We have developed greater financial stability, and we stand strong with a core group of extraordinary team members. We are where we are today, after such a trying time, because of the team of dedicated professionals and supporters I work alongside every day. I am honored beyond words to have had the privilege of leading them.”
Brogan-Kator’s last day will be May 31. Family Equality will immediately begin the search process to find a replacement for her.
Learn more about Family Equality at this link.