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By Bob Roehr
Over the course of little more than a year the leadership of most of the Washington-based national gay and lesbian organizations has changed. It marks a generational shift and the smoothness of those transitions indicates an increased professionalism of community organizations.
Patrick Guerriero officially took over as executive director of Log Cabin Republicans in January, succeeding founding director Rick Tafel after nearly a decade at the job. The Massachusetts native and former elected official has focused on strengthening ties with other community organizations and educating the national party on gay.
Dave Noble became executive director of National Stonewall Democrats in February. The Rhode Island native and political consultant once headed up the Young Democrats of America. Stonewall has taken on a more visible, pro-active, and partisan stance since he arrived.
Chuck Wolfe joined the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund as its executive director in February. The political consultant and former director of external affairs for the late Florida Governor Lawton Childes has continued to build the professionalism of the organization during the slow off year election cycle.
Lorri Jean had come to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force to help stabilize that organization after an earlier executive director didn t work out. The task completed, in March she accepted the challenge of returning to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center.
Matt Foreman came down from the Empire State Pride Agenda to fill Jean s shoes at the Task Force. He is raising the visibility of the venerable organization and is guiding its transition to a primary focus on supporting local GLBT community organizations.
Elizabeth Birch announced she was stepping down after eight years at the helm of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). The dedication of HRC s new home in October was a fitting cap to her success in building that organization into the largest and most professional GLBT political organization in the world.
Her right hand man and communications guru David Smith departed soon after the dedication ceremony to head up the communications shop for Democratic power Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Cheryl Jacques will take over at HRC in January. In speaking with the press at the announcement of her appointment, the Massachusetts state senator and attorney said, The most important tool in our arsenal in appealing to the hearts and minds of Americans is living our lives openly and honestly. However, Jacques, 41, only came out publicly a few years ago and declined to discuss that coming out process when asked.
Another notable transition was the swearing in of Democrat David Cicilline as Mayor of Providence, Rhode Island in January. It is the largest city in the US to have an openly gay mayor, though Paris and Berlin also have gay mayors.
That same month, in San Diego, Bonnie Dumanis was sworn in as the first openly gay or lesbian district attorney in the nation. She is a Republican.