Bil Browning

COW: On Joe Solmonese's Replacement

Filed By Bil Browning | October 10, 2011 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: HRC, Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solmonese, Toni D'Orsay, Viktor Kerney

Viktor Kerney's Top 10 Potential Presidential Candidates for HRC garnered quite a few comments including several replies suggesting other replacements for Joe Solmonese.

Joe SolmoneseSadly, some of Viktor's potential HRC leaders simply aren't realistic. Neither Keith Boykin nor Mara Keisling are going to be tapped to lead the organization. We can agree that they're both wonderful people and their selection would send a dramatic message about where the org's board wants to take the organization, reality tells us that the likelihood of Boykin or Keisling being tapped is nil.

Many readers added other prominent LGBT activists to Viktor's list, but many overlooked those who weren't/aren't directly involved in the movement. Former contributor Toni D'Orsay chimed in to remind Projectors to think outside of the box.

She pointed out that Solmonese led Emily's List before being hired by HRC and wrote a lengthy comment detailing all of the requirements that an applicant would need to possess in order to get the job. It has to be one of the most sensible comments left on the site in days.

Take a look at Toni's job description and see who you'd suggest take the helm of our largest LGBT organization.

Let's look at what the HRC needs, really, as their leader. Excluding the politics within the community, one has to wonder about what it is they will be looking for.

The Board of the HRC is a group of very strong personalities. All of whom have personally raised a sizeable chunk of funds and continue to do so each year.

So this person will need a very strong personality to handle them, but also be able to reign it back a bit so as to note step too hard on the toes of the people who are their boss.

One of the big jobs that is involved here is fundraising. We can bitchabout how that seems to be all that someone in that job does, but, well, really, that *is* their job.

So it needs to be someone who is good at getting people to give their money.

It needs to be someone who has a strong drive and will to succeed -- and who comes to the position with a very definite set of goals and a strong plan to achieve such.

That plan and those goals must meet the mission of the HRC, and they have to catch the board on fire, so they have to be strong and address the concerns of many people from different backgrounds (including, I'll note, a trans person).

They need to be someone who can move among the staffs and teams of people in Washington DC. THey don't have to be someone who knows all the big political players, but they need to understand not only the political scene, but the nature of the system that surrounds government and politics -- the staff members of the elected, the policy making people's staffs, and similar.

They need to be committed to LGBT rights and efforts. THis one a lot of people will take as a granted, but keep in mind that one doesn't have to be a member of the LGBT to head the HRC. I promise you that the Board is aware of that.

They need to be someone who is drama free. SO it can't be anyone who's publicly called another person something nasty in the last 5 years or so.

They need to be a competent manager who can direct the activities of a staff and stay within budget and come up with effective tools and be able to pick the right people for the right job.

Which is hard.

They have to be pretty familiar with all of this stuff *right now*. THis isn't stuff that can be learned on the job, this is what they have to come to the table with, just to start.

After you get through those things, then you have the not so exciting aspect of dealing with the social politics involved. For example, hiring Hilary Rosen would ultimately not benefit the relationship they have with the trans community, given Ms Rosen's previous relationships. She is, after all, the attack dog for RIAA and the Ex of a previous leader of the HRC.

But I will say that she's competent and capable.

Urvashi Vaid and Kate Kendell could both pull the job off.

Other candidates might come from the worlds of big business or venture capital, tech companies or think tanks.

Solomonese himself came from Emily's List -- a strong, competent leader who built the List into a powerful force that was once reckoned with.

When we play "who could it be next?" like this, we need to seriously look at the minimum needs of the position, and then remember not to have our blinders on.

THere are people out there who can seriously offer a lot, that might not be anyone that anyone has ever heard much of because they aren't found on the blogs or haven't had a newsworthy moment outside of some trade publication.

Which isn't to say your list isn't a great list, Viktor -- and on a personal level, I'm thrilled that you recognized peeps of color and trans folk -- just to say that the list is both harder to find people for and more difficult to select than it often seems on the surface.


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Why would Urvashi Vaid or Kate Kendell (two women I greatly admire) want that job? I would put money on Rosen. Like they really care about what the trans community thinks. Rosen is a PR person a genuine Beltway person and being Solmonese Jr. is all PR and fundraising. Kendell and Vaid are genuine, passionate, thoughtful activists... what does that have to do with the HRC?

And it's fair to ask whether even Vaid has all that much success as an effective leader. History hasn't necessarily been kind to her leadership and management skills at NLGTF, which is separate from her skills as an activist. I wonder whether Rosen would want to take the pay cut. A more likely choice could be Winnie Stacheleberg, who was at HRC and now at the CAP.

But I agree that Toni's list is a good one and shows a good understanding of HRC. I wouldn't be surprised if those skills aren't found in anyone inside the movement and that HRC will again go outside the movement. That's been their track record and its board really aren't movement types anyway.

Agreed. Most likely a lobbyist from another org or private industry. Don't expect someone from the movement.

There's an entire lavender mafia of lobbyists, non-profit execs, and corporate leaders who most people who follow the "movement" have never heard of.

I'll throw a name out there Lynn Conway. She's smart and has probably done more to lift the self esteem of Transsexual women then any ten transgender activist combined to include Mara kiesling and Monica Helms. She's heterosexual a huge plus for Transsexuals and Transgender people who are way to underrepresented by the LGBT because of their heterosexuality.Of course it's only a pipe dream that the LGBT movement which is more concerned with the needs of the worst same sex attracted deviants would care about those who hold more mainstream views. Could that be why the majority of people that are same sex attracted reject the lesbian,gay, bisexual labels as well? I see a new day donning where the largest unrepresented group rises up to crush the overly deviant and loud mouthed LGBT.

Wilberforce1 | October 10, 2011 6:12 PM

A 'drama free' 'fundraiser'? Looks like they're searching for another ass kissing, do-nothing type.
I would choose a bold action type and good strategist, which is what we need given the overwhelming strength of our enemies. But again, it looks like the self promoting crowd have a lock on things. Predictable.