Karen Ocamb

Roland Palencia on Why He Left Equality California

Filed By Karen Ocamb | October 18, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: EqCa, Equality California, Roland Palencia

My story for Frontiers In LA magazine on Equality California, which includes my long interview with former Executive Director Roland Palencia, is now posted on FrontiersLA.com. Over the weekend, EQCA's Communications Director Rebekah Orr told me that the board didn't not complete their conversations with staff and therefore didn't publish their transition plan on Friday, as expected. She said they hoped to put it out Monday, but no release was forthcoming.

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Here's an excerpt from my piece for Frontiers:

During the interview, Palencia was incredibly diplomatic and would not speak to community allegations about board or other failures. Indeed, he started by giving the same response to Frontiers about the reason he's leaving as he gave to the San Francisco Chronicle and the Bay Area Reporter - and repeatedly stressed the importance of supporting Equality California.

"I made a personal decision to leave, and I want to move on and it's as simple as that," Palencia said. "I want to open a new chapter in my personal and professional life."

Pressed, Palencia seemed to indicate the intense pressure he was under contributed to his decision to resign.

"Clearly these are very complex times and complex issues, and there were a lot of things for the movement and the organization to manage and to lead. I got a chance be on the inside of the organization, and I have so much more appreciation for what it does and I want to continue to support Equality California and would urge the community to do so, as well," he said. "The fact that the whole [Stop] SB 48 happened on my first week on the job really complicated a lot of things. All of a sudden we had to be in a campaign mode and at the same time we - the organization - was trying to decide on a new course.

"But I think I was very effective in putting the [oppose Stop SB 48] coalition together with obviously all of our partners and handled that matter in the best way we could," Palencia continued. "In the process of that, we educated literally tens of thousands of people. So I think my skill set in terms of that - bringing the community together on such a short notice and on an issue that was probably one of the biggest crises we had - I mean, that gets to the core of that fundamental issue [about LGBT people and children]. And it was very challenging to try to find the right messaging, the right approach, putting the right coalition together. So that really pressured me and the organization in a way that hasn't been challenged.

"Even with the whole marriage equality/Prop. 8 situation, that whole issue has been in development for many years," he continued. "And that was extremely hard. And then something like this [battling Stop SB 48] - which is more of a core conversation - that was very challenging."


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