Washington, D.C.--After ten months in office, the president of the Human Rights Campaign is stepping down, the organization announced on November 30.
Cheryl Jacques, a former Massachusetts legislator, had replaced Elizabeth Birch in January. Birch resigned in 2003 after nine years in the position to spend more time with her family.
The helm of the nation�s largest gay and lesbian equal rights group will be handled by a transitional team including board of directors co-chair Michael Berman and Hilary Rosen, a prominent lobbyist formerly of the Recording Industry Association of America and Birch�s partner.
�Cheryl has achieved a great deal as HRC president,� said board co-chair Gwen Baba. �We will miss her leadership and professionalism, but we understand her desire to move on to other challenges.�
The organization is holding its annual meeting of board and staff members in Las Vegas this weekend, and the direction of the group will likely be a major topic of discussion.
The official reason given for Jacques� departure is a �difference in management philosophy.�
HRC insists that she is leaving of her own will and not being forced out, but internet radio host and blogger Christian Grantham, who worked for HRC in the late 1990s, said on his web site before the press release was issued that Jacques was fired.
�Sources say some board members expressed deep misgivings with how HRC presented itself during the 2004 elections,� Grantham wrote. He added that one was �particularly upset with HRC spending money on bumper stickers, T shirts, billboards and tattoos that read, �George Bush, You�re Fired!� �
Josh Friedes, advocacy director of the Freedom to Marry Coalition of Massachusetts, took a less strident view of the parting.
�My sense is that it�s very hard to come after a longtime leader,� Friedes noted. �Elizabeth Birch provided outstanding strong leadership and . . . had really built up the organization. I think everybody knew that it would be incredibly difficult for anybody to follow in [her] footsteps.�
Jacques presided over the organization during last summer�s defeat of the Federal Marriage Amendment--which threatens to return next year--brought membership to 600,000 and had a $30 million budget.
�My priorities were to defeat the Federal Marriage Amendment, expand the organization�s membership and fund-raising capacity, increase our diversity and maintain a strong voice in the media,� Jacques said.
�In addition to recalculating our political efforts, we will enhance our activities in the corporate world, in the media and, most important, in communities of faith,� Berman said.
Noble leaves Stonewall Democrats
Eleven days earlier, the National Stonewall Democrats announced that executive director Dave Noble would resign in February.
�National Stonewall Democrats has flourished under the leadership of Dave Noble,� said board co-chair Steve Driscoll. �Dave has excited our activists, built up our institutions and secured a strong future for our organization.�
Noble will have been in the role for just over two years when he steps down, first taking the position in January 2003.
Under his stewardship, Stonewall Democrats United, a sister organization with a 527 tax status, was formed. Also created was the Stonewall Student Network, a coalition of LGBT and allied college students on campuses across the nation.
�Due to our strong network of grassroots activists, we�ve accomplished goals much larger than I initially thought possible,� Noble said.
He will assist in the transition as a replacement is sought.