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November 16, 2007

Equality Ohio adds youth seats; will grow in northeast Ohio

Columbus--Equality Ohio held their annual meeting on November, electing a new executive board and introducing new non-voting seats for youth aged 18-25.

While the meeting was open to the community, it was sparsely attended. The board skipped a scheduled presentation and instead went right into business, which was approved with a single, unanimous vote.

Board president Mickey Hart of Athens will be leaving at the end of December, as will Franklin County Region member Jeannette Birkhoff. Hart’s seat is at-large, leaving a total of three at-large seats available, along with Franklin County, Hamilton County and Southwest Ohio among the ten regional board seats.

“We’d love to have interested people let us know,” Bowman said of the open seats on the board of Equality Ohio.

The chair of the new board will be Tom Grote of Columbus, while the vice chair will be Melissa Conroy of New Concord. Cecil Baughman of Toledo and H. Paul Schwitzgebel of Akron will stay in their positions as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

Another change to the board is the introduction of three new ex officio, or non-voting, seats earmarked for youth ages 18-25. The first of these seats was filled by Jordan Peters, a Dayton native currently attending Ohio State University. Peters has volunteered for Equality Ohio since shortly after its inception in 2005.

Equality Ohio will also be expanding their presence in northeast Ohio, which contains Cleveland, Columbus, Canton, Akron, Youngstown and Warren. They are looking to hire a deputy executive director who will work from home in the area. Ads are expected to be placed seeking applicants in January.

Bowman notes, however, that the creation of the position is dependent on the organization meeting its funding goals.

The annual meeting was of the main Equality Ohio, a nonprofit organization under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, which means it can endorse candidates but only with its membership.

Under its aegis falls the Equality Ohio Education Fund, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit which engages in public education and advocacy, but cannot endorse specific candidates, and the Equality Ohio Campaign Fund, a political action committee that can make public endorsements of candidates. Unlike its mother and sister organizations, donations to the campaign fund are not tax-deductible.

Next up for Equality Ohio is an annual statewide leadership summit, which this year is aimed primarily at employees and board members of non-profit organizations. The public is welcome to attend, although advance registration is preferred, along with a $5 donation to defray the costs of food, beverages and materials.

The summit will be on December 8 at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at 93 West Weisheimer Road in Columbus. Full information and registration are available at

For more information about Equality Ohio and its programs, go to



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