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December 4, 2009


Cleveland LGBT Center director Sue Doerfer to lead Equality Ohio

Cleveland LGBT Center director Sue Doerfer will lead Equality Ohio starting January 18, according to Equality Ohio board chair Rev. Mike Castle of Dayton.

Doerfer was chosen from 45 applicants, mostly from Ohio, but some from as far away as San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

She will replace Lynne Bowman, who is stepping down as director of the statewide LGBT rights group to become director of programs and services for the Equality Federation, a national organization.

The federation provides resources for statewide organizations like Equality Ohio in fundraising, building capacity, peer support, data management, mentoring, and building professional relationships.

“Sue brings knowledge of Ohio, executive director experience, including fundraising, and she is well versed in the equality movement,” Castle said.

Equality Ohio’s fundraising is about 25 percent below goal, which is roughly $65,000 less than needed this year. Castle acknowledged that the budget is being balanced by staff vacancies. There are currently only four paid employees.

Doerfer has been successful raising funds at the Cleveland LGBT Center, and has grown that agency’s budget by one third over her five-year tenure.

Castle said the job was advertised to pay $50,000 to $65,000 per year.

“[Doerfer] will be at the upper end of that range,” Castle said, adding that compensation has not yet been agreed to.

Castle and Doerfer both say that she will continue to live in Cleveland.

“Hopefully, her car will be her office,” Castle said, also recognizing that difference will help challenge the perception that Equality Ohio is becoming a Columbus organization.

“But that’s not why she was hired,” Castle said, “She brings great gifts in fundraising.”

Castle also said that no decisions have been made about filling the empty staff positions yet.

According to Castle, the goals going forward for the new director are to complete the organization’s strategic plan in 2010 and develop a new one, and to move the Equal Housing and Employment Act through the Ohio legislature.

The Ohio House passed the LGBT equality measure in September, and it is now in the Senate.

Castle said Bill Brownson and Steve Farrell, both Columbus area leaders and former city council candidates, assisted Equality Ohio in its search.

The board expects Doerfer to get to know coalition leaders, get to know Equality Ohio’s donors, and get grounded in the legislative process very soon after arriving on the job, Castle said.

Doerfer’s accomplishments as center director include sustaining programs already in place while adding new ones, making it the largest LGBT agency in the state, growing the budget, doing community advocacy increasing the visibility of the Center in the larger community, and working to pass legislation including Cleveland’s domestic partner registry last year, and this week’s ordinance protecting transgender citizens from discrimination.

Doerfer’s appointment will be officially announced at Equality Ohio’s fourth annual Leadership Summit to be held in Columbus December 5. The event will be Bowman’s last official duty, and a fundraising reception will be held in her honor that evening.

Executive leadership of the organization will be provided by the board until January.

Doerfer's last day as executive director of the center will be December 30.

"The board faces a real challenge in finding a new executive director to replace Sue,” said board president Scott Morgan in a December 3 press release. “During Sue's tenure, she has done an outstanding job and has taken the center to new heights. Although we will miss her, we congratulate Sue on her new position and believe that the center's work with Equality Ohio will strengthen."

Morgan said the center's full board of directors will meet next week to finalize plans for a new executive director.   






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