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June 29. 2012

Ed Mullen resigns Equality Ohio after Pride Day arrest

Kim Welter to helm organization until new director is found

Columbus--Equality Ohio announced that Kim Welter, their director of programs and outreach, will be the interim executive director, following the June 20 resignation of Ed Mullen.

Mullen will leave his post on June 29.

He was arrested on the evening of June 16 after a verbal altercation with a Buttles Ave. resident, at the man’s house a block from Goodale Park. Mullen had been attending the Pride festival in the park, which was just ending at the time. He was arrested an hour and 20 minutes after the incident was reported.

Mullen is charged with disorderly conduct and menacing, both misdemeanors. He was released on recognizance the next day, and has a court date on June 28.

Equality Ohio Education Fund board chair Paul Feeney said that Welter, who spent two years at the helm of Equality Toledo before moving to Equality Ohio, would head the organization while a national search was conducted for a permanent replacement.

Mullen came on board in February 2011, after the departure of executive director Sue Doerfer.

“Ed brought tremendous vitality and keen legal insights to our organization, stabilized our operations and financial support, and led the development of a nationally recognized strategic plan,” Feeney said in a release announcing the resignation.

Of the 40 Equality Federation member organizations across the country, at least 12 have had executive directors depart in the last year. Heading any non-profit organization is difficult, and it is even more taxing in an economic climate which sees drops in donations across the board.

Feeney told WSYX Channel 6 that the Equality Ohio board had not sought Mullen’s resignation, and that they had tried to talk him out of quitting the $65,000-a-year position.

Mullen came to Columbus from Chicago, where he was a civil rights attorney with a nonprofit advocating for people with disabilities. He also handled some pro bono cases on LGBT issues, as well as having run in the primary for 11th district Illinois state representative in 2010.

Welter, in addition to her work with Equality Ohio and Equality Toledo, was a composition teacher at the University of Toledo. She came to Equality Ohio in 2008, although she took a leave of absence two years later to manage the One Bowling Green campaign to defeat a repeal referendum on a pair of LGBT equality ordinances there.

On the search for a permanent executive director, Feeney noted that it is an election year, so the applicant pool will change over the next few months as those involved in campaigns see their fates become more certain. He expects the search to be concluded by Election Day, however.

He also believes that, while Mullen’s departure is sudden and unfortunate, the timing of it coincides with a lull in their lobbying work.

“It’s not the worst time for the staff legislatively because the legislature is in recess and we’re in an election, so there’s nothing coming up legislatively,” he noted. “All of the lobbying efforts for the next few months will be done by local lobbying teams, not by the executive director.”

He also believes that the staff, and especially Welter, are strong enough to weather the storm.

“We have a staff of five, and we have two contracts, one with a lobbying firm and one with a financial guy who does our books, so the executive director is definitely the leader of that organization, but I think that we continue along the same path,” Feeney said. “We have some serious tenure with Welter. Yes, I believe we are organizationally suited to continue without interruption.”

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