The president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation announced last week that he would be resigning from his position within the next few months.
Neil Giuliano, who’s been at the helm of the organization since September 2005, will step down as president in order to focus on completing a book about his public and political work.
GLAAD works to ensure positive and fair portrayals of LGBT people in the media, educating mainstream media outlets, as well as LGBT media representatives, in order to alleviate institutionalized homophobia and discrimination.
The organization’s board of directors is meeting this weekend to begin planning for a national search for a new leader, and GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro said that although there is no specific timeline for the search, Giuliano will stay on as president until the transition is complete. Ferraro noted that Giuliano also plans to remain involved with GLAAD as a donor and senior volunteer.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to work professionally in the movement for LGBT equality for the last three-and-a-half years,” Giuliano said. “The views of the American people on LGBT issues are clearly moving in the right direction, toward supporting full equality, and it has been a great experience to serve on the front lines, leading an amazing organization at such an historical time in the movement.”
During his tenure at GLAAD, Giuliano, 52, worked to broaden the influence of the organization, instituting educational media programs for youth, religious and sports communities to heighten their awareness of LGBT media issues.
“When I was hired I said, ‘I think it’s important that we not just talk to ourselves but also to those who disagree with us so we can start to change people’s hearts and minds,’” he said. “The way the media covers us is so critical to that process of change; if you can’t change people’s hearts and minds then you can’t get the results and the progress that we need.”
The organization also worked with LGBT and ally organizations at the federal, state and local levels; Giuliano noted that over the past few years GLAAD has trained an average of 3,000 LGBT and ally individuals every year, seeking to ensure that the community is well-prepared to present its concerns to the media.
The group also expanded its influence at the Sundance Film Festival and late last year merged with the former LGBT advertising agency Commercial Closet Association, which will manage GLAAD’s advertising efforts.
Giuliano was also successful in furthering GLAAD’s internal development. He expanded the organization’s annual budget from $7.5 million to $11 million and brought in a wealth of new donors. Last year he oversaw the organization’s successful fulfillment of its five-year strategic plan and worked with other GLAAD representatives to launch a new five-year plan last fall.
Prior to coming to GLAAD, Giuliano served as the mayor of Tempe, Ariz., for 10 years and as an administrator at Arizona State University for 25 years.
“I want to finish the book that I’m working on, do some consulting, travel a little and just take some time off. I have no set plans other than I know I want to slow down a bit,” he said. “I was already retired when GLAAD contacted me about this position in the summer of 2005, so I feel really good about my four-year run here, and I think now it’s time to hand off the baton.”
Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].