Equality PA executive director resigns

The executive director of a statewide LGBT equality organization announced his resignation this week. Ted Martin spoke exclusively to PGN about vacating his post later this month. 

“I’ve been at this job for seven years,” Martin said. “I think it has been a remarkably long time, about five-and-a-half years longer than the average executive director [stays] in these roles. I think it was just time for some new vision. I think for me personally, I’ve been very proud of the work I’ve done at Equality Pennsylvania. It’s time really, and truly, for some new leadership.”

Martin joined Equality PA in May 2010. During his tenure, 20 state municipalities adopted nondiscrimination ordinances with the involvement of Equality PA, community leaders and elected officials. Martin noted other highlights during his tenure include the founding of the LGBT Equality Caucus, a coalition of LGBT and ally state legislatures, as well as strengthening ties in the transgender community and working with a “talented staff.”

One of Martin’s focuses was fundraising, which he noted ebbed and flowed with the projects the agency has undertaken. He said that the organization’s partnership with America Votes during the 2016 election provided significant funding; however, he said, “Once the election is over, the funding is as well.”

“Like most nonprofits, the budget has gone up and down because of the work that we’ve done,” Martin said. “It is dependent on the generosity of the public in a lot of ways. A lot of my work was fundraising. Depending on the issues we’ve been working on, the budget has fluctuated along the lines because of that.”

While he said he is proud of the work he did with Equality PA, Martin said he is “frustrated” that he is leaving the position before Pennsylvania passes a statewide nondiscrimination ordinance.

“However, we are not alone among the many people in Pennsylvania who are waiting for the legislature to do something on a whole host of issues,” Martin said. “So I really would say to the people I worked with, the people that are out there, the people that are progressive and want to see these issues taken care of: You really need to be asking why the legislature isn’t doing these things, in a much harder and tougher tone than [you] had in the past.”

Martin noted that the state’s large size causes municipalities to “look inward” rather than at the surrounding areas.

“There are so many people who haven’t had the benefit of getting those protections,” Martin said. “People need to ask really hard questions about what the legislature does.”

The Equality PA Board of Directors formed a transition team to take over as the organization searches for new leadership. With a laugh, Martin said the new director should have “comfortable shoes” before taking on the position.

“Making changes is tough and challenging but it’s very doable,” Martin said. “The other thing that I would say above all of that is that it’s a privilege to do this work. You are representing the lives of thousands of people and, I think given that, you have to be thoughtful.”

Equality Pennsylvania created the Ted S. Martin Administration Fund in honor of Martin. Visit http://bit.ly/2sbVVQ2 to contribute a gift.

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