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Affinity ED Rupert-Gordon to become National Center for Lesbian Rights ED
2019-12-17

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Chicago — The Board of Directors for Affinity Community Services announces the resignation of Imani Rupert-Gordon as executive director, as she leaves Chicago to become the executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights ( NCLR ) in San Francisco.

Rupert-Gordon has served as executive director for four years and leaves with significant accomplishments building on the legacy of the oldest non-profit organization in the country that provides a mission focusing solely on Black LGBTQ women. Rupert-Gordon's last day with Affinity will be Feb. 14, 2020.

During Rupert-Gordon's tenure at Affinity, the organization saw an increase in foundation funding, and a 400% increase in individual giving. Additionally, under Rupert-Gordon's guidance, Affinity hosted the inaugural virtual leadership development program, the Blackprint Summit; increased the number of participants in the HIV prevention education program ( COIL ); and expanded the programmatic offerings to engage a broader base of younger women.

"Imani will be sorely missed at Affinity and in Chicago. We are so grateful for all of her efforts on behalf of Black queer women, and we know she will continue making a difference on the national level at NCLR," said Anna DeShawn, Affinity board chair.

"I've gained so much from working at Affinity; it has been the most rewarding work I've ever done," said Rupert-Gordon. "Being part of Affinity's legacy has been an incredible honor."

The board of directors is announced the appointment of Christina Smith, PhD as the interim executive director of Affinity. Smith is one of the founders of Affinity, and brings a combination of community engagement, program management, and executive leadership that will provide great continuity during the transition. As Smith stated, "It is a rare opportunity to be able to build upon work that I helped set in motion several years ago as the organization prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2020. I am very proud of all that has been accomplished and look forward to supporting the incoming leader."

Morten Group LLC, a national consulting firm, has been retained by Affinity to lead the executive search.

Affinity Community Services is a social justice organization serving the needs of the Black LGBTQ community of Chicago with a particular focus on Black women.

—From a press release

NCLR Names Imani Rupert-Gordon as LGBTQ Legal Organization's New Executive Director

"There has never been a more important time for NCLR's approach to advancing LGBTQ equality and liberation, and I am grateful to be a part of the team as we meet this challenge."

SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Today, the National Center for Lesbian Rights announced that Imani Rupert-Gordon will be its new Executive Director. Rupert-Gordon is a long-time movement leader and advocate for LGBTQ people of color. Rupert-Gordon will lead the 42-year old feminist LGBTQ legal organization, which is known for tackling the most pressing issues of race, gender, and economic inequality facing LGBTQ people.

"Imani is the perfect fit for NCLR's mission, culture, and commitment to bold leadership," said NCLR Co-Chair Emily Doskow. "She is a dynamic leader with a wealth of experience and a strong vision for the organization's future. We could not be more fortunate to have her joining NCLR."

"We were blown away by Imani's passion and results-oriented leadership," added NCLR Board Co-Chair Felicia Medina. "NCLR and our country will benefit greatly from Imani's experience in building community-based movements to address racism, sexism, transphobia, and white supremacy. She knows how to call in and call out, and will fight every moment of her tenure to ensure that all of us, particularly the most vulnerable in our community, are legally protected and can live their truth."

I'm thrilled to join the team at NCLR and to help expand their incredible work," said Imani Rupert-Gordon. "As we continue the fight for legal protections to achieve LGBTQ equality, I'm excited to be part of creating a more inclusive LGBTQ movement that centers racial, economic, and political justice. There has never been a more important time for NCLR's approach to advancing LGBTQ equality and liberation, and I am grateful to be a part of the team as we meet this challenge."

Rupert-Gordon currently serves as the Executive Director of Affinity Community Services, the nation's oldest social justice organization serving the needs of Black LGBTQ people with a particular focus on Black women.

Rupert-Gordon previously served as the Director of the Broadway Youth Center, a division of Howard Brown Health in Chicago, which has served more than 1,500 LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

Rupert-Gordon has been widely recognized for her visionary leadership in the LGBTQ community. Most recently, the Illinois Human Rights Commission presented her with its 2019 Activism Award.

Throughout her career, Rupert-Gordon has been a leader in many nonprofit and community organizations, including serving as a founding board member of the Point the Way in Chicago, and as a board member and lead grant writer for the Billy DeFrank LGBT Center in San Jose, CA. She has also served as a committee member for the Chicago LGBT Aging Networks, an executive committee member for United Pride (United Way of Metropolitan Chicago's LGBTQ group), and as a member of the Illinois State Treasurer Office's LGBT Advisory Council.

Rupert-Gordon received a Master's degree from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and a Bachelor's degree in Sociology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Imani also worked for eight years as a lecturer and developed campus-wide programming at UC Santa Cruz where she co-founded the Social Fiction Conference, a co-curricular program at the university's Crown College which helped students dismantle biases and examine issues of social justice through science fiction, gaming, and fantasy. Rupert-Gordon also completed a fellowship at the Rockwood Leadership Institute in Oakland, CA.

Rupert-Gordon will assume leadership of NCLR on March 16, 2020. Cindy L. Myers, Ph.D. has been serving as NCLR's Interim Executive Director since long-time Executive Director Kate Kendell stepped down from the role last year after 22 years.

NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter said: "NCLR could not ask for a stronger leader to take the helm at this critical moment in our movement's history. I have known and admired Imani for many years. I am thrilled to have this chance to work directly with such a brilliant and compassionate advocate who understands the complexity of the issues facing LGBTQ people and the need for creative and sophisticated new strategies to address them."

Former NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell said: "I've known Imani for many years and am honored to call her a friend and colleague. I am thrilled that she will now lead NCLR, which remains a part of my heart and soul. I would be hard-pressed to name a better choice for assuring the ongoing success and deepening the impact of NCLR than Imani. I cannot wait to witness and support Imani's leadership of our beloved NCLR. She is, quite literally, perfect for the job."

NCLR Founder Donna Hitchens said: "When I founded NCLR in 1977, I never could have imagined the leadership it would have. I cannot wait to see what Imani Rupert-Gordon does for the organization. She has my full support and I know she will likewise take NCLR to new heights with ever greater relevance, impact, and consequence."

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. Founded in 1977 by Donna Hitchens, NCLR was the first LGBTQ legal organization founded by women. Since its founding, NCLR has maintained a longstanding commitment to racial and economic justice and our community's most vulnerable. www.NCLRights.org .

—From NCLR press release


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