The Equality California Institute (EQCAI) hosted 25 LGBT leaders from a variety of professions at its first Leadership Academy, earlier this month in Los Angeles. The inaugural Southern California cohort walked away with the tools and connections to navigate the process of getting elected or appointed to statewide office, public service positions at the local and state level or to corporate boards in the private sector.
Sen. Ricardo Lara, Asm. Susan Eggman, and Los Angeles County Assessor Jeffrey Prang speaking on their experiences running for office and the importance of LGBT representation.
The LGBT community is home to a wealth of talent for both public service and private leadership, but LGBT people have traditionally been underrepresented in appointed boards, commissions, and offices at the state level and elsewhere. These positions provide the opportunity to have an immediate and lasting impact on pressing policy issues and are a pathway to elected office, corporate advancement, or other leadership opportunities. The EQCAI Leadership Academy helps to ensure a seat at the table for members of the LGBT community and will produce visible role models for LGBT youth.
Speaker Emeritus John Perez and California Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil discuss the appointment process.
Panelists at this month’s event included out LGBT elected officials, highly visible state government appointees, and prominent private sector leaders. The two-day event also included a presentation by the Victory Fund on the fundamentals of running for office as an LGBT candidate and a workshop by Insights Discovery to help participants understand and adapt their leadership styles in order to more effectively communicate and work with others. Equality California Institute’s Leadership Academy is possible thanks to the support of the David Bohnett Foundation, Coca Cola, and Edison International.
Candidates were selected based on level of commitment, experience, and readiness for public or private sector leadership via a highly competitive application process. All participants had already exhibited significant leadership in their communities, accomplishment in their careers, and a readiness to serve at a higher level. Participants will become part of EQCAI’s LGBT Resource Bank, a directory of qualified LGBT leaders in various issue areas, that will be made available to the Governor and other appointing authorities and that will be used as part of our advocacy program aimed at increasing appointment of LGBT people in state level public boards and commissions.
Orange County LGBT Director of Policy, Advocacy, and Youth Programs Director Laura Kanter proudly showing off her leadership elements.
The Equality California Institute looks forward to hosting additional cohorts in other regions of California in early 2017. Stay tuned for developments!