Ted Martin named EqualityPA Executive Director
Following a national search, EqualityPA named local leader Ted Martin executive director.
Martin comes to the position with nearly 10 years with the US House of Representatives, a short stint running Historic Harrisburg Association, and from his most recent job with the PA Dept. of Community and Economic Development as head of Economic Development Marketing.
He’s also involved with the south central Pennsylvania community where he lead a business association, served on the boards youth group Common Roads. Martin currently serves as board president of The LGBT Community Center Coalition of Central PA.
“I know that in the coming months this job is going to involve equal amounts of listening and talking,” Martin says. “I intend to get out into the state to hear what the members of the community want and expect of EqualityPA, and I am hopeful that this will only be the beginning of an ongoing conversation. That, in and of itself, is a huge task,” he explained, “but this conversation will be central to our long term goal of making the Commonwealth’s lgbt community a real force in politics and policymaking.”
Martin will be based in EqualityPA’s Harrisburg office, with office hours in their Philadelphia location. The organization is currently in discussions to open an additional office in the state.
In an effort to make the organization truly representative of the entire state, the organization recently added new board members. Including Martin, four of them are from the south central region: Chris Gatesman, Lauren Barr, and Syngred Briddell. “It has been said all that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men and women to do nothing. I want to do something. I want to be part of the solution,” says Gatesman.
Martin and new board members recently hosted a meet-and-greet at The Mantis Gallery, Midtown Harrisburg, which drew nearly 40 people to hear about the organization’s new direction.
The full board compliment includes: Brian Sims, president, Phila.; Mark Usry, vice-president, Bloomsburg; Saida Agostini, Phila.; Joyce Avila, Tobyhanna; Barr, Martin, now executive director, and Briddell, Harrisburg; Jeff Brauer and Paul Nardone, Scranton; Gatesman, and David Price, Pittsburgh.
Board president Brian Sims says “education, advocacy, and the lobbying work that is so vital in Pennsylvania” remains their focus. The organization has played an active role in every piece of lgbt legislation passing through the Pennsylvania House or Senate,” says Sims.
The organization has involved itself with a statewide non-discrimination policy, statewide hate crimes legislation, strengthening anti-bullying legislation, and relationship recognition.
Local Harrisburg board member Lauren Barr says “As a straight person it is sometimes all too easy to take certain rights for granted; rights that are denied to a segment of the population because of their sexual orientation, or their gender identity or expression.”
“I accepted a seat on the board because I believe that our society is inherently unequal until the equality on which we pride ourselves extends to absolutely everyone,” she says. Barr feels that as the seat of state government it is important for central Pennsylvania to have a presence on the board.
Local Harrisburg board member Syngred Briddell became involved because he has been “very alarmed by the political climate surrounding lgbt rights in our state, as well as nationwide.” She volunteered with the ACLU on House Bill 300. “I began to feel a sense of indignation and urgency to do more to help protect these individuals.”
As a Black American woman, who is a descendant of interracial families, Briddell feels a kindred spirit with the struggles experienced within the lgbt community. Being cognizant of the role various systems – judicial, political, educational – have played in marginalizing specific groups in this country “is imperative when you’re attempting to effect change for this community,” she notes.
Briddell thinks impeding the rights of any minority group within this nation “leaves all others susceptible to attacks at the whims of the entitled. Being apathetic towards discrimination faced by the lgbt community is dangerous. Choosing not to recognize these actions as violations of their civil rights is unacceptable. This is what I believe.”
Gatesman says “Although the Stonewall Riots were certainly not the beginning of our journey toward lgbt equality, it was a profound point in our history. I was in my first year of high school when all that was happening and believed I had nothing in common with the gay activists of 1969. Much has changed since the summer of ‘69 for our community and for me. I don’t take for granted all that I have as a gay person today,” he says.
Gatesman says he realizes change has comes from “a generation of men and women who stepped in front of their personal insecurities and fears and worked to make a difference.”