Exit Interview

Departing HRC, Joe Solmonese talks about the best of times, worst of times, and his advice for his successor

He says, however, that work — not words — since have been key to helping to ”build bridges back to the [transgender] community.”

For Griffin, Solmonese’s advice was direct and simple: ”My advice to Chad would be that he be certain and strong and clear about his vision and his agenda for this organization and for this organization’s role within this movement for social change and that he be very clear about how he thinks we continue to get from Point A to Point B. And that he never lose sight of that.”

Noting, for example, Griffin’s leadership of the organization, the American Foundation for Equal Rights, that brought the challenge to Proposition 8, Solmonese added, ”I think that one of the great things about Chad Griffin … is that he’s demonstrated that certainty and that conviction. He has, in many different aspects of his life, demonstrated a very clear sense of how it is you get from Point A to Point B and how it is that you never waver on that path.”

Asked for his happiest memory, Solmonese didn’t pause for a second, saying, ”My greatest memory here, in all of the seven years that I was here, was the day that the president signed the hate crimes bill.”

”I got to go through that entire day with Dennis and Judy Shepard. And, the work of passing the hate crimes bill was so genuinely collaborative and such a positive experience in terms of working as a part of a broader coalition, [with] Judy kind of standing at the center of it, created such a positive collaborative experience for everyone in that fight, that the day of the bill signing was such a pure victory,” he said. ”And to go through it all with the two of them, with Dennis and Judy, who had been the most courageous, undaunted people I have ever met in my life, was without question the greatest day I’ve had here.”

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