Metro Weekly

Human Rights Campaign names Alphonso David as new president

Former civil rights lawyer becomes first person of color to head nation's top LGBTQ organization

Alphonso David – Photo: Human Rights Campaign.

The Human Rights Campaign has named Alphonso David, a nationally-recognized LGBTQ civil rights lawyer and advocate, as its new president.

David, who assumes the reins in August, will be the first civil rights lawyer and the first person of color to serve as the organization’s president in its nearly 40-year history.

He is the seventh president to serve, replacing Chad Griffin — who has served since 2012 and announced his plans to leave last November.

David previously served as the first openly gay Counsel to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and as the first Deputy Secretary and Counsel for Civil Rights in New York.

In those roles, he helped push for marriage equality in New York in 2011, the successful passage of a ban on the use of conversion therapy on minors, passage of nondiscrimination protections for transgender New Yorkers, expanding Medicaid to cover transition-related care, and allowing transgender New Yorkers to amend the gender marker on their birth certificates.

David has also worked on efforts to expand access to reproductive health care, restore voting rights, advance workplace protections for disadvantaged communities, and require access to free translation services in essential state services. Prior to working for New York State, David served as a staff attorney at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.

Gov. Cuomo issued a statement praising David’s work, saying he “fought day and night to create a better New York.”

“As a key member of this administration and before that as part of my staff at the Attorney General’s office, he had always served with compassion, dignity, intelligence, and a virtually unrivaled work ethic,” Cuomo said of his former employee. “Make no mistake New Yorkers are better off today because of his years of public service and we will miss him tremendously.”

In a biographical video released by HRC titled “Difference is Our Strength,” David shares how his life story and career as a civil rights attorney has prepared him to lead the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy organization.

“If we want to win full equality, that’s going to require us to come together, to dig deep, to be resilient, to embrace our differences, to tenaciously defend the most vulnerable among us, to fight with every ounce of determination we have,” David says in the video. “I promise you this, I will fight for each and every one of us. All I ask is that you join me, that you join the Human Rights Campaign in our fight for true equality. In unity, we will fight back and we will win.”

Members of HRC’s board offered praised David for his civil rights advocacy.

“Alphonso has devoted his career to expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people across New York State and the nation,” HRC Board Foundation Chair Deb Taft said in a statement. “At a time when LGBTQ people, women, people of color, immigrants and refugees, and so many others are being confronted with daily attacks on our most basic rights, Alphonso is the fierce, compassionate, and strategic leader HRC and our broader movement for equality needs.”

“As we approach the Human Rights Campaign’s 40th year and the most important election cycle of our lives in 2020, HRC has never been stronger or better positioned to lead,” HRC Board Chair John Ruffier added. “When it comes to maximizing the electoral power of millions of LGBTQ voters and our allies, or to defending the fundamental rights of our community, or to protecting the most vulnerable among us, I know that Alphonso will ensure that HRC continues to lead the way.”

Watch David’s introductory video below:

John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at jriley@metroweekly.com

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