The National LGBTQ Task Force has announced that Rea Carey, who has been with the organization for the past 17 years, including twelve as its executive director, will be stepping down from her current position in early 2021.
Carey, a longtime leader in the LGBTQ rights movement, has been credited with growing the organization’s reach and steering the Task Force in a more progressive direction during her tenure, looking at LGBTQ rights through a racial, economic, gender, and social justice lens.
She emphasized the importance of partnering with other progressive-leaning civil rights and women’s organizations, building governing coalitions to push for pro-equality legislation, fight anti-LGBTQ ballot measures, and call out President Trump’s attacks against the community, as well as ensure LGBTQ participation in voting and filing out the Census to ensure the community receives needed representation.
Prior to her work with the Task Force, Carey worked extensively in HIV/AIDS prevention and activism, also working with LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. She is a Hunt Alternatives’ Prime Movers Fellow, served on the board of the Alliance for Justice, and currently serves on the boards of directors for the Flamboyan Foundation and the Freeman Foundation.
“From overturning discriminatory policies and passing LGBTQ inclusive laws to celebrating marriage at the Supreme Court, to being arrested alongside immigration activists, to the energy of our Creating Change Conferences, it has been a remarkable ride,” Carey said in a statement. “Just to be alive during a time of such progress over the last many years has been astounding, and to serve the LGBTQ community in my 17 years at the National LGBTQ Task Force has been the joy and honor of a lifetime.”
She added: “We have faced down many obstacles together and made tangible progress for LGBTQ people and our families. I have worked to ensure that we can be all of who we are in our multiple identities as immigrants, as people of color, as parents, as people experiencing homelessness, as voters, as people of faith, as trans and bi, as workers.
“Together, we have fought to love who we want to love, for sexual freedom, to be free of violence and oppression in all its forms, to be seen, valued, and celebrated as fully human.”
The Task Force Board of Directors also praised Carey for her contributions.
“Combining fiery advocacy with integrity and self-described nerdy fastidiousness, Rea Carey has enabled the Task Force to lead a generation’s contribution towards social justice,” the statement said. “She has led the Task Force during one of the largest expansions of rights for LGBTQ people in our nation’s history and has shown that progress comes through collaboration, a range of strategies, and a focus on the connections between the many ways LGBTQ people live their lives.
“She believes that freedom for any oppressed people requires freedom for all who experience bias, stigma, and cruelty from others. She has brought charm and wit to her job, has served to convene the other leaders of the LGBTQ movement, and has spoken profound truths with a clarion voice that echoes in today’s broader move toward equality, equity, and freedom.”
Carey’s successor will be Kierra Johnson, who has been the Task Force’s deputy executive director since 2018. She was unanimously approved by the Task Force’s Board of Directors, and will take over the helm of the LGBTQ activist and advocacy group starting on Feb. 1, 2021.
“The Task Force is and always will be my activist home. As I move on, I am happy to leave the Task Force in a stable, sustainable place and am excited for our community and country to benefit from all that Kierra will bring to this role,” Carey said. “She is the perfect person for the times, to lead the Task Force and the movement to adapt and to achieve the new dreams our future holds.”
Johnson, who previously served on the National LGBTQ Task Force’s board of directors and on its National Action Council, came to the Task Force after serving as URGE’s executive director, a position that gave he significant experience in organizing and program development, with special emphasis on serving LGBTQ youth and working on reproductive justice issues.
As a pansexual Black woman, Johnson will become one of the few out queer-identified women of color to head a national LGBTQ organization.
“I am thrilled to join the long, proud legacy of the many powerful activists that have led this amazing organization,” Johnson said. “While the world grapples with the convergence of so many storms rooted in injustice, we are proud to stand at the center as an LGBTQ+ voice across our many identities and issues. I am inspired by the multitudes of Black, Brown and Indigenous people that have unapologetically claimed space, power and influence to make change so desperately needed for our communities. I am moved to action by the defiance, creativity and persistence of transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, bisexual, and intersex people that push us to demand a world where we all thrive.
“The Task Force will work to create a world where checking boxes is obsolete, but health, wellness, equity, justice, joy and pleasure are accessible to everyone,” she added. “Through devastating defeats and glorious victories, the Task Force has always been there for our entire community. Whether we are in the streets or in the halls of Congress, we will lead and leverage our LGBTQ+ power alongside our allies and colleagues to rebuild our democracy, combat discrimination in all forms, and ensure economic stability and equity for all.”
“Kierra is an activist, an artist and an advocate for all that is righteous,” the board of directors added in a statement. “Her background in reproductive justice speaks to the breadth and intersectionality of the Task Force’s mission, and her experiences as a BIPOC will resonate with so many in our economically, racially, sexually, and otherwise diverse community.
“Her expertise, passion and dedication will enhance and grow the strong organization that Rea has helped to build, and her gift for laughter and kindness will radiate into the LGBTQ lives we seek to lift up. Our next chapter could not shine brighter than it will with Kierra.”
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