Solmonese named HRC director

Joe Solmonese, chief executive officer of EMILY’s List, the nation’s largest political action committee, has been named president of the Human Rights Campaign.

Solmonese will take the helm at HRC on April 11, and plans on touring the country, meeting with the American people, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community members and leaders at town hall meetings and other events in the workplace, communities of color and in communities of faith.

As a key political strategist, Solmonese oversaw one of the nation’s most successful efforts to elect progressive candidates by appealing to heartland and mainstream voters.

His work included broad outreach across the nation, speaking with large and small groups about the important issues facing the American people. 

He has been at EMILY's List for the last 12 years serving in several key capacities from deputy political director, to chief of staff and the CEO position he’s occupied for the past two-and-a-half years.

“A great leader surfaced early and we are thrilled with the result,” said Vic Basile, co-chair of the HRC foundation board and co-chair of the search committee. “Joe has an unrivaled track record at the nation’s foremost progressive electoral powerhouse. We are confident that he will appeal to Americans across the political and ideological spectrum.” 

Solmonese made the following statement today

“We need to make sure every GLBT American has a safe place to come out and join us in the fight for equality. Our equality under the law is evolving as the defining social and political issue of our time

"As a gay American, I am very honored to serve HRC and the GLBT community and to join the leadership of a movement that is working toward an America that keeps its promise to all its citizens.

"We must tell the stories of our lives and the struggles we face to our straight friends, co-workers and family members. Increasing our presence and visibility across America will be a top priority of my tenure.

"HRC is not simply a GLBT organization; we’re an organization of everyone who supports GLBT equality. We’ll ask every GLBT American to enlist three new allies — a straight co-worker, a friend and a family member — in our work for full equality. 

"We know that we have broad support across the country and we need to ask our friends and families to be involved at the ballot box or talking directly to elected officials.

"Our movement will grow as our unity grows.

"With more Americans of both parties on our side, we will be an unstoppable force. We must ensure that every American family has equal rights and responsibilities; that it’s illegal for the boss to fire the star employee simply because of who he or she is; that families have the security of marriage and all the rights and responsibilities that it affords and that every American living with and at risk for HIV takes prevention seriously so that this generation does not experience the devastation that the last generation did at the hands of this disease.

"That’s why I intend to hit the road in my first week. We are broadening the American conversation about equality. I'll be meeting with GLBT families, religious leaders, corporate leaders, communities of color and employee groups and GLBT community leaders across the country, and talking about the path to our equality.”

Solmonese joined EMILY’s List in 1993 as deputy political director and advanced to chief of staff in 1998. EMILY’s List works to elect pro-choice Democratic women to federal and state office. Solmonese traveled nationwide developing and executing political, messaging, fund-raising and grassroots campaigns that have produced unprecedented success for candidates at both the federal and state levels.

At EMILY’s List, Solmonese implemented strategies that helped transform the pro-choice movement with a defining issue that made a difference at the ballot box, in Congress and in the halls of legislatures around the country.

Solmonese led EMILY’s List’s national staff of 85 political, communications, fund-raising and grassroots professionals. He also oversaw a $40 million budget, strategically investing in key political efforts and elections and raising funds for the organization’s mission.

In addition, Solmonese serves as the organization’s chief fund-raiser. He increased the budget by $10 million in the last election cycle, enabling the organization to implement a new program that elected women legislators in Colorado, Vermont, North Carolina, Washington and Oregon.

A native of Massachusetts, Solmonese is 40 and lives in Washington, D.C. and has been an HRC Federal Club member for more than 12 years. He graduated from Boston University in 1987 with a bachelor of science in communications.

What They're Saying About Joe...

“I am very happy that Joe will be the next president of HRC. By his talent, commitment and experience, he is ideally suited to help lead the fight for the central American value of equal rights under the law.”  — Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.)

“Joe has an impressive record as an effective fundraiser, proven manager and smart political leader. As HRC’s new president, Joe will be a strong and passionate voice in our fight for equality for LGBT Americans. Joe has my personal and organizational support as we work together to develop a smart and ambitious bipartisan strategy to realize full equality for all Americans in the years ahead.” — Patrick Guerriero, president, Log Cabin Republicans

“Joe will bring so much passion, muscle and strategic thinking to the work of HRC. He is the exact type of experienced and visionary leader HRC needs to move us closer to making HRC's mission a reality.” — Elizabeth Birch, former executive director, HRC

“Since I’ve been in Congress, HRC has always displayed a longstanding commitment to bipartisanship. I have very little doubt that Joe will aggressively maintain this tradition and I look forward to working with him.” — Rep. Rob Simmons, R-Conn.

“Joe is the perfect choice to lead HRC and will be a valuable addition to the Leadership Conference on Civil Right’s executive committee. HRC has long played a vital role in the civil rights coalition and we look forward to the vision, energy and drive that Joe will bring to HRC and to our community.” — Wade Henderson, executive director, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

“Ensuring that every American is treated fairly and equally has no partisan boundaries and I’m pleased that Joe is committed to working with Republicans as the new head of HRC.” — Sen. Lincoln Chafee, R-R.I.

“In every region of this nation, activists, candidates and committed individuals have been inspired by and benefited from Joe’s political expertise and tireless drive to create a more progressive America. He is a masterful political strategist with a long track record of success. From helping Congressperson Tammy Baldwin achieve a historic victory in Wisconsin to electing Democrats in the heartland and beyond — Joe knows how to get blue things done in red states by engaging and supporting people who want to make a difference and win in historic elections. EMILY's List's loss will be a tremendous gain for HRC and the movement.”  — Ellen Malcolm, president, EMILY’s List

"I have known Joe and his good work for years. What a terrific choice!" — Former Gov. Ann Richards (Texas).

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