CHICAGO — As LGBT Pride Month begins today, Brian C. Johnson assumes the leadership of Equality Illinois with a pledge to expand the organization’s inclusiveness by launching a summer-long, statewide listening tour to talk to community leaders, allies and stakeholders in the ongoing fight for social justice.
Johnson takes over as chief executive officer as Equality Illinois is celebrating its 25th year advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.
“Our community has come so far during this time and has much to be proud of thanks to the tenacity and sacrifices made by many in the Equality Illinois family,” Johnson said.
“However, our fight for equality is far from over. From challenges facing transgender people and LGBT youth to protecting our many wins, we must continue fighting as a united voice until we have achieved full equality and acceptance. That voice must be passionate, engaged and inclusive of every member of our community from each corner of Illinois.”
The anniversary year and Equality Illinois’ new leadership make this an opportune time to recommit to connecting with all parts of our diverse community and our allies in the fight for social and policy change.
“I am excited to announce the launch of a summer-long listening tour that will take me on the road to cities, towns and neighborhoods across Illinois, affording me the opportunity to reflect, listen and plan for the future. I will travel throughout our state to give members of our community an opportunity to share their experiences as members of the LGBT community and offer their hopes for what a more equal and more accepting Illinois might be,” Johnson said.
“This listening tour will give us the tools to position our next Silver Jubilee in 25 years to be as successful as this first one. We will visit schools, faith institutions, community centers and homes throughout the summer, hitting as many as 25 communities to celebrate 25 years of EI’s trailblazing history and engage around our future.”
In a letter sent today introducing himself to the Equality Illinois membership and announcing the listening tour, Johnson said he is “proud” and “humbled” to assume his new role.
“Just two weeks ago, I married my husband, and I want to say thank you to all of those who fought so passionately to give me and thousands more in the LGBT community that opportunity,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson will make his first public appearance as CEO at the annual Equality Illinois Tribute Reception-A Taste of Pride on Thursday evening in the River View Banquet Hall at LaSalle Street and the Chicago River. The annual LGBT Pride Month event celebrates the accomplishments of the last year and recommits us to face the unmet challenges facing LGBT Illinoisans. This year for the first time, the Tribute reception will also honor Super Volunteers who help further Equality Illinois’ mission.
As CEO, Johnson will oversee the three entities that make up the organization, each with its own board of directors: Equality Illinois Institute, the 501 (c)(3) arm that focuses on education of the public, media and policy makers on LGBT issues; Equality Illinois, the 501 (c)(4) entity that advocates policies; and the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee, which endorses and supports political candidates on the state and local levels.