Equality PA Elects New President
Brian Sims, who has served as board president for Equality PA for the past two years, has announced he’ll conclude his term as of September 1. He’ll be succeeded by Adrian Shanker, a 24-year-old Allentown-based organizer, who’s led successful campaigns to win same-sex partner benefits in both Allentown and Easton, and a non-discrimination law in Bethlehem. Shanker has also served as vice president of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network, a regional LGBT advocacy organization in Northeast Pennsylvania. He’ll begin his tenure next month.
“I am extremely proud of the growth of Equality Pennsylvania” says Sims on the new presidential appointment. “I look back on the last two years, and I see an organization emerging as a force to be reckoned with in Harrisburg. I have every confidence in my friend and colleague Adrian Shanker. He has proven himself as a leader who can win LGBT rights, and I believe in his ability to continue this work to make Pennsylvania more equal for the LGBT communities.”
Shanker, a former non-profit fundraiser at a Lehigh Valley community arts organization and organizer with SEIU 32BJ, is currently employed in the management team at Wolper Subscription Services, a small LGBT-owned business in Easton.
“Brian has worked diligently to restructure and recreate Equality Pennsylvania from the ground up,” says Shanker. “I know he will continue to do great things for the LGBT community. It is an honor to be elected president during such an exciting time in LGBT history and I look forward to working with our Executive Director Ted Martin to advance LGBT rights in Pennsylvania.”
Shanker will be joined by the new incoming Vice President Lisa Kustra, CEO of Plan4Demand, a consulting firm in Pittsburgh for Fortune 500 companies around the world. In 2001, former Governor Tom Ridge named Kustra as one of the “Best 50 Women in Business” in the state.
Treasurer Kevin Bennett of Erie and Secretary Paul Nardone of Scranton, will continue in their roles, says Equality PA. But five new board members will also join the organization starting next month, including Adam Hymans and Rick Naughton, both of Philadelphia, Dr. Michelle Angello of Wayne, Fiona Hensley of Meadville, and Jessica Rothschild of Scranton.
Hymans is the donor engagement officer at The Philadelphia Foundation and serves on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition and the William Way LGBT Community Center.
Naughton, an associate with Philadelphia-based, Sellers Dorsey, holds a Juris Doctorate from Penn State and has served on the board of directors of Equality Forum.
Hensley is a senior at Allegheny College in Meadville and recently served as President of Queers and Allies at Allegheny College. She has also served as the Erie regional chair for Equality Pennsylvania’s youth program SNAP.
Rothschild is in the doctor of physical therapy program at the University of Scranton and the founder of Scranton Inclusion, the LGBT student organization on campus. She also served as Northeast Pennsylvania regional chair for SNAP.
Angello holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Institute for the Advanced Study of Human Sexuality and is an adjunct professor at Widener University, where she developed the first graduate course in the U.S. focusing on clinical issues in transgender communities.
“There is no doubt that we have come a very long way since our founding in 1996,” says Equality PA’s Executive Director Ted Martin in a recent statement. “As the executive director, as a gay man and as a native Pennsylvanian, I can honestly say that I am excited everyday to be heading the statewide, non-partisan education, outreach and advocacy organization that will settle for nothing less than full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender citizens.”
He adds that policy reform on the local and state level has been the focus this year. “It hasn’t been easy,” he admits, “but our burning goal remains working collaboratively to strengthen and grow a comprehensive network of individuals and organizations united in securing equal rights for Pennsylvania’s LGBT community.”