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Jennifer Chrisler leaving Family Equality Council for vice presidency at alma mater, Smith College

An email Wednesday from Jennifer Chrisler of Family Equality Council:

Dear Friend,

The New Year is often a time of positive change and transition in our lives and so it will be for me this year.

After more than 8 years as Executive Director of Family Equality Council, I am departing in March to accept a new position as Vice President of Alumnae Relations at my alma mater, Smith College.

It was a very difficult decision for me. I am so sad to say goodbye to an incredible organization that is backed by a dedicated board of directors, a talented and hard-working staff, supportive donors and most importantly, you and the more than 100,000 LGBT families and allies that make up this incredible organization.

But I leave knowing that Family Equality Council, and indeed the entire movement for LGBT rights, are in their strongest position in decades.

On a very personal note, I will leave Family Equality Council with the most incredible memories – from families sleeping out on the White House Ellipse to secure tickets to the first Easter Egg Roll we attended in 2006, to the story of a young girl from Puerto Rico with two moms who for the first time at Family Week had kids come to her birthday party, to the moment we watched the President bear witness to the power of our families and our lives as the reason for his change in support of marriage equality.

These moments have inspired and fueled me these eight years. They have brought countless moments of pride and optimism. They have carried me through dark times like the passage of Prop 8 in California when it seemed we had taken a monumental step backward in our fight for equality. I carry all of you with me as I embark on this next life journey. I carry you and your stories in my heart.

This past year as we marked the 30th anniversary of our organization, I was inspired by how far we have come.

When I began as executive director in April of 2005, our fledgling organization had a full-time staff of 3, a tiny office space and the most modest of budgets.

Today, a dedicated staff of 18 professionals working in four locations (Boston, D.C, Minnesota and Michigan) have helped us more than triple our annual budget during the last 5 years and have positioned this organization as the leading national advocate for LGBT families.

We did not and could not do this alone.

Because of your support, Family Equality Council is now:

  -- The country’s most visible advocate for LGBT family rights with an effective policy team in Washington DC and at the state level, who champion dozens of laws and policies that support and protect you and your children.

-- The largest single provider of events, programs and services for LGBT parents and their children, with major annual events in New York and Los Angeles and dozens of community programs and gatherings serving our families across the country – including our signature Family Week, now in its 18th year.

-- The leading national voice on issues related to LGBT family equality - recognized for that expertise by both the national media and major policy-makers.

Together we have so much to be proud about. But the work is not yet complete. The next visionary leader will have a great opportunity to build on the momentum of the last few years and help our families secure important rights including national marriage equality, full parental rights and protections, humane and inclusive immigration laws, employment non-discrimination laws and safer schools.

That person will not be able to it alone.

They will need you and your unyielding support. With that I am confident that they will be able to guide this organization forward in our fight for full equality.

An executive search committee, comprised of past and present board leaders, has already begun the search process and over the next few months, they will be working to recruit the next leader who will take Family Equality Council to even greater levels of success.

Although my tenure is coming to a close, my ties to Family Equality Council will always remain strong. I’ll be joining our West Coast families in early February at our annual Los Angeles awards dinner, and Family Week in Provincetown has become so important to my children that it will always be part of our summer traditions.

On behalf of my spouse, Cheryl, my twins, Tim and Tom, and baby Matthew, thank you for making us part of your family and thank you for being a part of Family Equality Council.

My love and best wishes to you.

Jennifer

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