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As he promised in January after assuming the position of executive director of Equality California, John O’Connor has been slowly and steadily growing the staff of the lobbying organization....
By Karen Ocamb
May 16, 2013 :: 5:30 PM
As he promised in January after assuming the position of executive director of Equality California, John O’Connor has been slowly and steadily growing the staff of the lobbying organization. On April 8, O’Connor announced two new hires to his senior staff – Rikimah Glymph as new chief administrative officer, and Jesse Melgar as communications director. – both of whom have outstanding credentials. (See full press release below).
LGBT politicos might recognize Melgar as an Executive Boardmember of HONOR PAC. For his day job, he was an Account Executive in the Campaigns and Issues Management, Media Relations and Crisis Communications department at the well-known Cerrell Associates. Melgar will manage communications strategies for EQCA’s PAC and non-profit C3 Institute. This will be increasingly important as EQCA beefs up its political PAC – starting with a fundraiser for the PAC for their Fourth Annual Harvey Milk Day on Sunday, May 19.
O’Connor talked about the new focus on political power,” noting that last year, 52 out of 57 of EQCA’s endorsed candidates achieved office – all of whom were 100 percent pro-equality. “That’s real political power when you can help people get elected,” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “When I speak to people, they are both impressed and unaware” of that success rate. The goal is to put “financial muscle” into developing that political action asset – employing the largest LGBT list in the state with field staff that can “robustly go door to door and work the phones” to get EQCA’s endorsed candidates elected.
Though the LGBT community has achieved a lot, thus reducing the need for LGBT-specific legislation, O’Connor says “lasting political power is never more urgent.” He cites the raging battle over women’s reproductive rights today – 40 years after Roe v Wade. “We must have that politic power in order to protect to what we’ve accomplished.”
Here’s a glimpse at Melgar’s skills at broadcast communication talking about HONOR PAC:
EQCA’s Press release:
(Los Angeles) Equality California continues its trajectory of stabilizing and expanding with two significant new staff hires: Rikimah Glymph, who joins as the organization’s new chief administrative officer, and Jesse Melgar, who joins the organization as communications director. Since beginning in December 2012, new Executive Director John O’Connor has made it a priority to strengthen the organization by building a core team of dedicated, full time staff.
“Equality California is making incredible strides at regaining its capacity to advance a mission of full equality for LGBT people and nothing less,” said O’Connor. “Rikimah and Jesse will provide significant strategy and leadership in their respective areas and build on the incredible momentum we are experiencing.”
Rikimah Glymph previously served at ColorOfChange, a broad non-profit dedicated to advocating for African Americans in politics and policy, as their director of operations and administration. Before that, Glymph worked as the director of finance and operations for the New Organizing Institute, a non-profit dedicated to giving progressive organizers access to skills and technology.
“I am thrilled that we were able to recruit Rikimah, who will provide the extraordinary financial and administrative leadership that EQCA needs,” said O’Connor. “Her years of experience and management skills will also go far in running our San Francisco operation, where we are excited to be rebuilding our presence.”
Jesse Melgar comes to EQCA from public relations firm Cerrell Associates Inc., where he worked as an account executive in the Campaigns, Issues Management and Media Relations practice area. He also serves on the board of directors for HONOR PAC, the statewide Latino lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political action committee, and has previously served as the vice president of communications, modernizing HONOR PAC’s brand and implementing a comprehensive communication strategy. As EQCA expands outreach to Spanish-speaking Californians, Melgar’s bilingual fluency makes him an excellent choice for engaging the two primary languages of California media.
“The strategic drive and extensive experience that Jesse is bringing to EQCA will result is higher visibility, broader outreach, and greater stakeholder engagement,” said O’Connor. “His energy and creativity are exactly what the organization needs at this critical time of change.”
Glymph began working in the organization’s San Francisco office, where she will be based, in late April. Melgar, who will be based at its Los Angeles area headquarters, will start on May 13.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender advocacy organization in California. Over the past decade, Equality California has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to a state with some of the most comprehensive human rights protections in the nation. Equality California has partnered with legislators to successfully sponsor more than 90 pieces of pro-equality legislation. EQCA continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, electoral work, public education and community empowerment. www.eqca.org