May 14, 2010 at 5:08 pm EST | by Chris Johnson
Equality Virginia's chief officer resigns

The chief executive officer of Equality Virginia has resigned his position, according to a statement the organization issued Thursday.

Jon Blair submitted his resignation April 30, according to the statement. Blair joined Equality Virginia in January 2009, notably taking the helm of an LGBT organization despite being straight.

Mark Board, chair of Equality Virginia’s board, said in the statement that Blair’s resignation was “unsolicited, unexpected and without notice.”

David Lampo, vice president of Virginia Log Cabin and a former Equality Virginia board member, said his understanding was Blair left Equality Virginia to take a job as campaign manager for Democratic Alaskan gubernatorial candidate Ethan Berkowitz.

According to the statement, Jean Segner, another Equality Virginia board member, will take up the role as interim CEO immediately and will serve without compensation.

Board said Equality Virginia is “fortunate to have board members ready to step up” to continue the work of the organization.

“The continuity of leadership offered by Jean Segner and our current staff ensures that [Equality Virginia] will continue to move forward effectively changing laws and changing lives,” Board said.

Claire Guthrie Gastanaga, Equality Virginia’s legislative strategist and general counsel, told the Blade the organization will be looking for a new CEO this summer after the membership of board transition July 1.

“I suspect that the search process and all of that won’t … start until later this summer,” she said.

Lampo said people involved with the organization were “surprised and shocked” by Blair’s resignation.

“I think he did a reasonably good job given the constraints that a lot of organizations like that were under during the recession, with the substantially decreased funding, and decreased interest on the part of the GLBT community,” Lampo said.

Still, Lampo said Blair held a “political and partisan background” that affected his leadership at Equality Virginia.

“I think he always had trouble adjusting to the non-partisan atmosphere of an organization like Equality Virginia and the fact that he wasn’t down in the partisan trenches during election time,” Lampo said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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