May 27, 2010 | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Local news in brief

DeRionne Pollard is the new president of Montgomery College in Maryland. (Photo courtesy of Montgomery College)

Lesbian named president of Montgomery College

DeRionne Pollard, a lesbian who has served as California Community College’s president since 2008, has been named president of Montgomery College, a community college in Montgomery County, Md.

The college’s board of trustees announced her appointment May 18, saying Pollard, 39, was chosen following a nationwide search and a review of more than 50 applicants. She holds a doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy studies.

“Throughout the search process, Dr. Pollard impressed both the board and the search advisory committee by her passion and devotion to the advancement of the community college mission and the students we serve,” the board said in a statement.

In its announcement of her appointment, the board noted that Pollard and her domestic partner of more than 20 years, Robyn Jones, “are the proud parents of a 3-year-old son, Myles Julian Pollard-Jones.”

Pollard is the first known black lesbian to be named president of a U.S. college. Earlier this year, Grinnell College of Iowa named National Institutes of Health deputy director and physician Raynard Kington as its president, making him the nation’s first known black openly gay college president.

“I am thankful and truly honored that the board of trustees selected me as the next president of Montgomery College,” Pollard said. “I am impressed with the caliber of the faculty, staff, administrators and students at Montgomery College.”

The Washington Post reported that Pollard’s predecessor, Brian Johnson, was removed as president following allegations of overspending and “lapses in management.” The Post said faculty and staff at the college were looking forward to Pollard’s leadership after a tumultuous nine months of tension leading up to Johnson’s forced resignation.

Faculty and staff rose to their feet and greeted her with prolonged applause when she was introduced to them at an auditorium last week at the college’s Rockville, Md., campus.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Realtors approve LGBT non-discrimination policy

The Professional Standards Committee of the National Association of Realtors voted unanimously May 13 in Washington, D.C., to approve a policy prohibiting the denial of real estate-related services to someone based on his or her sexual orientation.

The action was proposed last year by the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, which works closely with NAR, according to a statement by the gay group.

It calls for amending NAR’s code of ethics to add the term sexual orientation to a litany of other protected classes.

The amended policy, if ratified as expected by the NAR’s delegate body in November, would say, “Realtors shall not deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.”

The proposal would also change the code of ethics to say, “Realtors shall not be parties to any plan or agreement to discriminate against a person or persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin or sexual orientation.” It additionally says that Realtors or real estate firms shall not engage in discrimination based on the same litany of categories in employment practices for their offices.

If the delegate body gives final approval to the policy change, the change would take effect Jan. 1.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Stein Club endorses challenger in ‘shadow’ House race

The Gertrude Stein Democratic Club on Monday passed over the incumbent D.C. “shadow” member of the U.S. House of Representatives, whom it backed in the last two elections, and instead endorsed a little-known challenger for the ceremonial post.

In receiving 60.8 percent of the vote, challenger Nate Bennett-Fleming barely surpassed the required 60 percent threshold for obtaining the club’s endorsement, becoming the first non-incumbent to win the Stein backing this year. He beat incumbent Mike Pannetta, who the club endorsed in his 2006 and 2008 bids for the shadow seat.

“Tonight’s vote reflects a shift that I believe is happening within the District of Columbia, where we have younger voices standing up to take leadership,” said Jeffrey Richardson, the Stein Club’s president. “Nate Bennett-Fleming clearly has the support of his peers and a strong bloc of LGBT activists from across the city.”

D.C. voters approved the creation of one “shadow” U.S. House seat and two “shadow” U.S. Senate seats in a ballot initiative in the 1980s as part of their support for a D.C. statehood constitution. The positions have no powers or authority in Congress and don’t come with a salary.

Backers of D.C. statehood said they modeled the positions after other U.S. territories that created shadow congressional positions when they applied for statehood in the 1800s. People in the positions generally lobby Congress to approve D.C. as the nation’s 51st state and give the city budgetary autonomy and full voting rights in Congress.

Bennet-Fleming and Pannetta each expressed support for LGBT rights, including support for the city’s same-sex marriage law.

In a separate development, the club voted Monday to endorse the re-election bids of D.C. City Council members Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6). The two are running unopposed in the September primary.

LOU CHIBBARO JR.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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