Equality Maryland, in a statement released to the Blade, announced this week that Lynne Bowman would become the group’s new interim executive director effective May 2.
Bowman has served as director of programs and services for the Equality Federation, a national association of state LGBT groups. She is also a founder of Equality Ohio and most recently served as campaign manager for Ohio Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher’s U.S. Senate bid.
“During Lynne’s time with the Equality Federation and as executive director of Equality Ohio, Lynne consistently demonstrated strong, visionary leadership,” said Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation in a statement.
Equality Maryland said it would now begin the search for a permanent executive director.
Bowman told the Blade that she is not in the running for the permanent director’s position. She said her appointment lasts until the end of August but can be extended if a new permanent director isn’t in place at that time.
“I will be assisting the board in conducting the search,” she said. “That’s something I’ve done a number of times in my background. So rather than focusing on trying to secure a job for myself, I’ll be focusing on stabilizing the organization and moving the agenda forward.”
She acknowledges that she has never worked with the Maryland Legislature before. But Bowman said she believes her background in working with legislators in other states and her experience in managing non-profit organizations will enable her to keep Equality Maryland on track in pushing its legislative goals in the eight months before the Maryland Legislature convenes its 2012 session in January.
“I think that every legislature or assembly is similar in that fact that they are different,” she said. “And it takes figuring out the personalities and some of the targets and the issues, which could be done, I would say, fairly easily by partnering with the people who are already there.”
Bowman added, “So I’m not going to come in and assume that I know anything or anyone without working with the folks who have been doing the work in the General Assembly. And it’s going to be very important for me to create those partnerships, get to know those personalities so that we can move the strategies forward and make sure that we’re ready.”
She plans to take steps to arrange meetings with members of the State Senate and House of Delegates – including the contingent of eight openly gay or lesbian legislators — as soon as she arrives for work next week, she said.
Bowman said she has considerable experience in fundraising and is looking forward to strengthening Equality Maryland’s donor base. But she said she hadn’t had a chance to examine the group’s finances in detail and could not determine, at least until she arrives on the job on Monday, whether it would be prudent to hire a new development director immediately or to do so at a later date.
“If I would say anything else at this point it would be that a strong state-based organization is critical to passing state based legislation” like the marriage equality and gender identity non-discrimination bills that came up but failed this year, she said.
“And regardless of the bumps and bruises that may have happened in the last couple of months, getting behind Equality Maryland and the coalition of groups – local, state and national organizations that are trying to pass legislation – is going to be critical if folks want to see things move forward,” she said.
“Equality Maryland is thrilled to have a nationally known and respected leader at the helm of the organization,” the group said in a joint statement to the Blade from Chuck Butler, board chair of Equality Maryland, and Patrick Wojahn, chair of the Equality Maryland Foundation.
The announcement follows the departure of former executive director Morgan Meneses-Sheets after a tumultuous tenure in which the Maryland Legislature failed to pass marriage equality and transgender non-discrimination measures. The board said her departure was a mutual decision, but Meneses-Sheets said last week that the decision was not hers.