January 22, 2015 at 10:30 am EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bowser names lesbian activist as head of GLBT Affairs Office
Shiela Alexander-Reid, gay news, Washington Blade

Sheila Alexander-Reid (Photo by Ron Simms, Jr.)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday named veteran lesbian activist and media professional Sheila Alexander-Reid as director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs.

Alexander-Reid becomes the third openly gay or lesbian cabinet-level official that Bowser has appointed so far to her administration, which began when the new mayor took office on Jan. 2.

As an activist involved in the local community for many years, Alexander-Reid is well known to the city’s LGBT community leaders and activists.

She most recently worked as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at the Washington Blade. Prior to joining the Blade last year, Alexander-Reid worked as Director of Strategic Engagement for the Washington City Paper. Both positions involved marketing, advertising sales and community outreach duties.

Alexander-Reid is the founder and former executive director of Women in the Life Association, a social justice organization advocating for lesbians of color. She has also served as producer and host of Inside Out, the D.C. area’s only LGBT radio show, which has aired on WPFW FM. She served as vice president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, the city’s largest LGBT political group, from 2008 to 2011.

“We’re sorry to see her go,” said Blade publisher Lynne Brown, “but we know she’ll do terrific work for the city under Mayor Bowser and we wish her the best in this important new role.”

In December, Bowser named lesbian housing and services-for-the-homeless expert Polly Donaldson as director of the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development. Bowser named Matt Brown, who served as director of the D.C. Department of Transportation under Mayor Vincent Gray and who’s gay, as director of the Mayor’s Office of the Budget.

She has also named several other LGBT people to middle-level positions in her administration, prompting some familiar with the mayor’s office to say Bowser is expected to surpass Mayor Gray in making the most LGBT mayoral appointments of any D.C. mayor.

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

1 Comment
  • Oh, please, Blade. It's understandable and fine to highlight and congratulate a Blade insider's ascension to a DC mayor's cabinet. But how about a little serious news drill-down for readers as well?
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    Investigative journalism is in order here since the OGBLTA (Office of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Affairs) has had such a dubious history of service to the broader base of DC's LGBTQ residents and stakeholders.
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    For starters, why is it "news" that a LGBT person would be appointed to head an office with"GLBT" in its official name? If the mayor appointed an openly straight person to that job… well, THAT would be a 'man bites dog' news story.
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    Here's some information about what OGBLTA's mission is– what it's expected to do — presumably on behalf of *ALL* DC LGBT residents and stakeholders…
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    "The Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs provides services and information to the GLBT communities through community outreach and public education activities."
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    Did OGBLTA fulfill that simple mission last year? How about in 2013? Or in 2012?
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    Previous mayors have treated the OGLBTA as little more than a glorified PR office.
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    Mayor Fenty didn't even bother to consult with his OGLBT director — not once. How do we know Mayor Bowser won't treat this iteration of the OGBLTA as a sham city services department as well?
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    The truth is OGLBTA's web site today is a joke. Their last "annual report" link was for 2011. Seriously.
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    Much worse still, there is absolutely no information or news on OGLBTA's web site about public safety and policing services for LGBTQ victims of crime, hate crimes and domestic/intimate partner violence.
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    There is no easily accessible information at all about how to contact MPD's core police officers of its Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU) — let alone the names of GLLU officers, crime victims might want to feel safe in asking for. How serious an effort is that by OGLBTA?
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    What does Sheila Alexander-Reid intend to do with this cabinet level position? Or, more to the point, what will Mayor Bowser permit her to do? What policy changes and initiatives can we expect? With specificity, please.
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