The chief executive officer of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Institute is set to depart from his position at the year’s end, the Washington Blade has learned.
In an email to the Victory Campaign Board obtained by the Blade, Wolfe reveals that he informed the board of directors and Victory Fund on Wednesday about plans to move on from the organization.
“After nearly 12 years leading Victory, and countless Election Days, I’m both ready and excited to do something different — though I can’t imagine doing something more rewarding, or working with people whom I respect and admire more,” Wolfe writes.
Wolfe wore two hats in his role. One leading the Victory Fund, which seeks to elect openly LGBT candidates, and the other was leading the Victory Institute, which provides training for LGBT public leaders.
Chuck Wolfe is leaving the Victory Fund after the organization achieved significant victories over the course of his tenure, including the election of Annise Parker, an openly lesbian mayor of Houston, Texas, and Tammy Baldwin as the first openly lesbian member of the U.S. Senate.
In his email, Wolfe writes that his work to expand the number of openly LGBT people in political office has “been an absolute labor of love for me.”
“The Victory Fund and our supporters have endorsed and helped elect thousands of LGBT Americans who have been brave enough to put their names on a ballot, and their honesty has been key to changing politics wherever they serve,” Wolfe said. “This work is as necessary as ever, especially in places where our community still feels powerless or lives in fear.”
Steve Elmendorf, board chair of the Victory Fund, said the organization “has grown tremendously” under Wolfe’s leadership.
“He’s accomplished this with an uncommon focus on what really matters, and without the drama so often attached to politics,” Elemendorf said. “The board and I are grateful for everything he’s done for Victory, but we also understand Chuck’s desire to do other things and take on new challenges.”
Elmendorf added the organization will soon begin a search for the next leader and “we’ll have much more to say about that in short order.”
From the start of the Obama administration, the Victory Institute under Wolfe coordinated the Presidential Appointments Project, which led to the appointment of more than 250 LGBT people as officials within the federal government.
Debra Shore, the Victory Institute board chair, said Wolfe was the “driving force” behind the creation of the Institute and “its effectiveness and impact.”
“Because of this, today more than 1,000 emerging LGBT leaders are trained by the Institute each year, and we’ve expanded beyond America’s borders to address a growing need for our programs internationally,” Shore said. “I join my board colleagues in thanking Chuck for his nearly 12 years of service to Victory, and for his vision and relentless focus on results.”
In recent months, Wolfe has been struggling with health issues. As he acknowledged during the Victory Fund’s annual brunch in D.C. this year, he had suffered a heart attack and was in the process of recovery.
Wolfe writes in the email that he intends to continue his work until the end of the year, which includes ensuring Victory Fund-endorsed candidates are successful on Election Day on November 4.
“After that we’ll have time for celebrating and reminiscing, but for now please accept my heartfelt thanks for all that you have done and will continue to do for this organization and the remarkable LGBT leaders we serve,” Wolfe writes.
The Victory Fund declined further comment on the news development.