November 20, 2014 at 4:00 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Bowser team takes shape
Muriel Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser has several high-profile LGBT locals advising her transition team. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

At least eight members of the city’s LGBT community have been named as leaders or members of Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser’s mayoral Transition Team, sources familiar with the transition process said this week.

And the names of more LGBT representatives, who have been invited to serve on the team, will be announced soon, according to Transition Team spokesperson Joaquin McPeek.

“We are not short of LGBT representation on her Transition Team,” McPeek told the Washington Blade on Wednesday.

He said Bowser has told transition organizers that as many as 300 people will be invited to serve on the Transition Team.

During a ceremony and working meeting of the Transition Team on Nov. 12 at Gallaudet University, Bowser introduced two members of the LGBT community she selected as co-chairs of two of the eight “priority committees” that will conduct most of the legwork for the transition process.

Among them was Polly Donaldson, executive director of Transitional Housing Corporation & THC Affordable Housing, Inc., a widely acclaimed non-profit organization that provides services to homeless people and develops programs for transitioning them into permanent homes. Bowser named Donaldson as co-chair of the Transition Team’s Affordable Housing Committee.

The mayor-elect also named her gay brother, Marvin Bowser, as co-chair of the Transition Team’s Arts and the Creative Economy Committee. Marvin Bowser served as the Bowser election campaign’s liaison to the LGBT community.

Other LGBT representatives named so far as members of the Transition Team include gay Democratic activist and Blade columnist Peter Rosenstein, who will serve on the Arts and Creative Economy Committee; and communications firm executive and former at-large D.C. Council candidate Courtney Snowden, who will serve on the Education Committee.

Christopher Dyer, gay activist and former head of the Mayor’s GLBT Affairs Office in the administration of Mayor Adrian Fenty, will serve on the Transition Team’s Open and Good Government and Full Democracy Committee.

Transgender activist Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, the local LGBT community services center, was named a member of the Health, Human Services & Homelessness Committee.

Martin Garcia, vice president of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club, and lesbian activist and diversity consultant Khadijah Tribble, have also been named as members of the Transition Team. Garcia said he will serve on the Affordable Housing Committee. The Blade couldn’t immediately identify the committee on which Tribble will serve.

Activists familiar with the Bowser campaign said other LGBT activists who served as key supporters or fundraisers for the Bowser election campaign were expected to serve as informal advisers to the new mayor, with a few possibly being named to high-level jobs in her administration.

But several of the LGBT advocates who fit that category have said they are happy with their current jobs and have no plans to seek or accept a position in the new Bowser administration.

Among them are Snowden, Rosenstein, and gay consulting firm owner Everett Hamilton. Hamilton, a Ward 4 resident and friend of Bowser’s since Bowser first won election to the City Council, was among her earliest supporters in the mayor’s race.

“Of course I would be honored to serve our next mayor,” said Snowden, an official with the gay-owned local communications and political consulting firm The Raben Group. “But I have no plans to leave my position at the Raben Group.”

Added Snowden, “What I’m particularly excited about is the mayor-elect’s commitment to make sure we transform our schools and most importantly that we start to transform them much more quickly than we have.”

McPeek noted that the Bowser transition team’s website has added a feature that few if any of her mayoral predecessors have undertaken. One of its pages invites interested city residents and others to fill out a job application and submit their resumes for positions in the new administration they would be interested in filling.

He said Bowser wants representatives of all of the city’s constituencies, including member of the LGBT community, to apply for jobs in her administration. He said one of the key tasks of the transition team is to identify qualified people to serve in the administration.

“This transition is about people and ideas and to be sure that we have the best people in place to identify the best and the brightest employees and the best ideas to move the city forward and to implement the mayor-elect’s vision for the District,” he said.

Donaldson, who was named co-chair of the Transition Team’s Affordable Housing Committee, isn’t well known in the LGBT community but is highly regarded as an expert in the area of housing for low-income people in need and in programs aimed at transitioning them to self-sustaining jobs and permanent homes.

A biography posted on her organization’s website says she has been a resident of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood in Ward 1 for more than 20 years and lives with her partner and daughter.

She has also served as a Ward 1 ANC Commissioner in the past and is an active member of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Dupont Circle where the LGBT Catholic organization Dignity Washing celebrates its weekly Sunday Mass.

During the mayoral campaign, Bowser has said among her top priorities would be to address the city’s dual problem of homelessness and the lack of sufficient affordable housing.

While speaking to reporters during the Nov. 12 Transition Team gathering at Gallaudet University, Bowser told the Washington Blade she planned to name her own director of the Mayor’s Office of GLBT Affairs.

LGBT rights advocate Sterling Washington, who currently serves as director of that office under Mayor Vincent Gray, has been praised by LGBT activists as a highly effective liaison between Gray and the LGBT community.

“I think with a lot of the Executive Office of the Mayor positions – and that’s certainly one of them – we would, like all mayors before me have done, bring in our own folks,” Bowser said.

She said the Transition Team’s website would likely post a notice for job openings in the Executive Office of the Mayor in the next few weeks. A posting for the director’s position for the GLBT Affairs Office will be among those listed on the website, Bowser said.

Marvin Bowser, gay news, Washington Blade

Marvin Bowser, the gay brother of Mayor-elect Muriel Bowser, was named co-chair of the Transition Team’s Arts and the Creative Economy Committee. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

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
  • This is pretty encouraging news. I know many of us felt betrayed to learn that Adrian Fenty never bothered to consult with Chris Dyer throughout his tenure as director of OGLBTA. That was phony, interest-group politics at its worst.
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    The truth is, DC should be way beyond using an OGLBTA office to demonstrate the city's commitment to LGBT equality. Qualified LGBT people being appointed to real positions throughout DC's government is what really matters.
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    On the other hand, not even a LGBT appointment is going prevent robust criticism of a LGBT appointee's straight director, if a fundamental disciplinary element of an essential city service is being mismanaged but that office or department. LGBT civil rights and/or hiring LGBT personnel cannot be the sole criteria in judging the competence of a city's administrative management.
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    For example, DC high school students can not learn well if Tier 5 DCPS regulations regarding drug use and distribution are being ignored by a school's management — or at the highest levels of DCPS. It is the responsibility of DCPS to give its students firm direction against drug use and distribution in and around DCPS schools.
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