Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund President Aisha Moodie-Mills told the Washington Blade on Tuesday that she will continue to highlight the intersections of race and socio-economics within the LGBT community in her new position.
Moodie-Mills said during a telephone interview from her D.C. office that she was “really excited” to hear from the organization’s board of directors when she was considering the position that it was discussing ways to prioritize its work to elect openly LGBT elected officials “in places that have low equality.” These include the South and other areas of the country that have traditionally proven hostile toward advancing LGBT-specific issues.
“There’s a direct correlation between the number of LGBT elected officials and the tone and tenor of the policies that are on the books in those areas,” said Moodie-Mills.
Moodie-Mills spoke with the Blade ahead of the Victory Fund’s annual National Champagne Brunch that will take place at the Marriott Marquis near Mount Vernon Square in Northwest D.C. on Sunday.
She stressed the need for the Victory Fund to train and develop political leaders “from every aspect of our community,” with a particular emphasis on LGBT people of color and transgender people who are living in “regions where we have low equality.” Moodie-Mills added she feels it is important for the organization to continue its efforts in support of LGBT elected officials and candidates overseas.
“It’s really important for us to train, develop, run, help them win as elected officials,” she told the Blade.
The Victory Fund on March 26 announced that Moodie-Mills will succeed Chuck Wolfe who stepped down last year. She spoke with the Blade a week after officially taking the helm of the organization.
Moodie-Mills is also the first woman and first LGBT person of color to lead the Victory Fund.
“It matters that we have diverse leadership in our organizations,” Moodie-Mills told the Blade.
Moodie-Mills comes to the organization from the Center for American Progress, a D.C. think tank, where she launched the FIRE Initiative that examines the intersections of race and socio-economics.
She and her wife, Danielle Moodie-Mills, played a prominent role in the effort to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in D.C. The two women also support SMYAL and other local LGBT advocacy groups.
“As I was having my conversations and learning more about the board’s vision, they absolutely aligned with all of the work and the thinking and the thought leadership that I’ve been able to develop through the Center for American Progress,” Moodie-Mills told the Blade. “It just felt like a good next step.”
Organization’s work ‘beyond partisanship’
The Victory Fund in recent years has faced scrutiny from some LGBT rights advocates who have criticized the organization’s decision to endorse Republican candidates. These include former Massachusetts Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei who lost his bid to succeed then-Congressman John Tierney in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Former D.C. Council member David Catania (I-At-Large) in February 2014 received the Victory Fund’s endorsement in his race to succeed then-Mayor Vincent Gray. The organization’s decision not to support former Maryland state Del. Heather Mizeur (D-Montgomery County)’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign also raised eyebrows among some of her LGBT supporters.
Moodie-Mills declined to comment about Victory Fund’s previous endorsements, but she said one of her priorities is “to really get to know our rubric that we’re using to determine how we support our candidates.”
“We are pro-advancing LGBT equality and supporting people who support us and our community,” she said. “That is beyond partisanship.”
Moodie-Mills further stressed that her top goal is to tell the Victory Fund’s story in what she described as a “bigger, bolder way.”
“There are so many victorious stories that people just don’t know about,” she told the Blade. “There are just so many stories that we haven’t told about why our people matter, why it matters we are helping people hold these offices.”