January 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm EST | by Peter Rosenstein
Comings & Goings
Comings & Goings, gay news, Washington Blade, Valerie Ploumpis

The ‘Comings & Goings’ column chronicles important life changes of Blade readers.

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at comingsandgoings@washblade.com.

Congratulations to Valerie Ploumpis, who was named National Policy Director for Equality California. In making the announcement it said, “The reason for hiring their first national policy director is because of the unprecedented threat to LGBT civil rights represented by the incoming Donald Trump Administration and 115th Congress.”

Valerie Ploumpis, gay news, Washington Blade

Valerie Ploumpis

Ploumpis will handle their legislative and administrative programs in Washington, D.C., including their fight to protect LGBT civil rights’ gains at the federal level, monitoring executive orders and directives that protect LGBT people from workplace discrimination, expand Title IX to include discrimination based on gender identity, protect transgender students, shield many of California’s 250,000 LGBT undocumented immigrants from deportation, and more.

The position is also focused on Equality California’s efforts to defend the Affordable Care Act, which for the first time brought healthcare coverage to millions of LGBT people who had previously been shut out because of HIV status or preexisting conditions. Rick Zbur, executive director of Equality California, said, “We’re thrilled that Valerie will move into this new role leading our federal advocacy efforts. Now more than ever, California is positioned as a bastion of LGBT civil rights and as a beacon of hope in Donald Trump’s America. Valerie will play an instrumental role as we fight attacks on the Affordable Care Act that so many LGBT people rely on, on undocumented immigrants and on the LGBT community in general.”

On accepting the position, Ploumpis said, “As a native Californian and long-time D.C. resident, I am thrilled to be joining Equality California at this critical juncture. With the incoming Trump Administration and the 115th Congress, Equality California will be on the ground to defend the programs on which every LGBT Californian, our families, and our communities rely. The stakes are high but so is our resolve and passion.”

Ploumpis has more than two decades of experience in issue-advocacy campaigns, grassroots education and mobilization, coalition building, lobbying and media outreach. She is a past co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Recently, she was a principal at Burnside & Associates, where she managed political and mobilization campaigns.

A mother of two in their early 20s (both of whom are members of Equality California), Ploumpis considers herself to be a native Californian, though she grew up in Greece, Nigeria and Italy. Ploumpis holds a bachelor’s in international relations from Mills College and a master’s in international relations from Johns Hopkins University.

Congratulations also to Paul M. Smith who is starting his next career as a professor at the Georgetown Law School. He will also be working part-time as a vice president at the Campaign Legal Center, which focuses on voting rights and campaign finance reform.

Smith was a partner in Jenner & Block’s D.C. office for 22 years. For the last 16 years, he has chaired the firm’s Appellate and Supreme Court practice. He has argued 19 Supreme Court cases, including Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark gay rights case, and Brown v. EMA, involving the First Amendment as applied to video games. Smith was a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. He is in the ABA House of Delegates, a member of, and former chair of, the board of the American Constitution Society, and a former co-chair of Lambda Legal. In 2010, the National Law Journal named him one of the 40 Most Influential Lawyers of the Past Decade.  That same year, he received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice for his work promoting civil rights and civil liberties. More notable that same year he married his longtime partner Michael. Smith attended Amherst College and Yale Law School.

Paul M. Smith

Paul M. Smith

I end this column on a sad note. My good friend Alan B. Teitzman, DDS, passed away on New Year’s Day of pancreatic and liver cancer. According to Rich Fennell, his life partner and husband, he was in much pain and the end came fast. Alan and Rich were a team for many years living in both D.C. and Rehoboth Beach. Some knew Alan as their dentist, others as a friend, and many as both. My condolences to Rich and to all of Alan’s family and friends. He will be missed.

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