The head of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Victory Institute announced Friday “it is time for me to leave” the organization, announcing her intention to step down to take on battles she said are waged by the far-right.
Aisha Moodie-Mills, who served as CEO of both organizations for two-and-a-half years, made the announcement at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference, which is taking place at Washington Hilton in D.C.
“Politics are so personal for me, for all of us,” Moodie-Mills said. “Our lives are on the chopping block. And so, it is with a heavy heart, but clear purpose that is time for me to leave Victory. This past election has upended the normalcy of our politics and our discourse, and I see it as my redefined mission to help progressives set a new course.”
Moodie-Mills didn’t articulate a precise vision for her future, but made her intention clear. Railing against the advancement of the far-right in the United States, she said “it is my calling to be on the front lines, not just for the LGBT community, but for all of us that believe in the founding principles of our democracy.”
“There comes a time in everyone’s life, career, when they are forced to choose a different path, and in these critical times, I must choose mine,” Moodie-Mills said. “And that is to take on the battle the far-right is waging, to turn the clock back on progress and repeal the 21st century.”
The tiki torches carried by white supremacists in Charlottesville were among the images of the far-right Moodie-Mills invoked during her remarks. That image, Moodie-Mills said, reminded her of the hostility toward black Americans in South Carolina she said her family escaped decades ago, which she said enabled her to have a better life and become the first person in her family to graduate college.
“As I’ve said, politics are personal for me, and it was love that directed me to champion the cause for LGBT equality,” Moodie-Mills said. “And it was love that directed me to champion the calls for LGBT equality, and it was love for what America can and should be that has guided me to make this decision today.”
Moodie-Mills announces her departure more than one year after President Trump won election to the White House, to the dismay of many in the LGBT community, and weeks after Election 2017, which resulted in historic gains in local races for transgender candidates the Victory Fund had endorsed.
Marking the contrast in the elections, Moodie-Mills said the “as frustrated and fearful as I get sometimes about the regression that we’re seeing in America, I have always believed in my heart and soul that this breakdown in our democracy has poised us for an unimaginable breakthrough.”
Upon announcing her departure, Moodie-Mills said she’d bequeath leadership to Annise Parker, a lesbian former mayor of Houston who has worked closely with the Victory Fund. The Victory Fund confirmed Parker would take over as CEO as a permanent, not interim, basis and begin Monday.
Parker said in a statement she’s “thrilled” about the opportunity to lead the organizations after “Victory played such an important role in my political career.”
“2018 could be a historic year for our community – with more openly LGBTQ people running for office in more places – and I am confident we will be a difference-maker in helping these candidates across the finish line,” Parker said. “I appreciate all Aisha has done to take the organizations to the next level, and am honored to continue to build on that success.”
Kim Hoover, board chair of One Victory, commended Moodie-Mills in a statement for her service the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund and Victory Institute for the past two-and-a-half years.
“During Aisha’s tenure we grew the organization’s leadership initiatives to ensure LGBTQ people from across the country were prepared to run for office and be a voice for our community,” Hoover said. “We invested in game-changing campaigns and took on anti-equality incumbents with historic LGBTQ candidates, and won. And we strengthened and grew our network of LGBTQ elected officials, who work tirelessly to be the change we want to see in the world.”