Freedom for All Americans Introduces Acting CEOs Kasey Suffredini and Katie BelangerBy Adam Polaski • May 11, 2017 • 1:21 pm
The Freedom for All Americans (FFAA) and Freedom for All Americans Education Fund Boards of Directors have announced that Kasey Suffredini and Katie Belanger will jointly lead the organization during the national search to identify the next CEO. Both Suffredini and Belanger have played a leadership role within FFAA since the organization’s launch in 2015 — Suffredini as Chief Program Officer and director of the Transgender Freedom Project, and Belanger as the Chief Operations Officer. FFAA’s founding executive director, Matt McTighe, recently departed the organization to assume a new role as a political advisor for Michael Bloomberg.
In his new role as Acting CEO and President of Strategy, Suffredini will oversee the organization’s efforts to grow public support and protect more people from discrimination. As Acting CEO and President of Operations, Belanger will be responsible for the operational and financial management of the organization, as well as overseeing efforts to build a team of advocates and influencers advancing nondiscrimination protections. In the coming weeks, a search committee will undergo the process of seeking qualified candidates who may serve as McTighe’s successor.
Steph Perkins, executive director of Missouri-based PROMO, a member of the FFAA board of directors, and the co-chair of the search committee for the new leader of FFAA, said this week:
“From movement on the state level to progress in the courts and uncertainty within the Trump administration, the landscape on nondiscrimination is rapidly changing and unpredictable. For the past two years, Kasey and Katie have helped steer FFAA as it’s grown into the national leader on nondiscrimination protections, providing critical resources, expertise, and strategic guidance to state organizations and movement partners. I’m confident that as we move into this next phase of the work, we are more prepared than ever to do the much-needed work to beat back anti-LGBT attacks and advance our goal of national nondiscrimination protections for all LGBT people as soon as possible.”
Suffredini and Belanger are seasoned movement veterans who bring 35 years’ worth of combined experience to their new roles. They have both served as executive directors, respectively, of statewide LGBT equality groups MassEquality and Fair Wisconsin. Suffredini has played a role in LGBT policy victories in over 40 states, particularly in the area of nondiscrimination. Under his strategic guidance, Massachusetts became the only state to win transgender public accommodations protections in 2016; and he serves as co-chair of the campaign to defend that law in 2018. As ED of Fair Wisconsin, Belanger led the successful campaign to pass Wisconsin’s first pro-LGBT legislation in over 30 years. She is a past co-chair of the Equality Federation Board of Directors, as well as former Finance and PAC Director for Senator Tammy Baldwin.
Suffredini and Belanger said this week:
“Since joining FFAA in early 2015, we have helped shape the strategic vision that has turned an idea into a campaign with a talented team of advocates engaged in dozens of states around the country. We are proud to lead this incredible team as FFAA prepares for our new CEO and we map the pathway to an America where all LGBT people feel welcome and valued.”
In an increasingly hostile climate towards LGBT people, Freedom for All Americans is ramping up its programmatic work to build the case for comprehensive nondiscrimination protections, including the creation of America Competes, a national coalition of businesses that support nondiscrimination and reject the rollback of any existing protections, based in part on state business coalitions FFAA has supported over the past two years representing more than 3,500 American companies.
In addition, Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, FFAA’s Director of Public Education, will serve as the new director of the Transgender Freedom Project, the organization’s initiative to grow greater understanding and support for transgender equality. Heng-Lehtinen is a nationally recognized transgender policy expert, with a focus on creation of leadership development programs in transgender communities and LGBT communities of color, honing new strategies for social change.