Staff Spotlight: Kasey Suffredini Manages Multiple Efforts to Win Nondiscrimination For AllBy Shane Stahl • April 19, 2018 • 12:11 pm
Since its founding in 2015, Kasey Suffredini has played a key leadership role at Freedom For All Americans. As President of Strategy, he is able to bring nearly two decades of experience in winning pro-LGBTQ elections and key policy victories to the movement. In addition to his work at FFAA, Kasey also serves as a campaign co-chair for Freedom For All Massachusetts, the campaign to defend statewide nondiscriminations for transgender people in the Bay State, which will be on the ballot in November 2018.
Tell us a bit about yourself:
After growing up in Southern California, I left for law school on the East Coast, where I spent 20 years before my partner, Kristina, brought me home. When I’m not working on LGBTQ issues out of my home base in Long Beach, California, I’m volunteering for candidate campaigns or animal welfare organizations, tending to our garden, catching the sunset, or doting on Kristina and our runt-sized, black pug, Tini.
How did you get involved in the movement for LGBTQ non-discrimination?
I grew up in a conservative part of Southern California (yes, they exist) during the AIDS crisis. I never knowingly met a gay person, I had no idea transgender people existed, and most of the messages I received about LGBT people were negative. After I came out in college, I realized how difficult all the negativity had made growing up as transgender person. I changed majors to pursue a career in LGBTQ advocacy, went on to law school, joined the board of the National LGBT Bar Association and, from there, have held a number of positions in national and state LGBTQ movement organizations. I was 19 and that was 23 years ago. I’m grateful everyday that I’m somehow one of the lucky few who get to work full-time for people I love and a cause I believe in.
Is there a particular moment you’ve experienced in your work that sticks with you? Why?
There are so many. Every time I’m with courageous young people while they are doing things even most adults are afraid to do – testifying at a hearing in South Dakota, speaking at a press conference in Georgia, meeting with a lawmaker in New Hampshire – I’m so inspired by how much has improved since I was young and the promise the future holds. There is much to do, but the day will come when LGBTQ kids get to focus just on being kids.
What would you say to people who want to take action for LGBTQ equality? What are simple steps they can take?
I’ll say what was said to me: Get involved. There are so many ways. Volunteer at an LGBTQ community center. Donate to your statewide LGBTQ equality organization. Write a letter to your elected leaders urging them to support pro-LGBTQ policies. No matter what you do, make your support for LGBTQ people known to those around you. Talk with your family, friends, co-workers, fellow worshippers, etc. You never know if one them is someone who really needs to hear that they are safe and welcome. And you might change some hearts and minds along the way, too.
Why does nondiscrimination matter to you?
I want my goddaughter, my nieces and nephews, my future children, and all kids like my younger self to grow up in a world where everyone is afforded the basic dignity, respect and freedom to be themselves.
Self-care is important in these times when horrible and unpleasant things are said and done regarding LGBTQ rights – what kind of self-care do you practice?
I run, I work with my hands and, most importantly, I take Tini to the dog park. Because the only thing more uplifting than puppies running in the wind is my little Tini running in the wind.