Head of EqualityMaine to step down after 14 years leading gay rights organization

Betsy Smith
John Clarke Russ | BDN
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By Judy Harrison, BDN Staff
Posted Aug. 08, 2013, at 8:01 a.m.

PORTLAND, Maine — EqualityMaine has announced that Executive Director Betsy Smith will step down next month after 14 years at the helm of the gay rights organization.

Ali Vander Zanden, who serves as political director for EqualityMaine was named interim executive director.

Smith led the organization through the passage of gay marriage by the Legislature in 2009, its repeal the same year by voters and the eventual approval of same-sex marriage last year.

“Betsy’s extraordinary ability to work in coalition, to create a movement that’s greater than the sum of its parts, is in many ways why we have accomplished so much over the last two decades, Tim Diehl, president of the organization’s board of directors, said Wednesday in an email addressed to supports. “Victories under her leadership include trans-inclusive non-discrimination protections, a myriad of domestic partner benefits, anti-bullying protections, defeat of a transgender discrimination bill, and the freedom to marry.”

Smith became involved with the group 21 years ago when it was called the Maine Lesbian, Gay Political Alliance, Diehl said. Four years later, she was elected president. Smith was hired as executive director in 2002.

Diehl said Smith planned to spend more time with her family and hoped to coach her sons’ sports teams.

“We are committed to a smooth transition of leadership and are confident that EqualityMaine is well positioned for continued success in the future,” the president said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/08/08/politics/smith-to-step-down-next-month-as-executive-director-of-equalitymaine/ printed on July 25, 2014