Ross D. Levi, the executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, was let go last night following a conference call with the statewide LGBT rights groups’ board of directors.
Pride Agenda released a brief statement Tuesday announcing that Levi “was no longer serving as executive director” and that Lynn Faria, currently the deputy executive director, will take over during the search for a new leader. “We greatly appreciate Ross’s twelve years with the organization. He has been part of the Pride Agenda’s major legislative victories, culminating in the momentous marriage win last year,” said Louis Bradbury, co-chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda Foundation and chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda.
Speaking with Gay City News, some board members expressed dissatisfaction with Levi’s leadership despite his 12 years with the organization—the last 22 months as executive director—and the long-sought victory in winning marriage equality last summer.
Insiders described frustration with Pride Agenda’s role in the battle. As part of a coalition of rights groups that also included the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, Marriage Equality New York and others, Pride Agenda was instrumental in lobbying lawmakers to pass the Marriage Equality Act. But the board evidently felt other groups, particularly HRC, were more successful in spreading the message through the media and through influential allies.
They also indicated that Levi hadn’t defined the post-marriage equality goals of Pride Agenda clearly and that fundraising efforts were lacking as a result. Bradbury told Gay City News that the group would focus on getting the Gender Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) passed in the legislature, securing appropriations for LGBT health and social services, and increasing funding for homeless services would be priorities.