RALEIGH, N.C. — The longtime executive director of North Carolina’s statewide LGBT education, advocacy and lobbying organization has announced he will step down from his position on July 1.

Ian Palmquist speaks at the May 14, 2011, OutRaleigh Festival.

Ian Palmquist has served as Equality North Carolina executive director for five years, though he has been employed by the group for more than a decade. During his time with the organization, Equality North Carolina has grown to become one of the most influential state-based LGBT advocacy and lobbying groups across the nation. In an email to supporters on Thursday, Palmquist said he and his partner would be moving to Boston. There he will enroll in Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to pursue a master’s of public administration degree.

“I leave with an overwhelming feeling of pride in what we have built together, confidence in the future of this organization, and gratitude for the tireless effort that our board, staff, and supporters like you have given,” Palmquist wrote.

Named qnotes2009 Person of the Year, Palmquist has guided Equality North Carolina through several policy and legislative successes. In 2009, the state became the first in the Southeast to pass a fully LGBT-inclusive statute protecting all public school students from bullying and harassment. Equality North Carolina has been able to hold an anti-gay constitutional amendment at bay for seven years, though LGBT citizens face a heightened threat from GOP legislators this session. Additionally, hospital visitation rules, AIDS drug funding and other policy initiatives were a success during Palmquist’s tenure as executive director.

In his email, Palmquist said his board would soon begin putting into place steps to find and hire a new executive director.

First hired in 1999, Palmquist was shortly thereafter named assistant director and later appointed co-director. In July 2006, he was named executive director. Since 2003, Palmquist has been a board member of the Equality Federation, a national association of state LGBT advocacy groups. He chaired the group from 2004-2007. In late 2009, he was again chosen to lead the organization and fill the unexpired term of Equality Ohio’s Lynne Bowman.

Palmquist, who lives in Raleigh with his partner Brad Oaks, is also a founding member of the board of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and a steering committee member of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network. A native of Raleigh, Palmquist began his activism on gay rights and civil liberties issues at Enloe High School. He attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and graduated in 1999 with a B.A. in English and Linguistics.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.