Passing the rainbow baton — Former Executive Director James Miller with newly hired Executive Director Lindsey Lughes. (Photo Credit: LGBT Center of Raleigh)

RALEIGH, N.C. — The LGBT Center of Raleigh has hired Lindsey Lughes as their new executive director, taking on the role that its former leader, James Miller, held for a number of years.

All of this comes at a time of transition for the center as it has already had one transitional event this year, the move to new headquarters on Hargett St.

The center shared that “Lindsey has already arrived with an open heart and an excitement for taking the center’s mission to newer and greater heights.”

Lughes has worked at various non-profits in North Carolina such as the American Social Health Association providing information to folks living with chronic STIs before becoming involved in political organizing. As an organizer, she traveled the country working on a number of campaigns.

The birth of her first child in 2009 put a halt on that as a career, she said, but she continued volunteering and spending time in “queer spaces.” Shortly after her baby was born, she and her wife relocated to Pennsylvania.

“In 2014 I became aware that many people had little awareness or understanding of transgender identities, so leveraging my cisgender privilege, I began teaching courses on LGBTQ+ identities and challenges faced by queer folks in a number of different spaces such as churches and schools, she added. This eventually led to an adjunct teaching position at Temple University, Harrisburg and then to a position as youth programs director at the LGBT Center of Central PA located in Harrisburg, Pa., and later as director of training and education with the same organization. In this role, she traveled throughout an eight-county region in Central PA providing training for non-profits, corporations, hospitals, public K-12 schools and universities.

Lughes interested in working with the center came from her eargerness to move back to North Carolina, and Raleigh specifically, saying that she “couldn’t imagine NOT working for an LGBT Center! The opportunity came up to apply for the executive director role, and I had to go for it. Combining my love of creating safe, affirming spaces for people in queer communities with my love of my hometown was a wonderful opportunity!”

She hopes that she can continue growing the programs like Out! Raleigh and the center’s library which have received recognition throughout the southeast. She wants to put a focus on racial justice initiatives and creating more exclusive space for the most marginalized people in the community. “I bring a lens around training and education and am also excited to develop the training programs the center offers for both LGBTQ+ communities and the many wonderful non-profits, government agencies and corporations who call Wake County home.” She also wants to address public health needs through mental health initiatives.

Her future hopes for the organization is that it expands programming to serve more people. “As Wake County continues to grow and become more diverse, the center should reflect these changes. Becoming a truly anti-racist organization is also essential. This will be a cultural shift that may take time, but I will affirm our dedication to working towards racial justice — specifically for black transgender women who are at such great risk in our society, and often the unsung heroes and backbone of our entire LGBTQ+ movement,” she shared.

Her engagement with the community will focus on the launch of an expansive needs assessment through a variety of means — online surveys, listening sessions, town hall-style meetings, etc. Once they have gathered that data later this year, they will use this to create a new plan for inclusion and equity and evaluate where gaps in services are currently. The center will work with community partners and, hopefully, gain new community partners who have similar goals. Additionally, they have a dedicated staff person for community engagement initiatives and will seek collaborations on a number of events. “Quite simply — we will ask people what they need and then work to accomplish those goals,” she concluded.


Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.