COLUMBIA, S.C. — The executive director of South Carolina’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization announced Friday he will resign next month to take a position as a southern senior regional field organizer for the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group.
Ryan Wilson, 30, began working as the executive director of SC Equality in 2012. Previously, he had worked and volunteered with a variety of LGBT groups in South Carolina.
Wilson will be based in Columbia, working in several southern states as the Human Rights Campaign continues to shift advocacy efforts toward the South.
In a message to friends on Facebook, Wilson said the new hire brings him “back full circle.” In 2007, Wilson worked as a Human Rights Campaign intern.
SC Equality Board Chair Jeff Ayers called Wilson’s tenure with the organization a “productive chapter,” in a message to SC Equality supporters Friday afternoon.
“During Ryan’s time with us, he has provided the leadership and has worked diligently to further our organization’s goals. The board greatly appreciates his contribution. Thank you, Ryan,” wrote Ayers.
Ayers pointed to several projects and initiatives begun or grown under Wilson’s leadership, including the group’s Know Your Rights Campaign and Gay Straight Alliance Network, the TransAction Committee and the Post-DOMA Litigation Task Force. Ayers also cited other important past or continuing work, including a workplace non-discrimination bill and new non-discrimination ordinances in Myrtle Beach
Wilson will leave SC Equality in early August, following his and the group’s participation in Charleston Pride activities.
You can read Wilson’s resignation letter below.
Ryan Wilson’s resignation letter
Almost two years ago, Jeff Ayers, the Chair of SC Equality announced at South Carolina Pride that I had been hired as Executive Director of SC Equality. Since then, our nation has seen huge leaps forward in legal equality for LGBTQ people, from the fall of DOMA to President Obama’s newest executive orders banning employment discrimination against LGBTQ federal employees and contractors.
Now, I am starting a new chapter. In a few weeks, I will be leaving my role with SC Equality to accept a new position as Senior Regional Field Organizer for a national LGBTQ organization where I will be focused on winning pro-equality campaigns across the Southern United States. The Board of Directors of SC Equality has accepted my resignation, effective in early August when the events of Charleston Pride come to a close. I feel it is fitting to start and end my time with SC Equality at pride festivals in South Carolina since I got my start as an activist in Columbia as a board member for SC Pride in 2006.
As I reflect upon the work over the past two years with SC Equality, I think we can all take “pride” in many great successes for our state. Our accomplishments have continued to increase, thanks to the work of our board, staff, volunteers, and allies. To see some of what we have achieved together, check out our 2013 video.
Truly, the theme of this year’s Gala, “Mission Possible” sums up how I feel about the future. The mission of SC Equality, to secure civil and human rights for LGBTQ South Carolinians and their families, is a very real possibility. No longer can we say “maybe someday”, “hopefully in my lifetime”, or “if we are lucky”. Now we can say “soon” but only if we continue to push ourselves, and the world around us, towards this goal.
“Mission Possible” requires each person to stop and ask themselves a question from a song that I always love to hear on Pride day, “What have you done today to make you feel proud?” SC Equality needs each of you to do something each day to help advance this mission. Whether giving time as a volunteer, sharing and re-posting on social media, or giving financially at any level, SC Equality’s mission will only become a reality if we each do our part.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of this fight for equality in South Carolina. As I leave to focus on efforts in other communities around the South, I hope each of you continue working to make equality a possibility in the Palmetto State. If you do, I know that one day soon, “Equal will truly mean everyone”.
For the cause,