On Aug. 27, the Human Rights Campaign announced the departure of its current executive director, Joe Solmonese, whose contract will run out on March 31, 2012; he has chosen not to renew.

HIllsborough’s Joni Madison will co-chair HRC executive search committee with Los Angeles’ Dana Perlman. Photo Credit: Tony Pearce

The same day, HRC announced the formation of a search committee tasked to find a replacement for Solmonese. North Carolinian Joni Madison, of Hillsborough, and Los Angeles’ Dana Perlman, will co-chair the committee. Madison, a six-year member of the HRC Board of Governors, has long been involved with HRC and in both local and state LGBT affairs. She has twice served as co-chair of the HRC Carolinas Dinner. She also served four years on the HRC National Board of Directors. In March, Madison was awarded the HRC Legacy Award at the group’s dinner in Raleigh.

Madison and Perlman will work with the co-chairs of HRC and HRC Foundation boards in selecting members for the full search committee. They’ll also work to secure an executive search firm to assist the organization in its efforts.

Solmonese’s departure marks a milestone for the national organization, the largest LGBT civil rights group in the country. The group’s leaders say Solmonese has been a key figure in the success of the organization and its mission.

“From the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’, to the recent passage of marriage equality in New York, Joe has made sure that HRC is an effective and strategic force for positive change,” Tim Downing, who co-chairs the HRC Board of Directors with Rebecca Tillet, said in a release. “Over the course of his tenure, he’s set the tone for delivering real reform that matters in peoples’ everyday lives.”

Solmonese was first hired by HRC in 2005. Since then, the organization says its membership has climbed from 750,000 to more than a million. During Solmonese’s tenure, HRC launched its Healthcare Equality Index, strengthened its religion and faith program and broadened its Corporate Equality Index. The HRC Foundation also launched its “Welcoming Schools” program.

“HRC has never been stronger and after nearly seven years, this is the right moment for me to move on,” Solmonese said in a release. “As I explore new professional possibilities, I plan on continuing to pour my heart and soul into improving the lives of members of our community – from battling proposed marriage amendments to creating more equitable workplaces to ensuring the President Obama is reelected for a second term.” : :

— Compiled from release

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