Jess O’Connell has become the first lesbian CEO of the Democratic National Committee. Photo Credit: Emily’s List

Dems hires lez CEO

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Jess O’Connell has been named CEO of the Democratic National Party, its committee announced.

In doing so, she becomes the first lesbian to staff the position.

O’Connell was previously executive director of Emily’s List, an organization dedicated to electing women in the U.S. In her new post she will oversee day-to-day operations and organization-wide restructuring.

This announcement is the latest transition update under the leadership of Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chair Tom Perez. The DNC is focused on strengthening the organization, growing collaboration with progressive partners, and better serving the 57 state and territory parties and Democrats abroad, leaders said.

“Jess has an impressive progressive track record and I am honored that she will lend her talents to rebuilding our party and electing Democrats,” Perez stated. “She knows that we as a party need to get back to basics. We need to organize in every zip code and better communicate our message of inclusion and opportunity. We know what happens when Democrats don’t win, because we are bearing witnesses to the chaos and harm to working families that results with Republicans at the helm. Jess’ experience as a grassroots organizer and as a leader who has helped hundreds of Democratic candidates win up and down the ballot will be particularly valuable as we gear up for critical elections in 2017, 2018, and beyond.”

“Every single day we are witnessing unprecedented activism and excitement across our nation,” said O’Connell. “I am thrilled to join the fight at the national party to make sure we translate this moment into a movement, and a movement into votes. The DNC has incredible potential and, under the leadership of Chair Perez, I’m ready to jump in and help make this organization more inclusive, effective and influential. We are poised to build a foundation for a new Democratic Party in every state to jump-start a wave of Democratic wins from school board to Senate nationwide.”

With her lead at Emily’s List the organization saw increases in membership and fundraising from 3 million members to over 5 million, with $90 million raised last cycle. O’Connell oversaw the largest independent expenditure program in the organization’s history. Additionally, O’Connell helped elect the most diverse Congress in history — quadrupling the number of women of color elected to the U.S. Senate and over half of the new Democratic women elected to the House were women of color. At the state and local level, O’Connell built programs to elect 269 women. She traveled to nearly 20 states speaking on behalf of candidates. During this time, with the support of Emily’s List, Hillary Clinton made history as the first woman nominated for president from either party. In response to the 2016 election, O’Connell helped launch Run to Win, a national campaign that has already recruited over 12,000 women to run for office since election day.

O’Connell was previously with the Center for American Progress, serving as a senior vice president and chief of staff, and served as national field director for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Her advocacy work began in Colorado where she served as the first woman director of the AIDS Walk. She then went on to work on congressional campaigns. O’Connell joined the senior team for Hillary Clinton for President as the national director of operations. She has also held senior positions at the Children’s Defense Fund and ONE.

She currently lives in Maryland with her wife Holly, a librarian with Montgomery County Public Schools.


Org’s center helps deal with trans docs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Center for Transgender Equality has invited the community to visit its ID Document Center which provides information on how to update identity federal documents and those in each state.

The ID Document Center is a national resource that helps to ensure transgender safety, goal pursuit and full participation in society. Detailed information is provided on how to navigate the often-confusing and complicated process of legal name change and gender marker on official IDs and records. Instructions on how to facilitate state-specific changes are also included, such as driver’s licenses or state ID and birth certificates. Federal documents’ updates cover such items as Social Security records, passports, military records and immigration papers.

Up-to-date and accurate information is always on hand.


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.