By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com April 14 2012 7:16 PM ET
The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation picked its next permanent president from within its ranks, announcing the decision today after its board voted to select Herndon Graddick.
Graddick, a former television news producer, had been GLAAD's vice president of Programs and Communications since 2010 and oversaw a string of the group's recent successes, including the "Stand Up For Ellen" campaign that defended Ellen DeGeneres against a right-wing group's call to fire her as spokeswoman for JCPenney. He also led the new Commentator Accountability Project, which presses for antigay voices to be kicked off cable news airwaves as guests.
Graddick replaces Mike Thompson, the interim president who had been brought on in 2011 to help repair damage to GLAAD's reputation caused by the tumultuous end of its previous president, Jarrett Barrios. Instead of helping define the headlines, GLAAD had suddenly found itself at the center of news about whether it improperly backed a proposed merger between T-Mobile and AT&T in response to a donation and influence from an AT&T executive on its board.
“My job is to kind of refocus the conversation,” Thompson told The Advocate after taking over.
He and the board revoked support for the merger, and GLAAD changed its stance on net neutrality — an issue it had waded into while again siding with AT&T. Several members of the board also left.
Thompson also presided over a significant reduction in the size of GLAAD's staff, cutting nearly a quarter of jobs in January.
Graddick will make his debut at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles on April 21.
"I look forward to working with our dedicated staff to create a culture where there is a welcoming and respected space for LGBT Americans," Graddick said in a statement. "GLAAD's work with the media to inspire Americans to speak out against anti-LGBT actions and support equality is needed today more than ever."