Gay Man to Be Tapped As Deputy Director of Obama's Public Liaison Office

By Kerry Eleveld

Originally published on Advocate.com January 08 2009 1:00 AM ET

A transition team
aide has told The Advocate that
President-elect Barack Obama will name Brian Bond
deputy director of the White House Office of Public
Liaison. 

Bond, a political
veteran who has headed the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund
and held several positions at the Democratic National
Committee, will have managerial and strategic
responsibilities for the entire Public Liaison office
as well as function as the point person on LGBT
issues. The liaison office is tasked with communicating
and promoting presidential policies to individual
constituency groups and serving as a sounding board
for the president on policies that affect certain
interest groups.

Several LGBT
insiders on Capitol Hill said Bond, who served as
director of constituencies for the president-elect during
his campaign, was a great fit for the position.
“He’s a very skillful and experienced
political strategist,” said Bob Witeck, CEO of the
D.C.-based Witeck-Combs Communications, who has known
Bond for 15 years. “His knowledge of our
community and the competence he has in working with both
leaders and activists is immense.”

Bond served as
executive director of the Victory Fund, a national
bipartisan group that works to elect openly gay people to
public office, from 1997 to 2003. Jeff Trammell, a
Democratic strategist and senior adviser to Vice
President Al Gore during his presidential bid, cochaired
the organization in the late 1990s and was instrumental in
hiring Bond for the position.

“We had to
rebuild the Victory Fund,” Trammell recalled, noting
that the organization was nearly bankrupt at that
point. “We were very impressed with both his
passion for our issues and his savvy, his political
smarts.” Trammell called Bond’s tenure a
“turning point moment” for the
organization and said he laid the foundation for the current
work being done there. “He basically built that
place -- he took us from the ground floor up a number
of levels so that we could build that skyscraper.”

Witeck said
Bond’s years at the Victory Fund were a great
training ground for the responsibilities he will
assume. “Its mission is really to make our
elected and appointed officials better policy
people,” he explained. “So that
connection -- from his role at the Victory Fund into the
realm of the Democratic Party and ultimately the White
House -- is to translate those skills into getting and
keeping openly LGBT political leaders and policy
makers in positions where they can do the most good.”

Bond hails from
Missouri, another asset, according to Trammell. “He
comes from the middle of the country and he seems to
have the ability to deal with the more laid-back
heartland of the country as well as the more urban,
activist parts,” Trammell noted. “He has a
low-key, quiet listening style, which works well when
you have so many passionate members of a community
like we have.”

Trammell added
that Bond’s elevated position within the Office of
Public Liaison was appropriate given his level of
experience with both LGBT issues and the greater
political sphere. Trammell said he is “cautiously
optimistic” that LGBT people would see more
announcements like it.

“One would
hope that we see appointments beyond the terms of the
Clinton administration,” he said. Bill Clinton
was the first president to appoint a liaison to gays
and lesbians. “We’re not there yet," he
said. "What I’m hearing around the country is
that we expect and want some reflection of our
community in appointments and equally, if not more so,
with policies, such as ‘don’t ask,
don’t tell.’”

Bond has served
in several capacities at the DNC. He was hired by
Chairman Howard Dean to replace Donald Hitchcock as
director of the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Council.
The circumstances of Hitchcock’s termination
have been the subject of a lawsuit against Dean and the DNC.
Bond also worked as director of LGBT outreach at the
organization prior to joining the Victory Fund.

In his new
position at the White House, Bond will report to Tina Tchen,
a prominent Chicago lawyer and chief Obama fund-raiser
who has been tapped to run the Office of Public
Liaison.