Mark Perriello made such an impression on the Obama transition team through his execution of the Gay and Lesbian Leadership Institute's Presidential Appointments Project that the White House had to bring him on board. The Chelmsford, Mass., native assembled and vetted a talent pool of thousands of openly LGBT professionals seeking positions in the new administration, hoping to attract the best and brightest to Washington. The Victory Fund initiative not only identified a spectrum of qualified candidates, it even coaxed D.C.'s notoriously hardheaded LGBT groups with their varied missions into presenting the incoming administration with a unified voice.
How did Perriello do it? He's a good listener and excels at creating a space where all sides can speak openly, honestly, and deliberatively, his friends and colleagues attest. Before joining the Victory Fund, Perriello worked at the progressive strategies firm Scott+Yandura, where his clients included the National Stonewall Democrats, Sen. Russ Feingold, and Young Democrats of America. He was also associate director of the Human Rights Campaign's political action committee, where he orchestrated the first-ever live, televised presidential forum on LGBT issues, in which Obama took part. "His appointment shows that this president is serious about reaching out to this community, and he's doing so with people who are extremely experienced and connected," Victory Fund spokesman Denis Dison says.
In his new role, Perriello will be specifically tasked with recruiting top talent from diverse populations, a job Dison says he will do with aplomb. "He understands how communities organize to place their own people in positions that allow them to have a voice at highest levels of government," Dison says. Or as Victory Fund president Chuck Wolfe puts it, Perriello "will be a tremendous asset as President Obama works to build an administration that reflects the diversity of America."