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Equality Maryland Names Interim ED

Equality Maryland Names Interim ED

Lynnebowman

Lynne Bowman, a founder and former executive director of Equality Ohio, was named interim executive director of Equality Maryland on Thursday.

A joint statement from Equality Maryland board chair Chuck Butler and Equality Maryland Foundation chair Patrick Wojahn announced the appointment. Bowman brings more than two decades of experience in non-profit, for-profit and government sectors, having served as director of programs and services for the Equality Federation, the national association of state-based LGBT organizations, and, most recently, as campaign manager for the unsuccessful U.S. senate bid of Democratic lieutenant governor Lee Fisher in Ohio.

In separate interviews with The Advocate on Thursday afternoon, both Bowman and Butler described her role as a short-time assignment intended to guide the organization through a period of transition and challenges. Last week, Morgan Meneses-Sheets, the executive director for the past 18 months, stepped down following high-profile setbacks for marriage equality and transgender rights in the legislative session that concluded this month.

Bowman, who will arrive in Maryland on Monday, said she anticipated staying for at least four months, a period of time that could be extended depending on how long it takes to find "the right person" for the permanent job.

"I have absolutely no interest in staying as the full-time executive director," she said by phone from Ohio. "I'm coming in as the interim executive director with the very clear intention of helping them find the next executive director."

Butler said Bowman's background suited the issues facing the organization. In addition to the legislative priorities, insiders say Equality Maryland needs to make improvements with fund-raising and public relations.

"She has a lot of experience evaluating organizations' strengths and we'd be hoping that she could us get on the path with our short and long-term goals," he said.

Bowman and Butler agreed that those goals include revisiting attempts to pass marriage equality and gender identity anti-discrimination legislation in 2012. Both measures made historic progress this year before being shelved as final votes neared.

According to Bowman, her day-to-day work will focus on growing the board of directors and working with staff, local partners and legislators to lay the foundation for the permanent executive director. Whoever that may be and when they might arrive remains an open question.

"It's a big job that requires a lot of different skills but the main quality we're looking for is strong, effective leadership," said Butler.

Until then, Bowman will take on the role, one for which colleagues said she is highly qualified.

"During Lynne's time with the Equality Federation and as executive director of Equality Ohio, Lynne consistently demonstrated strong, visionary leadership," said Roberta Isaacs, executive director of the Equality Federation, in a statement. "Lynne will bring these qualities to her position with Equality Maryland and make a positive contribution."

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