Former HRC Head Joe Solmonese Named CEO of Democratic Convention

Joe Solmonese

Joe Solmonese, the former president of the Human Rights Campaign, will be CEO of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, to be held July 13-16 in Milwaukee.

“The opportunity to lead the 2020 convention is a tremendous honor and I’m prepared to hit the ground running,” Solmonese said in a Democratic National Committee press release. “There is no better time than now to be a Democrat and next summer we will showcase the ideals and diversity that make our party, the city of Milwaukee, and our nominee special to the American people.” As CEO, he will be responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the convention. He’s the second out gay person to assume that role; Stephen Kerrigan, in 2012, was the first.

There are also two other members of the LGBTQ community in leadership roles for the 2020 convention. Jess O’Connell headed the site selection committee; a lesbian, she is a former Democratic National Committee CEO. And the convention will be hosted by Milwaukee County Democratic Party Chair Christopher Walton, a gay man.

Solmonese ran HRC, the nation’s largest LGBTQ rights group, from 2005 to 2012, when he became a national cochair of President Barack Obama’s reelection campaign. His time at HRC saw the enactment of marriage equality in eight states, the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. He also oversaw efforts to defeat an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban same-sex marriage; the amendment did ultimately fail.

Before joining HRC, he spent 12 years with Emily’s List, the last two as CEO. The organization backs pro-choice Democratic women for elective office. For the past several years, he has been the managing director and founding partner of consulting firm Gavin/Solmonese. He has also served as transition chair of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where he was responsible for supervising the day-to-day operations of the national office following the departure of Cecile Richards.

“Joe Solmonese will be an asset in leading our convention team,” Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said in the release. “He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to this role and will be instrumental in ensuring we have a successful event. We chose Milwaukee because the city embodies who we are as a party, and under Joe’s leadership, I’m confident those values will be at the forefront as we celebrate our nominee and prepare for the general election. I am thrilled to have him as a part of the team and look forward to a unifying convention that will put our nominee in the best possible position for victory in November 2020.”

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