Goals & Board of GetEQUAL:
Veteran community reporter, and longtime government sunshine advocate, Karen Ocamb ran a guest post at her blog yesterday from Derek Washington, a gay black man who was at GetEQUAL's founding invitation-only retreat in February, and who had much advice to give his colleagues. Among his complaints:
1: Don’t just decide and land anymore. Asking someone for help locally after you have decided there is no turning back is like driving someone’s car and asking for the favor of borrowing it when you bring it back with a dent.
2: A little more of a roadmap to what it is that you want to accomplish would help. I don’t mean a generic catch phrase either. Who? What? Where? Why?
3: Transparency as to how decisions are made and why. [...]
One of GetEQUAL's leaders, Heather ($70,000) Cronk, with hesitation, replied:
I don’t want to get into a fight over this on Karen’s very civilized blog, but I do really need to point out a fundamental error in Derek’s post.
Who's asking for a fight? She immediately acts as though Derek wants one. This defensiveness is what Heather also showed when pressed for communication from Bil Browning in June. I hardly get the feeling she wants to have a back-and-forth chat. She says:
We called Derek ahead of time, talked him through everything, asked his advice, and made sure that he felt comfortable with the action plans. If there was miscommunication or if Derek misunderstood what we were intending to do, we should talk about that offline so that we can ensure that our communication with local activists is better in the future — but we made every effort to include Derek and other Stonewall [Democratic Club of Nevada] folks in the conversation ahead of time, and asked any/all local Stonewall activists to come out and participate.
Notice the quickness to move the chat offline about what may have gone wrong. A commitment to transparency and willingness to engage with critics, in full public view, something the Human Rights Campaign also does provide the community, in is the DNA of GetEQUAL.
It's not just a matter of better communication with locals, but an ongoing problem of elitism with anyone who isn't a 100 percent GetEQUAL supporter. Heather should welcome an online respectful dialog, in full public view.
My comment asking Heather when her org would keep some promises they made to the community in June, brought this answer:
I appreciate your questions, and we will be releasing the names of provisional board members next week. We have been in an intentional process of creating a board of activists who are committed to fighting for full equality, and that process is nearly finished. Please be patient as we let all of those folks talk together and get to know one another, so that they’re comfortable with their shared commitment to our work.
This is such sloppy organizing, where the org gets big bucks from an elusive gay millionaire, Jonathan Lewis, and his DC consultant Paul Yandura, Clintonista Richard Socarides gives his royal blessing, the org holds an exclusive, private retreat to get officially formed, and almost seven long months of existence the org still has no board in place.
In case no one noticed, Heather promised GetEQUAL would hold its June retreat and get back to the community. Did it happen? No report has been issued from them, and it's the end of July, and only because AndrewW and I have been asking follow up questions, has Heather said a word to the larger community about the promised board members.
It's just like when Bil Browning and I pressed GetEQUAL on the amounts donated from Lewis and Yandura, and the salaries of the executive co-directors, it was only after the public pressure was made did the org get around to being transparent.
It's no skin off my nose how long Heather and crew take to find a handful of people to serve as financially responsible for them, as they build their 501(c)3 non-profit entity. Responsible and coherent organizers might have taken care of the basic necessity for a board before launching a national org and various political campaigns.
We have refined GetEQUAL’s mission statement on our website, and have both added a vision statement and outlined our theory of change there. Please feel free to read that.
Those documents, so hard to read on my 51-year-old eyes because they're posted in white letters on a harsh black background, are full of politically correct blather and offer no specifics explaining the org's strategy.
We are finalizing the benchmarks and goals that we set a few weeks ago, and will be adding those to the site as they’re finalized.
Take your time, Heather. No rush needed to give the community those basic components, and maybe even a roadmap of how you're going to achieve those goals, and engage gays beyond the tight, small circle of GetEQUAL executive co-directors and friends.