Florida’s largest LGBTQ civil rights organization, Equality Florida announced Aug. 9 that former State Representative Joe Saunders would be rejoining the staff as the new Senior Political Director.
Saunders previously held the position of Field Director with Equality Florida for nearly a decade before running for, and winning, a seat in the Florida House of Representatives in 2012. Saunders, along with Miami Beach’s David Richardson, became the first openly gay Floridians elected to the legislature.
According to a statement from Equality Florida, in his role as Senior Political Director, Saunders will be charged with leading the organization’s civic engagement programs, pro-LGBTQ mobilization efforts and electoral programs.
“I can’t think of a more important place to be in 2018 than Florida,” Saunders said in a statement. “Florida is poised to be the first breakthrough Southern state in the work to ensure LGBTQ people are protected from discrimination. As the largest swing state in the country, Florida will hold a defining role in the national response to the politics of Washington, and we have hugely important races for U.S. Senate, Governor, Congress and a chance to reshape our state legislature. My time working nationally has reinforced for me that Equality Florida is one of the smartest and most capable LGBTQ organizations doing this work. I’m excited to be back.”
Saunders comes to Equality Florida after nearly three years as the Southern Regional Field Director for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest LGBTQ advocacy organization in the U.S., where he helped lead the successful effort in North Carolina to defeat anti-LGBTQ incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory – a champion of the notoriously anti-LGBTQ HB2, referred to by some as the “bathroom bill.”
“Joe Saunders is a proven LGBTQ and progressive leader who brings an incredible wealth of skill, knowledge and talent to our work,” Equality Florida Deputy Director and EQFL PAC Chair Stratton Pollitzer said in a statement. “We stand at the edge of incredible opportunity for progress even as we see new and emboldened attacks coming from Washington and some leaders in our state Capitol. Under Joe’s leadership, Equality Florida stands ready to hold elected leaders accountable at the ballot and to lift up those who stand on the right side of history.”