Roland Palencia Hub

Equality California 'In Turmoil' as Executive Director Resigns

Following today's resignation announcement from Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia, the SF Chronicle reports that the organization is"in turmoil":

EqcaReached by phone, Palencia said, "I literally made a personal decision that I wanted to move on. There's really nothing more to it." He said he was not forced out by the board. About the group's financial situation, he said, "Right now a lot of nonprofits are having problems," but he maintained that the organization has "a lot of support."

Cathy Schwamberger, Equality California Institute board chairwoman, said its members were grateful for Palencia's service "and wish him the best in all of his future endeavors."

The organization appears to be in turmoil. Its recently laid-off Capitol office manager said staff has been cut drastically.

PalenciaPalencia released a statement to journalist Rex Wockner today about the organization's decision not to go back to the ballot:

"The decision about going or not back to the ballot to overturn Proposition 8 was a gut-wrenching one. Ultimately, I believed that initiating a signature drive could ignite something powerful in our movement here in California. This needs to be balanced with the responsibility of raising close to $2 million by December 2011 for the signature gathering alone; and maybe over $40 million to win this campaign by November 2012. Not a small task. Given the pending federal lawsuit, the economy, critical support among the base and a number of other factors, not winning this campaign could be a very disempowering experience."

Love Honor Cherish, a grassroots organization dedicated to repealing Proposition 8, said in an email today that it is "severely disappointed" in EQCA's decision not to go back to the ballot and it is "ready to fill the void" in fighting for LGBT Equality in California:

LovehonorcherishLast week, Equality California announced its much-delayed decision to, once again, abandon and postpone any effort to repeal Proposition 8 at the ballot box. EQCA's decision comes despite its members' favoring going to the ballot to repeal Prop 8, despite the town halls that EQCA held favoring being prepared to repeal Prop 8 if the Court case does not go well, and despite EQCA's making numerous statements favoring 2012.

Last night, we all heard the surprising news that EQCA's recently-appointed Executive Director, Roland Palencia, is leaving that position. LHC Outreach Director Lester Aponte says "Roland Palencia is a true gentleman is every sense of the word and has been a tireless advocate for our community and for all the least fortunate in society. Although we disagreed on important issues, our disagreements have always been respectful. Our concern is that his resignation reflects a far larger crisis in the largest LGBT rights organization in California and our movement in general. The failure by EQCA's Board and Mr. Palencia to push strongly for marriage equality is both a symptom and a consequence of this crisis."

In light of EQCA's abdication of their responsibility to fight for equality for the LGBT community in California and to honor their prior commitments, Love Honor Cherish stands ready, willing and able to fill the void and will have further announcements in the coming weeks.

Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia Resigns After Three Months

Roland Palencia, who began his tenure as Executive Director of Equality California on July 5, succeeding former head Geoff Kors, will step down as of Friday, October 14, the organization reports.

Palencia Reports Karen Ocamb of LGBT POV:

When asked why he was stepping down, Palencia hesitated. He then agreed to go through with the interview for Frontiers, a portion of which will be posted immediately on

Palencia is very concerned about Equality California as an organization:

“I want to make sure that everyone supports the organization. This is the time for all of us to rally and support Equality California. I have seen how this organization literally changes lives. It is a community asset and we have to keep our eye on the prize.”

In a press release, Equality California said it would have a transition plan in place by the end of the week:

“During his tenure with Equality California, Roland Palencia did important work to build diverse and inclusive coalitions and engage and reconnect our movement,” said Cathy Schwamberger, Equality California Institute Board Chair. “That work has helped to position our movement to fight back against attacks on the LGBT community and protect advances in equality–the effects of which will impact our movement for years to come. We are grateful for his service to Equality California and his contributions to our movement and wish him the best in all of his future endeavors.”

Equality California Rips Tony Perkins and the Family Research Council and its Ties to the KKK: VIDEO


Equality California and its Executive Director Roland Palencia are coming out strong against attempts to overturn California's FAIR Education Act, the law that mandates schools add LGBT history to their curriculum.

In late July, the California Secretary of State gave the Capitol Resource Institute, backed by the Family Research Council, the greenlight to proceed with efforts toward a ballot referendum repealing the measure.

Palencia spoke with Rex Wockner and other journalists this week about EQCA's efforts to stop anti-equality "extremists" from repealing the law.

Eqca In a statement and video released yesterday, Palencia goes after the hate group Family Research Council and the lies that it pushes to advance its agenda.

Wrote EQCA:

Last week the Family Research Council, a virulent anti-LGBT organization with ties to the Ku Klux Klan and recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act in California and released a video message to fundamentalist churches on behalf of the campaign. In it, the group's executive director, Tony Perkins, blatantly lied about and grossly misrepresented the FAIR Education Act, which requires California schools to include factual, age-appropriate information about the contributions, social movements and current events of, people with disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), and Pacific Islander people in already existing social studies lessons.

Said Palencia in a statement:

"California voters have a right to know the truth about those most backing the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act and that racist and homophobic organizations have no intent to protect families and children but instead hurt them with their bigotry.

Let's be clear: it's the anti-gay, racist rhetoric, dogma and attacks of these organizations that harm children, families and our society, not movements for equality, truth, inclusivity and dignity for all people.

Many fair-minded Californians—especially parents—may not yet know how they feel about the FAIR Education Act. But I don't believe any fair-minded parent would find friends of the KKK a trustworthy protector of their children. It's critical that these groups are exposed for what they really are: fear-mongers who prey on good parents' deep, instinctive desire to protect their children in order to advance a hateful, anti-equality agenda."

Watch Equality California's video, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Roland Palencia Named Executive Director of Equality California

Roland Palencia has been named executive director of Equality California, according to the organization:

Palencia Equality California and its Board of Directors announced today that Roland Palencia, a trailblazing LGBT activist with extensive experience in leading and managing multi-million dollar non-profit organizations, will serve as the new executive director for Equality California and Equality California Institute. Palencia will begin his tenure on July 5.

"I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to serve California's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and to build upon Equality California's tremendous success," said Palencia, who currently serves as the Community Benefits Director for L.A. Care Health Plan, a $1.2 billion public health plan. "I am committed to creating a better future for all LGBT Californians and to connecting the LGBT movement to the broader movement for socio-economic justice. Although permanently ending discrimination against LGBT people can be a daunting task, I am confident that together we will prevail. I look forward to getting to know and working with our dedicated membership, legislators and coalition partners as we strive to further Equality California's mission to achieve full equality for all LGBT Californians."

Said Board Chairs Cathy Schwamberger and Clarissa Filgioun: "On behalf of the Board of Directors, we are thrilled that Roland will lead the next chapter of Equality California. Roland is an inspiring leader who has done groundbreaking work for the LGBT community and beyond. His impressive track record of advancing equality and justice makes him a perfect fit for the organization." 

Karen Ocamb at LGBT POV has the first interview with Palencia.

(image via teach-in for equality)


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