On Sept. 23, the National LGBTQ Task Force announced that longtime Executive Director Rea Carey will be stepping down in early 2021.
Carey has been with the organization since 2003 as a senior strategist, then deputy executive director, becoming executive director in 2008. The Board of Directors has unanimously selected Kierra Johnson, who has served as deputy executive director since 2018, as its next executive director beginning Feb. 1, 2021.
Johnson will become the first Black executive director of the Task Force.
On her departure, Carey said in a statement, "From overturning discriminatory policies and passing LGBTQ inclusive laws to celebrating marriage at the Supreme Court, to being arrested alongside immigration activists, to the energy of our Creating Change Conferences, it has been a remarkable ride. Just to be alive during a time of such progress over the last many years has been astounding, and to serve the LGBTQ community in my 17 years at the National LGBTQ Task Force has been the joy and honor of a lifetime."
Johnson said, "I am thrilled to join the long, proud legacy of the many powerful activists that have led this amazing organization. While the world grapples with the convergence of so many storms rooted in injustice, we are proud to stand at the center as an LGBTQ+ voice across our many identities and issues.
"I am inspired by the multitudes of Black, Brown and Indigenous people that have unapologetically claimed space, power and influence to make change so desperately needed for our communities. I am moved to action by the defiance, creativity and persistence of transgender, non-binary, genderqueer, bisexual, and intersex people that push us to demand a world where we all thrive. The Task Force will work to create a world where checking boxes is obsolete, but health, wellness, equity, justice, joy and pleasure are accessible to everyone."
Colleagues praised Carey in the same statement. Los Angeles LGBT Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri Jean (who herself is stepping down in 2022) said, "Few leaders in our movement have had the grit and determination of Rea Carey, who has dedicated most of her adult life to fighting for freedom, justice, equality and equity for LGBTQ people. She never lost sight of the fact that ours is an intersectional movement, as she worked to build vital coalitions with progressive partners."
And National Minority AIDS Council Executive Director Paul Kawata added, "Rea Carey, the LGBTQ movement is better off because of your leadership. Your actions helped to turn us from independent agencies that were fighting for turf and power into a movement of collaborators. The HIV community owes you a huge debt for bringing our issues back into the LGBTQ agenda. You will be missed. NMAC is very excited to work with Kierra Johnson."