Nearly all of the board members of LGBT legal organization Equality Advocates Pennsylvania have resigned within the past two weeks.
Ten of the 13 members stepped down in a move that Lynn Zeitlin, executive director of the group, said was part of a wider restructuring effort.
The former board members include president Virginia Gutierez, vice president Trudi Sippola, treasurer Margaret Klaw, secretary Stephen Scardina and members Jodi Bromberg, Charles Ellis, Linda Aline Hawkins, Doug Metcalfe, Cody Poerio and Steven Sokoll.
None of the members PGN reached was willing to comment on the reason for their resignations, although Sippola said she felt it was “a good time for there to be some fresh energy on the board to take Equality Advocates into the next phase of its development.”
Metcalfe, the former board spokesperson who served on the body for seven years, said that “there are certainly some things that have happened in the organization that brought me to the decision that I needed to resign.”
Under the restructuring, the organization will now be led by a steering committee including recently elected board members Brian Sims, Ann Loftus and Jay Meadway, as well as Zeitlin as an ex-officio member.
“The main purpose of this restructure is to expand as a statewide organization and to do the job that is our mission,” Zeitlin said. “I’m really very excited about the possibility of enacting legislation in Pennsylvania to achieve equality that LGBT people need and deserve.”
Zeitlin said the board recently approved a resolution allowing for the restructuring.
The proposal read, in part: “Equality Advocates Pennsylvania is reorganizing in order to work more effectively to achieve equality for LGBT Pennsylvanians. This step is being taken in light of the economy and recognizing the need to expand in Pennsylvania.”
“That was approved by the board, and the restructuring included the development of a steering committee,” Zeitlin said. “Three members of the board were asked to stay on the steering committee. One accepted and the other two did not at first but then reconsidered.”
Zeitlin — whom the board approved as executive director in February after a national search following last summer’s resignation of former executive director Stacey Sobel — said Sims was initially the only one to accept the offer, and Loftus and Meadway declined but later agreed to join the committee.
“They certainly have a great deal of interest in the mission of the organization and in helping with the restructuring, and they’re all very smart people,” Zeitlin said.
When asked why these three members, the newest on the board, were asked to join the committee, Zeitlin said, “The board was mindful of the need for some new ideas and new blood.”
Zeitlin added that the steering committee is not meant to be a permanent board, but rather was designed to create the framework for the group’s reorganizing efforts.
“There are going to be lots of committees, and the people who chair those committees and subcommittees will be reaching out to members of the community who would like to be helpful,” she said. “We’re open to new ideas and new people getting involved.”