Shanker, 26, was elected president of the board of Equality Pennsylvania in 2011, a year after he joined the board.
Shanker was eligible to run for another two-year term but said Tuesday that he believes new blood should be brought in.
“I think organizations run very well when leadership changes,” he said. “It’s a very important thing we all need to remember. None of us have a mutually exclusive idea of what’s best for our organizations. There’s a lot of wonderful leaders within the organization right now, so I thought this was a great time for one of them to step up.”
The board will elect a new president at its quarterly meeting in Philadelphia in November.
The position was volunteer, and Shanker will continue with his full-time job as a marketing professional at a small business in Easton.
And although he will be off the board, Shanker said he will remain engaged in the LGBT-rights movement.
“I’m going to continue to be involved in the community, as an LGBT advocate and raising money for candidates I believe in. I don’t have a prescribed next step but I do absolutely reaffirm my commitment to working on these issues,” he said. “But right now I need a bit of time to decide what I’m going to do with my limited free time. I can absolutely say I’ll be enjoying some time in November and December without taking on any new commitments until next year.”
Shanker took on the position after former president Brian Sims stepped down to campaign for his eventual state House seat.
“Organizations like Equality Pennsylvania can really be internal or external, but not both at the same time; you can focus on the internal structures — the funding, board, legalities — or you can focus on programming and other work of the organization,” Sims said. “My role was very internal, finding a location, the formal structures, financial structures. When I stepped down, I said to the board, ‘We spent so much time working to create this ship, we need it to sail now.’ And that’s what Adrian did.”
Sims said Shanker can be credited with helping the agency experience its largest-ever statewide growth and finding a new influence in Harrisburg.
Among the highlights of the last two years, Shanker said, were his recent invitation to speak at the 50th anniversary of the National March on Washington, as well as the invitation to serve on the transition team of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
DePasquale said Shanker was an asset to the team, and was especially valuable in ensuring the office had a staff that represents all Pennsylvanians.
“Adrian is someone who had a wealth of experience in employment issues. I had a commitment of having a diverse workforce, and he was certainly very helpful in setting that up and helping our team be ready,” DePasquale said. “And he’s got a good strategic mind. He’s always very thoughtful in how he approaches issues.”
Shanker said he has also been honored to support and offer testimony on pro-LGBT municipal efforts like Philadelphia City Councilman James Kenney’s LGBT Equality Bill and Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds-Brown’s Equal Benefits Bill, as well as numerous LGBT nondiscrimination ordinances throughout the state.
Shanker said the last two years have shown him that LGBT progress can come to fruition in Pennsylvania.
“Pennsylvania is certainly on the path to becoming more equal at the state level, and I do see the path for victory for both nondiscrimination and marriage equality in the near future,” he said. “And all of us who support full equality and want to live in a state where we are treated equally need to continue to support our statewide organization through volunteering and financial support. I’m going to remain a donor for Equality PA, and I encourage everyone who wants to win equality to get involved in the fight to help get us there.”