Equality Florida Quick to Draw Comparisons
Florida Together has hired Michael Kenny as its new Executive Director and has contracted with Ted Howard to provide services as Program Director. However, Equality Florida, a similar organization, has been quick to show concerns with the news.
“Florida Together has been an instrumental organizing and training resource for Florida’s equality community,” said Florida Together Chairman Georg Ketelhohn. “By adding Michael Kenny and the broad range of experience encompassed by our new board I truly believe we can make historic progress in the quest for equality in Florida.”
Among Michael’s many accomplishments, he served on the United Way campaign cabinet, as Director of Cultural Tourism for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, as a board member for the Dolphin Democratic Club and as an elected member of the Broward County Democratic Executive Committee.
“Michael’s proven leadership, political experience and fundraising and administrative expertise will help Florida Together increase its political and lobbying effectiveness on local, state and federal issues, as it works with its partner organizations to achieve greater successes,” said Ketelhohn.
“We are also pleased that Ted Howard will continue doing the organization’s critical work of connecting and empowering its member organizations by organizing statewide and regional conferences, providing capacity building trainings and web resources, and training individuals and organizations to conduct effective public education,” said Ketelhohn.
Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director of Equality Florida reacted to the announcement: “There are many fantastic organizations in this state that we work with. Our efforts compliment each other,” he states. “We all have different specialties, different areas of expertise, different skills and resources. But we’re hearing concerns from the community that this group is simply a duplication of what we do.”
Pollitzer is concerned Florida Together will do more harm than good towards advancing the fight for equality. “I think everyone agrees that having two separate campaigns during the fight against Amendment 2, the anti-marriage amendment, was a disastrous waste of resources. The biggest concern people are raising is that this could be a repeat of that very bad mistake.”
Florida Together Executive Director, Michael Kenny, is confident the move is positive and won’t negate any prior advancements. “Adding political power to the organizing efforts already underway across the state we can make a real difference in the fight for equality and justice for LGBT Floridians,” he states. “Our new board includes community leaders, business leaders and heavy hitters from across the political spectrum.” Jim Stork, Florida Together board member, and former Mayor of Wilton Manors agrees, “One critical way to move toward policies of equality is to get advocates for equality elected to office.”
Equality Florida already has a track record of rallying politicians in Tallahassee. “Our community has presented a strong and unified front. The danger is that when politicians see our community as divided, it gives them a place to hide and an excuse to do nothing,” said Pollitzer.
Furthermore, Pollitzer is concerned that Florida Together “has been surrounded by secrecy from the start. Our community has to hold organizations accountable for what they say and do, whether it helps or hurts our cause. The community holds us to that standard every day and I don’t think their mission or unique purpose is clear to anyone.”
For more information, visit http://Fltogether.org.