Equality Utah has issued a press release naming Brandi Balken their new executive director:
After an extensive national search, the Equality Utah Board of Directors has named a local community and board member to lead the organization in its mission to secure equal rights and protections for gay and transgender Utahns. Brandie Balken, who joined the Board of Directors in January of 2009, had volunteered to serve as the Interim Director while a search for the Executive Director was underway.
“We interviewed candidates from all over the country,” said Kris Liacopoulos, one of the Board’s Vice Chairs. “In the end, we realized Brandie was a great fit for our organization. She knows Equality Utah, is well respected in our community, and has the management and communications skills to lead our organization to the next level.”
A graduate of Weber State University with degrees in botany and chemistry, Balken has extensive experience working on social justice issues in Utah and elsewhere. Prior to serving on Equality Utah’s Board, Balken also was a member of the Utah Pride Center’s Board of Directors, Board Chair of SweRve, a social and service organization and a facilitator for the Inclusion Center for Community and Justice.
Balken has a reputation as a passionate advocate for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender community, but it wasn’t until she took the Interim Director role that she realized the work would be a full-time calling.
“Over the months of working with the staff on a part-time basis, it has become clear that this is the work I am meant to be doing and Equality Utah is where it can be done.” said Balken. “Gay and transgender Utahns deserve what we all deserve: respectful treatment from our neighbors and fair policies from our government. We’re not going to change misunderstandings and fears overnight, but I’m committed to finding Common Ground. I believe that Utahns are fair minded people, and we will continue to work with other community organizations and the public at large to create a Utah where everyone feels safe and ‘at home.’”
Balken replaces Mike Thompson, who served as Equality Utah’s Executive Director for 4 years.