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BRO's Roey Thorpe Steps Down, Steps Up to National Leadership

Dear Friends,

Over the past few years, Basic Rights Oregon has experienced so many changes: we're stronger, more influential, and more respected than ever before. I feel like the luckiest person in the world to have had the opportunity to lead BRO during such a time in the history of this organization and at a time when the LGBT civil rights movement is so dynamic. And now, after five amazing years, I have the opportunity to move to a new position at the national level of our movement. This feels exciting even though it is very hard to leave this position that has been so personally fulfilling.

At the end of June, I will be leaving BRO to become the Program Director for Freedom To Marry, which is a GLBT and non-GLBT partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. In many ways, I'll be continuing the work I've done here at BRO, helping state and local organizations build capacity and work together for a very important cause.

Some of you may wonder, why now? Is there a reason you are leaving at this moment in time? For over two years, the director of Freedom To Marry, Evan Wolfson, and I have talked about me joining their team, and the time now seems right because BRO as an organization is stronger than ever and because my experience at BRO is useful at the national level. I have learned so much from the past five years about working with coalition partners, collaborating with national organizations, and the challenges of leading a statewide LGBT rights organization. And that knowledge has never been more important, since state organizations are now at the forefront of our movement, and collaboration has never been more important than it is now. This is a chance to bring what I have learned to our national movement for marriage equality, and to work with states that can only dream of having the grassroots support and capacity that we have here.

One of the things I'm most excited about is that I will be able to continue to live and work right here in Portland. This means that I will be close by to help BRO to maintain the highest level of continuity possible. I anticipate that the transition will be a smooth one, since fantastic people have already stepped up to help. Frank Dixon, a long time BRO board member and LGBT community leader, will be leading BRO until a new executive director starts. Jim Morris, chair of the BRO board, has generously donated the services of the MBL Group, his company, to do a national search for a new director. The board has formed a search committee, which has begun meeting. And the BRO staff, which is the strongest team of people I have ever had the honor to work with, are well poised to carry out our statewide action plan and continue to build our political strength.

And then there's all of you. When I think of the thousands of people who have made this organization nationally respected and politically powerful, I am overwhelmed with gratitude. The courage, tenacity, and dedication that you bring to our movement has taught me important lessons, lifted my heart when I felt most discouraged, and inspired my vision of a society built on justice, equality, and kindness. You have made me feel appreciated and yet never failed to challenge my assumptions, and I am grateful. This isn't goodbye, because I'll still be standing side by side with you in this movement right here in Oregon, and I'll still be one of BRO's most staunch supporters. It's just the opening of a new chapter, for me and for this organization, and I look forward to the future for both of us.


Want to know more? Check out this morning's The Oregonian or read our media release.
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By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 26, 2006 8:22 AM

Thank you for all your work, Roey! You have been a tireless, strong and articulate voice on behalf of our civil rights.

Carol C.    

By Blogger Jenn Stewart, at May 26, 2006 8:54 AM

I'll second that Roey. Thank you for your years of dedication to defending, sustaining and advancing the rights of our community. I will miss your impassioned speeches on the steps of the Capitol!


By Anonymous Phylis Myles, at May 26, 2006 9:15 AM

Dear Roey:

Thank you for all you have done for Basic Rights Oregon. As a former board member of the Portland Gay Men's Chorus and employment discrimination lawyer, I heard so many good things about you and saw your positive and uplifting effect on the GLBT community. BRO' loss is Freedom to Marry's gain. Good luck in your continued fight for equal rights.

Phylis Myles    

By Blogger Kelly W, at May 26, 2006 9:57 AM

Roey: You are eloquent in a manner I have not seen elsewhere, on issues of such vast importance. Thank you for everything you have done for BRO and the community in the past five years. It's hard to imagine anyone replacing you... BRO is an incredible powerhouse of an organization now, thanks to you and the board and the staff and supporters you pulled together. I'm so glad you'll still be in town, still doing critical work.

Kelly (and Phaedie too)    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 26, 2006 10:14 AM

You ARE inspiration. Congratulations on the new role and thanks for all that you have done for our community!    

By Anonymous Don Powell, at May 26, 2006 10:18 AM

Hey Roey,

I wanted to mention how impressed I've been in how you've helped make BRO a statewide organization. You've traveled the state and over an over set up events outside Portland and brought new people into the movement.

I remember our first lunch together after you came to Oregon. I stressed how important it was for you to get around the state and to build a statewide organization, etc. And, you did that and did it beyond my expectations.

So, thanks again for all you've done with BRO. You've left a strong orgranization for someone to come in and move forward.

Don Powell    

By Anonymous Ann Hinds, at May 26, 2006 10:22 AM

You've done a great job at BRO, Roey, and I agree: you are leaving it strong and in capable hands.

Thank you so much for your dedication and hard work. I am glad you will still be in town!! The best of luck to you in your new position.

Take care,
Ann Hinds    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 26, 2006 11:05 AM

Roey Thorpe is awesome. 'Nuff said.    

By Anonymous David Greenberg, at May 26, 2006 11:36 AM

Roey, while your outstanding work has been most closely identified with Oregon's GLBT community, you are truely a civil rights pioneer for us all. I'm so glad that you'll have a chance to continue the advocacy work needed to protect the rights of all women and men. Enjoy your weeks in NYC and look forward to comming home to Oregon!    

By Anonymous Leo Schuman, at May 26, 2006 12:28 PM

Thank you, Roey; especially for tirelessly continuing your work through both victories and setbacks. You've provided a great example of how we must keep working and struggling, over the long haul, and not be disheartened by the inevitable bumps along the way.

All we need to do is stop, occasionally, and look at the past to see how far we've already come. Thank you for helping lead us into the future.    

By Anonymous Mary Beth, at May 26, 2006 12:56 PM




By Anonymous Jim Clay, at May 26, 2006 3:36 PM

It’s been a joy working with you professionally and having you as a friend. Thanks for all the work you’ve done, and for the grace you’ve shown when others could not find theirs. My husband and I both love you to bits! Best wishes to you, and may your future bring you all you deserve.

By Anonymous Rep. Chip Shields, at May 26, 2006 4:39 PM

Congratulations on the new position Roey! You have truly moved mountains here and I greatly appreciate your work and leadership.


Rep. Chip Shields    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 26, 2006 5:09 PM

I think BRO has made a lot of mistakes when it comes to legalizing same-sex marriage in Oregon. I've been thinking that new leadership is exactly what we need. I wish her no ill will but I really think Roey should have stepped down long ago.    

By Anonymous Steven Johnston, at May 27, 2006 9:39 PM

You are wonderful.. an amazing, dynamic and engaging leader. You leave the organization in a fiscal and political position that would be the envy of most any state level grass roots organization fighting for equality. Thanks for assembling and leading such an amazing team!

Steven Johnston    

By Anonymous Theresa Mitchell, at May 30, 2006 8:58 AM


Thanks so much for your work and for your personal help. A national position--how exciting! I'm so glad for you. We'll all be better off for it.


Theresa Mitchell    

By Anonymous Chris Tanner, at May 30, 2006 9:00 AM

Will there be a going-away event? I would love to join in a celebration of all the Roey has done for BRO and gays and lesbians in Oregon.

Chris Tanner (of the Tanner decision)    

By Anonymous Rep. Joe Smith, at May 30, 2006 3:48 PM

Roey, you are going to be a really tough act to follow. Go well!

Rep. Joe Smith    

By Anonymous OPQ, at May 30, 2006 5:47 PM

I wish you well, but hope for a more positive leader for the community.

We need healing.    

By Anonymous Robert Raketty, Seattle Gay News, at June 01, 2006 9:50 AM

Please extend my gratitude and heartfelt appreciation to Roey Thorpe.

Roey's work has been much appreciated by our readers and myself.

We have crossed paths on several occasions and I have been impressed with her knowledge, passion and spirit.

BRO has become a leader and a model for other LGBT equality organizations. Certainly, Roey had a lot to do with that.

Robert Raketty
Managing Editor, Seattle Gay News    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 18, 2006 9:11 AM

Columnist Dan Savage must not be one of your readers, Robert.    

By Anonymous Maria from Ithaca, at June 28, 2006 10:23 AM

Roey, I was so excited to hear about this new carerr phase in the Advocate (although their details were wrong...). I am always happy to hear about your successes in your career, like the article done on the Oregon marriages by Time magazine. I have always admired your fearlessness and willingness to put yourself out there, and I am happy to tell people that "I knew her when...". Best of luck in your new endeavor, and I look forward to hearing about more of your great work in both the mainstream and gay press!!!    

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