Allyson Robinson chosen as executive director of combined group
by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
On October 25, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe, the association of actively serving LGBT military personnel, announced the selection of Army veteran Allyson Robinson to lead the newly combined organization.
Robinson assumes the post as the two organizations are slated to finalize their combination this weekend. The merger was announced in July.
'I am honored to lead the new OutServe-SLDN into this next phase of advocacy and action on behalf of our brave LGBT service members, veterans, and their families. Until they are guaranteed equal opportunity, recognition, support, and benefits, our mission is incomplete. We cannot and will not leave them behind,' said Robinson.
A native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, Robinson comes to OutServe-SLDN from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). In 1994 she graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where she majored in physics. After an internship at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she was commissioned as an officer in the Army and commanded PATRIOT missile units in Europe and the Middle East. She also served as a senior trainer/evaluator for NATO and as an advisor to the armed forces of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. Robinson resigned her commission in 1999 to pursue a calling to Christian ministry, serving as pastor-teacher to churches in the Portuguese Azores and central Texas. She earned a master of divinity degree in theology with a capstone emphasis in social justice from Baylor University in 2007.
Most recently, as the first deputy director for employee programs of the HRC Foundation's Workplace Project, Robinson drove the design and delivery of HRC's broad portfolio of training and curricula for corporate leadership and employee audiences to improve LGBT cultural competence and inclusion in the workplace. She lives with her wife of 18 years and their four children in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
'Allyson Robinson is exactly the right person at the right time to be our leader and voice in Washington in the fight to achieve full LGBT equality in the military,' said April Heinze, retired Navy captain and co-chair of the SLDN board. 'She comes with an exemplary military background, strong political and policy acumen, and a deep commitment and vision for bringing about the changes needed to carry forward the work we began with the repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell.'
ACCELERATING THE FIGHT
Representing seven plaintiff same-sex military couples - each legally married - SLDN filed a federal court challenge in October 2011 to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and other federal laws that prevent the military from providing equal recognition, benefits, and support to all service members and their families. On October 25, Robinson said that among her priorities will be accelerating the fight for equal support and benefits for all service members.
'The repeal of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' taught us that to be victorious, we must fight inequality on multiple fronts - in the courts, on Capitol Hill, and in the public square. It's time to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, revise laws that prevent the military from honoring the service of all of our nation's men and women in uniform, and end marriage discrimination for our service members and their families once and for all,' Robinson said.
Robinson, who is Transgender, also vowed to continue the important work necessary to bringing about full LGBT equality in the military.
'We cannot stop until we reach the day when all qualified Americans who wish to wear the uniform of our armed forces have the opportunity to do so with honor and integrity - and without fear of discrimination or harassment - whether they are Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender,' Robinson said.
In addition to advancing the mission of full equality in the military, Robinson will lead a newly formed organization with an expanded mission, the result of the combination of SLDN and OutServe, which currently boasts 6,000 members worldwide.
'From the moment I met Allyson, I knew she was the right leader for OutServe-SLDN,' said Josh Seefried, co-founder and co-director of OutServe. 'As someone who graduated from West Point, deployed multiple times, and has dedicated her life to advancing social justice, she will relate to service members and supporters and lead this organization to a new level. She is a professional of unparalleled experience and will earn the respect and admiration of LGBT service members right away.'
'Allyson will bring a new perspective and enthusiasm - as well as a deep commitment - as we enter the next phase of the fight for full LGBT equality in the armed forces,' said Aubrey Sarvis, Army veteran and outgoing SLDN executive director.
'Allyson Robinson is strategic, passionate, and committed. She's the right person to lead this organization. She's a graduate of West Point and a decorated military officer, which makes her uniquely qualified for this position,' said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
'We have a lot of work ahead of us at OS-SLDN, and we need a strategic, smart, dynamic leader who is strong both inside and outside the Beltway. Allyson fits the bill perfectly. She understands the importance of faith and family, especially within the LGBT and military communities, and will be able to get things done,' added Sue Fulton, executive director of Knights Out, an organization of LGBT West Point alumni.
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