CEO Chuck Smith Leaves Equality Texas

Samantha Smoot tapped for interim executive director position

Chuck Smith addresses the crowd during Equality Texas Lobby Day in March 2013. (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Equality Texas, a statewide political advocacy organization for LGBTQ rights, announced earlier today that CEO Chuck Smith is leaving the nonprofit after his 15-year tenure.

In a press release sent out Monday, Dec. 17, President of Equality Texas Foundation Board Elizabeth Myers and Equality Texas Board President Steve Rudner made the announcement, noting that, as CEO “Chuck led the growth in programs to help LGBTQ Texans, oversaw the expansion of staff statewide, created a business outreach program that is a model for the country, gave transgender people a visible voice, defeated the bathroom bill twice during the 2017 legislative session and passed anti-bullying legislation in 2011.”

Equality Texas will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year and Smith, via the release, notes that he's been with the organization for half its lifespan. Now, he said: “The Board and I have decided it’s time for a new generation of leadership to take us to the next step in our fight for equality in Texas.” However, neither Myers, Rudner, nor Smith give the reason for the unexpected departure – especially in light of the upcoming legislative session kicking off on January 8, 2019. Equality Texas plays a large role in backing legislation to support Texas’ queer and trans communities while also fighting to kill anti-LGBTQ bills. In fact, Smith spoke to the Chronicle two weeks ago about major lawmaking priorities in 2019.

For the time being, Samantha Smoot, a native Texan and the former political director for both the Planned Parenthood Federation for America and the Human Rights Campaign, has been tapped to serve as interim executive director. Already, Smoot’s bio has been uploaded to Equality Texas’ website and Smith’s has been seemingly removed.

Smoot, who once served as the executive director of Texas Freedom Network, brings 20 years of experience to Equality Texas, noted the email. Most recently, she worked with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, where she’s “fought to support citizen groups and political leaders as they build more inclusive democracies … in the Middle East and North Africa, West Africa, and Eurasia,” according to the release.

“On behalf of the Board of Directors, staff, donors, and volunteers, we want to thank Chuck for his extraordinary service,” signed off Myers and Rudner. “As board presidents, we can assure you Equality Texas is committed to a seamless transition.”

At time of publication, Equality Texas did not return our request for comment. The full statement can be found online at Equality Texas' website.

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Chuck Smith, Equality Texas, Samantha Smoot, Elizabeth Myers, Steve Rudner

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