Masen Davis Bids FarewellBy Masen Davis • November 13, 2019 • 9:47 pm
As November begins, FFAA prepares to say goodbye to outgoing CEO Masen Davis, who has led the organization for two years with unyielding determination to win express and enduring protections for all LGBTQ people. Simultaneously, FFAA is preparing to welcome incoming CEO, Kasey Suffredini, who will also serve as National Campaign Director after previously serving as President of Strategy and former Acting CEO. Here, Masen offers his take on how FFAA has grown and succeeded under his leadership.
Part 2 of this blog, featuring our new CEO Kasey Suffredini and his vision for the future, coming soon!
I arrived at Freedom for All Americans in November of 2017, having previously worked in leadership roles at organizations including the Transgender Law Center and the Gill Foundation. As a gay and transgender man, I am acutely aware of the urgent need for LGBTQ people to be protected from discrimination in housing, employment, public spaces, and all areas of everyday life; thus it was with excitement and determination that I took on the CEO position, ready to help move the organization forward in the fight for nationwide nondiscrimination protections.
Over my two-year tenure, I have been privileged to be part of a team that never ceases to impress, and to have the honor to help lead efforts and campaigns across the country to protect LGBTQ people. Our staff played a large role in the Fair Anchorage and Freedom for All Massachusetts campaigns, leading to historic wins in which voters upheld existing, stand-alone protections for transgender people for the first time. (I’ll now admit that as a transgender advocate for more than twenty years, I feared we’d lose the first popular vote on trans protections – I’m so glad my staff proved me wrong, and that people from all walks of life showed they support dignity and respect for the full diversity of our LGBTQ community.) In several states, FFAA played a key leadership role in helping block harmful anti-LGBTQ legislation from becoming law while building strong coalitions such as Georgia Unites Against Discrimination and Florida Competes, groups that work to advance comprehensive nondiscrimination legislation by bringing together voices from across the political spectrum.
Even in the midst of growing polarization in U.S. politics, bipartisan support for protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination is on the rise. Last year, both chambers of New Hampshire’s Republican-controlled legislature passed comprehensive transgender nondiscrimination protections, and the bill was signed by the state’s Republican governor — the first time such protections passed through a 100% GOP-controlled majority. Conservative and progressive lawmakers alike in states such as Ohio, Virginia, and Texas have come out in support of making sure that LGBTQ people have the opportunity to work hard, support our families, and live our lives without unfettered harassment and discrimination. And, in a major win for LGBTQ Americans, the House of Representatives passed the Equality Act with bipartisan support — the first-ever passage of a piece of legislation that would provide express and enduring federal nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people in housing, employment, and public spaces.
Through it all, my friend and colleague Kasey Suffredini has played an integral role in FFAA’s work. While in his role as President of Strategy, Kasey also co-chaired the Freedom for All Massachusetts campaign and continued to be a leading national authority on issues of LGBTQ nondiscrimination — and on all fronts, he was incredibly successful. He has been a true and trusted partner throughout my tenure at FFAA, and I am more than confident in leaving the organization in his extremely capable hands. Kasey has been with FFAA since its inception and has worn many hats over the years; indeed, I can imagine no better person to helm the organization as FFAA moves forward to its ultimate goal of winning nationwide nondiscrimination protections by 2025.
Achieving freedom for all Americans is no easy feat, and our work is far from done. Kasey and FFAA will continue to need your support and advocacy as we build on recent momentum and continue to win hearts, minds, and votes in states across the nation. While I’m departing from my role at Freedom for All Americans, I won’t rest until we’ve all secured nationwide protections for ALL LGBTQ Americans from all WALKS of life in all AREAS of life. Organizations like FFAA have an important role to play in getting us over the finish line, and I have every confidence that our first-class team will continue to thrive, grow, and help ultimately make our goal a reality.
It has been an honor and privilege to have served as your CEO, and I am excited to see how Kasey’s leadership continues to move FFAA’s mission forward. Onward!