The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the major LGBTQ organizations in the world, announced this week that Alphonso David will become president of the organization — its first Black leader. The HRC has previously faced criticism for its lack of diversity and history of transgender exclusion.
David was born in the United States but raised in Liberia. His uncle was president of the country at the time. But when he was 10 years old, his father was jailed in a military coup and his uncle was assassinated. The family sought asylum in the U.S., which was granted because David was a U.S. citizen.
David graduated from law school and worked at a law firm in Philadelphia and corporate counsel at a company in California. But following the Supreme Court decision that said sodomy laws are unconstitutional, David decided to focus his career on human rights. He accepted a position at Lambda Legal Defense.
Since then, David has worked as Andrew Cuomo’s main lawyer before becoming the head of New York’s Office of Civil Rights.
“Alphonso helped lead the fight to win marriage equality in the Empire State three years before the Supreme Court guaranteed that right,” HRC said in an email to supporters.
“Under his watch, New York banned the abusive practice of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ in minors, expanded Medicaid coverage to cover transition-related care, made it easier to amend gender markers on birth certificates, and enacted policies and regulations to support people living with HIV and drive new diagnoses to an all-time low statewide.”
David took on that criticism in an HRC introductory video, where he said he would change previous practices of excluding vulnerable people from HRC’s focus.
“I could not be more proud to take the helm and lead the Human Rights Campaign as President. I don’t have to tell anyone that this is a perilous time. But in this moment, I see tremendous opportunity to overcome these attacks,” David said in the video. “I promise you this. I will fight for each and every one of us.”