Equality Arizona's Year in Review
The path to LGBTQ civic and political power through 2021
In 2021, with your help and the help of countless other donors, community members and volunteers, Equality Arizona worked to build real political power in Arizona. Your contributions, calls, emails, and advocacy helped win pro-LGBTQ policies and contribute towards long-term political change and the sustainability of the movement for equality.
During the 2021 Arizona State Legislative session, Equality Arizona challenged and defeated a number of anti-LGBTQ bills including:
SB1325 — an amendment that aimed to reintroduce an already defeated pro-conversion-therapy bill.
SB1456 — a bill that would prevent young people from learning about their bodies in an age-appropriate way by banning sex education before the 5th grade. It also created unnecessary hurdles to getting students HIV prevention education by creating a double opt-in process.
HB2648 — a bill that would protect clergy, churches, and religious organizations from civil and criminal liability for any actions they take, including any potential abuse.
On March 1, 2021 with the support of the LDS Church, Senator Sinema, Equality Arizona, and ONE Community, we won a 7 years in the making non-discrmination ordinance in Mesa, Arizona, and defeated a referendum that happened as a response. Incredibly, in the wake of the momentum three more cities followed in less than two months.
On the heels of these amazing victories, Equality Arizona, in collaboration with ONE Community, announced the Equality and Fairness for All Americans Coalition to advance federal civil rights protections for LGBTQ Americans in employment, housing, credit, education, jury service, and public accommodations. The Coalition’s goal in 2022 is to gain bipartisan support for federal legislation that can unite all Americans around our nation’s core values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity to make a lasting and impactful change.
Heading into 2022 we are excited to welcome both new and familiar faces to the Equality Arizona team. This added staff capacity will help support Equality Arizona’s work to organize Arizona’s LGBTQ communities to create long-term systems change by investing in queer and transgender leaders; sharing access to knowledge, tools, and partnerships; and building towards long-term and meaningful change.
We're committed to hiring the best talent to build Arizona's power base for LGBTQ equality. Will you commit to a monthly donation to invest in our capacity?
You can read more about our staff and their roles below:
Michael Soto Chief Executive Officer | he/him
Michael Soto serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Equality Arizona, leading a statewide team working to build the political power of LGBTQ+ Arizonans in social, civic, and economic life. A graduate of ASU with a Bachelor of Arts in Women and Gender Studies and a Master of Science in Justice Studies, Michael is a proven leader in the movement for LGBTQ+ liberation, with experience across sectors and from the local to the international level. After 5 years under Michael’s direction on the board and in his current role, Equality Arizona has seen a revitalization as a political force in Arizona, and is now a fully-staffed statewide non-profit with a strong membership and diversified funding streams.
Nichole Cassidy Deputy Director | she/her
Nichole has over seventeen years of nonprofit management and fundraising experience for both state and national organizations. Previous roles include working as the Development Director at Mijente, a national digital and organizing hub for Latinx folks across the country and working as the Director of Philanthropy and Operations at the ACLU of Arizona, working on multiple issues including LGBTQ rights, Criminal Justice Reform, Education Equity, and Voting Rights. Nichole currently is on the board of Poder in Action, ASU’s School of Social Transformation, and on the tactical team leading WPAWS (White People Against White Supremacy).
tanner menard Organizing Manager | they/them
tanner menard is the Organizing Manager for Equality Arizona. They are a member of the Atakapa-Ishak Nation, two-spirit, non-binary & an MFA candidate at Northern Arizona University. tanner has advocated for the LGBTQ community for many years & currently programs Health is Queer Resistance & the Queer Poetry Salon.
Jeanne Woodbury Digital Solutions & Communications Manager | she/they
With a track record beginning in 2009, Jeanne Woodbury has organized conferences and campaigns, managed digital media projects from audio production to large-scale text banks, and developed innovative programs like the national Trans Voter Protection Hotline for the 2020 election. At Equality Arizona, she is responsible for the organization’s digital infrastructure and communications strategy.
Onyekachi Ekeogu Education and Research Coordinator | she/they
Studying social justice and social movements for over a decade, Onyekachi Ekeogu has pursued various topics related to U.S. law and legal proceedings, interpersonal violence and the second wave feminist movements, disproportional sentencing and U.S. People of Color movements, and the criminal and medical status of marginalized sexualities and Queer liberation movements. Onyekachi brings research and adult education experiences to their role at Equality Arizona.
D.J. Fiudo Administrative Assistant | he/him
Hailing from the Midwest with little diverse representations, D.J. is driven to make a difference in the world and in marginalized communities. D.J. comes to Equality Arizona to learn from and add to the political efforts with LGBTQ+ communities and liberation movements. In his free time, D.J. stays current on independent comics on diverse perspectives and mountain biking the terrains of Missouri.
Equality Arizona’s work is made possible by supporters like you. We are excited for the work to come in 2022 and we would love to count on your support in making it possible. Please consider a year-end contribution to support Equality Arizona’s work.
Thank you for your partnership this year, and best wishes for the next,
Deputy Director, Equality Arizona