Attorney Jon Harris Maurer appointed; B. Rodney White promoted; Jim VanRiper departs.
Non-profit leadership consultants often say that one of the most important duties of a board member is to find his or her own replacement.
So, as Equality Florida continues to strengthen its governance structure across the state, a long-time board chair is leaving due to term limits, a new chair is taking his place, and a North Florida attorney is the newest member of the team.
At 29, Jon Harris Maurer joins as the youngest member of the board. Jon Harris is an attorney specializing in environmental, energy and regulatory law with the Tallahassee law firm of Hopping Greens & Sams. He graduated from Rice University and Florida State University College of Law. He has served as a legislative aide in the Texas House of Representatives and as an intern with the Florida House of Representatives. He has been active also in the Florida Bar’s Environmental and Land Use Law Section, the Children’s Home Society and Equality Florida.
Maurer fills a slot vacated by Jim VanRiper, also of Tallahassee, who joined the board in 2006. Several years ago, in order to ensure a continual infusion of fresh perspectives, the board adopted six-year term limits. VanRiper was grandfathered in and spent his final term as one of the board’s two co-chairs.
VanRiper, the administrator for technology planning and advancement for the City of Tallahassee, has also served as chair of the Leon County Human Relations Advisory Committee and the Family Tree LGBT Community Center in Tallahassee. He plans to remain active with Equality Florida at the local level.
Replacing VanRiper as co-chair is B. Rodney White, a veteran of the LGBT rights movement and other charitable causes. White and his husband Michael P. Williams, who live in Hollywood, Fla., co-own Making Projects Work Inc., a project management and consulting firm.
For more than 20 years White has used his professional and personal contacts to raise support for organizations such as AID Atlanta; CHRIS Kids and P.A.L.S.; Equality Utah; Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden; Georgia Equality; GLAAD; HRC; Lambda Legal; Our Fund; Project Open Hand; Red Butte Garden and Arboretum; SunServe; The Perez Art Museum Miami, and Victory Fund.
Equality Florida’s 12-member board of directors sets policy and ensures the organization stays on mission and in strong financial health.
Equality Florida Institute, the largest part of the organization, was awarded theGuideStar Gold Seal in 2014, the rating agency’s highest ranking for financial transparency.
Equality Florida’s most recent accomplishments include filing Florida’s first marriage equality lawsuit — its lead plaintiffs received the first same-sex marriage license in Florida — and mobilizing member voting in the 2014 elections at a rate 20 percent higher than the statewide average. The organization’s top priority remains passing local and state nondiscrimination protection.
“We have so much forward momentum in the LGBT rights movement, but we must continue pushing towards our goal of full equality,” said new co-chair White.
“As Equality Florida moves into its next phase of engagement, the Board will keep a careful eye on our mission while providing for both the stability and longevity of the organization. This will allow the work of our co-founders, Nadine Smith and Stratton Pollitzer, their talented staff and our throngs of amazing volunteers and supporters to continue as a leader of the LGBT rights movement in Florida and as an example across the country.”
Equality Florida’s other co-chair is Ken Shelin, a former Sarasota City Commissioner. Biographies of all board members can be found here.