Debra Weill Named DignityUSA Executive Director
Non-Profit Executive Brings Expertise from PFLAG and Community Centers
Washington, DC – The leaders of DignityUSA announced today the hiring of Debra Weill, an experienced executive in non-profit and social justice work, as the organization’s executive director. Weill brings a depth of relevant experience to her leadership of DignityUSA, the nation’s largest and oldest organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) Catholics and allies.Weill previously served as executive director of GLBT community centers in Concord, California (Bay area), and Madison, Wisconsin, and as senior field and policy coordinator for PFLAG – Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays.
“We’re thrilled that Debbie will be DignityUSA’s new executive director,” said Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA. “She brings a wealth of talent and experience to this position at a very challenging time for GLBT Catholics. Debbie has been working in the GLBT movement for over ten years and non-profits for more than twenty years. She brings the perspective of strategic leadership at the highest levels, regional community work, and the operational skills to keep us moving forward.”
Weill brings fundraising and advocacy experience from her three previous positions at Rainbow Community Center (Concord), OutReach (Madison) and PFLAG. Her successes include advocating for and achieving domestic partnership benefits and gender identity rights for residents in the city of Madison and employees of the surrounding county, leading a Madison coalition objecting to discriminatory practices which resulted in no further United Way funds going to the Boy Scouts, and generating new sources of funding for programs.
Weill’s non-profit experience includes holding almost every position from volunteer to board chair and executive director.
Weill attended a diocesan seminary in Milwaukee for six years (high school and two years of college) before completing B.A. and M.A. degrees at the University of Wisconsin. A lifelong Catholic, Weill is a transsexual woman. With her selection, DignityUSA becomes one of the first national GLBT organizations with a transgender executive director.
“I am eager to work at the intersection of GLBT and faith issues,” said Weill. “We’ve seen how the opponents of GLBT rights in society effectively invoke religion and how Church leaders have used their positions of power to oppose us. DignityUSA is a potent advocate for GLBT Catholics with a long, proud history of standing up to those who would deny our existence or our place at the table, but we still have much we need to accomplish. My goal as executive director will be to increase the impact of all we do and spread our message further since we know from our own experience that Catholics in the pews and our neighbors, friends, colleagues and family members increasingly join our cause once they hear our stories.”
Weill will direct the staff and work of DignityUSA at the national headquarters in Washington, D.C., and will be meeting members and supporters of DignityUSA across the country in the coming months. Members of DignityUSA are invited to share your ideas with Debbie by writing to ExecutiveDirector@DignityUSA.org
DignityUSA is the nation's foremost organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Catholics, their families, friends and supporters. Founded in 1969, it is an independent nonprofit organization with members and chapters across the country. DignityUSA works for full inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in the life of the Church and Society. www.dignityusa.org