Marriage Equality USA Executive Team
The Marriage Equality USA Executive Team consists of our Executive Director, appointed by the Board of Directors, and a team appointed by the Executive Director. The Executive Team consists of volunteers who, working closely with the Executive Director, work at the national level to get the ongoing work of the organization done. Marriage Equality USA has an amazing and diverse group of leaders who aide our organization in leading, developing and implementing outreach plans and education materials. Below are informal biographies for our current Executive Team.
Brian Silva Executive Director
Brian brings to Marriage Equality USA his experience leading other large, volunteer-driven organizations including the International Association of Emergency Managers - Student Council, a global organization comprised of 1400 members, plus chapters. He helped to lead and grow those groups, focusing on how to balance vision, strategy and tactics while supporting the volunteers that truly make the work successful.
A passionate leader with a core commitment to diversity and the value of each individual, Brian has a steadfast dedication to LGBTIQ equality, to non-profit work, and to collaboration with other organizations. Prior to stepping into his current position with MEUSA, Brian served Marriage Equality New York first at the Chapter Leadership level and later as Executive Director. Hailing originally from Northern California, Brian currently lives in New York City.
Brian has been fortunate to visit and work in a many places including Northern Ireland, South Africa, and Mexico. He has traveled, backpacked, and camped cross-country twice, giving him the opportunity to enjoy two of his passions -- the amazing outdoors and meeting people from all walks of life.
Stuart Gaffney National Communications Director/Board Member
Stuart Gaffney and his husband John Lewis have been prominent voices speaking out for marriage equality in the local, national and international media since 2004. Stuart is one of the well-known "faces" of the marriage equality movement. His messaging and marriage equality news dissemination is widely relied upon, both professionally and informally. Stuart is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, is a regular columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times and writes for other publications as well.
Stuart and John were plaintiffs in the California case for marriage equality, In re marriage cases. Together for 24 years, they legally married in 2008.
A graduate of Yale University, Stuart is a filmmaker and a policy analyst at the UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Studies. The National Communications Director serves as the primary liaison to all areas of the organization as it relates to media/press and oversees all communications and messaging for and from Marriage Equality USA. MEUSA Media Center
Not surprisingly, Stuart was president of his high school's debate team WAY back in 1980. Stuart says that one of the best times of their lives was when he and husband John backpacked around the world together before their wedding day.
John Lewis Director of Legal & Policy/Board Member
John Lewis graduated in the top ten percent of his class from Stanford Law School in 1986, where he was awarded the Steven M. Block Award for writing on Civil Liberties. After clerking for the Honorable Thelton E. Henderson of the Northern District of California Federal Court, he practiced civil rights, public policy, and constitutional law.
John and his husband, Stuart Gaffney, were plaintiffs in the landmark California Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (2008), that established broad constitutional protections for lesbian and gay people and the freedom to marry in California before Proposition 8.
John is a member of the State Bar of California. John provides legal analyses of marriage equality-related court case proceedings, judicial decisions, and legislation to Marriage Equality USA leaders and members. Marriage Equality in the Courts Additionally, John works with his husband, Stuart Gaffney, Marriage Equality USA's Media Director, as a media resource and public spokesperson for the organization. John is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and is a regular columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times and writes for other publications as well. John authored an amicus brief that MEUSA submitted to the United States Supreme Court in February 2013.
Interesting fact: John worked in a refugee camp in the Philippines for Southeast Asian refugees in the early 1980's. He totally agrees with Stuart's assessment of their pre-wedding global backpacking trip!
Thom Watson Social Media Director
Thom is an avid reader, gamer, Lego builder, sci-fi and fantasy fan, and Internet junkie -- a real geek's geek. Professionally, Thom has directed e-commerce, online learning and electronic communications programs for the University of California, PBS, and the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute, among others.
Thom has expanded his MEUSA involvement far beyond managing Social Media. He and his husband have become well-know marriage equality spokespeople and he handles all tech needs for and writes for the MEUSA News Blog. Thom is a regular columnist for the San Francisco Bay Times and writes for other publications as well. He is a vital member of our Communications Team. Thom helped to author an amicus brief that MEUSA submitted to the United States Supreme Court in February 2013.
Originally from Virginia's rural Alleghany Highlands and a Harvard graduate, Thom now lives with his partner Jeff Tabaco and their two cats, Mojo and Tiki, in a mid-century house in Daly City, CA, the perfect backdrop to their living room Tiki bar and collection of Tiki mugs, mid-century dinnerware, and 1962 Seattle World's Fair memorabilia.
Thom and Jeff were finally able to marry, after a 10 year engagement, once Prop 8 was finally and truly put to rest, and the full and equal protections of the U.S. Constitution became available to them in 2013.
Christine "CR" Allen Interim IT Director
Christine has been with MEUSA since 2005. She has served as a Chapter Leader (local organizer), Administrative Coordinator, National Leadership Coordinator, and on the Board of Directors. She currently works on the MEUSA website, our email system, and with the Communications team. She is working with a team on our IT Project 2013 - a new website!
Christine grew up in a politically involved household, stuffing campaign envelopes as a child, cutting turf and walking precincts as a teenager. Prior to the evolution of the marriage equality movement Christine worked in the fields of racial injustice, fair housing, and with lesbian mothers living in poverty. She was a member of the collective at A Woman's Place Bookstore in Oakland, CA, the first "women-owned-for-women" bookstore in the country. Christine was a founding member of Out on the Island in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she served on the Executive Board and as the Media Director for 6 years.
Christine and her wife Ann have been together for 28 years. They raised five children and now enjoy their grandchildren. They are currently located in Sacramento, CA, though Christine will forever consider the East Bay to be "home." Ann and Christine share a house with one of their adult sons and his partner, their youngest adult daughter, 2 dogs, 2 cats, and 3 chickens (the hens are outside). Christine is a fanatical reader, political junkie, movie buff, and is all about good food!
Ned Flaherty Projects Manager
Ned lives in Boston, Massachusetts, where he pursues a non-profit career in community and LGBT activism, and a for-profit career in information technology. He created Election 2012and National Marriage Map projects for Marriage Equality USA.
The fascinating Election 2012 project was created and developed to show 12 major ways in which LGBTIQ people still are not full and equal citizens, to expand the national dialogue, and to provide usable data to candidates, journalists, and voters. After the project began, presidential candidates dramatically increased their overall support for LGBTIQ equality.
Ned created the National Marriage Map which illustrates the current status of marriage equality through-out the United States. Ned reads the news incessantly and is renowned within MEUSA for his investigative research. In addition to working with MEUSA, Ned is a regular contributor to the PolicyMic and New Civil Rights Movement news sites. Ned collects, organizes, disseminates and updates a massive amount of detailed Legal & Policy news information for the following pages: Policy & Legal Updates, National Polls, National Legislation, Lawsuits, State Legislation & Polls, and State Ballots & Polls. Ned's Legal & Policy Updates are also featured at the beginning of each week in the MEUSA News Blog.
Ned sees all equality issues as interdependent, and hopes that people in the "more-equal" states will continue working toward justice for the "less-equal" states. When he's not working, it's easy to catch Ned on a stormy day at some art house theater watching foreign films about hot food.