Marriage Equality USA National Team
The Marriage Equality USA National Team consists of positions appointed by the Board of Directors. 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 biographies for our current National Team.
In the Spring of 2012 MEUSA and Marriage Equality New York (MENY) joined forces to create an even stronger national grassroots marriage equality movement. At that time Brian Silva was hired as Executive Director of the new and improved Marriage Equality USA.
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 postion with MEUSA, Brian served Marriage Equality New York first at the Chapter Leadership level and later as Executive Director. Hailing orginally 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 Media 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 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 Media Director serves as the primary liaison to all areas of the organization as it relates to media/press. 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 Legal Director/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 spokeperson for the organization.
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, and he brings his communications and IT experience to bear for MEUSA's social media outreach efforts.
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 dinnerwear, and 1962 Seattle World's Fair memorabilia.
Registered Domestic Partners in California, Thom and Jeff plan to marry once Prop 8 is finally and truly put to rest, and the full and equal protections of the U.S. Constitution are available to them.
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Christine "CR" Allen Interim IT Director
Christine has been working with MEUSA since 2004. She's began her MEUSA involvement as a Chapter Leader, then became the Administrative Coordinator, eventually serving as a member of the Board of Directors and as the National Leadership Coordinator. She currently works on the MEUSA website, and with the Media and Social Media teams.
Before the marriage equality movement Christine worked in the fields of racial injustice, fair housing, and with lesbian mothers living in poverty. She was a collective member at A Woman's Place Bookstore, the first "women-owned for women" bookstore in the country. Christine 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 have been together for 27 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". Christine is a fanatical reader, political junkie, movie buff, and is all about 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 the Election 2012 and National Marriage Map projects.
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. Since the project began, presidential candidates have dramtically increased their overall support for LGBTIQ equality.
Ned also created a National Marriage Map, which he consistently updates, when he couldn't find one to his liking. He closely monitors and updates our state-by-state situation in the U.S. and ensures that our website data in this area is correct and current. 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 both PolicyMic and The New Civil Rights Movement.
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.
Jenn Chan Software Development Coordinator
Jenn Chan came to us from the frozen tundras of Colorado and now resides in San Diego, CA with her lovely wife. She is a long time supporter of equal rights for all people, and an advocate for basic civil rights as a basic and proper courtesy. Starting as a canvasser for California's No on Prop 8 campaign, she quickly realized that any contribution no matter seemingly how large or small could really make a difference in so many people's lives.
Her technical expertise (through decades of tinkering) has driven her to follow the motto of "Always try to make things easier and simpler for people so we can all live better lives." She coordinates many of our technical projects and has hopes of continuing to fight for marriage equality until true equality is finally realized for all of us.
Jenn's favorite game is EverQuest, and she loves the book Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. Her favorite flick is Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, and this multi-talented woman can use her feet to pick things up.
Dean Dafis Co-Director of Public Policy
Dean is an attorney in New York. He lives in New York City and is in a relationship with George Forbes. He previously served as the Director of Legal Affairs and Policy for Marriage Equality New York.