COLUMBIA, S.C. — Longtime activist and volunteer Ryan Wilson has been named the new executive director of SC Equality, the statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy and education organization in the Palmetto State.
The announcement of Wilson’s hire was made at the annual SC Pride festival in downtown Columbia on Saturday and later announced via press release this week.
Wilson, 28, comes to the organization with a breadth of community organizing experience. He has served as president of the Harriet Hancock Community Center Board of Directors, president of the SC Pride festival and in various other capacities for other groups. For the past two years he has served as a training coordinator for the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Jeff Ayers, chair of the SC Equality Board of Directors, told qnotes his organization is pleased with their choice.
“We did a complete nationwide search,” Ayers said. “We had some very qualified candidates but the board decided with my encouragement that we really needed to look at some candidates here in South Carolina that knew the state and that’s from here versus bringing someone in from another state who has no idea about our political landscape and how things work and has no connection to this state. Ryan just seemed to fit what we were looking for and he has a track record. It was the perfect choice for us.”
Wilson said he was “thrilled” to be chosen the next executive director. He’s looking forward to working daily and professionally on LGBT issues.
“I used to have a position at the university as a graduate student where I got to work with my passion,” he said. “Now I will get to align my passions and work life into one place. I’m excited to be able to focus on LGBT issues on a daily basis now.”
Wilson added, “I’ve always wanted to give my best hours of the day to work with the LGBT community instead of trying to fit it into evening and weekend hours. I’ll be able to get up every morning and focus on LGBT work.”
Wilson, who will soon turn 29, will face challenges in his new position. Despite his relative youth and his lack of professional lobbying and legislative experience, Ayers said, Wilson will rise to the occasion.
“He is very articulate and passionate about LGBT rights,” Ayers said. “I think a lot of that comes from his great personality. He’ll be able to make friends at the statehouse.”
Wilson, who begins work on Nov. 1, said his top priorities will be local non-discrimination ordinances and safe schools legislation.