Our People: Q&A with Matt Hirschy

Director of Advancement, Equality NC

Matt Hirschy recalls the day he was approached with the proposition to leave his job as a corporate headhunter and join the team at Equality NC.

“I’ll be honest, the first thing I thought was there’s no way I’m going to leave my office job where I wear suits every day to go work for a civil rights organization,” he said.

Now, serving as the organization’s Director of Advancement, Hirschy said he doesn’t know why he didn’t make the switch sooner.

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“It’s a dream come true,” he said. “It’s an absolute privilege to do this.”

Currently, Hirschy is working hard to ensure that registered voters participate in the City Council primaries scheduled Sept. 15.

“This one’s going to be crucial for us moving forward,” he said.

What do you do for Equality NC?
I run the day-to-day operations of many of our strategic initiatives. I strategize how to advance the mission of the organization, where to play and how to win. I’m one of the organization’s key spokespersons.

Where are you from originally?
I was born in Oklahoma, but I was raised in Charlotte.

What brought you from Oklahoma to North Carolina?
My parents worked for the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. So, they worked for the federal Treasury Department. They moved here to regulate banks. All of my friends that work for banks don’t enjoy what my dad does for a living.

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You have a long history in business. Tell me about your interest in business.
My most recent job, before this, was with Charles Aris. For lack of a more politically correct term, I was a headhunter. My overarching interest in business is finding great talent and delivering it to organizations, but also engaging people in new things that may challenge them. I enjoy that aspect.

What interests you about working for Equality NC, in particular?
I left the rat race and corporate America to come work for Equality NC because it’s an issue and a cause that I believe in and it’s one that affects me every day. The other aspect is my parents raised me on doing the right thing and giving back to your community. When I was approached to join Equality NC, I really thought about it. In your 20s and early 30s, it’s really a good time to do work like this. More people should be involved in the nonprofit sector, especially at this time, when you have the most talent, the most flexibility, you can really do anything with your life. So, I said, you know what, if I’m going to do this, it’s going to be now and I might as well take the opportunity while I can. For me, it’s really about doing the right thing for a cause that I definitely believe in passionately.

Was there one incident or moment, in particular, that prompted you to take a job with Equality NC?
I came out pretty close to the amendment fight. A good friend and mentor of mine, Jen Jones, former communications director for us, she literally ran across the state of North Carolina to raise awareness about this issue. I followed her journey. I watched every single web post they put up. I watched every video. I watched her sweat and cry and attend those forums in rural North Carolina where people were shouting at her. That’s one thing that galvanized me as this being something that I needed to get invested in and be involved in. I don’t think there’s any one issue or action or incident that got me involved. I look critically at the state of affairs in North Carolina for LGBT folks. I try to do that every day. You look at the amount of pain that folks go through around these issues, around bullying, trans folks committing suicide and the racial justice issues facing our country and city. I look at those things and tell myself it’s a really good time to do the right thing.

You used to work for Music on the Mountaintop. What kind of music do you like?
I run the gamut: One second I’m listening to Kanye West, the next I’m listening to Florence and the Machine, the next I’m listening to Spoken Word Poetry. It really is all over the place.

I understand you like to play kickball.
I’m really proud today to say that North Carolina has more Stonewall Kickball leagues than any other state in the country. It’s something that I like to see. When you’ve got thousands of people that can do something as silly as kickball on a Saturday to raise money for some really important causes, that’s pretty cool. That’s a really galvanizing force behind the community.

Tell me something about yourself that readers might like to know that they don’t already know.
I really like fishing. I’ve done a lot of deep sea fishing, fly fishing and outdoor sports. I don’t find the opportunity to do it very often. Also, I just joined the board of Quist, a free LGBT history app. It teaches LGBT history through iPhone, Windows or android apps. Every day, you wake up and it gives you a little notification about what happened on that day in queer history. Learning our history is so important. : :

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