Over the past 10 years, North Carolina’s statewide LGBT advocacy organization has grown steadily in political, financial and legislative support and success. Its growing base of community activists and committed donors, coupled with its passionate leadership team, has made Equality North Carolina one of the most effective state-level advocacy organizations in the nation.
Much of the group’s growth can be rightly credited to the work of current executive director Ian Palmquist, who celebrates 10 years on staff at the organization on Oct. 12.
First hired in 1999, Palmquist was shortly thereafter named assistant director and later appointed co-director with Hickory attorney Ed Farthing. In July 2006, he was named executive director.
Palmquist’s work has earned himself and his organization respect and recognition from national, state and local organizations and advocates. Under his leadership, Equality North Carolina has become one of the most influential advocacy groups working to effect change for all citizens at the state legislature.
This year, Palmquist led the organization — along with a wide coalition of other state groups —in building sufficient public and legislative support for an LGBT-inclusive anti-bullying act. The , signed by Gov. Bev Perdue this summer, is the first time the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender-identity” will appear in state law.
A board member of the Equality Federation, a national association of state LGBT advocacy groups, Palmquist chaired the group from 2004-2007. Palmquist is also a founding member of the board of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina and a steering committee member of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network.
A native of Raleigh, Palmquist began his activism on gay rights and civil liberties issues at Enloe High School. He attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and graduated in 1999 with a B.A. in English and Linguistics. Palmquist lives in Raleigh with his partner, Brad Oaks.