Task Force taps seasoned leader Darlene Nipper to become deputy executive director

September 08, 2008

Roberta Sklar, Communications Director
(Office) 646.358.1465
(Cell) 917.704.6358

Task Force Movement Building Director Russell Roybal
named to oversee external relations

WASHINGTON, Sept. 8 — Darlene Nipper, a seasoned leader with nearly two decades experience in nonprofit management and program development, public policy advocacy and outreach, budget management and coalition building, has been named deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, effective Oct. 1, 2008. Task Force Movement Building Director Russell Roybal has been promoted to the position of deputy executive director of external relations, and Brian Johnson, formerly the deputy executive director for finance and administration, has received the new title of chief financial officer.

Nipper brings years of well-rounded experience to the Task Force

Download a high-resolution photo of Darlene Nipper

Darlene Nipper brings nearly 20 years of management and advocacy experience to the Task Force. She has held leadership positions in the government, corporate and nonprofit sectors, including the city government of Washington, D.C.; Black Entertainment Television (BET) Foundation; the National Mental Health Association; and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), where she served as chief operating officer.

In 2005, she was appointed director of the Office of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs, in the Executive Office of the Mayor, District of Columbia, where she served as a senior advisor to the mayor on issues related to the LGBT community, provided key policy direction, and worked closely with government agencies to ensure appropriate training and consultation related to major legislative and regulatory guidelines affecting the local LGBT community. She served in that post through 2007.

Nipper has an extensive background as a health advocate, working with those affected by HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, mental illness and other health issues. An ordained interfaith minister, she most recently served as executive director of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington.

“As any executive director knows, there are few things more valuable than an outstanding ‘No. 2’ to help guide an organization in fulfilling its mission. Darlene Nipper is that person. Her breadth of experience will serve the Task Force well and I am confident our colleagues in national, state and local organizations will enjoy working with her. Our leadership team will be even stronger with the addition of her expertise, energy and passion for this work. I couldn’t be more thrilled,” says Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

As deputy executive director, Nipper will oversee all Task Force program activities, including the Policy Institute, the LGBT community’s premier think tank; state and local organizing work, which has an unparalleled record of assisting partner organizations and working against anti-LGBT ballot initiatives; federal and state public policy and advocacy work; and building the long-term strength and sustainability of the LGBT movement through the Task Force’s Academy for Leadership and Action and the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. Additionally, she will be responsible for overseeing the implementation of the organization’s strategic plan.

“I believe strongly in the Task Force’s mission and vision. Its emphasis on addressing LGBT issues at the intersections of multiple social injustices resonates with my own belief that human beings in general, and LGBT community members in particular, live at these intersections,” says Nipper. “I look forward to working with Rea Carey and the entire Task Force team to ensure that the Task Force continues as the organization that pushes our policymakers and society to respect the broad range of human expression that is the truest reflection of who we are as a community.”

Nipper fills the position left vacant after Carey, who had served as Task Force deputy executive director since 2004, was named executive director earlier this summer.

Nipper’s appointment wins immediate praise from a broad spectrum

“Having known Darlene for a number of years, I can only marvel at what a gift she will be to the Task Force. Her years of experience at every level, her incredible personal skills and her magnificent talents put to continued use for the LGBT community will make us all richer. It is a great coup for the Task Force to add her to their impressive roster.” — David Mixner, Author, Political Strategist, Civil Rights Activist and Public Affairs Advisor

“It is rare that you find an individual who can effectively orchestrate operating NAMI — a national organization that has 1,100 affiliates across the nation. Darlene Nipper’s leadership is not just about design, rather it is an innate skill-set that transcends traditional management. She leads by example, with a presence like none other. Through her collaborative approach she galvanizes people to work with her to serve the interests of a national movement and to be the fearless voice for those who cannot advocate for themselves. As the chief operating officer, she used her strategic approach and collaborative leadership style to lead the NAMI community at the local, state and national levels. With her legacy, we continue to glean insights and stand proud of the foundation that she laid for us to follow.” — Nancy Carter, Executive Director, NAMI Urban LA, National Board of Directors, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

“Darlene Nipper has spent a career helping people combat discrimination. She understands that achieving social justice means building systems to channel energies, identifying resources and allies, and enabling communities to effectively advocate, educate, cogitate and demonstrate. She is a formidable foe of marginalization and a proven advocate with enormous skill and experience in organizational development, communication and strategic action. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force continues to demonstrate a keen eye for talent and leadership; Darlene will be an impact player in helping the LGBT community advance its social justice mission.” — Dr. Richard C. Birkel, Executive Director, Rosalyn Carter Institute for Caregiving

More about Darlene Nipper

Nipper was a member of the D.C. Mayor’s LGBT Executive Committee; a regular facilitator at the National Youth Advocacy Coalition’s Annual Summit; coordinated depression screening and education events for the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League in 2001; and ran HIV/AIDS and substance abuse support groups for the Inner City AIDS Network (D.C.) during the early 1990s.

In 2004, she served as the executive director of the Black Entertainment Television (BET) Foundation, where she oversaw a national media campaign to reduce obesity in African-American women. Beginning in 2001, she was national director of the Multicultural and International Outreach Center of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which she founded in order to increase membership of racially and ethnically diverse people in NAMI and the cultural competency of NAMI programs. She was later named chief operating officer, managing the overall operations of NAMI’s national office.

As senior director and then-vice president of public education for the National Mental Health Association, Nipper managed programs that worked with 340 mental health associations across the country. From 1994 to 2000, she was the director of community living at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Institute, a community residential services program for adults with mental retardation and developmental disabilities.

As an employee of the D.C.-based Koba Associates, Inc., Nipper managed several campaigns to improve understanding and prevention of HIV/AIDS and substance abuse. She was the campaign director for the African American HIV/AIDS Education Campaign; curriculum director for the National Institute of Drug Abuse AIDS Education and Research Project; and director of Spectrum Extended Services, AIDS Outreach for Minority Communities.

Nipper received her Bachelor of Arts in Spanish from Howard University and a Master of Science in Administration from Trinity College. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner of 12 years, Katrina Higgins.

Russell Roybal named deputy executive director of external relations

Download a high-resolution photo of Russell Roybal

Task Force Movement Building Director Russell Roybal has been named deputy executive director of external relations, effective Sept. 15. In this capacity, Roybal will oversee the organization’s fundraising and communications work, including ensuring the Task Force is using its resources strategically to increase the visibility of issues of importance to the LGBT community. Roybal will spearhead the Task Force’s branding and marketing work, creating a cohesive voice and messaging to engage the public in the Task Force’s mission.

In 2005, Roybal joined the staff of the Task Force as director of the newly created Movement Building department, which oversees the organization’s work to build the long-term strength and sustainability of the LGBT movement through capacity building and leadership development programming, the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change, and faith organizing work. Roybal is credited with the wildly successful revamping and rebranding efforts of the 2008 National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change in Detroit, Mich.

“Having been associated with the Task Force for over 13 years, Russell knows the Task Force inside and out and has an uncanny eye for how we can best project our valuable work and accomplishments to the public,” says Carey. “Under his leadership, last year’s Creating Change showed activists from across the country that we can have the quality conference we deserve, while not losing the heart, soul and values so dear to the Task Force. His leadership in the field of fundraising and in people of color communities is known by many, but less known are his talents in managing complex initiatives and representing the Task Force in a wide range of venues. With his skills driving our public profile, the Task Force will move to the next level of national leadership.”

“Over a decade ago, the Task Force invested in my development as a young leader. Quite literally the experience changed my life and opened doors for me in ways I couldn’t imagine,” says Roybal. “I am delighted and honored to serve in this position and to serve the Task Force and the LGBT movement. I look forward to the challenge and the opportunity to hold open the door for others.”

Roybal got his start in the LGBT movement on his campus, San Diego State University, where he was president of the LGBT Student Union. He founded Pride Through Education, the first college-recruitment conference in the nation that was targeted at LGBT high school students.

He was among 25 other young people from around the country selected to attend the Task Force’s first Youth Leadership Training Institute, held in 1995. Roybal then became the assistant director of development at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. In 1996, he joined the board of directors of the Task Force as its youngest member, where he went on to become chair of the board development committee and secretary of the board.

Roybal was on staff at the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Organization (LLEGO) in Washington, D.C. He was then recruited to the staff of the Gill Foundation, where he rose through the ranks, eventually becoming director of training and capacity building, the signature program of the foundation at that time. Under his tenure, the program received numerous accolades, including being named Outstanding Foundation of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals for its innovative capacity building initiatives.

Roybal serves on the advisory board of Generation Change, the grassroots organizing leadership program of the Center for Community Change. In addition, he is chair of the board of directors of the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT), which focuses on increasing the number of people of color in fundraising, and he is a member of the board of directors of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.

In spring 2008, Roybal was selected by the Rockwood Leadership Program as one of its fellows in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) community and advocacy. The Rockwood Fellowship is a multi-year program in which a select group of leaders receive support and training to lead more efficiently, as well as an opportunity to continue building alliances to strengthen the voice and power of LGBTQ communities.

Other Task Force staffing news

Brian Johnson, formerly the Task Force’s deputy executive director for finance and administration, has been named chief financial officer. According to Carey, the title change more appropriately describes the scope of Johnson’s responsibilities. The adjustment takes effect immediately.

Prior to coming to the Task Force, Johnson was the chief financial officer, corporate secretary and corporate treasurer of Resource Consultants, Inc. (RCI), a government services firm. At RCI, he was responsible for all corporate accounting, finance and human resources. He has served on the boards of the Northern Virginia AIDS Ministry, the Potomac Executive Network, the Bridge Builders Fund, the Whitman Walker Clinic and the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.