Task Force names Dan Hawes as Organizing and Training department director

February 05, 2008

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

“The Task Force’s Organizing and Training department has continued to evolve over the years as a team of topnotch organizers partnering regularly with state and local organizations to do what it takes to get the job done. Dan will bring to this leadership role both his many years of experience and his openness to new ideas and new ways of building power through grassroots organizing.”
— Rea Carey, Deputy Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has named Dan Hawes as director of the Organizing & Training department. Hawes succeeds Thalia Zepatos as the department’s director and is based in the Washington, D.C., office. Hawes brings to this role his experience as the department's deputy director and as an organizer at the Task Force for 10 years.

Hawes has more than 15 years of collective organizing experience in both the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and labor movements. During his decade-long tenure at the Task Force, he has served as lead organizer for a variety of grassroots campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT legislation and ballot measures. Most recently, he led the Task Force’s three-year partnership with MassEquality that culminated in the defeat of a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Through this effort, he led a team of Task Force organizers spearheading an aggressive on-the-ground constituent mobilization campaign that convinced the co-sponsor of the legislation to change his vote in 2005, and flipped the votes of three out of the nine legislators needed to defeat the measure decisively in 2007.

The Task Force’s Organizing & Training team partners with leaders, organizations and campaigns to build the political power of the LGBT community in measurable ways at the state and local level. As the LGBT community’s most experienced corps of trainers and organizers, we provide practical, in-the-trenches support to win elections, defeat anti-LGBT ballot measures and stop anti-LGBT legislation. Hawes will lead the team in meeting the challenges of 2008 in California, Florida and elsewhere. He will be working with state and local organizations to examine the changing political landscape and working with these partners to develop both proactive and reactive campaigns, in nimble, creative ways.

Hawes will also co-lead with the Movement Building department the launch and implementation of the Task Force’s new Academy for Leadership and Action, which brings together all Task Force trainings under one umbrella. The academy will serve as a primary leadership and skills development opportunity for activists in and associated with the LGBT movement.

Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family in Connecticut, said of Hawes, “Like the Task Force itself, Dan views state organizations as full and equal partners that bring our own resources and expertise to the organizing table. His respectful attitude and his hard work have made him a wonderful ally through the years and we look forward to a continued partnership in his new leadership capacity.”

“Dan and his team provided invaluable, on-the-ground help in our campaign to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts, putting together an effective field plan that both moved legislators and helped grow our base of trained, motivated activists who continue to make our organization stronger. Working with Dan was a great experience and we look forward to working with him in his new position in the future,” said Amy Mello, field director of MassEquality.

Over the years, Hawes has assumed a variety of staff positions with campaigns fighting anti-LGBT ballot measures. In 2006, he served as fundraising director for Citizens to Restore Fairness’ campaign to defeat a local Cincinnati initiative repealing the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance. Although the measure did not qualify for the ballot, he raised $90,000 of seed money during the campaign’s one month launch.

Earlier that year, he also served as statewide field director in Washington state for a campaign to protect an LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination law from voter repeal. And, in 2004, Hawes took a leave of absence from the Task Force to serve as campaign manager for Basic Rights New Mexico, where the New Mexico LGBT community prepared a successful statewide campaign in anticipation of an anti-gay initiative repeal of its nondiscrimination law. He has also helped lead, recruit and train other leaders and volunteers to engage in voter contact actions in successful initiative campaigns in Tacoma, Wash.; Cleveland Heights, Ohio; and Miami-Dade County and Miami Beach, Fla.


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.