Equality Illinois adds new board members

Equality Illinois Chicago office. Photo: Google

Equality Illinois Chicago office. Photo: Google

Equality Illinois, a Chicago-based statewide LGBT rights and policy organization, announced last week the addition of four new members to its two governing boards.

Joining the organization are Anthony D’Amato, vice president and general counsel at Illinois Institute of Technology, Michael Collins, domestic partner advisor at Robert W. Baird & Co., Yvette Chavez, prominent business person and transgender activist and David Munar, president/CEO of the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

“We appreciate the experience these four directors will add to the oversight function of the boards,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois. “Board oversight of our finances and activities is an important key to our successful, professional advocacy for rights on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.”

All four of the new members will serve on the Equality Illinois Education Project and three of them — with the exception of Collins — will serve on the board of Equality Illinois, which oversees the non-profit arm of the organization.

“Strong boards give the community and our allies confidence in our operations,” Cherkasov said.

D’Amato told Chicago Phoenix he’s excited to join Equality Illinois when the state is “on the cusp” of passing a marriage equality bill.

“Equality has been at the forefront of this fight, and I am honored to be able to do and give what I can to see it won,” he said. “Personally, being able to get a marriage, as opposed to a civil union, license would be amazing.”

The chief sponsors of a same-sex marriage bill plan to bring the legislation up for vote early next month during the state legislature’s lame duck session, beginning Jan. 2.

Sen. Heather Steans (D-Chicago) and Rep. Greg Harris (D-Chicago) said they are close to securing the 30 Senate votes and 60 House votes to pass the bill, the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act.

Equality Illinois is one of three founding organizations of the Illinois Unites for Marriage coalition, which aims to achieve full marriage equality in Illinois by early next year.

D’Amato said he looks forward to bringing 16 years of experience as a lawyer in the private, non-profit and government sectors to the organization to advance equality.

“I hope that in some small way my experience, insights and skills will assist Equality in its efforts to make Illinois an even better place for all members of the LGBT community and our allies.”