Sarvis to Leave SLDN, New Executive Director Search Launched

Posted by Chris Geidner
January 18, 2012 12:45 PM |

sarvis-pelosi.jpgToday, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network announced that the group's executive director, Aubrey Sarvis, would be leaving the organization once a new executive director could be found. Sarvis led SLDN through the legislative repeal and implementation of the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the law whose passage led to the start of the organization in 1993.

In a release, Sarvis said, "Working with the team at SLDN on behalf of our nation's LGBT service members has been the great honor of my life. But make no mistake -- there is much more to be done.

"While I will not be on the front lines in the same way I have since 2007, I will be there nonetheless, doing all I can to help us reach a day in this country when there is full equality and every qualified patriot who wishes to serve can do so without fear, discrimination or harassment," he said. "That day is coming sooner than many think."

According to the organization, SLDN's board of directors has hired an executive search firm, McCormack & Associates, which is based out of Palm Springs, Calif., to handle the process. A designated search committee of the board also has been named.

According to the position job description, which has been posted, SLDN's goals for the new executive director will include:

  • Ongoing legislative and political advocacy on Capitol Hill and at the White House to ensure that the hard won victory of repeal is not limited or rolled back by a future Congress or Administration.
  • Overseeing the implementation of open military service.
  • Advocating in the courts, on Capitol Hill and at the White House for legally married service members to receive the same family recognition, support and benefits as their straight married peers.
  • Calling on the White House and the Pentagon to prohibit harassment and discrimination of LGB service members and representing and defending those who may experience such treatment.
  • Assisting veterans to correct or upgrade their discharge paperwork and removing barriers to future employment.
  • Fighting for full LGBT equality in America's military.

In a statement, SLDN board co-chair April Heinze, who also chairs the board search committee, said, "The search for a new Executive Director comes at a critical moment in the fight for full LGBT equality in our armed forces. Repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law, alone, is not enough. The fight for full equality marches forward -- especially for those legally married gay and lesbian service members who today do not receive the same recognition, support or benefits for their families as their straight, married peers. The board and staff at SLDN will not rest until we overcome these and the remaining inequalities for LGBT service members."

[Photo: Aubrey Sarvis with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Sept. 20, 2011. (Photo by Ward Morrison.)]

Read the full release below the jump.

* * *

SLDN Launches National Search for New Executive Director
- Sarvis to depart, but will remain at helm until replacement named - 

(WASHINGTON, D.C.)  Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) today announced the search process for a new Executive Director to be named this spring.  On the heels of the announcement of the planned departure of Army Veteran Aubrey Sarvis, SLDN's Executive Director since 2007, the SLDN Board of Directors has retained the executive search firm, McCormack & Associates of Palm Springs, CA, to manage the national recruitment process in collaboration with a designated search committee of the board.

"The search for a new Executive Director comes at a critical moment in the fight for full LGBT equality in our armed forces.  Repeal of the discriminatory 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' law, alone, is not enough.  The fight for full equality marches forward - especially for those legally married gay and lesbian service members who today do not receive the same recognition, support or benefits for their families as their straight, married peers.  The board and staff at SLDN will not rest until we overcome these and the remaining inequalities for LGBT service members," said SLDN Board Co-Chair April Heinze, who chairs the national search committee.

The new Executive Director will manage SLDN's ongoing legal and legislative efforts to change the definition of "spouse" in three titles of U.S. Code that pertain to benefits for married LGB service members and veterans and dismantle the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  He or she will oversee SLDN's pro bono legal services for LGBT service members, work with the Department of Defense and congressional leaders for effective implementation of open service, and deal with any harassment or discrimination related to sexual orientation or gender identity that may occur.  In addition, the new Executive Director will champion SLDN's work for full equality on behalf of the nation's gay and lesbian service members in the media, in communities across the U.S., and with stakeholders at every level, including at the White House, on Capitol Hill, and at the Pentagon.

Praise for outgoing Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis was swift following the announcement of his departure.  He will formally step down when a replacement is named.

"Without the leadership, vision, and tenacity of Aubrey Sarvis, it's quite conceivable that getting a 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' repeal bill through Congress and signed by the President would not have happened in 2010.  Aubrey pushed early and strategically for repeal, and once it was clear that the Congress would look quite different following the 2010 elections, SLDN went into overdrive to work with us to craft a plan to make the vote happen in the lame duck session.  The nation's service members - straight and gay - owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Aubrey," said Iraq war veteran and former Congressman Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania.  Murphy was the lead sponsor of repeal enabling legislation in the U.S. House.

Sarvis kept his focus on the future today as he announced his departure.

"Working with the team at SLDN on behalf of our nation's LGBT service members has been the great honor of my life.  But make no mistake - there is much more to be done. While I will not be on the front lines in the same way I have since 2007, I will be there nonetheless, doing all I can to help us reach a day in this country when there is full equality and every qualified patriot who wishes to serve can do so without fear, discrimination or harassment.  That day is coming sooner than many think," said Sarvis.

The position is currently posted at http://www.sldn.org/content/pages/3312/.


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