This morning, Megin McDonell announced her departure as Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin—the only statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights and political advocacy organization in Wisconsin.
Megin has been a longtime staff member and leader of the organization. She joined Fair Wisconsin in 2011 as External Relations Director, managing communications, grant writing and donor stewardship. In early 2015, when former Executive Director Katie Belanger departed Fair Wisconsin, Megin was named Interim Executive Director and then promoted to Executive Director in October of 2015.
During her tenure, Megin oversaw one of the largest legislative advocacy efforts since Fair Wisconsin’s 2006 marriage amendment campaign and successfully defended against the largest wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation that Wisconsin has ever seen. She worked closely with the Evers Administration to ensure that state funds cannot be used for the dangerous and widely-discredited practice of conversion “therapy.” She also helped draft Executive Order #1, the very first executive order issued by Governor Evers in 2019, which protects state workers and employees of state contractors from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Megin has worked with more than a dozen municipalities across Wisconsin to educate, build community support, and pass local protections against conversion “therapy.”
While Executive Director, Megin ensured that Fair Wisconsin’s presence ranged from grassroots coalition building to institutional partnerships. Her vision and dedication helped guarantee that Wisconsin’s LGBTQ+ community was—and will continue to be—seen and heard at all levels of the political process.
Prior to her time at Fair Wisconsin, Megin served as the Program Director at the Tenant Resource Center in Madison for fourteen years. She has been active in state and local politics and elections, including serving for eleven years on the Madison Equal Opportunities Commission, and working on numerous aldermanic, county board, assembly, and congressional campaigns. Megin also previously served as Co-Founder and President of the Social Justice Center Board of Directors and Chair of the NARAL Pro-Choice Wisconsin Board of Directors.
Megin’s numerous accomplishments were praised by Fair Wisconsin’s Board of Directors in a press release published earlier today:
“While we are sad that Megin is departing Fair Wisconsin, we cannot wait to see what she does next. We are incredibly grateful for her leadership and steadfast dedication to our organization’s mission” said Jodi Greig, Chair of the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund Board of Directors. “Megin has been a critical piece of Fair Wisconsin’s history, and her work will ensure that we continue to grow and serve our community in the years to come.”
“Megin’s success in expanding protections for the LGBTQ+ community in Wisconsin cannot be overstated. From collaborating with state legislative leaders on pro-LGBTQ+ bills and working with Governor Evers to issue Executive Order #1 which protects state employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity to ending the use of state funds for so-called conversion “therapy” and expanding the number of communities who now explicitly prohibit the practice, Fair Wisconsin has accomplished so much with Megin at its helm,” said Laurie Guilbault, Board Chair of Fair Wisconsin Inc. “Because of Megin’s leadership and vision, Fair Wisconsin is well positioned to continue on our forward trajectory to make Wisconsin a place where everyone can be who they truly are and live free from discrimination.”
The board of directors will conduct a search for a new Executive Director and will provide more details in the coming weeks. Sean O’Brien, who currently serves as the Policy and Advocacy Director, will continue in his role and oversee Fair Wisconsin’s programming, legislative advocacy, and electoral organizing while the search is ongoing.
“I am confident that Sean will ensure continued success during this transitional time for Fair Wisconsin and help make 2024 one of our best years yet,” said Jodi Greig.
Fair Wisconsin is Wisconsin’s only statewide LGBTQ+ civil rights and political advocacy organization. Fair Wisconsin Inc. was founded in 1994 to advance, achieve, and protect equality for LGBTQ+ Wisconsinites through lobbying, legislative advocacy, grassroots organizing, coalition building and electoral involvement. Fair Wisconsin Education Fund, the 501(c)3 charitable arm of the organization, was established in 2002 to educate the public about the continued need for LGBTQ+ equality. Fair Wisconsin will be celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2024.