Celebrating Executive Director Jessica Stern's Appointment as US Special Envoy for LGBTIQ+ Rights


Dear Friend,

It is with a mixture of emotions that I'm writing to let you know of the forthcoming departure of our executive director, Jessica Stern, who has been selected by the Biden Administration to serve in the role of Special Envoy for International LGBTIQ+ Rights.

Jessica became executive director in 2012, and oversaw a period of extraordinary growth for OutRight. While we lament her departure, we also celebrate the reestablishment of the role of Special Envoy. We are particularly pleased that the Biden administration chose to appoint a globally recognized expert in the human rights of LGBTIQ people and someone who is so deeply grounded in our movement to this important position. 

Under Jessica's leadership, OutRight underwent significant transformation and achieved meaningful and lasting impact. Jessica's vision was for OutRight to help LGBTIQ movements accelerate progress by focusing on research, resourcing, and advocacy. She expanded Outright's research program, which issued landmark global reports documenting the impact of COVID-19 on LGBTIQ people, exposing the global reach of so-called ‘conversion therapy’, and others. Under her leadership OutRight distributed millions of dollars in grants to LGBTIQ organizations, including by creating the largest Global LGBTIQ COVID-19 relief fund in the world; expanded our programs to new regions and areas of work. Moreover, OutRight became a watchdog and advocate at the UN by obtaining official accreditation (ECOSOC status), among other successes impacting the daily lives of LGBTIQ people.

OutRight's staff and board will miss having Jessica as our Executive Director!

Co-Chair of OutRight’s Board of Directors, Jenny Pizer, commented:

“The United States is emerging from four years of unreliable foreign policy, distortions of international human rights standards, and backs turned on LGBTIQ people. In such times, LGBTIQ communities need and deserve a clear-eyed human rights champion to galvanize a wise reemergence of the U.S. government insisting on full human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere. Jessica is that person. We who know Jessica’s talents best know what an immense positive impact she can have. This is an exciting new day for our global movement.”

Jessica's departure date from OutRight has not yet been set. I want to assure you that OutRight's Board will work in close coordination with the senior management team to ensure a seamless leadership transition in the coming weeks and months.

Co-Chair of OutRight’s Board of Directors, Aalap Shah, commented:

“OutRight today is a formidable organization that is deeply attuned to the diverse needs of LGBTIQ people around the world. We have a clear vision, robust programs, experienced staff, and a strong Board of Directors. We will continue to fight as part of the global human rights movement. Nothing will slow us down in our pursuit of human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere.” 

Please join me in congratulating Jessica!

With sincere regards,

Maria, Sjödin
Deputy Executive Director
OutRight Action International