OutRight Announces New Board Co-Chairs

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OutRight Action International is pleased to announce the appointment of new co-chairs to its Board of Directors: Micheal Ighodaro and Valerie Ploumpis. Each of them brings tremendous expertise, grace and love to OutRight. Together, they make a powerful duo with sharp insights into LGBTIQ organizing and a heartfelt commitment to human rights.

Micheal immigrated from Nigeria to the United States in 2012 as a refugee after being outed by a Washington Post article. In his native Nigeria, Micheal was a grassroots organizer supporting homeless gay teens from a street corner in Benin City. He then moved on to found the first Nigerian organization to support HIV-positive gay men. Since moving to New York, Micheal continues to advocate for improved social systems and services for LGBTIQ asylum and refugee status seekers. His work has appeared in the Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, New York Times, and several UN news outlets.

In June of 2015, Micheal was honored by President Obama as a World Refugee Champion of Change. He has also been featured in a United Nations Free & Equal campaign to educate global audiences about the LGBTIQ community. He is currently attending the New School while serving as the Program Manager at AVAC, an organization dedicated to global advocacy for HIV prevention.

Micheal first joined OutRight as a fellow in 2014. During his time as an OutRight fellow, he met with the then-President of Nigeria at the US-African Leaders Summit and confronted him on the country’s laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity. His bravery and subject expertise as an activist and refugee makes him a superb co-chair.

He comments,

“As an African gay man, I knew it was important that we have a seat at tables where decisions about programs that affect us are made. OutRight is an organization that creates access for grassroots communities and activists at those tables, making it an organization very close to my heart.”

Valerie has served on OutRight’s board since 2014, following her long-standing passion for international affairs. Valerie explains,

“I grew up in Greece, under both the military junta and then a democratically-elected government, and later in Nigeria. Both my undergraduate and advanced degrees were in International Relations, and I spent 25+ years working in the field of business in Asia. I joined OutRight's board of directors because I was drawn to its powerful mission -- fighting for human rights for LGBTIQ people everywhere.”

Valerie Ploumpis is the national policy director for Equality California, based in Washington, D.C. She is a political expert with more than two decades of experience in issue-advocacy campaigns, grassroots education and mobilization, coalition building, lobbying, and media outreach.

She started her career in international relations with a BA at Mills College and MA at Johns Hopkins following shortly after. Following her education, she served as a legislative and policy advocate for several international trade organizations in Washington, D.C. She then became a principal at Burnside & Associates, where she managed political and mobilization campaigns. This work led to her position as a member of the board and co-chair of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund’s Campaign Board, a national PAC which endorses and supports LGBT political candidates and elected officials.

Together Micheal and Valerie have an immense understanding of organizing, political development, and international policy. All of these characteristics are essential to the work we do. Their expertise will help strengthen OutRight’s programs and leadership across the globe.