iOS app Android app

Joan Garry
Joan M. Garry is the principal and lead "fixer" at Joan Garry Consulting. Joan's team helps untangles the knots that can stand between nonprofit leaders and the work they set out to do.

Joan is also recognized as one of the most vocal, passionate and effective civil rights leaders in America with nearly a decade of service as the Executive Director of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Garry served as the Co-Chair of the National LGBT Finance Committee, Obama For America 2008. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School for Communication where she teaches nonprofit communications and media advocacy.

During her tenure at GLAAD, Joan engaged in high profile campaigns to change hearts and minds. These included successful efforts to lobby the New York Times to include gay and lesbian couples on its wedding pages. She also created a national debate about the homophobic words of radio host Laura Schlesinger and even engaged with Rev. Jerry Falwell to debate the purported homosexuality of one of the Teletubbies (the purple one with the handbag).

Her landmark 1993 court challenge to New Jersey’s second-parent adoption law made Garry the first lesbian in the state to adopt her partner’s biological children. In the spirit of using her voice to advocate for change, Garry is the first and only female singing member of the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus.

Entries by Joan Garry

You Might Have a Dysfunctional Board If...

(0) Comments | Posted March 12, 2014 | 5:35 PM

Note: Every single item below comes from a true story shared with me since I wrote about Post Traumatic Board Member Disorder, or PTBMD for short. Sadly, dysfunctional boards are an epidemic. I'm on a mission to fix that.

Here are a choice few:

  • If you're in serious...
Read Post

Ellen DeGeneres Would Make a Great Executive Director

(1) Comments | Posted March 3, 2014 | 11:02 AM

Like many of you, I spent the evening with Ellen on this Sunday night (Oscar telecast). But while you were watching her deliver pizza to Meryl Streep and retweeting her selfies (did you know that this image is now by far the most retweeted photo ever?), I was...

Read Post

Chris Christie: Smart Politician or Biggest Loser?

(5) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 5:02 PM

This morning Governor Christie stopped fighting. He abandoned the state's legal challenge to same sex marriage. It's over. Marriage equality is now the law of my home state of New Jersey. With the fall of DOMA, our marriage in New York State and soon in New Jersey, Eileen and I...

Read Post

When Is It Time for An Executive Director to Move On?

(3) Comments | Posted May 14, 2013 | 12:53 PM

I asked the following question to a group of nonprofit Executive Directors on LinkedIn.

'OK, you're an executive director. You just suggested a team building exercise for your upcoming staff retreat involving a piñata of your board chair. Perhaps a clue it's time to move on? Other clues?"

I was...

Read Post

Terrified of Fundraising?

(1) Comments | Posted December 10, 2012 | 10:05 AM

I do fundraising trainings with nonprofit board members, some of whom are bigwigs and have big day jobs -- who might take major risks on stocks or who put together multi-million dollar deals. Some of them literally dive off of cliffs. For fun!

But then I ask them for a...

Read Post

Good Organizations Scramble; Great Ones Plan

(0) Comments | Posted November 12, 2012 | 7:47 AM

Caryl Stern and I go way back. Caryl and I worked together when she was at the ADL and I was at the helm of GLAAD. She was a champion for LGBT inclusion in the work of the ADL. I admire her greatly. She...

Read Post

Queer Ride for the Straight Guy

(1) Comments | Posted October 24, 2012 | 2:28 PM

A straight private-wealth manager from Bergen County, N.J., might seem like an unlikely candidate to get involved in a charity bike ride to benefit New York City's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. When my 17-year-old daughter first emailed him, I'm not entirely sure he...

Read Post

Lance Armstrong est un héros

(5) Comments | Posted October 23, 2012 | 9:00 AM

J'ai tout entendu en ce qui concerne la polémique Lance Armstrong/Livestrong (son association de lutte contre le cancer). Je suis consultante au sein d'une organisation à but non lucratif qui aide les organisations à se sortir des situations les plus problématiques et j'estime que...

Read Post

It's Time for Lance Armstrong's Next Tour

(140) Comments | Posted October 20, 2012 | 12:55 PM

I've swallowed everything about the Lance Armstrong/Livestrong controversy whole. I am a nonprofit consultant that helps organizations find their way out of big messes. I find that messes are always symptomatic of larger illnesses (please forgive the pun) and that they are often opportunities to rethink and figure...

Read Post

Take That Governor Christie!

(85) Comments | Posted June 29, 2011 | 9:58 AM

As an openly gay American, it will not surprise you that Governor Andrew Cuomo is my very favorite governor (we call him the Cuomo-Sexual at our house). As an openly gay resident of the state of New Jersey, it will not surprise you that Governor Chris Christie is my least...

Read Post

Six Things the President Could Have Said to the Gay Community

(169) Comments | Posted June 24, 2011 | 10:24 AM

I am not on the fence. Barack Obama is my president. There will be no suspense in 2012. I will vote for him again. He is the best thing to happen to the gays since (insert your own answer here ____).

So of course, I was rooting for him to...

Read Post

The Kids Are All Right? No Way!

(114) Comments | Posted July 26, 2010 | 1:13 PM

I was beyond excited. A major motion picture. Two big celebs. We would finally have cultural shorthand during introductions. Like this past weekend when we dropped our fifteen year old son Ben off at camp. "Hi I'm Joan and..... I tell you what -- let me make this easier for...

Read Post

Pride Pictures That Tell the Whole Story

(44) Comments | Posted June 28, 2010 | 6:13 PM

Well the New York Times did not disappoint us. Its Pride Parade coverage included an amazing photograph of an extraordinarily agile woman. A pole dancer. Dancing while on a moving bicycle. Let's not underestimate the skill involved here. I mean no disrespect.

Nor should we underestimate the...

Read Post

Google Images of "Gay Pride March"

(11) Comments | Posted June 24, 2010 | 8:33 AM

I was curious. I was actually looking for an image for a post on a different subject. I wanted a huge crowd of gay people to make a point about straight allies. You'll understand when you read the post I write tomorrow. I'll leave you in suspense (albeit a modest...

Read Post

"Charge" Elena Kagan With Her Qualifications

(39) Comments | Posted May 10, 2010 | 7:59 AM

OK. So people think I know who is gay and who isn't. They think that, as a gay rights activist, I have access to "the directory." They think that my 'gadar' is of the highest possible caliber.

It is not as finely tuned as you may think. I mean,...

Read Post

Quinn "Edwards" in 2025

(15) Comments | Posted January 21, 2010 | 12:44 PM

My name is Quinn. I'm a teenager. You might remember that my name was in the news about 15 years ago because of my father. Actually he doesn't really deserve the title "father." His name is John Edwards.

Back in January 2010, he admitted that he was my...

Read Post

Kevin Jennings Is Highly Qualified for His Job

(95) Comments | Posted October 16, 2009 | 12:54 PM

Kevin Jennings is an Assistant Deputy Secretary in the Department of Education and he runs the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. His credentials and his commitment to student safety are impeccable.

Anyone who tells you that Kevin Jennings is not qualified for his job:


Read Post

If I Were Obama's Big Gay Speechwriter

(37) Comments | Posted October 9, 2009 | 9:04 AM

Here's the deal. Tomorrow (10/10), the President will address the national dinner of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay political advocacy group. Several thousand people hanging on his every word. A couple of reporters thrown in for good measure. And more than a few bloggers.


Read Post

I Got a Highly Qualified Ambassador for My Birthday

(7) Comments | Posted October 8, 2009 | 10:53 AM

I was thinking that a personal trainer might make a nice gift. Or a guarantee that my memory wouldn't fail me. Or maybe some kind of assurance that our twins would graduate from high school in one piece. Actually I guess I mean two pieces. But I got a highly...

Read Post

Facebook Status: I Dare You. Say What's Really on Your Mind!

(6) Comments | Posted July 28, 2009 | 9:14 AM

My partner Eileen says she is sick of reading Facebook profiles about what people are eating. "Delicious soft shell crabs with Bobby" or "Try the bison burger at Ted's." She thinks it is stupid. She doesn't really care that much about what other people eat. She cares a lot about...

Read Post