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Joan Garry
Widely known as the "Dear Abby" of nonprofit leadership, Joan writes a blog for nonprofit leaders read worldwide at Joan is principal and lead "fixer" at Joan Garry Consulting, working with nonprofit boards and staff as a strategic advisor, crisis manager, change agent and strategic planner. Joan also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania with a focus on nonprofit communications and leadership.

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). During her tenure there, Joan engaged in high profile campaigns to change hearts and minds. These included the successful effort to lobby the New York Times to include gay and lesbian couples on its wedding pages.

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

Why Nonprofits Matter

(0) Comments | Posted September 28, 2015 | 4:14 PM

Take a minute from whatever mundane management task you're doing. Forget about the donor who won't return your calls or the board member suggesting that Lady Gaga would be a great celebrity to have at your event. Maybe you are having a bad day.

Set that all aside...

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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...
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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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"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,...

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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...

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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:


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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.


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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...

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