by OFC Board of Directors Co-chairs Lisa Fujie Parks and Leroy Gaines
We are both thrilled and honored to announce that Mimi Demissew has been selected as Our Family Coalition’s new Executive Director!
We conducted a rigorous, nationwide search, supported by an internal committee and the Kevin Chase Executive Search Group. Over the course of the past year we reviewed many excellent candidates, but it was clear when we met Mimi: she is an exceptional leader, and an ideal one for our organization at an exceptional time in our history.
A native of Virginia and a longtime resident of Baltimore, Mimi (who goes by the pronouns she/her or they/them) has most recently led the Pride Center of Maryland as Executive Director. While there, Mimi: worked with the state legislature to win an historic bond bill to support the Center; incorporated an anti-racist framework throughout Center service delivery; turned around a large debt and built strong cash reserves; strengthened relationships with government sectors, members of the business community, and other community-based organizations; and dramatically expanded the Center’s services for families.
Mimi has inspired equal parts confidence and excitement in each of us who has met her:
After a year of growth – and six months adapting support services to life in a pandemic – I know how life-saving the work of this organization is. I’m thrilled to be passing the torch lit a generation ago to Mimi Demissew, a leader with years of dedication to the lives of LGBTQI people.~ Outgoing OFC Interim Executive Director Sam Ames
OFC’s legacy is resilient, and rooted in social justice. From getting to know Mimi on the search committee, I know that she is going to take the organization to even greater levels, and will continue to expand our commitment to equity, social justice, and family diversity. As a parent leader, I am hella excited to work with her.~OFC Parent Power Lead Mari Villaluna
I am thrilled that OFC is in the hands of someone as capable as Mimi – really, she’s an exceptional leader for an exceptional time.~OFC Emeritus Board member and law professor Ora Prochovnick
Mimi is ready, telling us that “OFC’s mission speaks to the heart of our movement and being. I’m excited to be joining such an important organization and talented staff.”
Right now Mimi is packing up her family – which includes her wife and her two-year-old toddler – for the move to the Bay Area from Baltimore. “I can’t wait to ‘see’ everyone in California soon,” she’s said. Whether it’s via a Zoom link or from a safe, masked distance, we feel the same! And we look forward to the time when we can work yet more closely together, safe and unfettered.
Until then, there’s much to do.
The simultaneous pandemics of COVID, structural racism, economic inequality, and climate change continue to worsen conditions for many LGBTQ+ families. And yet they also set the stage for awakening, and for new possibilities. Mimi’s rigorous strategic thinking and enormous operational discipline, coupled with her fierce commitment to service and social justice, make her an ideal leader for us in this moment – if we all give her, and this organization, the support needed to do that hard work.
Women of color leaders – Mimi identifies as a Black woman – are often hired in times of dramatic change, and suffer from insufficient support when just the opposite is called for. They may have busted through a “glass ceiling,” but once arrived find themselves way too close to a “glass cliff.”
It’s clear to us: this next chapter for OFC is one we need to write together.
Let’s start that chapter off with a very warm Bay Area welcome to Mimi and her family. And let’s start strong, opening our wallets as well as our hearts, sharing what we can to ensure Mimi’s success. Because that success will be ours.