The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation has named a new CEO and president, the third person to occupy that position in three years.
Sara Kate Ellis until recently has served as a senior vice president of global marketing at Martini Media, a digital firm specializing in online branding, public relations and marketing. She will assume the GLAAD position in January and be based in New York City.
Ellis succeeds Herndon Graddick, who stepped down in May 2013 after 13 months on the job for reasons that GLAAD did not reveal. Graddick was named to replace Jarrett Barrios, who resigned in June 2011 after not quite two years as president over a scandal involving GLAAD’s distribution of a press release supporting a proposal by AT&T, one of its corporate donors, to merge with T-Mobile. GLAAD also issued a controversial statement questioning network neutrality, a policy opposed by AT&T under which internet service providers are barred from giving special preference to online products or services produced by them over others.
GLAAD, founded in New York City in 1985, promotes the image of LGBT people in the media. The organization has come under attack in recent years from its perceived infatuation with celebrity and questions about its relevance when there is little or no homophobia in the mainstream media. Critics were particularly incensed by the organization’s award in Los Angeles in April at its Media Awards ceremony of the Advocate for Change award to former President Bill Clinton, who signed both the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy restricting the rights of gay people to reveal their sexual orientation int he military and the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage. Since leaving office, Clinton has said he regrets signing the bills.
That criticism and the shuffling of chief executives have had an impact on GLAAD’s budget, with revenues reported to the IRS declining from $6 million in 2010 to $3.9 million in 2011, the last year for which its financial statement is available.