O’Connor Leaving EQCA
John O’Connor is set to leave Equality California a year and a half after he became the statewide LGBT lobbying group’s executive director, the organization said in a surprise announcement April 22.
EQCA board member Rick Zbur, a senior partner with the law firm of Latham and Watkins, will replace O’Connor, who will leave in July. Zbur will begin leading EQCA full time September 1.
In an interview, O’Connor, 43, cited personal reasons for his departure.
"Jobs like these, and this job in particular, are exhausting," said O’Connor, who among other previous posts was the founding director of the California Hall of Fame. "They take me all over the state constantly, with huge amounts of responsibility, so there are pieces of my personal life that have fallen into neglect." Specifically, there’s "a matter involving a family member," he said. He didn’t want to share details. He’s not leaving for a different job.
O’Connor joined EQCA in December 2012 as the nonprofit was experiencing turmoil. The organization had been without a permanent leader for more than a year, following the abrupt departure of Roland Palencia, who lasted just three months in the position.
The group’s finances were shaky, and EQCA seemed to have lost its way after Geoff Kors, who led it for almost a decade, stepped down in March 2011. Like many other nonprofits, EQCA had also seen a drop in contributions in recent years.
O’Connor, whose salary is about $150,000, started working immediately to rebuild the organization. During his time at EQCA, O’Connor sought to develop new funding sources, reorganized staff, and initiated programing to help enroll uninsured LGBT people under the Affordable Care Act rollout.