New Chairs Spearhead Ambitious Agenda

New Equality Illinois Chairs Spearhead Ambitious Agenda for LGBT Rights

CHICAGO (October 20, 2014) – Three new board chairs will lead Equality Illinois at protecting full implementation of the new freedom to marry in Illinois, advocating a national agenda including passage of broad workplace protections, and implementing fresh approaches on a broad range of issues facing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Illinoisans.

Grant Gochnauer, a technology entrepreneur, is the new chair of the board of Equality Illinois, overseeing the policy advocacy work of the organization. Anthony D. D’Amato, an attorney, is the new chair of the board of Equality Illinois Education Project, the educational arm of Equality Illinois that concentrates on community outreach, issue education, and building alliances. As the new chair of the Equality Illinois Political Action Committee, Nicole Bashor, a patent attorney, leads the political affiliate of Equality Illinois.

“Grant, Anthony, and Nicole, all longtime participants in the Equality Illinois mission, bring essential leadership skills and commitment to the cause at this important juncture in the struggle for full LGBT rights,” said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, the state’s oldest and largest advocacy organization for LGBT Illinoisans.

Gochnauer is the Vice President and Co-Founder of Vodori, Inc., a Chicago consulting and software development company, coupling that with advocacy work, including frequent testimony before legislative panels in favor of immigration reform and on the harm of the Defense of Marriage Act.

“I believe in creating better lives through community, purpose, equality, and impactful change,” Gochnauer said. “It is important to be an outspoken advocate for the policies that benefit LGBT Illinoisans and to challenge laws and directions that are harmful, a role that we at Equality Illinois must continue with vigor.”

D’Amato, a lifelong Chicagoan, is the Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of the Illinois Institute of Technology. He believes educating the public through the initiatives of the Equality Illinois Education Project will continue to be essential to securing the legal rights for the LGBT community and to fostering understanding throughout society.

“The progress that the community has made in the last 20 years has been amazing,” D’Amato said. “As a young college student, the thought that I would be married to my partner was something that I never contemplated. I sincerely believe that our legal and political victories of the last number of years have, in large part, been made possible only because of the efforts that we all have made to educate our families, friends, co-workers, employers, religious leaders and government officials.”

Bashor, a patent attorney at Quarles & Brady, helps companies protect their innovations by providing strategic counseling regarding product releases, technology acquisition, and anything else relating to intellectual property. She has been involved in LGBT advocacy for all of her adult life and was recognized this year as one of best LGBT attorneys under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association, which recently elected her to its board. Bashor also serves on the board of the Lesbian and Gay Bar Association of Chicago.

“I’m motivated to be involved in the PAC board because of the opportunity to directly impact elections in a way that is meaningful,” Bashor said. “It is critical that we have legislators and state officials in office who are committed to LGBT causes; in my opinion, the best way to do this is through the work of the PAC board. It is incredibly powerful and effective to be able to engage people on both sides of the aisle to explain the issues and get our message to the decision makers.”

Grant Gochnauer, Chair
Equality Illinois
Anthony D’Amato, Chair
Equality Illinois
Education Project
Nicole Bashor, Chair
Equality Illinois
Political Action Committee


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