Under Joe Solmonese's leadership, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT rights organization, became the model other organizations look toward to create effective social and political change. Ranked among the National Journal's top five most effective groups, HRC was instrumental in passing landmark national legislation such as the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and the passage of marriage equality in eight states.
Beginning with a moving story of working with Matthew Shepard's mother Virginia in passing the hate crimes bill that bears Matthew's name, Solmonese shows how he discovered that channeled anger can drive a commitment to change. Mrs. Shepard taught him to keep his unquestionably justifiable anger from blinding him in the moment, and instead use it strategically, in the service of a larger purpose. In this book he uses the lessons he learned during his tenure at HRC, as well as his previous position as the CEO of Emily's List, and his current work as a corporate consultant, to teach listeners how they can affect real, lasting change in society and at work. His often-surprising lessons may not be entirely expected or celebrated by all groups, e.g., don't shame your enemies, find allies wherever you can, and ask for the doable, not the impossible. Most striking in this book are the stories of Joe's ability to draw some kind of win - however small - from seeming enemies. Many of these former enemies became stalwart allies over time. Joe's book is more concerned with the "long game" of changing culture and achieving long-term goals, not the "short game" of enforcing purity or litmus tests.
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