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Pearls of Wisdom: Q&A with Casey Gallagher, Former Treasurer & President of the Board



Out Boulder County [now Rocky Mountain Equality] turns 30 this year — but ask 10 different people the exact date and you’ll get 10 different answers. That’s the way it is with grassroots organizations, powered by volunteers and a small-but-dedicated staff. The mission is what’s important, and the stakes are too high to slow down. And here we are three decades later, bigger, stronger and more nimble than ever.


To celebrate our 30th trip around the sun, we’ve asked former volunteers, board members, and program participants to share their memories of the organization through the years and offer their “pearls of wisdom” to guide us through the next 30. This commemoration of our past is also a runway toward our future. Out Boulder County is now Rocky Mountain Equality!


This week we’re sharing a Q&A with former Board Member, Treasurer, and President Casey Gallagher, who served from 2004-2008.


Q: How have you seen Rocky Mountain Equality change?


A: There have been so many changes, it's hard to know where to start. The most obvious change is the organization's name. When I joined, we were "Out Boulder," but this name didn't represent everyone the organization grew to serve, so we became OBC. Other significant shifts include our remarkable growth in visibility and capacity. I really credit OBC leadership with making what was once a tiny organization into a major player in the regional nonprofit community.


Q: What makes a nonprofit successful? What has made Rocky Mountain Equality successful?


A: There are so many important factors: An inspiring mission and vision; effective leadership; an engaged community of supporters and volunteers; financial sustainability; and an effective and strategic board. Rocky Mountain Equality has thrived by nurturing all these qualities with intention as it has matured.


Q: What have you seen the organization overcome?


A: I've been around long enough to watch Rocky Mountain Equality struggle with getting off the ground. It took time to build organizational infrastructure and capacity and to earn legitimacy in the sophisticated nonprofit world of our community. Now, with Mardi's leadership, we're flying high.


Q: Did you volunteer or help with any of Rocky Mountain Equality's programming?


A: I was involved with planning and staffing many of the early Pride Fests, from getting city permits, to organizing sponsorships and setting up tables. I helped behind the scenes with programming for OASOS and Speaking Out and helped organize some really energizing meetings and marches around Referendum I back in 2006. Obviously, that didn't go the way we wanted, but our work around it helped galvanize a powerful state-wide LGBTQ+ movement that persists. Back in the day, board members wore many hats. Fortunately, there are actual qualified professionals at Rocky Mountain Equality handling those various jobs now!


Q: Do you have a favorite Rocky Mountain Equality story/memory?


A: One weekend, when the organization was still just Out Boulder, and still located in the "Little House" just north of Boulder County AIDS Project, board, staff, and volunteers gathered for a facility makeover. Some folks worked on the garden — weeding and planting perennials; some helped paint the exterior; others moved furniture. We picnicked, drank beer and lemonade and made a memorable day of it. We were in the trenches, helping build an organization we all still love very much. It felt like a family gathering in a way, which I suppose is exactly what it was.


Q: What words of wisdom do you have for Rocky Mountain Equality's future?


A: Honestly, I wish I could have had today's board and staff travel back in time to give their words of wisdom to my generation's leadership team. There's so much expertise and professionalism at the helm now — we could've really used their guidance and encouragement in the early days. Keep up the good work, everyone!

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