Board of Directors Names Jarrett Barrios as President of GLAAD

Former Massachusetts State Legislator to Begin Role in September
June 17, 2009
Richard Ferraro Director of Communications (646) 871-8011

June 17, 2009, New York, NY – The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and GLAAD’s National Board of Directors today announced that Jarrett T. Barrios, a former State Senator from Massachusetts who now heads a leading health care foundation, will serve as GLAAD’s new President. GLAAD works to achieve full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Americans through media advocacy and anti-LGBT defamation work.

“We’re making progress toward equality, but we’ll only achieve full equality if we change hearts and minds – and that’s what GLAAD is all about,” said Barrios. “We’re working for the day when every one of us is accepted, respected and valued for the contributions we make to this country. It’s an ambitious goal, but I know we can do it. I believe in our community, and I believe in our country.”

At 40 years of age, Barrios will become the youngest leader of GLAAD and, as a Cuban-American, the first fluent in English and Spanish. He was the first openly gay person and the first Latino elected to the Massachusetts State Senate, where he represented a largely white, Catholic, working-class district. He is an accomplished fundraiser and manager who broke fundraising records in his election campaigns and managed a multi-million dollar budget at the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts. He is married to Doug Hattaway, his partner of 16 years, and they are raising two teenage sons.

“Jarrett is an inspiring, new voice for the national movement,” said Yvette Burton, Co-Chair of GLAAD’s Board of Directors. “As a Latino and a parent, he will build bridges among communities. He is also an accomplished progressive leader and activist with the talent and experience to take GLAAD and our movement to new heights.”

Barrios has been an advocate for LGBT equality since co-chairing Harvard’s LGBT student organization in the late 1980s and the Boston Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project in the early 1990s. He has also served on the boards of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders and Greater Boston Lesbian and Gay Political Alliance. 

As a State Senator, Barrios successfully helped lead the legislative effort to protect marriage equality in Massachusetts, and is best known for a globally televised speech where he spoke on discrimination faced by his own family. In the legislature, he also successfully championed anti-bullying legislation, the Gay and Lesbian Youth Commission to prevent teen suicide and make schools safe for LGBT youth, buffer zones for women’s health facilities and other progressive issues.

“Jarrett’s advocacy and proven results are a natural fit with GLAAD’s work to shape our culture through the media and raise visibility for LGBT people and issues,” said GLAAD Board Co-Chair Laurie Perper. “GLAAD’s work to change hearts and minds is needed today more than ever. It’s the only way our community will see real change.”

The son of a carpenter and a social worker, Barrios worked three jobs to help put himself through college at Harvard, where he graduated magna cum laude. He received his J.D. with honors from Georgetown University Law Center. His pro bono work as an attorney included the first successful petition of a gay Dominican man for asylum in the United States. He is currently president of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation, a driving force behind the state’s groundbreaking universal health care program. He is also active in progressive issues at the national level as a board member of Families USA, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Action Fund and was recently elected to the board of the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. 

In this historical battle for freedom for LGBT citizens, we need not only good leaders but great leaders," said LGBT advocate and author David Mixner. "The selection by GLAAD of Jarrett Barrios to lead them in their invaluable work is simply brilliant.  As a father, husband, former legislator and son of immigrants from Cuba, no one understands more than Jarrett what is at stake in this powerful moment in our history.  What incredibly good news for the LGBT community to have him in a position of national leadership."

His tenure will begin on September 07, 2009.  He was recently selected as New England’s 2009 Eisenhower Fellow, which will take him to study community health in Brazil this summer. GLAAD’s Senior Vice President J. Michael Durnil will serve as interim President during this time.

Barrios was appointed by GLAAD’s Board of Directors at the culmination of a comprehensive and thorough national search coordinated by Tim McFeeley of executive search firm Isaacson, Miller.  “Jarrett Barrios is a spectacular choice for GLAAD. With his intelligence, strategic ability, communications acumen and grassroots activism, Jarrett will provide leadership for GLAAD and inspiration for the entire LGBT community,” said McFeeley.

"Our search benefited enormously both from Tim McFeeley's talent as a search consultant and from his experience as a distinguished and longtime national leader of the LGBT movement,” said GLAAD Board of Directors member and presidential search committee chair Dean Hansell.

For a video introduction from Jarrett Barrios please visit