December 29, 2006
Volume 34
Issue 52
search only SGN online
Saturday, Feb 22, 2020



Equal Rights Washington hires organizer, more planned
Equal Rights Washington hires organizer, more planned
"Organizers are an important means of transmitting information between volunteer activists, organizations and the ERW board and staff," said ERW Advocacy Director Josh Friedes.

by Robert Raketty - SGN Staff Writer

The Seattle Gay News learned this week that Equal Rights Washington has hired Nathan Riding to serve as the organization's field organizer. Riding will be responsible for ERW's outreach, education and action across Washington State.

Riding relocated to Seattle three weeks ago to assume the post. In Missouri, he held the position of Kansas City Program Director for the Progressive Vote Coalition, a statewide coalition of unions and community groups. According to his resume, his duties included development, board member and campaign management, communications outreach, employee supervision, and office management. Riding has a Political Science Major and Japanese Minor from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.

"We interviewed many candidates. Nathan's past experience as an organizer, his passion, and his commitment to supporting advocates and listening were all qualifications that made him very appealing to us," ERW Advocacy Director Josh Friedes told the SGN on Wednesday.

The organization intends to hire more organizers in the future, according to Friedes. "One of the concerns we have heard from advocates in Spokane, Vancouver and other locations is that local activists and organizations don't feel as supported or connected to ERW as they would like to be," he said. "If we can raise the funds we would like to hire several more organizers and have them situated outside of Seattle. Such a staffing plan would not only allow us to better support activism around the state, it would also hopefully result in advocates outside of Seattle having a greater voice in ERW's setting of priorities and development of public policy."

Friedes believes organizers, such as Riding, are essential to furthering the movement for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender equal rights. "The LGBT civil rights movement is fueled by volunteers and coalition activity. Organizers help coordinate this work," he said. "Organizers are an important means of transmitting information between volunteer activists, organizations and the ERW board and staff. Good organizers ask questions and listen carefully and make sure what they hear and learn is brought back to the ERW board and staff.

"Organizers provide essential support to activists around the state. Nothing is more frustrating then wanting to be a powerful voice for equality but not being able to get materials and other services in a timely manner. Organizers help plan trainings to further develop the skills of advocates. Organizers work hard to help identify powerful local voices that can but a human face on the issue of LGBT civil rights and organizers help build an advocate base that is as diverse as our community."

The SGN spoke with Riding this week about his new job.

SGN: How did you hear about the position?

Nathan Riding: I just moved here from Missouri for this position. I worked in a statewide coalition of unions and community groups. One of our organization members is a group called PROMO, they are kind of like a sister organization to Equal Rights Washington. I found out through them and, so, I applied.

SGN: What was the application process like?

NR: I just sent in my resume and I didn't hear anything back for awhile. Then, I got a call maybe two months after I sent in my resume, because they were interviewing a lot of people. I interviewed over the phone. Then, Advocacy Director Josh Friedes was at Creating Change in Kansas City and I met him there. That was pretty much what I did for my interview.

SGN: Have you ever been to Seattle or lived here before?

NR: I have been here before. I have never lived here for any long term type of situation.

SGN: How long have you been in town?

NR: Three weeks. So, I'm fresh off the boat here, quite frankly.

SGN: Has it been a big adjustment?

NR: Like any type of move you have got to get housing; figure out the lay of the land - especially in a job like organizing or working in politics. There is a lot to learn. It's a little bit of a challenge, but Seattle's a great city and there are a lot of great people here. I have found that - compared to other moves I have made in my life - this has been one of the easier transitions.

SGN: What do you think about your past experience prepares you for this position?

NR: I haven't directly worked -- specifically -- for a group that works for marriage equality, but in the past - like the last three years - I served as the campaign director for the Kansas City, Missouri, Progressive Vote Coalition. I worked on issues like access to healthcare for all, preserving Social Security, and raising the minimum wage. So, I did a lot of work with coalitions, listening to people, working with groups that you may not necessarily logically think would be your ally and creating relationships with people, leaders, politicians and activists. I put on press conferences, worked with the media and helped politicians get elected to office. I helped candidates that are good on the issues of progressives and, I think, that Gay people in general probably care about. It has given me a lot of different experience; at least to know how to work with people and try to build some type of movement. So, I feel my hands on experience in my last job -- in particular -- have been invaluable.

SGN: What is going to be your new responsibilities as you understand them?

NR: One of the things that I am looking forward to is being able to provide some type of support to the activists and allied groups around the state. I know that ERW is committed to fostering better communication with activists, organizations and allied organizations. I think a big part of my job will be doing that. And, so, at least at the onset - for the first couple of months - that is really what I am going to be focusing on. I will probably be traveling around to different areas - not just in Seattle - but the entire metro area in hopes of getting a better feel for what the needs and wants of the various people and areas in our state are like. I just want to be a resources for local activists. Here at ERW, we have a lot of access to local and national organizations and I know there are a lot of people out in the community organizing - whether in the metro are or out in other parts of the state -- that have lots of different things their facing. I hope ERW can be a resource to those people if they would like the help, because that is what we are here for. Not just to work on national and state issues, but to help activists to complete their missions and to do their work on the issues they care about or might be unique to them. We also really want to put a human face on issues that confront the LGBT community in Olympia; let the Legislature and decision makers know firsthand what our community is facing. I think that is really critical.

SGN: With the legislative session staring in just a week or two, do you feel the need to jump right in?

NR: ERW - even before I came - had been doing several things to prepare for the legislative session. One of those things is that they are sponsoring and trying to get meetings going across the state and in various regions. We are calling these meetings, "Vow to Take a Stand." Of course our ultimate goal at ERW is to get marriage equality for all LGBT people in the state, but this is also an opportunity for us to really listen to and find out how people feel about the upcoming legislative session and what the agenda is going to be. At these town meetings around the state, it will be an opportunity to get comments and listen to the concerns of the community and how we are moving forward - not just on marriage equality but for a whole range of topics. Things such as safe schools, homeless youth services, and access to healthcare - just to name a few. So, I really think that those meetings are going to be a great opportunity and I am really going to try to be on the forefront organizing those. I want to really get a feel for whose out there; who the organizations are, who the leaders are, and what the community really wants. The "Vow to Take a Stand" meetings are really important and are going to lead up to Equality Day. By working with different groups from various part of the state, everyone feels supported and feels enthused about where we going. People can go from there to the Capitol for Equality Day and get excited about the agenda and what we are moving forward on.

SGN: What else do you want our readers to know?

NR: I am really excited to be here. Seattle has a very diverse community. I think there are a lot of reasons to be hopeful in the coming few years and that a lot of ground could be made in our quest to get marriage equality - to improve the lives of all LGBT around the state. I am really interested in learning from the community about what people would like from ERW; about how things are going and the concerns they have. I am always open and want to know what they would like and how they feel about how things are going in this state. They can reach me here at work at 206-324-2570 or by e-mail at

International Readers
We want to learn about you and have you tell us about Gay Life where you live.

read the SGN in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish

Seattle Gay Blog
post your own information on
Seattle Gay Blog

copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2006