The chair of a state LGBTQ+ advisory board that was formed last year said she’s disappointed Gov. Glenn Youngkin opted not to reappoint her.
Lisa Turner, who has been board chair since April, and four other members were told they won’t be reappointed when their terms end June 30.
“This is their prerogative. They have four years, that’s it. I cannot fault them for wanting to have their own” people on boards, Turner said.
Turner, a Democrat, said she wishes she could have been evaluated on her merits, not her partisan beliefs.
“If I would have been afforded that it would have made me feel a lot better than just being tossed aside and not considered for my professional abilities,” she said.
Kay Coles James, the secretary of the commonwealth (who handles gubernatorial appointments), said Friday that she understood why Turner would be disappointed. James was on the Virginia Commonwealth University governing board but was not reappointed by then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe, and said she understood what it feels like.
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“I am in the middle of the appointments process right now and there are hundreds of people who have given their time and their service to the commonwealth by serving on boards and commissions, and as the governor is looking at these commissions, there are lots of people that will not be reappointed,” James said. “But it’s the natural transaction of business in the commonwealth.”
Four committees of the Virginia LGBTQ+ Advisory Board are working on recommendations they hope to give to the governor by fall. The General Assembly created the board in 2021 and it advises the governor.
Turner lives in Virginia Beach and is the executive director of LPAC, which helps elect LGBTQ women to office.
Vice chair Michael Thorne-Begland, vice president and chief inclusion, diversity & equity officer for Altria Client Services, also was among those the governor did not reappoint.
Turner said that the board’s administrator told her on May 18 that a Youngkin administration official informed her that there would be no reappointments for the five members whose terms were expiring.
Michael Berlucchi, another member of the advisory board, and a Republican member of the Virginia Beach City Council whose term has not expired, praised Turner’s leadership even though they didn’t agree on every political issue.
“I always found her to be very fair and collaborative and I enjoy working with her and I appreciate her service and leadership,” he said. “Public service requires that people from diverse perspectives and backgrounds and opinions come together with mutual respect in order to solve problems and help our community. And Lisa’s work exemplified that spirit in my mind.”
The board includes 21 unpaid citizen members.
“We were just really getting started,” Turner said. “Each committee has met maybe two to three times.”
Earlier this week, some of the state’s top LGBTQ+ leaders opted not to attend a pride event Youngkin hosted in the state Capitol because of his opposition to same-sex marriage and other issues.
Then-Gov. Ralph Northam, when he signed the bill last year to create the advisory board, said it “will ensure the LGBTQ+ community has a permanent voice in Virginia’s executive branch — no matter who is governor.”