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Sue Landers to Step Down as Executive Director

Sue Landers to Step Down as Executive Director

Author: Sue Landers

November 3, 2021

Dear Lambda Family, 

I have had the great privilege of serving as Executive Director of Lambda Literary for nearly four years, and it is my honor to now share this opportunity with a new leader. On December 1, I will step down as Executive Director. Maxwell Scales and Cleopatra Acquaye-Reynolds will join the organization as co-Interim Executive Directors, while Lambda’s board conducts a national search for the organization’s next visionary leader. 

I am grateful to have led Lambda during a time of historic change. As COVID-19 touched all of our lives, it decimated far too many nonprofits. As you know, even Lambda came close to shutting our doors. Thankfully, that didn’t come to pass because you—our community and allies—dug deep to ensure Lambda’s solid financial footing. I am proud to say, unequivocally, that Lambda Literary is here to stay. 

Beyond disruption, the pandemic also gave Lambda the opportunity to reconsider who we are, who we serve, and what we do. With support from our board, I led a process that resulted in a new strategic roadmap for Lambda with justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion at its core. 

When I joined Lambda Literary, my vision was to advance social change through the power of queer and trans storytelling. Together, with your support, we have done more than I could have ever imagined, and I am especially proud of the following: 

  • Our first livestreamed Lammys ceremony reached more than 2,500 viewers around the globe, and we now offer seven cash awards, including prizes for Black LGBTQ novelists and LGBTQ writers over 50. 
  • We quadrupled the reach of LGBTQ Writers in Schools. We will serve 10,000 young people this year, ensuring that more young people have access to powerful and affirming LGBTQ books. We also provided free professional development to thousands of teachers so that they are equipped to bring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum to students.  
  • We hosted events that centered and celebrated Black LGBTQ lives, such as Lambda LitFest, which featured dozens of today’s most dynamic writers discussing art-making, joy, and how to dismantle a white supremacist, ableist, cis- and heteronormative world.
  • We expanded Lambda’s workshops for queer and trans writers with Learn with Lambda, classes that demystify the publishing process for aspiring authors.
  • We redesigned our website, got that blue check mark on Twitter, built our YouTube channel, and made sure our events are more accessible by providing ASL interpretation, captioning, and visual descriptions. 

All of this (and more) was possible thanks to your support and the incredible hard work of Lambda’s deeply committed and totally awesome staff.

Thank you for entrusting me with this beautiful and powerful organization. It has been an honor to serve you. While December 1 will be my last day as executive director, I will continue to support Lambda Literary as a donor, reader, and friend (and, ahem, you should, too!). Together, we have a lot to look forward to. 

In community,

Message from Roz Lee, President, Lambda Literary Board of Directors

As president of Lambda Literary’s board of directors, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Sue for her invaluable leadership over the past several years, especially during this time of unprecedented disruption and unrest. 

Sue has been a remarkable and visionary leader. When COVID hit, Sue saw what needed to be done to ensure that we would not only survive, but thrive. Thanks to her strategic leadership, Sue was able to recoup our COVID-related losses, pivot all of our programming from in-person to virtual delivery, and raise the funds needed to create a financial safety net for the organization in the event of future hardships. 

Sue also had the foresight to know that this moment in history required Lambda to reconsider its work and mission moving forward. With full support of our board, she spearheaded a strategic planning process that has ensured that our new financial stability will take us where our community needs and wants us to go. Centering justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion, Sue created a roadmap for Lambda Literary’s work moving forward. 

Between the roadmap, the secure financial position, and the phenomenal new staff and board members Sue has brought together, Lambda’s next leader will be in a position to hit the ground running. 

Lambda Literary is now at a powerful inflection point. As we move forward, with a renewed focus on justice and equity, and strengthened capacity, we will be carried forward by the momentum Sue has set in motion. 

Sue Landers photo

About: Sue Landers

Sue Landers is the Executive Director of Lambda Literary.

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