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Tony Hoang to be Equality Calif’s 1st Asian-American executive director

Tony Hoang

“Our community is at an inflection point — recovering from a global pandemic and economic crisis, facing a reckoning with centuries of structural racism, and fighting back against a coordinated assault on transgender children,” Tony Hoang said in a statement. “Equality California has both an opportunity and a responsibility to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.” Photo: Equality California.

Equality California’s new leader grew up understanding the marginalized intersections of sexual orientation, gender, race, immigration status, and class.

The son of Vietnam War refugees and the first person in his family to attend college, he will be the group’s first Asian-American executive director. At 31, he also will be the youngest executive director in the organization’s history.

Equality California — the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization — and Equality California Institute, which handles the group’s public education programs, have selected managing director Tony Hoang will lead the organization as the next executive director when Rick Chavez Zbur steps down at the end of the year.

“Our community is at an inflection point — recovering from a global pandemic and economic crisis, facing a reckoning with centuries of structural racism, and fighting back against a coordinated assault on transgender children,” Hoang said in a statement. “Equality California has both an opportunity and a responsibility to create a world that is healthy, just, and fully equal for all LGBTQ people.”

The organizations’ boards of directors unanimously selected Hoang after a year-long succession process. They made their announcement Wednesday.

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Hoang will serve as executive director designate through the end of the year and continue to lead Equality California’s day-to-day operations as managing director, the second highest role in the organization.

Equality California’s board and Hoang are negotiating his salary as executive director. According to its 2018 public tax forms, the most recent documents available, Zbur’s salary was $259,000, and Hoang was paid $153,287. Zbur and Hoang, along with other staff, took 10 percent pay cuts in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting its fundraising efforts.

During the transition, Zbur will continue to provide strategic guidance and leadership. Zbur will step down at the end of the year to focus on his race for an open seat in the state Assembly’s District 50. Initially, Zbur entered the race for Los Angeles City Attorney, but withdrew to run for the Assembly.

As executive director, Hoang wants to expand the organization’s physical presence across California, with a particular focus on the Central Valley, Orange County, and the Inland Empire, according to the statement.

He also wants to advance racial justice and reform the nation’s immigration system as key priorities critical to achieving full, lived equality for all LGBTQ people, the statement said.

“We cannot think of a more qualified, dynamic, and visionary leader to succeed Rick and carry Equality California into its next chapter than Tony Hoang,” Joe Gregorich, Equality California’s board president, and Jackie Thomas, Equality California Institute’s board president said in a joint statement.

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Born and raised outside of Houston, Hoang moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. During college in 2009, he served as a field intern at Equality California, beginning his 12-year career at the organization.

As California’s LGBTQ civil rights movement grew, Hoang’s role at Equality California expanded. He has worked in a variety of roles, including database and volunteer manager, director of operations, and chief of staff.

During this time, Hoang has played a pivotal role in the passage of groundbreaking civil rights legislation in California, Nevada, and Washington, DC, implementation of statewide public education campaigns, and the election of hundreds of openly LGBTQ and pro-equality candidates, the statement said.

Hoang is a Los Angeles commissioner on the Innovation and Performance Commission, which is tasked with improving the responsiveness, efficiency, and quality of the city’s services.

He sits on the boards of Equality Federation and DTLA Proud, a nonprofit organization that supports the local LGBTQ community in downtown Los Angeles.

Hoang received a bachelor of arts degree in international relations at USC with minors in political science and natural sciences.

He lives in downtown Los Angeles with his fiancé Ian Grady, an attorney.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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