A Message from EQNM’s new Executive Director, Amber Royster

Greetings EQNM Partners and Friends,

It is with great enthusiasm and honor that I introduce myself and begin my journey as EQNM’s Executive Director.  EQNM has a long and rich history of advocating for LGBT New Mexicans and their families, and it is my intent to progress this mission throughout my tenure.  It is truly a privilege to have been selected for this critical role.

I grew up in Albuquerque, and my family has roots in New Mexico that span six generations.  My mom’s parents met at the Kimo Theater where my grandmother sold movie tickets, and my grandparents on my dad’s side graduated from the old Albuquerque High.  My Alma mater is Sandia High School where I played soccer and basketball for the Lady Matadors.

I left New Mexico almost 15 years ago to come out of the closet.  I grew up in a household that wasn’t tolerant of homosexuality, so it was a necessity that I strike out on my own to explore this part of me that just “ wouldn’t go away.”  My family was in a significant period of change and growth at the time I left, and thankfully they have become my most ardent supporters and dogged advocates for human equality—especially for the LGBT community.  But even in leaving I knew that I would someday return to the Land of Enchantment.  I have long-held a commitment for bringing my experience and education back home to contribute to the progress of New Mexico.  I love this state and the people in it, and I can’t imagine a better way for me to return than to help lead EQNM in our collective efforts to achieve equality for LGBT New Mexicans and their families.

During my almost 15 years away from home, I spent six years on active duty in the U.S. Navy, and then moved to Olympia, Washington to finish my education and gain professional experience outside of the military.  I attended The Evergreen State College where I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and Communications, and a Master of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in Public Policy.  My military background consists of strategic planning, organizational development, and administration.  My non-military professional background includes roles in corporate-based project management and administration, non profit-based administration and community development, and state government-based administration and policy analysis.

My professional career wasn’t the only highlight of my time in Washington, however; I was fortunate to witness the passage of marriage equality last year, and promptly took advantage of that right to marry my wife, Kelly.  It wasn’t until the morning after she and I took our vows that I really “felt” what it means to be married.  As Jenny McMutrie, EQNM’s Board Vice Chair, expressed in a prior post, a settling feeling came over me that morning and I realized then and there that marriage is a cornerstone of the family unit, our communities, and our society.  To deny same-sex couples the opportunity to choose that path is not only detrimental to same sex-couples, but to the creation and growth of our communities—of which the family unit is an integral element.  Up until that morning, I wasn’t sure just how “different” it would feel…but it is different.

I am a social justice advocate, first and foremost.  I believe deeply in justice, fairness, and human equality.  As EQNM works for LGBT equality in New Mexico, I am committed to ensuring our work also supports the values and missions of other social justice and human equality efforts in the state.

That being said, I have three high-level goals for EQNM that will be guideposts for me in this journey.  First, I want EQNM to be a known and trusted statewide LGBT advocacy organization.  EQNM should be a household name for LGBT New Mexicans and those who love and support them, and that means from Gallup to Clovis, and Las Cruces to Raton.  I want EQNM to be connected to and trusted in all New Mexico communities; being gay in Tucumcari isn’t the same as being gay in Albuquerque or Santa Fe, and I want to learn and be cognizant of those differences in our work.  It’s critical to this goal of being a truly statewide organization that we foster EQNM as an accessible and supportive resource, regardless of where a person lives or comes from.  EQNM has this history as an organization, and I intend to reinvigorate it.

Second, I want EQNM to be a known and trusted partner for other organizations in New Mexico working toward human equality and social justice.  Equality and the fight for it does not happen in a vacuum.  What we achieve for the LGBT community will still exist in a society marked with homelessness, health disparities, and racial, ethnic, gender and economic inequality and discrimination—things which also happen to impact the LGBT community in force.  It is my intent for EQNM to be “top of mind” for collaborative opportunities that move forward the broader vision of human equality.

Third and finally, I want EQNM and all of our partner organizations and allies to be at the front of the fight and victory celebration for marriage equality.  I want my beloved and I to be recognized in my home state, and I want same-sex couples in every corner of New Mexico to have the right to choose what I experienced in saying “I do.”  New Mexico is in a unique position to be a regional leader in this regard, and it is my intent for EQNM, in partnership with the many organizations who have been working tirelessly towards this goal, to help put our great state in the spotlight for its demonstrated commitment to equality.

With that, I will sign off for now.  To everyone who has stood by EQNM, served as staff, given money, given time, and given energy over the many years – THANK YOU.  Simply put, EQNM would not be here today without your commitment and support (and we still need it!).  EQNM is just as much your organization as it is mine, and I look forward to achieving amazing things with you!

With hope, excitement, and gratitude,

Amber Royster

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s