Director of Governmental Projects and Community Development, Empire State Pride Agenda
While Many New Yorkers rejoiced last June when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marriage Equality Act legalizing same-sex marriage in New York, for Jonathan Lang, that milestone was merely a small victory in the grand scheme of leveling the playing field for gay, lesbian and transgender individuals.
“We had a lobbying team that worked in close conjunction with the governor’s office, but my job is to make sure everything else is going on besides gay marriage,” explains Lang.
Since graduating from Denison University in 2004, Lang, a Buffalo native, has been instrumental in pushing LGBT issues to the forefront of the state’s political and moral consciousness, working for advocacy networks all over New York.
Lang joined the Empire State Pride Agenda in 2006, where he has served in a number of different roles before ascending to his current position as ESPA’s point man for overseeing advocacy activities within state government, including the Executive Chamber, and public funding for LGBT issues.
With the fight for equality far from over, Lang is currently focusing his energy on a number of high- and low-profile advocacy efforts, including working on a Medicaid redesign team to expand health coverage to LGBT individuals in the Medicaid system. He is also helping to oversee the implementation of last year’s antibullying bill in the state education system.
As Lang puts it, “We are committed to making sure our young people are protected in school so they can get the education they deserve.”
How did your past jobs get you to where you are now?
“I had a very winding road. In college I was premed, but then decided I didn’t want to be a doctor at all, much to my parents’ chagrin. I ended up back in Buffalo working for a local project. Then I ended up in Rochester, working for a coalition of about 16 companies around the state. Finally I came to the Pride Agenda, and the rest is history.”
If you were not working in politics, what would you be doing?
“My family believes strongly in public service, so I think I would still be doing that.”
Five years from now, what will it say on your business card?
“That’s tough. Five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought I’d be doing this job. Executive director somewhere.”
If you could have a superpower, what would it be, and why?
“X-ray vision, so you could see through what folks are presenting to you and get to the truth of the matter.”
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