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National LGBT Cancer Network founder stepping down

Liz Margolies, who founded the National LGBT Cancer Network, the first and only nonprofit organization in the country to address the cancer-related needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, is stepping down from her role as executive director in June. She will continue to serve on the organization’s board and as a therapist in private practice.

Since its founding in 2006, the Network has:

  • Trained thousands of healthcare providers and policy makers in LGBT cultural competence

  • Won Centers for Disease Control funding for a major anti-tobacco campaign, and funding from top national and state organizations including Bristol Myers Squibb, the American Medical Association, LiveStrong Foundation, the New York State Department of Health, and New York City Health and Hospitals

  • Conducted public awareness campaigns that included four billboards in Times Square

  • Received international acclaim for short films it produced

  • Identified and shared best and promising practices for treating LGBT people with or at risk for cancer,

  • Achieved LGBT inclusion in dozens of leading professional and cancer organizations

  • Convened more than 170 organizations to issue an open letter urging decisive action to prevent COVID-19 discrimination against LGBT people, an effort that garnered international media coverage

  • Expanded its staff to seven with an annual budget of nearly $600,000 per year

Margolies began the LGBT Cancer Network at her kitchen table in her apartment in New York City after losing four friends to cancer. She had been a practicing psychotherapist for more than 30 years, with no experience in running a nonprofit. She was very clear and focused on the new organization’s mission: to educate the LGBT community about its increased cancer risks, train healthcare providers to offer more safe and welcoming care, and advocate for LGBT inclusion in national cancer organizations, research, and media.

Along the way, Margolies became an internationally recognized LGBT health leader, invited to events at the Obama White House in 2012 and twice to events at Vice President Joe Biden’s residence. Margolies was chosen as one of the Out Magazine OUT100 leaders in 2014, and has received numerous other awards and recognition. She has authored multiple peer-reviewed articles, several based on the Network’s original research; and several book chapters.

While the National LGBT Cancer Network has accomplished major goals, there is more work to do, Margolies says. “I am extremely proud of what the Network has accomplished in 14 years, and know that the work to eradicate LGBT health disparities is far from over. We will not stop until all LGBT people have equal access to high quality health and cancer care.”

Hector Vargas, executive director of Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, says: “Liz’s leadership in promoting culturally and clinically competent healthcare for LGBTQ people, especially those who are experiencing cancer, is unparalleled. We all owe her a huge debt of gratitude for a lifetime of contributions to advance LGBTQ health equity. I’m honored and humbled to count her as a GLMA member, colleague, co-conspirator, and friend.”

Margolies will be succeeded by the Network’s deputy director of 18 months, NFN Scout, PhD. He has been a leading executive and consultant in the fields of LGBT health and policy for more than 20 years, is a member of the National Institutes of Health Council of Councils, and an adjunct professor at Boston University.

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