FreeState Justice, Maryland’s LGBTQ advocacy organization, has hired its next Executive Director, Jeremy LaMaster (full biography on our staff page). Jeremy’s career has focused on translating feminist and anti-racist theory into practice by incorporating social justice into programs and adapting business tools to address systemic inequities. Before Joining FreeState Justice, Jeremy was an educator and student affairs professional at Rutgers University, teaching undergraduate courses on race, gender, class, sexuality, and social justice. More recently, Jeremy managed the merger of two landmark national HIV research programs at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. He employed vision and strategy to streamline study operations and to ensure that the experiences of Black women, trans folk, and gay/bisexual men remained centered. We are excited to have Jeremy join our team. He holds Bachelor’s degrees in Women’s Studies and Biology from Penn State, a Master’s degree in Women’s & Gender Studies from Rutgers University, and recently completed his MBA at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School.
FreeState has long known and acknowledged that Black lives and trans lives not only matter, but deserve every opportunity to thrive. Our organization’s mission is to ensure that every person in Maryland, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, or any other aspect of their identity deserves to experience lived equality. But equality is not enough. We need to work towards equity to dismantle the systemic barriers, like police brutality, built around those in our community most at risk of discrimination. We support and are grateful for the work of our partners, like Baltimore Safe Haven and Equality Florida in advocating for justice for Black LGBTQ people, particularly Black trans people, and holding those in power accountable today and every day. LGBTQ organizations across the country, including FreeState Justice, signed onto a statement uniting in our efforts to combat racial violence. Read the statement initiated and coordinated by leaders from Equality Florida, the Human Rights Campaign, and dozens more.
Jeremy joins the FreeState team at an important time in our work where inequities, bias, and discrimination are laid bare in the face of racial violence and pandemic. FreeState Justice will be closing out our current strategic plan and undertaking the work of laying out our vision for the future in the next twelve months.
“I join FreeState Justice with a mixture of excitement, somberness, and resolve as anti-Black racism, violence, and COVID-19 damage the LGBTQ communities of Maryland.” LaMaster said. “Despite our progress, LGBTQ Marylanders continue to struggle, especially Black, trans, immigrant, and low-income members of our communities. I look forward to serving and leading in partnership with our most vulnerable populations as we rally to navigate the shifting landscape to ensure fair treatment of all LGBTQ people in the law and society.”
“The Board of Directors is thrilled that Jeremy LaMaster has accepted the position as Executive Director of FreeState Justice.” said Board President, Ron Hokemeyer. “He brings years of experience working to improve the lives of marginalized communities. Jeremy demonstrates a keen understanding of the intersectionality within the LGBTQ community and has a clear strategic vision that will enable him to aptly lead FreeState into the future.”
LaMaster will succeed Mark Procopio. Procopio has served as Executive Director for more than three years. Under his leadership, FreeState Justice has doubled in size, helped hundreds of LGBTQ Marylanders facing discrimination, won precedent-setting legal victories, and fought for more than a dozen pro-equality bills. In 2020, for the first time, Maryland was ranked in the top tier of the Human Rights Campaign’s annual state equality rankings.
“I am proud of what FreeState’s team accomplished over the past several years and the great work they continue to do,” said Procopio. “I am also keenly aware of the enormity of the work that still stands before the community in our state. I am thrilled that Jeremy will be joining our team. I am confident that FreeState – together with our partners, supporters, and allies – will continue to push for a more just and equitable Maryland for every LGBTQ person.”
“We are very grateful to Mark for his leadership in building FreeState Justice over the last three years plus.” said Hokemeyer. “The organization is financially sound and has grown significantly in terms of staff and services provided to ensure that LGBTQ people are free to live authentically, with safety and dignity in Maryland. Mark has been a hardworking, thoughtful, and strategic leader and we are grateful for all he has done.”
LaMaster joins the FreeState Justice team June 15. Procopio will stay on with the organization through July 1 to ensure a smooth transition.