Staff Spotlight: Thalia Zepatos, Director of Public Engagement

Freedom to Marry has a dedicated and diverse staff working each day to secure the freedom to marry nationwide, and we want to help you get to know each of us a little bit better. This week, we hear from Thalia Zepatos, Freedom to Marry's Director of Public Engagement. Thalia works in our Portland office, where she contributes to Freedom to Marry campaigns, formulates messaging materials, and develops materials for best engaging our supporters. Previously, she has worked as the Director of the Organizing and Training Department at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, where she worked closely with Let California Ring, the push for the freedom to marry in California. She lives in Portland with her husband. 

1) Where are you from, and what brought you to Portland?

I was born and raised in New York; after graduating from college I took a trip cross-country to find a place to live where "things didn't just get worse." Portland impressed me in a lot of ways, and I've been here ever since.

2) You've worked on advocacy campaigns for a variety of different social issues - what are some of the things you have learned from your previous work, and how have they informed your time at Freedom to Marry?

I interviewed a folk singer named Pete Seeger for an article I was writing about his organizing work to clean up the pollution in the Hudson River. He described his work as being 1/3 advocacy, 1/3 education, and 1/3 celebration, and that thought really stuck with me. It's easy to spend all our time working hard on the issues, but we've got to celebrate our victories along the way, as well. Luckily, at Freedom to Marry we have state level victories, Pride celebrations and lots of weddings to celebrate along the way!

3) What do you like to do in your free time?

I've always loved to travel, and for several years I worked as a travel writer. So I'm always planning a future trip. Now that I'm also on the road frequently for my work, when I'm home I really enjoy inviting friends over for a party, large or small.

4) What has been your favorite "freedom to marry" moment - a time in the movement that has particularly resonated with you?

It was so moving and inspiring to see our President make his statement in support of marriage for same-sex couples, and gratifying to think about how all of our work contributed to helping make it easier for him to complete that process. While we knew President Obama's statement would create momentum, it's been amazing to see how many others have chosen to follow his lead!

5) Why does the freedom to marry matter to you?

State by state, the marriage discussion is an opportunity to allow individuals and couples to share the stories of their lives, and their hopes and dreams - which ultimately challenges misinformation and outdated assumptions.

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