SAN DIEGO -- Craig Roberts, a long-time political activist for LGBT rights, has been elected co-chair of the National Stonewall Democrats.
Roberts has been active in San Diego politics for more than 18 years, and served as president of the San Diego Democratic Club from 1998 to 2000. He has worked on the National Stonewall Democrat (NSD) board of directors since 2001.
The NSD is a grass-roots LGBT organization that connects activists across the nation to bring about social and political change. The organization aims to create change by educating the public and the LGBT community about political party differences, encouraging the LGBT community to vote on election days, and fighting back when LGBT people and their rights are attacked and threatened.
National plans for LGBT equality
As co-chair, Roberts says he has many plans for the NSD on the national level.
“I want to make our board more diverse by gender, geography and ethnicity,” Roberts said. “I also want to have NSD be a greater service to our affiliated LGBT Democratic clubs across the country.
“Finally, I'm working on increasing NSD's fundraising capability, including adding some new fundraising sources,” he said.
Roberts will be working alongside co-chair Melissa Sklarz, a longtime LGBT rights activist in New York and the first transgender person elected to office in New York City in 1999.
Sklarz said she is looking forward to having Roberts serve as co-chair and has high hopes for him.
“We worked together on membership and bylaws in the past, when the board had 40 members, and no one was better in finding activists throughout every nook and cranny of the country better than Craig,” Sklarz said. “I am hopeful that Craig will inspire and engage the LGBT component of the Democratic Party in the San Diego region.”
A passion for politics
Roberts said he originally got involved with the San Diego Democratic Club (SDDC) while volunteering on Christine Kehoe’s first San Diego City Council campaign in 1993.
His passion for politics then led him to become a member of the SDDC in 1993 and on to serve as president of the club from 1998 to 2000. He currently serves as the vice president of political action and as the publications chair for the club.
Many community activists, leaders and politicians agree that Roberts has been dedicated to furthering the rights of LGBT people everywhere and will succeed in his new position.
“Craig’s leadership style is a great blend of being able to see the big picture while still being willing to roll up his sleeves to do the grassroots work needed to achieve results,” California Assemblymember Toni Atkins said. “I am confident that his colleagues on the National Stonewall Democrats board, as well as the local chapters, will find that he is a real asset in helping move the equality ball forward.”
Gloria Johnson, a longtime LGBT activist and political relations chair for SDDC, agrees.
“Craig is a good organizer, and has creative ideas. He is responsible, competent and dependable, and is good at working with people,” Johnson said. “Craig will aid Stonewall with his vast experience and political knowledge.”
San Diego Democratic Club days
The SDDC, a local organization that aims to secure equal rights for all LGBT people, is also a local chapter of the NSD.
The club encourages active participation among LGBT people in Democratic community politics, evaluates and actively supports Democratic candidates who support LGBT rights, and works to educate public officials and the community about political issues that are important to LGBT’s.
Roberts said that as president of the SDDC, he had the chance to meet and work with a number of local politicians and activists and work on many local campaigns including election campaigns for Susan Davis, Toni Atkins, Dede Alpert and Christine Kehoe.
Among other milestones, Roberts said the most exciting times for him while president of the SDDC were “the founding of National Stonewall Democrats in May 1998, an extremely energetic congressional campaign for Christine Kehoe in 1998 (she came within 2.3% of winning), winning all four ‘priority’ campaigns in fall 2000 election and the year-long celebration of SDDC's 25th anniversary throughout 2000.”
Born and raised in Oklahoma City, Roberts moved to San Diego in 1987. He works as a senior software quality engineer for General Atomics Aeronautical.
He earned his bachelor of science degree in electrical and computer engineering from Oklahoma State University and his master of science degree in the same field from San Diego State University. In addition to his passion for politics, Roberts said he is a big pop culture fan and even wrote a music review column for the now defunct Gay & Lesbian Times in the 1990s.
“Craig brings his engineer mind to problem solving which complements my partisan political vision of the organization,” Sklarz said. “I am thrilled that Craig is now the board co-chair.”