Can you imagine living in fear of persecution, torture or murder? Can you imagine going to jail for who you are or who you love? That is a reality for many LGBTQI individuals around the world. Since its founding in 2006, Rainbow Railroad has helped these individuals find a path to safety to start a new life – free from persecution.
Since its establishment as a grass roots organization in 2006 and becoming a registered charity in Canada in 2013 and in the USA in 2016, Rainbow Railroad has funded travel for over 600 refugees, with over 200 of those in the last year alone. The organization is committed to continuing rapid growth to help give more people a chance at a life lived openly.
Rainbow Railroad is a registered 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides support to LGBTQI individuals seeking a haven from state-sponsored or enabled violence. This includes airfare and financial support for travel-related costs, including costs immediately before and after travel. The Toronto-based international organization has a 20-person board, a 15-person staff and an annual operating budget approaching $4 million. The fledgling U.S. organization had 2017 revenues of almost $700,000, a four-person foundational board and is poised for rapid growth under experienced and dedicated governance.
The majority of the organization’s funding comes from individual gifts – including many at the $1,000 level – followed by foundations and corporations, some with multi-year grants. Two “All Aboard” Committees of 5-6 major donors in Canada and the U.S. commit to personally raising $50,000 or more each year.
Board of Directors
Rainbow Railroad USA is building a Board of up to 20 Directors holding oversight accountability for the organization’s strategic mandate, programming, fundraising, governance, risk management and more. The Board guides the strategic direction; will hire and evaluate an Executive Director and provides governance oversight to the day to day operations. This includes monitoring the organization’s effectiveness through a range of indicators. The Board monitors the use of resources, the performance of Affiliate members across jurisdictions and evaluates and improves its own governance effectiveness. In addition, board members may act in an advocacy capacity and subject matter experts in the various operating areas as needed.
While there is currently no specific give or get requirement for Board Members, each Director is expected to make the Rainbow Railroad a philanthropic priority and to work diligently to sustain and grow support for the organization.
We are currently seeking experienced Directors, preferably with experience in not-for-profit boards in the United States, who are passionate about the organization’s mission with a demonstrated support and advocacy in LGBTQI causes. While all accomplished individuals will be considered, of interest will be those whose résumés include:
- Leadership experience in growing organizations with a high degree of change;
- Lived experience and/or refugee settlement experience;
- Risk Management expertise in nonprofit governance, financial control and reputational risk;
- Previous Board and/or governance experience;
- Legal experience in immigration; and
- Finance experience (reporting, cross border).
Board Members are expected to attend 90-minute monthly board meetings, which include current case summaries, by phone or in person and participate on at least one board or operational committee. Current standing committees include Governance, Development and Risk Management. Director terms are normally two years in length, renewable by mutual agreement. This is a voluntary position with travel costs for meetings or events being reimbursed.
Candidates must have a compelling interest in the vision, mission and values of the Rainbow Railroad. The organization’s core values include upholding diversity and equity as a centerpiece of its purpose, its people and its work. Members of the Board are expected to reflect and embrace the Rainbow Railroad’s commitment to the principles of diversity and equity.
As the Rainbow Railroad continues to expand its reach and the demands for its advocacy and life-saving work increase, the skills to contribute to an organization during periods of rapid growth are essential. Individuals with the talent to see the big picture and coalesce strategies into long-range plans will find this an exciting opportunity to lead in a meaningful way.
Finally, openness to innovation, the humility to learn from others, and the ability to participate in and sustain collaborative group efforts are highly valued. Women, people of color, transgender people straight allies, and people with lived experience as refugees and disabilities are encouraged to apply.
During World War II, the Emergency Rescue Committee was formed by Varian Fry and others to save some 2,000 refugees during the Vichy Regime in France. Former Secretary of State Warren Christopher paid posthumous tribute to Fry, acknowledging the failings of the Department of State at that important juncture in history. What is the extent of one’s obligations to others?
If you believe, as we do, that we cannot stand by and tolerate the persecution of LGBTQI individuals in repressive regimes around the world, this is an opportunity to become involved and to join an effort of significant humanitarian importance that may literally save their lives.
If you are interested in exploring board services with the Rainbow Railroad, please submit a brief cover letter and résumé or biography as attachments via email to:
Joe McCormack, Founding Partner
1740 Broadway, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10019
Phone: 323.549.9200 | Fax: 212.203.9599
All inquiries will be held in strict confidence.
McCormack+Kristel works only with Equal Employment Opportunity Organizations.
Rainbow Railroad is dedicated to building an organization that reflects the diversity of communities it serves. This includes diversity in gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation and ethnicity.