Our History

Victory Institute was founded in 1993 by LGBTQ advocates and donors who recognized the need to prepare LGBTQ people to run for office nationwide. With less 50 openly LGBTQ elected officials across America at any level of government, our founders understood that boosting our numbers in public office would be key to advancing equality. In creating Victory Institute, they recognized the need to train more LGBTQ people to run for office and to provide them support once elected.

William Wayborn

William Waybourn (right), who served as Executive Director of Victory Fund from 1991 to 1995, and of Victory Institute from 1993 – 1995, with Victory Fund staff member Vic Basile.


Gay & Lesbian Victory Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization now called Victory Institute, is launched. The Foundation begins training future candidates and campaign workers to help LGBTQ leaders achieve careers in public service. The Foundation also launches a Presidential Appointments Project and successfully pushes for Roberta Achtenberg to become the first openly LGBTQ presidential appointee to a Senate-confirmed position when she becomes Assistant Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

International Network of Gay & Lesbian Officials

LGBTQ leaders at the International Network of Gay & Lesbian Officials, which would be folded into Victory Institute.


Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Trainings become a signature program of the organization – four-day, intensive trainings to help LGBTQ leaders gain the skills and tools to run for office. In time, Candidate & Campaign Training alum would include now Colorado Governor Jared Polis, Virginia Delegate Danica Roem and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.


Brian Bond becomes Executive Director of Victory Institute and serves until 2003. Bond is credited with substantially increasing the number of out gay and lesbian elected officials from 129 to 228.

Brian Bond and Tammy Baldin

Brian Bond with then Wisconsin State Representative Tammy Baldwin.


Victory Institute organizes a historic meeting at the White House between President Bill Clinton and 11 openly LGBTQ elected officials. During the 90-minute meeting, the group urged President Clinton to press Congress to pass the Hate Crimes Prevention Act and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.


LGBTQ Victory Institute began its collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School in 2002, sending its first cohort of outstanding LGBTQ fellows to the school’s Senior Executives in State and Local Government program for further leadership development. Among the fellows were city council members, state legislators and mayors.

The fellowship, conceptualized by Fred Hochberg, was made possible in its first years thanks to a number of funders, including Hochberg and David Bohnett. The program proved so impactful that the David Bohnett Foundation agreed to sponsor all fellowships after the first few years — and it became the David Bohnett Leaders Fellowship program.

Notable alumni include: Venezuela Deputy Tamara Adrián (2016); California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (2004); Colorado House Speaker Mark Ferrandino (2009); Pennsylvania Representative Malcolm Kenyatta (2019); and former Houston Mayor Annise Parker (2005).

David Bohnett Leaders Fellows at a refresher course during the 2018 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.

David Bohnett Leaders Fellows at a refresher course during the 2018 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference.


Chuck Wolfe is named executive director of Victory Institute and serves until 2014.  Under Wolfe’s leadership, Victory Institute launched the Victory Congressional Internship, the Presidential Appointments Project, grew the International LGBT Leaders Conference, and secured international training and funding from USAID.

chuck wolfe

Executive Director Chuck Wolfe leads Victory Institute from 2003 to 2014.


Victory Institute holds a joint conference with the International Network of Lesbian and Gay Officials (INLGO), which was founded in 1984. In 2005, INGLO merges with Victory Institute, consolidating the annual skills building and networking conference now called the International LGBTQ Leadership Conference. The conference is now the largest gathering of LGBTQ elected officials in the world, with more than 550 elected officials, leaders and advocates attending each year.


Victory Institute’s Presidential Appointments Project presents more than 3,000 vetted resumes of openly LGBTQ leaders to President Barack Obama’s transition team in late 2008. The Obama administration subsequently set a record for LGBTQ hires – with more than 300 openly LGBTQ people appointed to professional or full-time advisory positions in the executive branch and federal agencies.


Victory Institute launches its Victory Congressional Internship program – placing LGBTQ college students in internships with LGBTQ and allied members of Congress. Interns also receive 40 hours of leadership development training from Victory Institute. The program now hosts a dozen interns each summer.

2019 VCI

The 2019 class of Victory Congressional Interns.


Victory Institute begins its international program – aiming to increase LGBTQ political participation in The Balkans, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, India, Peru and South Africa. It works with in-country partners to train LGBTQ leaders, collaborate with political parties and state institutions for greater inclusion of LGBTI people, change people’s hearts and minds through public awareness and visibility actions, and conduct research on LGBTI political participation.


The David Bohnett Foundation and Victory Institute launch the David Bohnett Victory Congressional Fellowship – a program that provides one LGBTQ college student with a year-long fellowship with the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.


Aisha C. Moodie-Mills is selected to succeed Chuck Wolfe as Victory Institute’s president and CEO, making her the first woman and the first person of color to lead the organization. For only the second time in history, every U.S. state has at least one openly LGBTQ elected official currently serving.

Aisha C Moodie Mills

Victory Fund President & CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills speaks at Victory Institute’s International LGBTQ Leaders Conference


Victory Institute launches the Out for America map, the largest and most comprehensive database of United States LGBTQ elected officials. It also releases the first Out for America report, an annual census of LGBTQ elected officials, which found 448 total in the United States.

The U.S. Senate confirms former Victory Fund Board Member Eric Fanning to be Secretary of the Army – the highest-level presidential appointee in history. “I am a product of the [Presidential] Appointments Project,” said Fanning. “Putting me on the list brought my name to the attention of people who didn’t know I was gay.”


Victory Institute and Caribe Afirmativo hold the largest gathering of international LGBTQ elected officials in history at the 4th LGBTI Political Leaders of the Americas conference in Bogota, Colombia. More than 400 people from 42 countries and territories were in attendance.

4th LGBTI Political Leaders of the Americas conference

Victory Institute President & CEO Mayor Annise Parker (left) joins a panel of leaders from around Colombia at the 4th LGBTI Political Leaders of the Americas conference.