Steph Perkins and Michael Dabbs Join Gill Foundation Leadership as Heidi Overbeck Steps Down

After six years with the Gill Foundation, Heidi Overbeck (she/her) will be stepping down as chief strategy officer in early 2024 to launch her own consulting practice, making way for Steph Perkins (he/him) and Michael Dabbs (he/him) to advance into leadership roles. Steph will lead the programs team as senior director of programs, and Michael will lead communications strategy and evaluation as senior director of impact.

“What makes this otherwise hard decision feel right and easy is that Gill has two extraordinary leaders to whom I am humbly passing the torch,” Heidi said. “Steph and Michael have demonstrated time and again their unyielding commitment to improving the lives of as many LGBTQ people as possible, as quickly as possible.”

Steph Perkins joined the foundation as a program officer in 2020 after 12 years at PROMO, Missouri’s statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization, including five years as executive director. His experience as a state leader, especially in a challenging environment, has been invaluable to the foundation’s efforts to resource and coordinate state equality groups on the front lines of anti-LGBTQ attacks. Grantees in Steph’s portfolio have laid the groundwork for new legal and administrative protections for LGBTQ people in numerous states.

Michael Dabbs joined the foundation in 2019 following five years as a communications consultant at RBI Strategies and Research. First as senior communications officer, then director of strategy, Michael has seized opportunities to shape the cultural narrative on LGBTQ issues – from increasing support for transgender military service, to educating the public on the benefits of marriage equality, to developing storytelling resources that reach millions and build the public’s familiarity with LGBTQ Americans.

“Steph and Michael both exemplify the ‘Gill’ way – firmly pragmatic, iterative, and curious, and wildly committed to making progress whenever possible – especially when our community is facing some of the most pressing challenges of our time,” said Brad Clark, president and CEO. “To have these emerging leaders ready to step into these new roles at such a crucial moment is a testament to Heidi’s ability to build a team and a culture that fosters excellence and growth.”

During Heidi’s six-year tenure, the foundation has helped secure protections for more than 13 million LGBTQ Americans. She steered many of our most impactful programmatic initiatives – from piloting a resource and coordination hub for state equality groups facing some of the worst anti-LGBTQ attacks, to leading multiple PSA campaigns that reached hundreds of millions of people and served as the impetus for a new impact storytelling lab.

“As Heidi sets out on her next chapter, I take comfort in knowing we’ll have a true ‘Gillian’-at-heart making progress in other movements and projects,” Brad said. “And for the Gill Foundation and our grantees, I’m excited for the many ways we’ll benefit from Steph’s expertise in state-based work and bridge-building, and Michael’s deep background in research and real thirst to find new tactics to meet this critical moment.”

Reflecting on his new role, Steph said: “It’s an honor to lead the programs team at a time when our community is facing such distinct anti-LGBTQ attacks, especially against transgender youth. I’ve been grateful to bring my experience as a state leader from Missouri — and former Gill grantee – to my role as a program officer. And I now look forward to building on that experience to lead this team of dedicated, pragmatic problem-solvers.”

Michael added, “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to lead our communications and impact work at this critical juncture for LGBTQ equality. To achieve full legal equality for LGBTQ Americans, it will take a culture of curiosity, a dedication to experimentation and iteration, and a resolve meet people where they are. The foundation plays a critical role as an agent for these principles, and Steph and I will carry that responsibility with us as we grow in our leadership.”