Community Pioneer Leonard Hirsch Dies, Age 59



(Portrait of Leonard Hirsch, © Patsy Lynch)

Leonard Hirsch, recognized as a 2012 Community Pioneer for his work founding and leading Federal GLOBE (external link), died on June 12, 2015, at the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Maryland. He was 59 years old.

Born in Queens, New York, in 1955, Hirsch received his BA in international relations from Pomona College in 1976 and his Ph.D. in political science from Northwestern University in 1980. He went on to teach for several years at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida, where he also participated in LGBT organizing.

“Love, relationship and… [being] a policy wonk” brought Hirsch to DC in 1985, when he left his teaching position to join his partner Kristian Fauchald (“Queery: Len Hirsch”) .

1988 was a notable year in Hirsch’s life. In that year he celebrated his commitment with Fauchald, who would become his domestic partner in 2002 and his husband in 2008. Also in 1988 Hirsch began his 28-year career at the Smithsonian. Eventually accepting a post as Senior Policy Advisor, Hirsch worked stateside and abroad on global environmental issues including biodiversity and climate change.

1988 was also the year in which Hirsch organized the first meeting of what would become GLOBE: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Employees of the Federal Government. The organization, which Hirsch chartered in 1992, aims “to eliminate prejudice and discrimination in the federal government based on sexual orientation” (“Federal Globe Charter”). For over two decades, Federal GLOBE has applied education and advocacy to pursue equality for federal employees. Its victories include Obama’s 2009 memorandum extending various federal employee benefits to same-sex couples.

Hirsch’s devotion to social justice – local and global – shines through in his work on both environmental and LGBT issues. Teacher, public servant, and activist, Hirsch will be sorely missed. His death follows shortly on that of his beloved husband Fauchald, who passed away in April.