President Barack Obama today announced his appointment of Roberta Achtenberg, an out lesbian, to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
In 1993 Achtenberg became the very first openly LGBT American appointed by a U.S. president to a Senate-confirmable position. President Bill Clinton tapped her to become an assistant secretary at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Prior to her public service, Achtenberg was a civil rights attorney, nonprofit director and legal educator who helped found the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, which is composed of eight commissioners (four of whom are appointed by the president), is an independent commission of the U.S. federal government that investigates, reports on and makes recommendations concerning civil rights issues.
Achtenberg, who was an early advisor to the LGBT community’s ongoing Presidential Appointments Project, is believed to be the first openly LGBT commissioner appointed to the panel. She also currently serves on the board of trustees for the California State University.