Eliza Byard is a mission-driven executive and leader for social justice and systemic change. Byard has designed and executed strategic initiatives that have transformed K-12 education in the United States to respond to the unique challenges and needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth. She has also helped spur growing international attention to the needs of LGBT students. As a speaker, fundraiser, and ambassador for education, youth, and LGBT issues, Byard brings people from across the political spectrum together on common ground, and has secured millions of dollars from a variety of individual, corporate, and institutional funders.
Byard currently serves as the Executive Director of GLSEN, an organization recognized worldwide as an innovative leader in the fight for equity for LGBT students in K-12 schools. Byard joined GLSEN as Deputy Executive Director in 2001, and led the growth of GLSEN’s public education and advocacy efforts, youth leadership development programs, professional development for educators, research and program evaluation capacity, and in-school programming. GLSEN’s initiatives have contributed to a significant decrease in anti-LGBT harassment and violence in schools since 2000, and the organization’s advocacy and legislative strategies have won bipartisan support and widespread acceptance of the urgency and importance of bullying prevention and LGBT issues in education. Under Byard’s leadership, GLSEN was honored by President Obama as a “Champion of Change” and named a Top National Non-Profit for its impact on LGBT equality.
As an expert on education, youth development, and LGBT issues, Byard has appeared on AC360, CNN, ABC World News, Fox News, MSNBC, CBS This Morning, ABC 20/20, and NPR’s Talk of the Nation, among other programs. She has served on numerous boards and commissions for LGBT youth and educational equity, and is currently a Trustee of the America’s Promise Alliance.
Byard began her career working for Bill Moyers at Public Affairs Television (PAT). The veteran journalist inspired Byard’s lifelong commitment to what he terms “the conversation of democracy,” essential to preserving the fundamental values embodied in democratic institutions. At PAT, the Center for Investigative Reporting, and elsewhere, she worked on numerous award-winning documentaries, including “School Colors,” a DuPont Award-winning FRONTLINE production on public education forty years after Brown v. Board.
Byard holds a Ph.D in United States history from Columbia University and a B.A. in history from Yale University, and has taught U.S. history and American studies at Columbia and Barnard. She lives in her native New York City with her wife and their two children.