Equality Florida—Fort Lauderdale
Row (short for Rowena) Iliescu is Equality Florida’s South Florida Development Director, and oversees the galas and fund-raising events in three regions: Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties. Row’s activism began as a volunteer for Equality Florida in 2008 when she tirelessly canvassed voters at the polls on Amendment 2.
Originally from Toronto, Row has been a weather refugee in South Florida for almost 20 years. She arrived as a successful trainer and exercise rider of thoroughbred racehorses, but following a serious riding accident went back to school earning a Masters Degree in Social Work and beginning doctoral studies in HIV prevention. Finding that she preferred fieldwork, Row worked in the non-profit sector as a therapist to children and families in the foster care system for ten years before joining the Equality Florida team, where she says she feels, “at home.”
“I am so grateful for having a job that provides me with such a sense of meaning and purpose: where I get to educate people about LGBT issues and what Equality Florida and others are doing about them,” Row said.
Row is a modern example of a straight ally. “I had been on the job only a couple of months,” she remembers, “when our Deputy Director was honored with the Harvey Milk Award at a brunch in Miami Beach. Seated to my right was a self-identified transgender lesbian woman and next to her was a heterosexual cross-dressing man. Both of them asked me out! What a wonderful introduction to the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression!”