Updated: Paul DeGeorge steps down as Executive Director of HPA

Paul DeGeorge has announced that he will be stepping down as Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance. DeGeorge, who is also known throughout the fandom for his wizard rock band Harry and the Potters is co-founder of the HPA and has served the organization for over ten years. He played an integral role in the shaping of the non-profit organization, which has seen great success under his leadership. Such successes include the growth of the organization to over 300 active chapters across the globe, the implementation of the weekend-long fan activist training program (The Granger Leadership Academy), and campaigns that have made significant strides toward net neutraility as well as gender, economic, and educational equality.

DeGeorge, who has always expressed his pride in and passion for the HPA, explains his departure, saying,

Why would I leave this amazing job? It’s a great question to ask and one I’ve wrestled with for quite some time. The truth is, I don’t have a spectacularly great answer for it, at least not in the conventional sense. I’m not leaving this job for another. Instead, I’m leaving because I’m curious to see what happens. It’s a challenge to myself to keep pushing forward, to keep learning, to keep experimenting and to keep creating. It’s a personal decision to embrace that next adventure.

DeGeorge will, however, remain involved in the HPA as a member of the Board of Directors.

Replacing DeGeorge as Executive Director will be Matthew Maggiacomo, who has been a longtime board member of the HPA. Maggiacomo most recently served as the Chapters Director for the organization during which time the HPA saw unprecedented growth in their chapters program. Many Potter fans will also be familiar with Maggiacomo’s wizard rock band, the Whomping Willows.

In his announcement, DeGeorge attributed much of the organization’s recent success to Maggiacomo:

All of this has happened under Matt’s leadership, and I can’t wait to see what he does at the helm of the entire organization.

The always witty HPA Communications Director, Lauren Bird, also showed her support for Maggiacomo in an article she titled “Harry Potter Alliance Commits to Environmental Issues, Hires Tree,” playing on Maggiacomo’s involvement with the Whomping Willows.

In her article, Bird describes Maggiacomo’s work in recent years, saying,

Maggiacomo has spent the last nine years serving as the human host body of the Whomping Willow, allowing the wizarding world’s most famous tree to maintain a career as a touring musician. Over that time, Maggiacomo has become deeply in tune with the inner emotional lives of trees.

DeGeorge is also quoted in the article, discussing the potential thought process behind Maggiacomo’s promotion:

We’ve had a human at the helm for a long time now,” said DeGeorge. “Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Would Isengard have fallen if Merry and Pippin hadn’t recruited the help of the [E]nts?”

Bird does put all joking aside for a brief moment in the article to honor the work of her longtime colleague, DeGeorge:

Maggiacomo succeeds outgoing Executive Director Paul DeGeorge, whose legacy with the organization includes highly successful campaigns on net neutrality, economic inequality, literacy, and human rights. During his tenure, DeGeorge captained significant internal growth by doubling the size of the HPA’s staff and creating the organization’s first strategic plan. He also helped develop the HPA’s new Granger Leadership Academy and significantly expanded the organization’s line of trend-setting wizard apparel.

We here at MuggleNet can’t wait to see what Matt and the HPA accomplish over the coming years or what DeGeorge is going to get up to next!

Are you a member of the Harry Potter Alliance yet? Tell us what activities you have participated in with your local chapter!

[toggle title=”Paul DeGeorge’s full announcement” state=”close” ]Today I’m stepping down as Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance. As I’ve been preparing for this, a lot of friends and family have expressed either curiosity or dismay at my decision. Why would I leave this amazing job? It’s a great question to ask and one I’ve wrestled with for quite some time. The truth is, I don’t have a spectacularly great answer for it, at least not in the conventional sense. I’m not leaving this job for another. Instead, I’m leaving because I’m curious to see what happens. It’s a challenge to myself to keep pushing forward, to keep learning, to keep experimenting and to keep creating. It’s a personal decision to embrace that next adventure. I will, however, continue to stay involved with the HPA as a member of the Board of Directors.

As a co-founder of the Harry Potter Alliance, it’s difficult to express the pride I feel for this organization. Over the past 10 years, I’ve played an intimate role in shaping this organization and that feels like such a privilege. Like any non-profit, the HPA started with an idea. But it’s been my experience that ideas only become reality when they’re nurtured and championed by talented, ambitious and dedicated people. In that respect, I am so grateful to everyone who has helped this organization over the years: our board members, our staff members, our volunteers, our chapter organizers, our members, our partners and everyone else who at one time or another has counted themselves as an ally to the HPA. Thank you all.

I know this is all starting to sound a bit bittersweet, but let me assure you it’s not. It’s just plain sweet. The Harry Potter Alliance is currently operating at the top of its game and I’ve never been more confident in its continued success. Earlier this year we completed a year-long strategic planning process and we’ve assembled an amazing team that is incredibly committed to our mission and ready to bring this plan forward. It’s a plan that will allow the HPA to continue redefining fandom and will turn “fan activism” into a household phrase.

I’m excited to announce that a key member of this team is our new Executive Director, Matthew Maggiacomo. You may know Matt as the human host body for the wizard rock band the Whomping Willows, but he’s also served as a longtime board member for the HPA. A year and a half ago, he left our board and joined our staff as our Chapters Director. In that time, we’ve seen unprecedented growth in our chapters program, particularly at a global level. We now have nearly 300 active HPA chapters (up from 120) in 43 states and 25 countries: each doing amazing work in their local communities. We’ve also created the Granger Leadership Academy, a weekend long training conference for chapter organizers and fan activists. All of this has happened under Matt’s leadership and I can’t wait to see what he does at the helm of the entire organization.

It has been such an honor to serve as the Executive Director of the Harry Potter Alliance. We’re on the cusp of major victories in Net Neutrality and in our Not In Harry’s Name campaign, and our recent work around the Hunger Games has transformed the cultural dialogue around economic inequality. I’m so proud of the work that our community has done in the name of equality and social justice. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of that work over the past nine and a half years.

Hedwig Lives,

Paul DeGeorge[/toggle] [toggle title=”Lauren Bird’s full article” state=”close” ]Harry Potter Alliance Commits to Environmental Issues, Hires Tree

Rhode Island – After years of focusing on issues of equality and human rights, the Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) appears poised to make serious impact on the issue of climate change. The HPA sent a strong message to the environmentalist wing of fandom today when it announced Matt Maggiacomo as its new Executive Director.

Maggiacomo has spent the last nine years serving as the human host body of the Whomping Willow, allowing the wizarding world’s most famous tree to maintain a career as a touring musician. Over that time, Maggiacomo has become deeply in tune with the inner emotional lives of trees.

“Most people see Matt’s receding hairline and think it’s just a byproduct of his age,” said Andrew Slack, President of the HPA. “However, those of us who know Matt understand that there is a deeper emotional context to his hair loss. By gradually losing his hair, Matt is attempting to personify, and therefore empathize with, trees in autumn.”

Maggiacomo succeeds outgoing Executive Director Paul DeGeorge, whose legacy with the organization includes highly successful campaigns on net neutrality, economic inequality, literacy, and human rights. During his tenure, DeGeorge captained significant internal growth by doubling the size of the HPA’s staff and creating the organization’s first strategic plan. He also helped develop the HPA’s new Granger Leadership Academy and significantly expanded the organization’s line of trend-setting wizard apparel.

“We’ve had a human at the helm for a long time now,” said DeGeorge. “Sometimes you have to think outside the box. Would Isengard have fallen if Merry and Pippin hadn’t recruited the help of the ents?” “I’m so proud of you, you’ve really earned this!” said Maggiacomo’s Great Aunt Louise via facebook.“I’m so proud of you, you’ve really earned this!” she inadvertently posted again, this time on her own timeline.

The HPA has shown a willingness to hire outside the confines of the human talent pool in the past. As social media platforms like Twitter became essential to the success of businesses and nonprofits alike, the HPA knew it had to hire a Communications Director who could speak the language, so to speak. Thus, the HPA hired an actual Bird to handle all its tweeting. “Birds and trees have always had a somewhat tenuous relationship,” said Communications Director Lauren Bird. “Trees are all like ‘sure, build your nest on my branch’ but then they hit you with all these ridiculous rules like no chirping after midnight and no pooping on their trunk.”

When reached for comment, Maggiacomo began to talk in a very slow and creaky voice at a pace of 0.3 words per minute.[/toggle]