Ian Palmquist grew up in Raleigh, where he got his start as a gay rights and civil liberties activist at Enloe High School as one of the "Enloe Six." At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he lead its LGBT student organization through two of the group's most active years. After graduating in 1999 with a B.A. in English and Linguistics, he joined the staff of Equality NC.
Palmquist served as Executive Director-Programs for nearly three years, and as Assistant Director before that. Under his leadership, the group has expanded its outreach across the state, strengthened its political clout in the legislature, doubled its expenditures to elect pro-LGBT candidates, and built strategic relationships with non-LGBT allies through coalition work.
He then served on Equality NC's staff since 1999, and as Executive Director since July 2006. His abilities have earned respect at the national, state, and local level. In addition to his work with Equality NC, Palmquist serves several organizations in other capacities. He is a board member of the Equality Federation, the national association of statewide LGBT advocacy groups. He chaired the group's board from 2004-2007, leading it through a period of significant growth, including the hiring of its first Executive Director.
He was a member of the National Organizing Collective of the Gay Men's Health Summit and worked as Local Chair to bring the conference to Raleigh in May, 2003.
Palmquist also volunteers his time as a founding member of the board of NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. He is a steering committee member of the North Carolina AIDS Action Network and represents Equality NC on several broad-based coalitions.
Palmquist lives in downtown Raleigh with his partner of eight years, Brad Oaks, and their dogs, Bodo and Stanley.