Equality Ohio has hired its fourth executive director, Elyzabeth Joy Holford.

The state's largest gay rights advocate announced Holford's selection on Tuesday.

“I feel optimistic,” Holford told the Columbus Dispatch about the future of gay rights in Ohio. “I think in Ohio there is such a strong history of collaboration and community building. I want to be a part of making it happen.”

Holford's career started as a trial attorney at the Ohio State Legal Services Association. She headed Virginia Tech's office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action for 12 years. At 56, she begins her new job on November 26.

“Elyzabeth's extensive experience in organizational development will be a valuable asset to Equality Ohio,” said Paul Feeney, chair of the Board of Equality Ohio Education Fund. “She is an extremely smart, engaging, energetic and all-around delightful person. I am thrilled that Elyzabeth will be on our team to help create an Ohio where everyone feels at home.”

The group began its search in July after its former director, Ed Mullen, suddenly resigned over a June 16 arrest for disorderly conduct. Mullen pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor charges.

(Related: Ohio gay rights leader Ed Mullen resigns after arrest.)