Alan Van Capelle, executive director of New York's Empire State Pride Agenda, has announced his departure from the organization. Van Capelle said he is leaving the organization to join Comptroller John Liu's staff.

Pride Agenda spearheaded the effort to approve a gay marriage bill in the New York Legislature. In December, the state Senate voted down the bill after months of foot-dragging, despite the strong support of Governor David Paterson.

Van Capelle, the group's longest-serving director, has helmed the organization since 2003.

“It has been an opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Empire State Pride Agenda over the past seven years,” Van Capelle said in a statement.

Van Capelle thanked the efforts of the group's dedicated staff and volunteers, as well as the gay community and its allies. He said they had all been “a tremendous inspiration.”

“I will always treasure that the Pride Agenda entrusted me with the responsibility to advance our community's agenda in New York and I look forward to supporting the Pride Agenda's work in the years ahead,” he added.

Van Capelle is expected to step down as executive director at the end of February and begin his job with Liu in March. Joe Tarver, veteran managing director of operations, will act as interim executive director until the group finds a replacement.