CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Four new board members were installed to lead the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte on Tuesday as the organization continues to move toward a more strategic operating plan and rebuild trust in the community.
The move comes after several recent shake-ups at the center, which had suffered from dwindling support in the face of leadership and board accountability challenges, a lack of transparency and financial hardships. At the beginning of June, the center had just $650 cash on hand and owed as much as $7,000 in outstanding federal and state payroll taxes for a single employee who was later laid off last month.
New board members
The new board members — Clay Smith, Ashley Love, Edward McCray and Nate Turner — join board Chair Ranzeno Frazier and remaining board members Jenny Richeson and Judson Gee. At the Tuesday meeting, each of the new board members were appointed to lead specific tasks.
“I am excited to welcome our newest Board members Clay, Ashley, Edward and Nate,” Frazier said in a release. “At this critical time for our Community Center, the driven passion and diverse areas of expertise that our new board members bring will help ensure that our Center remains successful and continues to offer relevant programming and a safe place for all to enjoy.”
Smith is a former center staffer, having worked as the center administrator and co-chairing Pride Charlotte in 2010. He is best known for his work as a comedian, actor, singer and drag queen personality Roxy C. Moorecox. Smith is a graduate of Clemson University and will chair the center’s Community Relations Committee.
Love is a Philadelphia, Penn., native who worked with several community organizations there for 10 years before moving to Charlotte. She is a graduate of Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and The University of Pittsburgh School of Social Work. Love will chair the Grants Committee.
McCray is a graduate of East Carolina University and currently works as the events and donor relations manager at the McColl Center for Visual Art and Innovation. He has experience in volunteer management, event planning, donor relations and non-profit board management. McCray, who was among several community leaders who volunteered to replace the center board in June, will chair the center’s Development Committee.
Turner, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, is the owner of a local, small business, Your Custom Catering. He has served on the board of Charlotte Black Gay Pride. His experience includes event planning, production and execution, as well as branding and advertising. Turner will chair the center’s Communications and Social Media Committee.
The center said applications from other potential board members are still being reviewed. Several other vacancies will soon be filled.
“Moving forward the board will begin the work of building a sustainable center, seek community input through a needs assessment and to regain the trust and support of our community as a whole,” the center said in a release.
New LGBT center Chair Ranzeno Frazier recounts the racist harassment he received after becoming chair in an interview with The Charlotte Post. Read more about those incidents and Frazier’s personal story here. Stay tuned to qnotes for a forthcoming feature exploring those incidents and the topic of racism in the local LGBT community.
In an interview with qnotes last week, Frazier said the center was on the path toward regained sustainability. Volunteer engagement has increased, he said, along with some donations.
“We have had minor donations come in,” he said. “Money is always a big help, whether a small amount or large amount. We ask that everyone give as much as they can when they can.”
The center’s future plans include working on new strategic fundraising and development goals — a requirement of continued support from one of its largest funders, the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund. The center has received a portion of its 2014 grant worth $19,950. It will receive the remainder when it meets new fundraising, leadership and sustainability benchmarks.
Frazier said the center will move forward with its plans while also remaining transparent and open.
“We want to be 100 percent transparent with everything going on,” he said. “The community doesn’t know what we need if we don’t tell them. I don’t see any point in hiding anything. You can’t get any results from hiding things. You don’t know who will be out there to put out a willing hand to help if you don’t tell them what you need or what you’re struggling with.”
As the center rebuilds, it is continuing to operate and keep its doors open. On one night last week, the center hosted a half-dozen groups and meetings, including its young adults group PRISM, MeckPAC, Charlotte Black Gay Pride, a Charlotte Business Guild meeting, men’s yoga and Chi Psi Omega Fraternity.
“We had all that in one night. It was great. It was packed,” Frazier said. “The center is alive and the center is open.”
He added, “I think that’s what we really need to focus on — the center is open. We are here for all the organizations to meet, whether you’re LGBT or not. If you need a space to meet, we’re going to open our doors for you.”