CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The LGBT Community Center of Charlotte announced Thursday it has hired Glenn Griffin as its new operations director. Griffin replaces former manager O’Neale Atkinson, who left the Center at the end of March to take a position with Time Out Youth.
“The Board of Trustees is delighted that we can announce that Glenn Griffin is our new Operations Director,” center board Chair Scott Coleman said in a release. “Glenn has a proven track record in management, donor relations, fund-raising and volunteer building, and we welcome all of those strengths at the LGBT Community Center.”
Griffin comes to the center from Queen City Theatre Company, a non-profit theatre group that has focused on alternative and LGBT-themed plays and musicals. Griffin has served as the company’s artistic director since January 2007. While there, the theatre group attracted more than 25,000 patrons and Griffin managed 200 volunteers, according to the release.
Griffin, a creative arts graduate of London’s Kingston University and the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, was one of more than 40 applicants for the full-time position.
“I saw the job notice and thought it would be a really good opportunity,” Griffin told qnotes on Friday. “I really felt this kind of job would be great, working for the community center and giving back what a lot of the community has given me. I really want to help the community and get our culture and history out there for both our community and our straight allies.”
He’ll begin work at the center on May 6. There, Griffin will be responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the organization. Griffin will also direct the center’s outreach and fundraising initiatives.
“I really would like to focus a lot on programming and getting people in [the center] and getting people to know what’s going on,” Griffin said. “A lot of people don’t know what’s going on or what the center is doing. With RAIN (the Regional AIDS Interfaith Network) or with Time Out Youth, they have a firm mission statement. People know exactly what they are doing what they are backing. That’s all important. I want the same thing for the center.”
Griffin’s arrival at the center comes as the organization faces growing opportunities. The group recently moved from its location at the NC Music Factory in Uptown to a more than 4,500-square feet facility in Charlotte’s NoDa neighborhood. As a result, the Center has seen a significant uptick in events held at the facility and in attendance for the services offered there, which include weekly HIV screenings, community meetings and support and education groups.
“The space is really great and its huge,” Griffin said. “I would like to have other organizations to utilize the rooms and space and grow it a lot.”
The center, however, still faces fundraising challenges. The center’s budget over several years has been relatively small, according to year-end financial data surveyed by qnotes. And, in January, the center lost a significant annual funding source when Charlotte Pride organizers parted ways with the organization. [Ed. Note — This writer is a volunteer on Charlotte Pride’s organizing committee.]
Coleman told qnotes that cost considerations prevented the group from hiring a full-time executive director. Griffin’s past non-profit experience was considered during his hiring. He said he hopes to build on past successes.
“I’d like to fundraise more to get some community help so that we can make programs larger and bigger and thrive,” Griffin said. “Getting people in [the center] and seeing what is going on will really help with that.”
The group is also still struggling to overcome years-long community engagement and perception problems which began under the tenure of past board chairs. Many community members have reported frustration with the center since.
“I really want to change those viewpoints,” Griffin said. “This is a new chapter and things are changing. With it being a new space and having new people on the board and new people who are very excited and wanting it to be all-inclusive. I’m really listening to everybody and would love to do a lot more panels to see what people did feel in the past and what they feel now, what the community needs and what they are looking for in the community center.”
Some affiliated with the center say the group has considered several initiatives to open the organization to the community, including open board meetings and more regular engagement to solicit feedback from other community leaders and organizations, as well as other collaborative projects.
Griffin said he’s excited to start his work in May. The role the center plays is vital, he said.
“In my younger days, I wish I would have known more about things like Time Out Youth or the community center where I wouldn’t have felt so alone,” he said. “Sometimes, a community center is a source that can embrace you and tell you, ‘You’re not alone. Come here and don’t feel alone.'”