Christina Kliesch has been named the new executive director for ALFA.

New ED named

HICKORY, N.C. — ALFA has announced that it has selected Christina Kliesch as its new executive director.

“We are delighted to announce this appointment,” said Board President Leslie Cothren. “We had many qualified candidates, but Ms. Kliesch, with her strong experience and deep commitment to our mission is the leader ALFA needs to strengthen our services and expand our programs.”

Kliesch has a strong background in non-profit administration, grant writing, fundraising, community outreach and social marketing. Committed to reducing disparities in access to healthcare and LGBT causes, she is on the board of Catawba Valley Pride and served for four years on the ALFA board. She also serves on the advisory board for Teen UP, a Catawba County Social Services program that works with teens to encourage responsible and healthy decisions.

“I’m thrilled to join this great organization and look forward to strengthening ALFA’s vital role in the region to educate, prevent, and provide critical services as we work to create a future free of HIV/AIDS,” said Kliesch.

Kliesch received her Bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently completing Lenoir-Rhyne University’s Masters of Public Health Program.


Catholic fundraiser canceled

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Singer Katrina (Kat) Williams was due to appear at the March 12 annual Catholic Charities Gala for Hope event, but after its organizers discovered that she had married her female partner, they cancelled the entire event rather than have her perform, saying that the marriage went against the church’s teaching.

LifeSiteNews reported that Catholic Charities Executive Director Gerry Carter informed Williams on March 1 that “she would not be needed for this year’s event because Charlotte Bishop Peter Jurgis had read a 2013 magazine article where she’d been quoted saying that she has been ‘married’ to her female partner for seven years.”

Diocese Director of Communications David Hains shared that the church’s stance was that while it felt that everyone was “deserving of respect,” it did not support same-sex marriage.

Williams shared on her Facebook page, …I didn’t think I’d be effected so deeply by one man’s action or his organization. I’m hurt and saddened! My entire career is gratefully connected to important causes or charities that I wholeheartedly believe in. This is the first time I’ve been fired from a performance solely based on who I chose to love. There are two things in my life I didn’t choose, to be Black and to be gay! I am proud to be both and want our North Carolina religious community to stand with the teachings of Christ — love, forgiveness, tolerance and inclusion.”

Williams did, however, perform on March 18 at an afternoon session opening of the 2016 LGBT* in the South Conference held in Asheville, N.C.

To counter the circumstances, Williams is asking the community to contribute to causes that are inclusive: Campaign for Southern Equality and Western North Carolina AIDS Project.

Derick Boyd, owner of O’Henry’s bar, held a fundraiser for the Campaign for Southern Equality after the incident with special performances by Williams, as well as Lyric, to show his support to Williams.


Youth org seeks exec

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Youth Outright Western North Carolina is seeking applicants for an executive director position. Interested parties should visit the organization’s website for full details. All resumes and cover letters should be sent to Anneliese Schombs-Fish, board chair, at


Org slates walk

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Our Voice and its Walk a Mile committee have announced that they are holding their largest fundraising event of their fiscal year.

The walk will be held on May 7, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., at Pack Square Park, 121 College St. Currently, it is recruiting 40 volunteers to assist before and during the day’s activities.

This year Our Voice is setting a $40,000 goal.

For more information or to volunteer, visit Our Voice’s website.


Candidate wins party primary

ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Jasmine Beach-Ferrara won the Democratic Party primary on March 15 for a seat on the Buncombe County Commission.

WIth no Republican contender in the Nov. 8 general election, it appears that she will net the spot and become the first openly lesbian person to be elected to the commission. Only a write-in campaign would derail her effort.

The Citizen-Times reported ( that her platform is built around building bridges and helping people “see she is not a ‘single-issue’ candidate.”

Asheville is looking to incorporate a non-discrimination ordinance into their structure. However, there is already opposition to it, especially by Miranda DeBruhl (R-D3), a commissioner from Leicester. Beach-Ferrara favors the proposal. She serves as director of the Campaign for Southern Equality which fought for marriage equality.


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Does your organization or special interest group have events or great information to share with our readers? If so, be sure to send in your information to In the upcoming months, we’ll feature one of you in our news notes section in each issue. Are you a part of a Meetup, Yahoo or Google group and do you do something that’s really newsworthy? Do you provide a service for the community or hold fundraisers for worthy causes? Do you educate the public about LGBT issues or concerns? Of course, this is only a sampling of things we are interested in. It’s the aim of these pieces to inform, enlighten and educate our readers about what we’re doing here in the Carolinas to champion LGBT rights, as well as offer resources for those who may be interested in what your group is doing.

Lainey Millen

Lainey Millen was formerly QNotes' associate editor, special assignments writer, N.C. and U.S./World News Notes columnist and production director from 2001-2019 when she retired.