Update: Utah Pride corrected the date of the talking circle to tomorrow, Wednesday, October 30, 4-6 p.m.
The Utah Pride Center announced today two layoffs and the dissolution of one of their most popular programs, saying that funding shortfalls are forcing the service organization to make tough choices as their fiscal year ends.
Leaders announced that two grants are ending this fiscal year and the Center was unable to replace the $125,000 income.
“Because of our financial forecast, it’s no longer business as usual at Utah Pride,” the group released in a statement. “After carefully looking at all aspects of our situation, we are taking necessary measures to ensure the survival of the organization and its vital mission in the Utah community.”
Released from their positions today were Joe Gonzales, director of operations, and Charles Lynn Frost, director of community engagement & awareness/SAGE Utah. Other staff will see salary and benefit reductions.
Outgoing president Nikki Boyer is expected to be replaced by board member John Netto in January. According to a Facebook post by Frost, Netto told him during his exit interview that “the board and leadership have failed.”
Frost also said he was told the Center does not have enough funding to stay in operations past February.
“Programs are in jeopardy, with my passion — SAGE — being disposable,” Frost wrote. “Programs that are not immediately grant funded, mission critical, or serving a marginalized or disenfranchised demographic are on the chopping block for consideration.”
Boyer said that the SAGE Utah program will continue.
“We will continue to provide a myriad of opportunities for SAGERS [those over 50] to be engaged and involved,” the statement read.
The Center also announced a “talking circle” to help “understand the news today and help us move forward” on Oct. 30 from 4 to 6 p.m.
The Utah Pride Center had gross receipts of $2,089,047 and just over $1 million in net assets in calendar year 2012, according to IRS records. They showed a surplus of $479,856 that year.
A capital campaign to raise $5 million to renovate their new 6,000-square-foot building on 4th South has had difficulty gaining traction.
Former and current board members and staff have complained to QSaltLake over the last several months about financial responsibility and leadership issues of Center leaders, but none would go on record, making it difficult to report.
Executive director Valerie Larabee revealed in an interview with Queer New York Blog earlier this year that there was a power struggle between her and a board member over the invitation of Joe Jervis as co-grand marshal of the Utah Pride Parade, saying that he “resents her leadership and that his anti-Jervis action was really nothing more than a personal attack aimed at her more than Jervis.”
The unnamed director has refused to speak with us about that issue or any other Center-related issue since that interview.
QSaltLake was denied access to tonight’s board meeting. Larabee said it was because personnel issues were being discussed.
We will update this story as we can talk to all sides.