Last night, five members of the SAGE Advisory Board met with members of the Utah Pride Board of Directors and hammered out a tentative agreement to keep the SAGE program active and within the umbrella of Utah Pride.
The meeting, chaired by Utah Pride Board President John Netto, was attended by board members Jon Jepsen, Jesse Nix, Kent Frogley, Chris Wharton, and Steven Ha from Utah Pride and Charles Frost, David Andreason, Brent Marrott, Jerry Buie, and Ingrid Davis from the SAGE Advisory Board.
Netto adamantly stated he would not hold the meeting until this reporter from QSaltLake, who was invited to the meeting by a SAGE Advisory Board member, was ejected from the room. UPC staffer Yvonne Paul was reportedly also dismissed from the meeting.
Following the meeting, SAGE representative Jerry Buie and UPC vice president and spokesperson Kent Frogley called QSaltLake to discuss the results of the meeting.
The SAGE group had five primary points related to their own autonomy within Utah Pride that they wished to see addressed. First, they wanted to have access to the SAGE membership email list, currently stored on UPC computers. The list will remain on UPC’s data system and emails to the SAGE membership will be produced and sent by UPC staff, as has been done in the past. It was confirmed that the SAGE Advisory Board will provide the content of the emails to UPC staff and that SAGE will have access to the data when desired.
The second request was centered upon financial autonomy, triggered by the UPC financial crisis of October 2013 that resulted in the layoff of Charles Frost, the SAGE director at Utah Pride. SAGE had requested that they have a separate bank account within UPC and that they be allowed to raise their own funds and have them restricted exclusively for SAGE use. This request is being granted, along with an ancillary request that UPC start the funding process. Initial discussions had UPC investing $7–10,000 into this program initially, but reports from last night indicate that amount will be just under $15,000. Newly-appointed interim executive director Steven Ha has also apparently identified several funding sources and has begun the application process for additional grants and agency dollars on behalf of SAGE.
Two other SAGE requests were not part of the final agreement. SAGE had requested that a representative of their advisory board be placed on the Utah Pride Center Board of Directors. That request was denied, but SAGE representatives were encouraged to have someone complete the UPC board application and be voted upon by the UPC board. It was reported that part of the reason behind this denial was that if SAGE was given automatic board representation, every other group within Pride would demand similar treatment.
The final request was that a set amount of staff hours, 20 was the initial number, would be dedicated to SAGE events and programming each week. This was modified to reflect that UPC staff time would be given to SAGE, but on an as-needed basis.
QSaltLake‘s conversations with SAGE Advisory Board members after this meeting indicate optimism that SAGE will continue under the umbrella of Utah Pride. Frogley and Buie indicated that the final agreement, under a community-based organization model, should be drafted this weekend and is likely to be signed on or before the next Utah Pride board meeting, scheduled for Monday, Jan. 27.