Letter: Utah Pride Center leadership team supports past work of outgoing CEO Rob Moolman
Dear Community Members,
You deserve to know that the leadership team at the Utah Pride Center are extremely grateful for the opportunity to have worked with Dr. Rob Moolman as CEO of the Utah Pride Center. We fully understand and support his choice to step aside at this time and wish him the very best in his future endeavors. We especially hope that he takes an extended break to heal and recover with his family, his dogs, and his supportive husband who has sacrificed endlessly to allow Rob to accomplish so much in just 3-1/2 years.
We have witnessed Rob tackle one of the most challenging and difficult jobs imaginable with grace and dignity. With great gratitude we thank him for his amazing contributions. Under his leadership he has since helped us restructure and move the Utah Pride Center forward safely through a pandemic. Here is a sampling of a few of the accomplishments achieved under his leadership:
Mental Health – Under the leadership of Dr. Rob Moolman, the Mental Health Department was able to secure additional funding to hire a second full-time therapist, a part-time therapist and a full-time administrative employee to increase our capacity. During Covid-19, our services continued uninterrupted via telehealth platforms which allowed us to extend into areas never served before. We created partnerships with the University of Utah’s Nursing College, Intermountain Healthcare and Latino Behavioral Health Services allowing us provide life-saving services to more communities.
Education & Training – In November 2019, the Education & Training Department was in need of revitalization and resources. The requests for trainings were being pushed out for months. Under Rob’s guidance we redesigned the department to provide a variety of updated trainings and two annual conferences to educate each other and local educators. His leadership and trust has allowed us to make our visions and dreams into a reality with an Education & Training Department that is thriving. Today we are regularly educating and building LGBTQIA+ inclusive schools, community spaces, companies, and more.
Pride & Center Events – Under Rob’s leadership, in 2020 the Utah Pride Center hosted what may be the only in person covid safe Pride celebration in the country, by creating the Utah Pride Road Rally. And in the Spring of 2021, we again created another covid safe Pride celebration with the unique Pride Story Garden and Rainbow March & Rally to celebrate our community. Both brought thousands of people safely together and raised the critical funds needed to support the year-round life-saving programs and services of the Utah Pride Center.
Community Space – During our temporary closure due to covid, Rob encouraged us to update and prepare our community space for a post-covid reality with a strict eye for frugality. This includes two re-purposed meeting rooms and the equipment to host hybrid groups with both in-person and virtual participants from all across the state of Utah. We look forward to when we can host 40+ community groups each month at the Utah Pride Center.
Rainbow Wellness – This new program was created during the pandemic to serve even more members of our community while creating community partnerships with a variety of local instructors. This program provides extensive opportunities to exercise the body, expand the mind and engage the spirit for adults of all ages. This includes yoga, hiking, bird watching, somatic movement, writing workshops, painting, super soaker battles and more. Rob’s passion for providing something for everyone was instrumental in making this program a reality in 2021.
Adult Focus Programs – Under Rob’s insistence, we were able to create a new full-time position that would focus on growing our focus or identity groups. Today these groups include: TransAction for our trans, non-binary and gender non-confirming community members, the People of Color and Allies group, 1 to 5 Club bringing together our bisexual community, the Utah Queer Historical Society and more. During Covid-19, Rob Moolman ensured that these underserved communities had the support they needed and that virtual programming continued throughout the pandemic.
Senior Programs – Beginning in 2019, the SAGE volunteer program transitioned to a full-time program dedicated to serving Utah’s LGBTQ+ seniors. Because of Rob’s vision and support, today this is the Utah Pride Center’s largest program, which serves our seniors through out the state of Utah, even during the pandemic. Rob has consistently supported growing numerous SAGE satellite groups throughout the state including rural spaces. Because of Rob’s belief in the senior program, we have a support system for our senior community that helps us limit isolation, reduce the risk of suicide and sustain friendships.
Youth & Family Programs – On that fateful day, April 30th, 2020, Rob said “we will do whatever it takes to take care of the youth.” Throughout Rob’s career as an educator, youth have always been a priority. He knew that our youth already face many barriers in this world and that love and support from the Utah Pride Center would and will always be there for them. When planning dances, Rob would have the youth planning committee present a budget, obtain approval, create a plan of action, and execute that plan. Today these impressive youth have learned valuable life skills from Dr. Rob Moolman.
Suicide Prevention – Due to the unwavering support of Dr. Rob Moolman, the Utah Pride Center has a new program dedicated to providing education, resources, and support to LGBTQ+ individuals across the entire state of Utah. This department is tasked with decreasing suicide risk and providing support to those who have attempted or lost loved ones to suicide. Today we partner with a number of state, county and local suicide prevention coalitions and tasks forces to represent our community. During a global pandemic many would have paused, but Rob Moolman insisted we charge forward.
As you can see, amazing progress has been made under the leadership of Rob Moolman. Like millions of other organizations, we have felt the effects of Covid-19. In 2020, because of the uncertainty of private/corporate donations, and the viability of hosting the Utah Pride Festival, the Center was forced to downsize to ensure that it would survive, and our services would continue.
When a worldwide pandemic threatened the viability of hundreds of thousands of businesses and non-profits across America, we were all forced to make difficult choices and adjust to the reality of our new world. And while 20+ million American’s were losing their jobs and understood the gravity of the situation, inexplicably a handful of ex-employees have somehow chosen to believe that their layoffs were somehow different than the 100+ million unemployed people around the world.
We are united in our defiant denial of the false accusations made repeatedly by a small group of malcontent former employees who claim the contrary. Know that three (3) independent investigations have repeatedly found their claims to be without merit. We vehemently deny their attempt to slander Dr. Rob Moolman’s good name, his amazing contributions, the reputation of the Utah Pride Center and the unflinching work accomplished by the dedicated staff.
The staff, board members, volunteers, clients, sponsors, donors and community members are exhausted by the endless baseless accusations and character assassination from this small vocal group. These individuals have incessantly criticized and attacked every attempt to heal and have continually criticized the ongoing achievements of the staff and volunteers. We will not be deterred by their distractions. Now it’s time for us to do our part—to heal, to create alliances, and to build on UPC’s amazing work.
We invite the community to join us as we move beyond and look forward to the future. We are surviving and thriving! Please join us in thanking Dr. Rob Moolman for his amazing tenure and with extreme gratitude we say thank you for a job well done!
In solidarity, the Utah Pride Center Program Directors / Leadership Team,
Amanda Darrow (She/Her/Hers) – Director of Youth, Family, & Education Programs
Deb Hall (She/Her/Hers) – Director of Adult Programming
Jonathan Foulk (He/Him) – COO & Interim CEO
John Johnson (He/Him/His) – Director of Operations & Administration
Joshua Bravo (He/Him/They/Them/El/Ellos) – Clinical Director
Katie Perkins (She/Her/Hers) – Director of Suicide Prevention Services
This is an opinion piece and has been presented with no edits.