Utah Pride Center lays off 36 percent of its staff, works to reenvision future

The Utah Pride Center has gone through another round of layoffs, reducing its staff by 36 percent — from 19 to 12 staff members.

Apparently outgoing are Genevieve Stratford, Pride associate coordinator; Jessica Fry, client services and billing manager; Jonathan Foulk, co-CEO; Kimberly Johnston, Pride associate; Poppy Lowder, Pride associate; Rosa Bandeirinha, communications director; and Zeb Williams, special events manager.

With the departure of co-CEO Jessica Dummar in November of 2022 and Benjamin Carr this July, Tanya Hawkins is the only co-CEO of the nonprofit organization of the three named in January 2022. Foulk was named a co-CEO in Spring of this year, prior to the Utah Pride Festival, but was included in the layoffs.

Center leadership released a written statement Tuesday night, August 22: “We at the Pride Center acknowledge the disappointment and outrage of the community regarding the instability of our organization. We know how important the Center is to you, and we solemnly apologize for letting you down,” the statement began. “We have recently faced a reduction in workforce and sadly had to let very valuable team members go. This wasn’t an easy decision for anyone involved, but it was based on the massive financial turmoil that the Center is currently facing.”

“Unfortunately, this situation is not new, and our community has witnessed several crises in staffing, financial instability, and precarious leadership at the Center throughout the years,” the statement continued. “Our remaining leadership team is hopeful and we trust that their hard work to get the Center back into shape will be effective and will generate great future services for Utah’s LGBTQ+ community.”

Leaders cautioned that the Center’s current finances and ongoing negative reputation make the task of addressing the future “monumental.”

“So, we don’t know what is going to happen,” the statement reads. “The Center might close, revive, or reset. And that is why, during the month of September, programs will be suspended, and the Center will be closed for restructuring and reimagining the future of this organization.”

Leaders once again asked the community to “grace us with your trust and give our committed team some time to put a plan in place until October 1.”

“We are dedicated to finding the answers on how to best serve the community going forward. Reimagining the Center is a long overdue task. Our community has changed drastically in the past three decades, the number and diversity of resources, organizations, and services have increased, and the Center needs to reset its mission to stay relevant and supportive.”

Leaders asked for community members to provide input on what the future of the Center should be.

“We value the collective vision of our community and the individual needs and dreams of each of you. Please connect with the Utah Pride Center on social media and sign up to our newsletter to receive our requests for comments coming soon.”

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