SF, Oakland Pride
officials go silent
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Board members of two Bay Area LGBT Pride celebrations have gone silent with the Bay Area Reporter, declining to answer questions about personnel changes and finances.
The San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has been seeking a new head for months, despite the fact that Executive Director Brendan Behan has helped bring the nonprofit out of grave financial and leadership troubles and expressed a desire to stay in the job.
The group's board of directors has apparently made an offer to someone to be the new chief executive officer, sources said, replacing Behan, who didn't respond to interview requests for this story.
"The board is still in the process of hiring a CEO. I will inform you of any updates," Pride board President Lisa Williams said in an email last week. Soon after, when reached by phone, Williams said she couldn't talk at that time because she was working. She didn't respond to emailed questions, including a request to confirm the CEO position being offered to someone.
In September, Behan said that "the main sticking point" between him and the board was whether he should be an at-will employee, meaning the board could terminate him at any time.
Williams indicated in October that was something the board wanted from its top staff member.
"We did not have the time to do that when SF Pride was experiencing the challenges of a couple of years ago, and we felt that it was incumbent upon us as a board to open SF Pride's recruitment and hiring process to a broader pool of potential candidates," Williams said at the time.
Former Executive Director Lindsey Jones, who's been working as Pride's sponsorship director, said last week that she's resigned, citing the board's decision to replace Behan. Her last day will be December 31.
Behan became Pride's interim executive director in April 2011 and eventually gained the permanent position. The top post had been vacant since former Executive Director Amy Andre left in November 2010, just over a year after she started the job.
Soon after the 2010 celebration, several community partners complained that Pride had shortchanged them. In December 2010, the city controller's office revealed that the nonprofit was $225,000 in debt. As of September, most of that had been paid down.
In Oakland, the people behind that city's LGBT Pride festival have been trying to help raise money to establish a community center, but they've been struggling just to break even.
Asked last week about finances from this year's event, which was in September, Treasurer Frank Ciglar quickly became argumentative.
"I just don't feel compelled to divulge anything to you, with the way you write stories," he told the B.A.R. "... You make everything seem so awful."
He wouldn't say specifically what he was referring to, and said he wouldn't answer even basic questions about money "because I know the way you're going to skew it."
Ciglar hasn't responded to questions that the B.A.R. subsequently emailed to him.
San Jose LGBT Pride Festival Director Gary Walker said in an interview last week that total income from this year's event, held in August, was roughly $185,000, and costs were at about $205,000. Some income and bills were still outstanding, he said. Total paid attendance was 4,510, down from 4,984 last year, he said.