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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
April 28, 2006

Cozad to step down as BRAVO president

Columbus--After a decade in office, Chris Cozad is training her successor as board president of the Buckeye Region Anti-Violence Organization.

Bill Hedrick, former president of the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio, has been named BRAVO president-elect. The post was created to assure his smooth transition next year into the role filled by Cozad since the organization�s founding in 1996.

Hedrick will ascend to the presidency at the end of Cozad�s current term, which finishes in March 2007.

Cozad�s main reasons for stepping down are two-fold, she says.

�From BRAVO�s perspective, my specialty is really organizational development, and sort of that basic structural kind of stuff,� she noted. �We are, I think, ready for that next level.�

�BRAVO has been on a plateau for the last few years. We�re really poised to make that next leap, but I think that it�s going to take people with a different skill set to take the next step,� Cozad said.

�On a more personal level,� she continued, �I�m ready for a new challenge.�

She plans to use the time freed up by the move from board president to board member to work on fundraising for the organization.

�I think people should beware now that I�m not going to be president any more,� she laughed. �I�m going to have more time to ask them for money!�

The concept of voting in a president-elect to ensure a smooth transition from one administration to the next is one that is used by the Columbus Bar Association, an organization familiar to Hedrick, an assistant prosecutor for the city of Columbus and 2004 Common Pleas judicial candidate.

�I think it�s good because it also gives people a chance to adjust that there�s going to be a new president,� Hedrick noted.

By the time of his mid-April election, Hedrick had already established himself as the second-longest sitting board member behind Cozad herself, racking up 5� years on the board.

�Given how long I�ve been on the board and even what I do for a living, it�s a good match,� he said.

Hedrick�s plans are a three-pronged attack to strengthen one of Columbus� most noteworthy community organizations.

He wants to get board members more actively involved in the organization, raise its level of visibility even more in the community and buttress its financial stability, in part by increasing the percentage of money that comes in through fundraising and events against what is brought in through grants.

�Obviously, I think the organization is at a good place already and we have a lot of good, strong new board members,� he said.

�Chris has just done so much, these are really very large shoes to fill,� he admitted. �It�s a daunting task, but I feel I�m up to the challenge. If I didn�t think I was up to it, I wouldn�t have stepped up to the plate because the organization means too much to me.�

Cozad believes that three factors are very important in a board president: skills, time, and passion about the organization or issue.

�It�s tough to find people with all three of those things at the same time to serve, so I feel really fortunate to have Bill,� she said. �I think it�s going to be a great change for us.�

For an organization that focuses, to a great extent, on victim advocacy and stresses the need to report anti-gay crime to police and prosecutors, Hedrick�s presence until now and in the future is a perfect fit.

Hedrick heads the unit at the prosecutor�s office that interviews victims of crime.

�Being a member of the LGBT community makes it easier for members of the community to relate and talk to me personally,� he said. �I�ve been taking complaints for years. Normally, if someone comes in the office, even if they haven�t been referred to our office by BRAVO, I always try to talk to them, and I self-disclose to members of the LGBT community to try to raise their comfort level.�

Another facet of his life has also proved beneficial to his work with BRAVO.

�My political activities have always helped me as well,� he admitted. �I work really hard on judicial campaigns.�

During those campaigns, he starts speaking with the prospective judges about LGBT concerns, �so when they get on the bench, they�re already sensitive to LGBT issues.�

While Hedrick�s tenure as president promises to be a good one for BRAVO, long-time supporters who are more than satisfied with Cozad�s work for the organization have nothing to fear.

�I look at it as a new challenge. My level of commitment isn�t going down, but my tasks are going to change,� she opined.

Laughing, Cozad concluded, �I look at it as a sort of emeritus thing--I�m going to be past president emeritus forever!�

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