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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
March 31, 2006

James Ford is elected new Stonewall president

Columbus--Dr. James B. Ford ascended to the presidency of Stonewall Columbus� board of trustees on March 22, unanimously elected to replace the exiting Donna Williams.

Williams relinquished leadership in February to give more time to �personal and professional commitments.�

Ford, a dentist with his own downtown practice, first joined the board last November.

�When our president resigned in February . . . I had to do some serious soul-searching to decide if I could make the commitment necessary to become a candidate for the presidency of the board,� Ford said. �I realized that I have the passion and energy and commitment to Stonewall Columbus as well as the skill sets necessary to lead the board and our organization to the next level.�

�Having the unanimous support of the board was quite an honor for me, but I now have an obligation to them and the community that I will work hard to fulfill,� he continued.

Ford said his first priority is to reach out to the central Ohio LGBT community to help determine Stonewall Columbus� direction for the future.

�My personal tasks will be to meet with as many individuals and organizations in Central Ohio as I can over the next few months, to make friends and listen to their critiques, thoughts and ideas of how Stonewall can be relevant to them,� he noted. �I honestly believe that for Stonewall and other GLBT organizations in Central Ohio to be successful, we need to have a synergy that hasn�t been present always in the past. I intend to extend the olive branch as we set our sights on productive working relationships that will last into the future.�

�Furthermore, we need to examine how other communities� GLBT centers of cities our size function,� Ford said. �We can gain some valuable insight from them and also foster lines of communication to share knowledge and resources with them as well.�

Looking back, Ford believes that, despite the organization�s best intentions, a less formal style of running the center may have held it back.

�We admit that in the past we may not have met the expectations of those I the community that we serve,� he intimated. �We certainly have not met our own expectations either.�

�That being said,� he mused, �we now have a board that is fully vested in crafting a new mission statement to enable Stonewall Columbus to represent and serve our community in 2006 and beyond.�

One of the changes he hopes will be under way by then is to get Stonewall running on a �business-like� model.

�Adopting the best-work-practice standards and utilizing talents of business leaders in our community will ensure a sound future and a solid bottom line,� he noted. �Working in concert with other organizations and sharing resources and expenses only makes sense when dealing with a limited budget. We want to be good stewards of the faith and financial contributions of our donors and make the best of their kind contributions.�

�Our biggest assets are our dedicated and hard-working volunteers, who give countless hours of time and energy in support of our mission,� he enthused. �Without them we would not be able to grow and change as an organization. In addition, our past boards and staff and volunteers have enabled our organization to weather through tough times so that we can even be here today, celebrating our 25th year of existence.�

Ford gave another nod to the organization�s history.

�Our outgoing president, Donna Williams, who served for nearly two years, worked tirelessly to strengthen our by-laws and infrastructure so that we have a good foundation for the future,� Ford said. �She also was instrumental in guiding us toward adopting a new mission statement which should be finalized in the near future. We will carry her vision for a productive GLBT center in Central Ohio with us, and wish her all the best in her future endeavors. She will always be a valuable member of the Stonewall family.�

Ford�s term will last for five months, the remainder of Williams� term, before he faces reelection in the fall.

According to Ford, the majority of his work in the next five months will be internal, examining operations and structure while still reaching out to people and groups in the community.

However, plans are under way for a community-wide needs assessment, in which Stonewall Columbus will participate.

�We probably will take those assessments and query the community ourselves even further in regards to specific needs that our center can address,� Ford stated.

�As I get out into the community to meet our constituents, I will be ready to listen to their thoughts, comments and suggestions as well as talk about our new mission statement and how Stonewall Columbus can become the gateway to programming and services for the GLBT community in Central Ohio,� he said. �I would hope that the community will feel comfortable in calling or e-mailing me as well.�

James B. Ford can be reached at jamesbford@aol.com.

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