Two new hires fill out Stonewall Center staff
Columbus--Stonewall Columbus� staff, which for the last six months was comprised solely of interim center director Karla Rothan, is rebounding again with the hiring of Suzie Simpson and Kelly Bishop as center coordinators.
Bishop will handle day-to-day operations of the Stonewall Center, while Simpson will plan the Pride celebration in June.
Neither woman is a newcomer to working for Stonewall Columbus, with 11 years of volunteer service for the organization between them.
Since 1998, Simpson has been the volunteer entertainment coordinator for Pride, lining up the acts that filled the stages.
Bishop spent three years as a volunteer at the community center, taking the position of administrative volunteer in her third year.
�In the administrative position, I was offered the opportunity of a more detailed knowledge of how Stonewall operates and the amount of people and cooperation it really takes to make events happen,� Bishop said.
In her new position, she will handle more than volunteers at the center, located at 1160 North High Street.
�My title now is �center coordinator.� Essentially, this is like an office manager,� she noted. �I am to make sure the center is open and closed every day as well as attending to the receivables and payables.�
�More importantly, though, I am in charge of the volunteer team and the center�s groups,� Bishop continued. �I will be the main contact for our volunteers, matching their wants to our needs, training incoming new volunteers also for the effectiveness and accountability of the hundreds of volunteers for our annual Pride parade.�
�I am again the main contact for our groups. I am here to offer Stonewall�s support to our groups, as well as assist with advertising and public relations for our groups,� she said.
She concluded, �Finally, I am here to provide a much-needed intake and referral post for the LGBT community.�
Bishop comes from working in the Medicaid office of the Ohio Department of Mental Health, and is a full-time student at Ohio State University. She will receive her bachelor�s degree in social work next year.
With her background, one of her long-term priorities is the �implementation of a support network via the intake and referral center here at Stonewall. It is my dream to be able to have the resources and support necessary to become a fully functioning I/R center.�
�There should be no one who walks into our doors that leaves empty-handed. If you have a need, be it financial, mental health or legal, I will be able to match you with the best person or agency to take care of it,� she said. �Every community has a human services agency. The LGBT community should be no exception.�
�For us, Stonewall needs to be synonymous with help, answers and support,� she enthused.
Simpson�s task is paradoxically both simpler and much more difficult: She needs to take a well-established, popular event and keep it that way. That involves bringing back the best of previous years while also working out issues that arose in the past.
�We have secured funding to bring back the banners on High Street again this year,� she stated, noting that the Pride Walk, 5K run and the Pride Cruise-In will return this year, along with the art show and expanded history programs, to create a month of Pride programming.
The most difficult issue she will have to tackle, however, is collecting admission to the festival.
�One thing we�re going to try to do this year is to educate folks about Pride and how important it is for them to pay the $5 at the gate,� she noted. �A lot of folks don�t realize that Pride is Stonewall�s major operating fundraiser for the year, and enables us to offer and expand the programs and resources that are available at the center.�
�It costs us about $75,000 to put the festival on,� she explained. �It really hurts our community when people sneak in.�
�Besides, look at what you get for $5: a full day of 100,000 gay and gay-friendly people, an awesome parade, great local and national talent, and merchandise and information booths,� she exclaimed. �It�s a very inexpensive way to individually support our community and help it to grow.�
Last year saw the introduction of 3000steps.com, a pledge website that brought in more donations for Stonewall Columbus. The site will be used again this year, and Stonewall plans to bring it to the public�s attention much more than last year.
�We�re going to be pushing www.3000steps.com this year, which was donated by the Union Station Foundation,� Simpson said. �Individuals, clubs, businesses, et cetera can pledge per step for the parade. This is a great way for small businesses to contribute and support us by getting folks to sign up under their name.�
Rothan is continuing in her role as interim center director while the board prepares to find a permanent replacement as well as an executive director.