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December 31, 2010

Center reduces paid staff in restructuring

Cleveland--Executive director Jan Cline announced a restructuring of the paid positions at the Cleveland LGBT Center during its 35th anniversary dinner, which was a classic case of good news and bad news.

The bad part was the elimination of the full-time youth services coordinator position, which was occupied by Christen DuVernay, and the part-time volunteer coordinator, Melissa Castillo.

Part of the youth services will be handled by mental health services coordinator Jaime Bishop, who will handle weekly youth and teen groups and the transgender group for those 30 and under.

The rest will fall under the aegis of the programming coordinator, which will be a newly defined position. Applications are currently being accepted for the position.

Part of the reason for the elimination of the two positions is a lack of funding. A county grant that comprised around 30 percent of the organization’s budget was not renewed last winter.

However, private donors are paying for new communications director Mo McMiller’s salary, as well as that of development director Samara McCullough, whose position is an amalgamation of ones vacated by Mary Prevel and Mary Zaller, who resigned earlier this year.

Cline told the Gay People’s Chronicle, “We need a stronger infrastructure to raise enough money to run a center this size.”

The center now has a paid staff of five, plus the unfilled programming position, and four interns.

Cline hopes to reintroduce a volunteer coordinator when the funding is available, but until then, he is coordinating a revamp of the way volunteers are handled, with current volunteers training new ones.

About the December 17 anniversary dinner, Cline said, “I think it went beautifully. The VIP reception that opened the evening was wonderful.”

There were about 75 people at the VIP reception, with another 50 coming in for the dinner and dancing. All 125 people were given 35th anniversary commemorative blankets, provided by Consolidated Graphics Group.

Cline pointed out to the diners that the Cleveland LGBT Center was sixth in the nation when it was founded in 1975 as the GEAR Foundation, years before the ones in New York City and San Francisco.

Attendees were also treated to a video on the history of the LGBT movement produced by Vision Video, which consisted of “a lot of national stuff and some local stuff, but they really focused on the overall movement and our part in that movement,” Cline noted.

There was also an open-mike portion of the evening, when people had a chance to elucidate on what the center has meant to them over the years.

“There was a table that was sponsored for our constituents who couldn’t otherwise afford to go, and three young people from that table got up to speak about what the center means to them today and to thank the people there for center,” Cline said.

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