Chair Lives Part-time in Palm Springs
A reader tipped me off to the fact that one of the cochairs of the San Francisco LGBT Community Center lives part-time down in Palm Springs. James Williamson, the partner to Geoff Kors who recently stepped down as head of Equality California, is cochair for the center and splits his time between SF and their Palm Springs estate. Click here to read about their estate.
Concerned about a part-time SF resident setting the agenda for SF center, just as I was worried about a Floridian sitting on the board of EQCA, I asked the center's executive director Rebecca Rolfe for clarification regarding a residency requirement for her board members. She said:
The Center’s mission is to connect our diverse community to opportunities, resources and each other to achieve our vision of a stronger, healthier, and more equitable world for LGBT people and our allies. The Center’s strategies inspire and strengthen our community [in a number of ways]. ...
Approximately 65% of visitors to the Center live in San Francisco and 35% are from the broader Bay Area (with a sizable number of out of town visitors, particularly during the summer tourist season).
Given that our programs and services are not limited to San Francisco residents, we do not have San Francisco residency requirements for board members. Board members are selected based on their ability to work collectively to meet a broad range of organizational priorities and needs ...
Call me a San Francisco chauvinist because I think all local gay and AIDS nonprofits should require their top executives and all board members to reside full-time in the city. This should especially apply to the community center, since the prime person who pushed the center idea in the 1990s, Dana Van Gorder, lives and votes in Emeryville.
I believe a big reason why the locale center has had major trouble attracting a lot more San Franciscans to use the facilities is because non-residents were telling the rest of us what we needed in a community center.
All that being said, I wish to laud the SF center for its transparency with its board meetings. We need all Gay Inc groups to open their board sessions to public scrutiny and community participation. The serious lack of democratic engagement from our organizations is very unhealthy for the groups themselves and community members.
The center's board meeting is tonight, at the center of course, and Rebecca shared with me the agenda, which I've excerpted. I will there to speak during public comment and also observe the board in action: