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San Diego Pride holds first post-Pride meeting

(This article was originally published HERE in SDGLN media partner Gay San Diego.)

SAN DIEGO -- San Diego Pride’s governing board had their first meeting following the 28th annual Pride celebration last month. The open meeting was held at their North Park office on Aug. 15.

Along with general meeting and session business, Executive Director Dwayne Crenshaw filed his report on Pride 2012, several new board-member candidates were discussed outside of the open forum and then elected, and a long-term member of the community was honored.

Two current board members took on new duties at the meeting, when a new set of co-chairs, one male and one female, were elected.

Former member-at-large Ebony Aldridge ran unopposed for female co-chair, while board Secretary William Rodriguez-Kennedy was chosen over two other candidates. The secretary replacement will be elected at the next board meeting. Additionally, board Treasurer Stephen Whitburn left the board and his treasurer role was taken over by Zandro Palma.

Protocol calls for at least one full year of transition between co-chair assignments, Crenshaw said. As a result, though the new co-chair elects will actively participate as executive staff, they will perform their duties subordinate to the two current co-chairs of the board, Joseph Mayer and Jennifer Seiber, who will provide mentorship throughout the coming year.

Longtime local activist Jeri Dilno was elected to board emeritus status during the meeting. Dilno was the first female executive director of the then-named San Diego Gay Center, helped organize the first Pride march and has worked for SD Pride for over 30 years. Dilno was honored this year as a local hero by KPBS and Union Bank.

“Jeri has served with Pride since day one,” Crenshaw said. “Her leadership over the years has been pivotal to its success and this is a well-deserved honor.”

As board member emeritus, Dilno is “welcome to participate [in board meetings] at any time,” Crenshaw said, and can even “use her influence” or provide insight on any topic or matter up for discussion, but she is not allowed to vote.

Crenshaw’s Executive Director report was outlined in detail during the open meeting, but the board voted to hold the entire report’s official release until they each had the chance to respond to it and draft their own, concurrent report. A full report from both bodies is expected in September in an open forum format.

A key observation of Crenshaw’s report was the success of this year’s Pride event. The executive director said at the meeting that there was an “across the board increase” in attendance, sponsorships and revenues this year. Revenue was up approximately $125,000, a 26 percent increase over 2011, while parade attendance set a new record with a reported 200,000 people. Additionally, festival attendance was up approximately 10 percent over last year.

In advance of the public release of his full list of observations and recommendations, Crenshaw identified, in a separate interview, his personal top recommendations from the report.

He identified one – listed as number five in the report presented to the board – as working with San Diego to re-imagine or redesign the footprint of the festival to better accommodate its growth, and to “continue efforts to increase diverse appeal for [the] Pride Festival,” he said.

To this end, Crenshaw said he recommended increasing “feasibility and scope of carnival rides and games area,” as well as “enhancing entertainment zones,” which include Viva La Fiesta and the Hip Hop Reloaded areas, and adding a women’s zone. He also suggested adding an “open mic area” for alternative artists near the Coffee Terrace.

Crenshaw said he also advocated, originally number seven on the report, his wish to continue the ticket price-freeze for 2013. If passed, this would be the fourth year in a row prices would remain the same.

The report identified “working with local government agencies to reduce cost of government fees and financial support,” further corporate sponsorships and trying to hold “growth of recurring event expenses to inflation or below” as ways to support the freeze.

“I’m encouraged [the event’s success] will result in more community giving,” Crenshaw said.

As stated on their website, Pride has contributed more than $1.4 million in the last 14 years to local community through grants and other philanthropic methods.

One way Pride will be giving back this coming year is through its maintenance of the rainbow flag that now flies above Hillcrest at the corner of Normal Street and University Avenue. The flag was raised during Pride weekend and will be flown year-round.

Crenshaw said he estimates the annual cost of maintaining the flag, which will require replacement every three or four months, to be approximately $4,000.

As previously reported, at the July 20 Block Party – organized in partnership with the Hillcrest Business Association – approximately $45,000 was raised for the two organizations. Half of this, or $22,500, will go to SD Pride for the flag’s maintenance.

Morgan M. Hurley is Contributing Editor of SDGLN, Editor of San Diego Downtown News and Assistant Editor of Gay San Diego and San Diego Uptown News.