SF Pride furloughs staff; co-chair resigns
by Seth Hemmelgarn
The board of directors of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee has decided to furlough the organization's administrative staff for December in order to save money. Additionally, a board co-chair resigned this week.
Shawn Parker, who had been board co-chair along with Nikki Calma, said in a phone interview last week that December is the organization's slowest month. He said four staff members have been furloughed.
Parker said this week that he resigned from the board December 6, because his workload as a computer consultant "has just gone through the roof."
"I just couldn't dedicate as much time as necessary" to Pride, he said.
The board voted unanimously on the furloughs Thursday night, December 2, around midnight, said Parker.
"The board's been talking about this for several months," said Parker. "... There's a situation where you have to balance is Pride in a position where we can afford to maintain a certain level of staff in a time of year when revenues are not coming in?"
Former Executive Director Amy Andre and ex-Board President Mikayla Connell both announced their resignations in October.
Andre, whose resignation was effective November 19, has refused to tell the B.A.R. exactly why she resigned. Connell had previously expressed a desire to quit, and her term as president expired in October. She had decided not to run again, and her resignation was effective immediately.
The two left the agency, which organizes one of the world's largest Pride events, with a deficit estimated at up to $90,000, plus almost $50,000 more owed to beverage partners, who were out thousands of dollars from what they were expecting due to what has been described as a "misunderstanding."
Parker didn't know last week where the deficit currently stands. He also couldn't provide an updated figure on how much is owed to beverage partners.
Parker said the board has put its search for a new executive director on hold. He noted the position is "rather costly."
"Right now with what we owe, our fear is if we were to bring a new ED in, that the expense of the ED may undermine our ability to restore stable financial footing," said Parker.
While Pride board members serve on a volunteer basis, Andre was earning $105,000 as executive director.
The San Francisco controller's office is doing an assessment of the organization. The city's Grants for the Arts office awarded $58,400 to Pride this year.
Parker, who joined the board in 2009, said this wasn't the first time Pride has furloughed staff. He didn't know exactly how much in salaries would be saved through the furloughs.
Pride's office, at 1841 Market Street, won't be closed, said Parker. He said board members would fulfill normal staff duties such as getting the mail and responding to press requests.
Parker said the furloughs don't affect the organization's contractors.