SF Pride board names new president

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 16, 2022
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Nguyen Pham is the new San Francisco Pride board president. Photo: Courtesy SF Pride
Nguyen Pham is the new San Francisco Pride board president. Photo: Courtesy SF Pride

San Francisco Pride has a new president. Nguyen Pham who, until his selection on November 7, served as vice president, was elected to the post by fellow board members. Pham is the first gay Vietnamese man to hold the position.

Pham, who lives in the LGBTQ Castro neighborhood, replaces former president Carolyn Wysinger, a lesbian who was elected last week to the El Cerrito City Council. Wysinger served as Pride president from 2020 until her term ended earlier this month and will remain on the Pride board.

SF Pride interim Executive Director Suzanne Ford, a trans woman, congratulated Wysinger on her victory.

"The entire San Francisco Pride family would like to congratulate our board member, and former board president, Carolyn Wysinger on winning a seat on the El Cerrito City Council," Ford stated. "We're proud to be colleagues, and we know El Cerrito will be well-served with her representing them."

In other SF Pride board news, Janelle Luster, a trans woman and SF Pride's treasurer during 2021-2022, was elected as vice president. Spring Collins, a trans woman who joined the board in 2021, was chosen as secretary; and Robert Louie, a trans man who joined the board in September, was elected as treasurer. With those results, three of the four executive board members are members of the trans community.

Pham's election comes a little more than two months after SF Pride held its annual general meeting, during which members elected four people to the board including Louie; incumbent Anjali Rimi, a trans woman; Linda Martley-Jordan, a lesbian; and George Smith III, a gay man.

"The diversity among the board members exemplifies one of SF Pride's most fundamental values, honoring and protecting trans lives; especially the lives of trans people of color, who are so often resilient in the face of vulnerable positions," SF Pride stated in a news release. "The board's composition also speaks to the San Francisco-based organization's solidarity with the AAPI community, which comprises one-third of all San Franciscans. Many are broadly under attack by heightened hate and violence since the COVID-19 pandemic."

In a statement, Pham, 38, said the board is representative of SF Pride's purpose.

"We want Pride to look like all of our communities and to welcome all in our communities — with particular emphasis on those who are most marginalized," he said.

Prior to his selection as president, Pham served as vice president during 2021-2022 and as secretary from 2017 to 2021. Outside of Pride, he is director of philanthropy at Frameline, San Francisco's annual LGBTQ film festival, and has an extensive background in marketing and communications, according to his LinkedIn profile.

As president, he'll be overseeing SF Pride's search for a permanent executive director, a position presently filled by Ford, who assumed the post following the resignation of Fred Lopez, who left the organization in February, just a little more than a year after being hired. Ford has expressed interest in taking the post permanently, "and will be submitting her application," according to a statement from SF Pride. The selection process is expected to begin in early 2023.

There is additional unfinished business to which Pham will attend.

The organization's annual Pride celebration in 2022 was marked with controversy over the participation of uniformed law enforcement, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. San Francisco Pride in September 2020 announced that the members of the Pride Alliance of the San Francisco Police Department would not be allowed to march in uniform going forward following an incident at the 2019 event in which police used force against anti-police and anti-corporate protesters who blocked the parade route for almost an hour.

The COVID pandemic pre-empted the in-person parade in 2020 and 2021, and the decision wasn't enforced until 2022. Months of discussions between police and SF Pride, and a last-minute round of negotiations just hours before Mayor London Breed raised the Pride flag outside her office officially kicking off Pride Month, brought the conflict between SF Pride and law enforcement to a temporary close. But the compromise they reached isn't permanent. This year, command staff were allowed to march in uniform while officers wore polo shirts with an SFPD insignia.

Pham said the organization will continue to discuss the matter with SFPD.

"We expect to continue our discussions with the Pride Alliance," said Pham, referring to the SFPD LGBTQ police association. "There is still work to be done, but we are glad we reached the agreement in 2022 and we will continue to work to ensure all members of our community are heard, including those who are most marginalized."

Of course, those aren't the only issues Pham will face. In addition, there's determining whether local civic groups will be allowed to manage alcohol sales during Pride, but Pham said that a production company for the event hasn't even been chosen yet, so that decision is still a ways off.

Other matters to be dealt with include meeting increased revenue needs, he said, as well as the increased costs to produce the event, and diversifying revenue streams. The city's fiscal year 2022-2023 budget included $300,000 for the Pride committee to help it recover from having to mothball its in-person parade and celebration the last two years due to the COVID pandemic.

Despite all the work Pham faces, he told the B.A.R. that taking the post was a way of giving back, and of giving representation to the city's diverse communities.

"Marched in every parade since 2001," he said. "It is a calling and a way of giving back. I love my community, my organization. I am a happy warrior. A third of San Francisco's population are of Asian descent, and violence within our community has been on the rise. So, visibility and representation is important to our community."

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