Beswick leaves GGBA to start consulting firm

  • by Eric Burkett, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday November 30, 2022
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Terry Beswick has started his own consulting firm after leaving the Golden Gate Business Association. Photo: Rick Gerharter
Terry Beswick has started his own consulting firm after leaving the Golden Gate Business Association. Photo: Rick Gerharter

After a year leading the world's first LGBTQ chamber of commerce, Terry Beswick has departed the Golden Gate Business Association and struck out on his own as a consultant for small businesses and nonprofits.

He has touted his ability to turn organizations around and bring in additional funding, something he said he accomplished at the Castro Country Club, a sober community center in San Francisco's LGBTQ neighborhood; the GLBT Historical Society, where he served as executive director for five years; and GGBA.

Take the historical society, for example. When Beswick, a gay man, became executive director there in 2016, the society was in debt and operating on a budget of just over half a million dollars per year. When he left in 2021, the organization was financially stable and had more than doubled its budget to $1.2 million, he said. In addition, he also secured $12 million in funding from City Hall to build a full-scale LGBTQ history museum. The task of finding a location for that museum, preferably in the Castro, now falls to Roberto Ordeñana, who was hired on as the society's new executive director in October.

Beswick, 63, left his post as the executive director of the GGBA in October. For the time being, "the board will assume leadership responsibilities on behalf of the chamber," according to a statement on the organization's website. GGBA officials did not return messages seeking comment.

Much of Beswick's work over the years has centered around helping organizations find the financial support they need to be successful. That was a challenge he recognized when he was working at CCC, as well as the GGBA.

As the manager and executive director of both organizations, respectively, he found he didn't have a lot of time to fill out grant requests, he told the Bay Area Reporter. That realization paved the way for his new business, Grants and Things, LLC.

"I connected the dots and thought, you know, let's help small nonprofits and small businesses access money," he said. "They're busy just doing their job."

With Grants and Things, Beswick will be offering services as diverse as grant writing and needs assessments to donor relations, project analysis, and legislation.

Despite all the work he's done with professional organizations such as the Castro Merchants Association, where he serves as treasurer, and GGBA, this venture marks Beswick's first time launching his own business. Helping businesses find the resources they need to succeed is something he particularly enjoys, he said.

"I encouraged a lot of business owners who needed help just in accessing grants and I was really inspired by their independence," he said. "I've never owned my own business before. I have always worked for boards or higher-ups in an agency."

With the consulting business he hopes to help a broader swath of the community — not just the LGBTQ community — to find the funding they need. Beswick said he has many interests "beyond the LGBT sphere" and concerns about "a great many issues." Add to that a background in performing arts as well as a stint at the B.A.R. as an assistant editor, and he feels he "is well equipped to tackle different subjects."

"With the GGBA, I did manage to get some significant corporate grants, as well," he said. "When I talk to other agencies, or small businesses, they're not even aware these grants exist."

Beswick's departure from GGBA, and starting his own business, seemed to some like a natural step.

"Terry's new business seems perfectly suited to some of his great strengths," said Dave Karraker, co-president of Castro Merchants Association. "He was instrumental in helping Castro Merchants secure $400K in grants from the city, which will be used to drive consumer foot traffic to the neighborhood to support small businesses, as well as help fill vacant storefronts. He has a very keen financial and business sense, as well as a passion for the neighborhood, that serves the Castro very well."

When Beswick stepped down from his role at the GLBT Historical Society, his colleagues praised him for the work he'd done there.

"When he started at the society, we were just a small set of loyal volunteers, contractors, and two other staff members," the society stated at the time. "During his tenure, the team grew substantially — and so did the society's footprint — with archive and museum leases secured and exhibitions and archival programs expanded to more fully represent our community's stories. He also played a critical role in bringing diverse and committed stewards to the society, who share his and our passion for preserving our community's history, and who have committed to supporting the society's plan for a new museum."

With the new business, Beswick hopes to focus on things that are meaningful to him, and — for the first time in his profession — be able to take visible stands on important issues. The recent death of a friend, Crispin Hollings — a stalwart community activist in his own right — reminded Beswick of an important point, he said.

"Our time is limited here on this planet, and it's important for me to just enjoy the work," Beswick said. "To get up in the morning and be passionate about what I do."

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