Marin LGBTQ center welcomes new ED

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday May 24, 2023
Share this Post:
Spahr Center Executive Director Joe Tuohy. Photo: Courtesy Spahr Center
Spahr Center Executive Director Joe Tuohy. Photo: Courtesy Spahr Center

The Spahr Center — Marin County's LGBTQ community center and HIV care and prevention hub — has a new executive director who started at the beginning of this month.

Joe Tuohy, a 57-year-old gay man, of San Francisco, comes to the role from the San Francisco LGBT Community Center, where he worked as senior director of operations. His longest stint recently was at PRC for about seven years, where he was both chief strategy officer and chief operating officer.

"I was at the SF LGBT center for six months, where I received a solid grounding in services to the LGBTQ+ community and the operations of an LGBTQ+ community center, in addition to my more than seven years of experience working with HIV community service provider PRC," Tuohy stated to the Bay Area Reporter May 11. "The Spahr Center's amazing programs serve youth, families, adults and seniors ... the entire spectrum of the community.

"Also, in this political moment, the opportunity to take a leadership role in fighting hate, especially against the trans community," he added, referring to the numerous anti-LGBTQ and anti-trans bills and laws being debated and passed in many states.

Tuohy stated he plans "to advocate on behalf of the Spahr Center for trans-affirming legislation and policy, more trans-focused funding sources, and to continue providing and creating programs that give the transgender community of Marin the support they need to thrive."

He also wants to "make space for the transgender community to be leaders."

"This means allowing transgender people to shine in the spotlight while I support them however they need me," he continued. He will be "actively seeking opportunities to learn, such as professional development, workshops, transgender-led panels and forums, and literature written by transgender people, as well as being mindful in my everyday life about how my words and actions affect the greater community," he said.

When asked why he was only at the San Francisco LGBT center for six months, Tuohy responded that "the opportunity with the Spahr Center presented itself and it was something I couldn't pass up."

Dani Siragusa, the director of development and communications at San Francisco LGBT center, thanked Tuohy in a statement to the B.A.R.

"We sincerely thank Joe for all his contributions to the SF LGBT center during his tenure and wish him all the best in his new endeavor," Siragusa stated.

Started in arts fields

Born and raised in the Bay Area, Tuohy began his career with the San Francisco Ballet, where he was director of the Bay Area Dance Series. He spent a decade in New York, working with the School of Visual Arts and Second Stage Theatre.

From 2005 to 2009, he was treasurer of the board of directors of Visual AIDS, a New York City-based arts organization that "utilizes art to fight AIDS by provoking dialogue, supporting HIV+ artists, and preserving a legacy," according to its website. From January 2015 to December 2017, Tuohy was development chair of the Castro County Club's board of directors.

Billy Lemon, the executive director of the Castro Country Club, a sober space in the LGBTQ neighborhood, told the B.A.R., "I wish Joe all the best in his new role. He was helpful to the development of the Castro Country Club."

When asked how Tuohy was supportive, Lemon stated, "Joe was helpful in developing strategies for reaching new kinds of funding and support that are still being utilized by the CCC today."

Chuan Teng, CEO of PRC, congratulated Tuohy and thanked him for his service in a statement to the B.A.R.

"Congratulations to Joe Tuohy for becoming the new executive director for the Spahr Center. He has dedicated many years of service to the health and human services sector, impacting the lives of many people who have benefited from behavioral and mental health services. I wish him the best!"

PRC experienced its own fiscal issues last year, when longtime CEO Brett Andrews resigned. That followed 11th hour requests to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for emergency funding; the board approved $1.25 million though the agency had asked for $3.2 million, as the B.A.R. reported.

Tuohy left the organization in June 2021, before Andrews resigned during the shakeup.

Amy Schroeder, the president of the Spahr Center's board of directors, stated to the B.A.R. that the center, which is in Corte Madera, 15 miles north of San Francisco, is happy to have Tuohy.

"We are excited to welcome Joe into our organization and our community," Schroeder stated. "We know that Joe's experience, passion, and vision will ensure that the Spahr Center reaches the goals outlined in our Strategic Plan: securing a comprehensive safety net for all LGBTQ+ and HIV-affected individuals, increasing community connection, and showing up for racial justice within Marin County."

Tuohy stated that he wants to make sure the center stays fully funded.

The Spahr Center's greatest challenge is that of any nonprofit: "resources," he stated. "I am committed to expanding and sustaining our current resources so we can do the same for our programs — expand and sustain the life-saving and life-affirming services we provide for our community. Resources like unrestricted funding from individuals, families, corporations, and foundations are especially critical."

He stated he hopes to "provide stability and continuity with our community members and clients, with our staff, board, and volunteers, and with our partners" after "more than two years of executive leadership turnover."

Dana Van Gorder, a gay man, was executive director from 2019 to March 2022. Adrian Shanker, also a gay man, was the next executive director, beginning in April 2022. He left six months later to become a senior adviser on LGBTQI+ health equity in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at U.S. Department of Health and Human Services after having been appointed by the Biden-Harris administration to be a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS, as the B.A.R. reported.

Tuohy replaces Cindy Myers, Ph.D., a lesbian, whose last day was April 28. She filled in on an interim basis after Shanker's departure.

According to the most recent IRS Form 990 that's publicly available, for Fiscal Year 2021, the center received $2 million in revenue that year, and spent $1.9 million, with $95,741 left over.

Tuohy declined to state his salary. The 990 form shows that Van Gorder received $118,023 in total compensation that year.

For more information about the Spahr Center, visit

Help keep the Bay Area Reporter going in these tough times. To support local, independent, LGBTQ journalism, consider becoming a BAR member.