Board of Directors Response Letter to Allegations Levied Against the Utah Pride Center

Board of Directors Response Letter to Allegations Levied Against the Utah Pride Center

Each June we hang our rainbow flags and proclaim our existence as people of varied race, sexual orientation and backgrounds as we celebrate June as the official Pride Month of LGBTQ+ self-affirmation, dignity, equality, and increased visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in our community. The Utah Pride Center works 365 days a year to empower and celebrate Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community by providing a safe and welcoming space for education, partnerships, services and events which advance our collective health, wellness and success. For more than 30 years the Utah Pride Center has proudly been the voice of our community, creating lasting change and working with the public to ensure inclusion among all who live in and call Utah home.

Like so many organizations and small businesses, the swift and indiscriminatory spread of the Coronavirus affected many aspects of the day to day operations at the Center—pausing our in-person services accessed by thousands of community members, hamstringing our finances, and ultimately causing the cancellation of the annual Utah Pride Festival and Parade. The Festival accounts for a substantial portion of the Center’s annual operating budget, and the need to cancel it for public safety had an immediate and direct burden to the Center’s finances. As such, the Board of Directors and Executive Director made some difficult decisions to mitigate loss in order to continue the Center’s mission going forward and serving our community today, tomorrow, and in the future. We knew these decisions were tough and would be felt for the unforeseeable future. What we did not anticipate was the undue ridicule placed on the Center by a small yet vocal group of individuals. We are here to dispute any wrongdoing and list our justification for these decisions. As always, the Board of Directors takes all allegations against staff, volunteers and clients seriously, and responds accordingly to protect our community from those who wish to see us harmed.

As announced on June 10, 2020, the Board of Directors approved a Restructuring Plan that included changes to departments and a reduction in our workforce. We understand these positions where held by people with faces and names who poured their hearts and souls into the Center’s mission and LGBTQ+ community, and we are forever grateful for their work and accomplishments achieved on behalf of everyone in our community. But at the end of the day, the biggest expense at the Utah Pride Center is staff salaries and the Board of Directors had to dig deep and review each expense line item to see where cuts could be made to keep the doors open. With the rapidly evolving reality of our situation and uncertain economic and social future we are all facing, we know that our world and our Center would look different than it did just a few months ago.

On May 27, 2020 shortly after the first reduction in staff, The Utah Pride Center received a letter of complaint from one of the staff members that was part of the reduction. Among the many false allegations the letter claimed, it questioned the Center’s HR practices, financial management, and contained other serious allegations against individuals specifically named. The author of the letter disseminated it to the Board of Directors and Center staff simultaneously, seemingly with the intent to sow seeds of distrust. As we would with any serious complaint, the Board of Directors quickly moved to conduct an independent audit of all allegations listed in the complaint letter. Due to HR policies protecting worker’s privacy and rights, we are not able to provide some details but the independent auditor found no wrongdoing by the leadership of the Center, as the letter had argued, and you can read that review below.

The Board of Directors have a legal fiduciary responsibility to the Center—duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience—a responsibility each member takes seriously. Conflict of Interest forms are signed each year, monthly financials are reviewed at each monthly meeting, and the Board takes an active role in the annual budgeting and planning process. When things change that affect the finances, the Board acts to ensure the viability of the Center. When times are good, staff are rewarded and hired; when times are hard, reduction in workforce may occur. The Board of Directors stands firm in our commitment to help the Center prosper for the benefit of our LGBTQ+ community. Since receipt of the complaint letter, the Board has taken the following actions:
  1. Reviewed all allegations contained in the letter and took action to ascertain truth from fiction.
  2. Hired an independent auditor, legal counsel, and an Information Technology Consultant to research all allegations and compile a summary report, which was presented to the Board (see above).
  3. Required the Executive Director draft a response letter to each allegation detailed in the letter, which has since been disseminated to key parties as was legally permissible.
4)    Honestly and transparently answered all questions requested by public and press related to the complaint letter. 5)    Has published a response letter (this letter) on our website. Honesty and transparency are top priority for the Utah Pride Center and the Board of Directors now and in the future, and we know our community deserves no less. To declare otherwise is simply not true, and we stand by this statement. Like all of us, the Utah Pride Center looks forward to the day when public life returns to normal and when we can open our doors and operate at full capacity once again. We welcome your feedback and questions, and may direct any correspondence to board@utahpridecenter.org Proudly serving our LGBTQ+ community, Utah Pride Center, Board of Directors
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