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Utah Pride Center reopens, but community members call for transparency and accountability from leadership

Photo of Utah Pride Center building.
Andrea Smardon
Utah Pride Center

For the first time in two years, the Utah Pride Center reopened its doors Saturday. Now, some former volunteer members are calling for accountability and transparency from new leadership.

The center has had a recent history of controversy, including complaints about management, accounting practices and lack of diversity and accessibility.

Jocelyn Johnson is a former volunteer at the center. She was at the opening event handing out leaflets with five central questions.

These questions center around the nonprofit's financial accountability, how the center is working to serve marginalized BIPOC members and hiring practices and retention.

Over the past couple of months, several staff members have either left or been dismissed from their positions at the center. The last CEO, Stacey Jackson-Roberts — the first transgender woman to lead the center — resigned five months into the job.

Johnson said they are looking for a commitment to change from the center’s leadership.

“I don't believe in holding new employees accountable for what the old employees did,” she said. “But all of those employment practices remain problematic until they're resolved, right?”

She said she wants to see how grant and donor money is spent and how pandemic emergency funds were spent.

Jessica Dummar, co-CEO over operations and administration at the Utah Pride Center, said that they are running an audit of 2020 finances to provide the information to donors.

She said the concerns are important and that pandemic funds went into funding mental health services.

“I think a lot of people maybe don't understand that investment was put into our mental health and into providing programs,” she said. “So through COVID, we were able to provide … mental health services to our community. And that was really what we did with those funds.”

As for concerns about employee retention, Dummar said they are working on training staff about trauma in the workplace and attempting to make the culture at the center sustainable and healthy. She said they are changing job descriptions and some requirements to be more appealing to marginalized communities.

“We're going to put aside our ego and really look at the impact of our actions,” Dummar said. “And training our staff to do that, I think, is going to change things a lot. And we're focusing on progress, not perfection.”

Produced with assistance from the Public Media Journalists Association Editor Corps funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.

Ivana is a general assignment reporter
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