I feel a little remiss if I don’t share this press release, right here on my blog. Sorry it took me so long. Stepping into this new role at The Network has been yet another example of how I constantly find myself stepping back and being sore amazed at the amazing people I’ve somehow managed to draw into my life (and into whose lives I’ve been drawn). We’ve already had two amazingly talented young professionals agree to join me on the board, since two weeks ago.
The first weekend in my role as CEO, scrambling to fix all the little problems and hinges that come unhinged during this kind of restructuring, I had more than a few moments. Teri was there to hold me for them and let me cry the tears I needed to cry. Thanks, mister. And then she pulled a fast one on me – she had a totally believable (slash I’m really gullible) tale about winning a performance competition at work, and that she was taking me out on a date Friday night. We arrive at the home of her manager, where, supposedly, the tickets are, and… my amazing Network friends threw a surprise party? For me? I should mention fellow Network board members sent me flowers, also, back when I joined. Teri* tells me I need to step back and, in addition to my amazement at the passion and talent of the people in my life, remember also, just how much I am loved. I will do. You are right. I am loved, and I struggle daily to be worthy of the people who love me. It’s not something I say to self-deprecate, or self-loathe, or self-anything. I say it because the people who love me… are that amazing. Seriously.
Although I’m watching you, sir, and you will take me out on a date, yet!
Okay, here it is: the announcement of what we’re doing with the Network, a major milestone in a plan I’ve been quietly putting together for months, now.
The Network Looks to The Future, Embarks on Reimagining LGBT Community
Grand Rapids, MI – October 17, 2014 – Mike Hemmingsen, President of the Network, announced today that the organization is undergoing an ambitious and thorough restructuring. “It’s amazing to see the pace of change in LGBT visibility and freedom, both on a nationwide and a local scale,” said Hemmingsen. “Today, we have more rights than we have ever had, more acceptance, and more allies, although many challenges remain, and it is clear these changes have not benefitted all LGBT people equally. Over the last several months, the Board of Directors of The Network has been taking a long, hard look at our place in the changing landscape of the LGBT community and our relationship with our straight brothers and sisters.”
“The first and most important conclusion we reached is that we must not rest. Our work is not done, nor are we yet doing enough, until a time should come when LGBT lives and loves are fully equal, and our gifts are seen at their full worth in the marketplace of talents. However, we recognize that, as this environment changes, we must change with it, in order to continue to be relevant both to the LGBT community and to our broader community, and to be able to fully carry out our vision of making the Grand Rapids area the best place in the world to live, love, and work as an LGBT person or one of our allies.”
As part of the restructuring of the Network that is beginning, Hemmingsen noted that Dr. Mira Krishnan joined the Board this summer. She is a leader in autism diagnosis and treatment, with a strong track record for operations growth, and she brings to the organization experience in non-profit administration and leadership, grant funding, and strategic planning. Effective immediately, Krishnan will assume the role of Chief Executive Officer of the Network, in a volunteer capacity at this time. With strong support from the Board of Directors, she will be tasked with operations oversight and implementation of the strategic / restructuring plan.
“We have an amazing opportunity, right here, and right now, in this pivotal time and place for LGBT rights, to do something really meaningful,” said Krishnan. “This is our opportunity to redefine what it means to be LGBT community. We will recommit to lifting up those in our community who are more struggling, recognizing that, until all of us are safe, none of us are safe. We will continue to celebrate LGBT lives and loves. And we will take our rightful place as community stakeholders. We will reaffirm and increase our commitment as LGBT Grand Rapidians to making this a great city, to enhancing the stability and prosperity of our industry and our neighborhoods, and to doing this for all people, gay and straight. Although the changes the Network is going through are going to be hard for many of us, this is the right thing to do to make sure the Network can be the center of the Grand Rapids LGBT community today, tomorrow, and 5, 10, or 50 years down the road.”
As part of this restructuring, the existing Executive Director is no longer affiliated with the Network. The organization also asks for temporary understanding, over the next several weeks, as regular office hours will be disrupted. There is no anticipated impact on supportive / social group programming, which will continue as normal. The leadership of the Network has spent the past month briefing key community stakeholders about the status of this plan. We will continue to share our vision and our goals for the Network both inside and outside the organization. In particular, we will be hosting town halls in the coming months to share our restructuring plan and allow for community input. Members of the Network, who wish to investigate further opportunities to aid the organization through this process, are also strongly welcomed to contact Krishnan via the e-mail address below.
The LGBT Network of West Michigan (“The Network”) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization headquartered in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids. It has united, nurtured, and sustained the LGBT community in the Grand Rapids area for more than 25 years.
CEO, The Network
343 Atlas SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Oh, and while I’m at it, we’re getting started right away with cool, new stuff. Of particular note, check out our new event, Our Narratives. We think it’s so important that we help each other, as LGBTQIA+ people, to tell our stories, own our stories, and use our stories, to help advocate for changes, large and small, that make the world a better place for everybody. I’m hosting the first Our Narratives workshop, to help us do this, and do it better, and do it braver, and do it fiercer, right in my own home. You can register over on EventBrite. Maybe I’ll get to find out your story, there?
* No lie, it’s escalating – she doesn’t just humor me liking Taylor Swift any more, I catch her singing along. She KNOWS THE WORDS. Truth.