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Ex-Utah Pride Center director's resignation letter alleges financial troubles, struggles with board

Published October 27, 2015 10:26 pm

Surprise move • Marian Edmonds-Allen held the leadership position for just 11 weeks.
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A resignation letter from the former executive director of the Utah Pride Center describes a rocky relationship with the board and concerns for "unsustainable operating conditions" that she says leave the resource for the gay and transgender community on shaky ground.

Those conditions include: "financial crisis, lack of support from donors, absence of development programs or plans, lack of strategic planning and the dismal state of the programs and services of UPC," according to the resignation letter of Marian Edmonds-Allen.

She resigned abruptly Monday after 11 weeks on the job.



The decision "blindsided" the board, but the breadth of the center's challenges are not a surprise to anyone, board president Kent Frogley said Tuesday.

"This was all stuff we told her when she started in August," he said, adding that the board believed it had set out specific goals for a variety of center needs, including fundraising, development, hiring priorities, programming and increasing the profitability of the annual Pride Festival.

"I would be the first to admit that the challenges facing the Pride Center are not easy things," said Frogley. "But we try to be as positive and as clear as we can about the things that need to be done."

Despite her short tenure, Frogley said Edmonds-Allen had made great strides, including launching a new website, initiating new community outreach and overseeing an effort to make the Salt Lake City center more inviting.

"The feedback from everybody about her was really positive," he said. "They like her energy … she's great."

Edmonds-Allen — a former pastor and a longtime gay- and transgender-community advocate who ran a drop-in center for LGBT teens in Ogden and worked with national Family Acceptance Project — was hailed for her reputation for collaboration when the board selected her in July.

The choice followed two years of tumult for the center, which lost a previous director amid allegations of financial mismanagement — later determined to be unfounded — and saw numerous other staff changes, including two interim directors.

Edmonds-Allen could not be reached for comment on Tuesday, but in a Facebook post, she said she had recommended the board move ahead by terminating the executive-director position and allow the center to be community-led and operated.

"To me, community comes first, period," she said in the post.

Frogley doesn't think such an elimination is viable. The busy center, he said, supports many constituencies, and "you have to have somebody to keep the wheels on the bus."

A difference in communication and/or working styles may be at the heart of the split, Frogley said.

In her letter, Edmonds-Allen says the board had been verbally supportive and provided some direction, but had also acted to undermine moves aimed at ensuring the center's stability. The board also failed to respond quickly to security concerns stemming from the discovery that the center bookkeeper had been accused in a civil lawsuit of embezzling more than $200,000 from a previous employer, she said.

Frogley disputes the characterization of the board, and his policy is to provide direction and "then get out of the way." He also said that while there was some lag time between the notification of the bookkeeper's troubles and the woman's firing, it's because information was being gathered about the allegations.

"I think [Edmonds-Allen] honestly brought her best game," Frogley said. "And whatever communication issues there were ultimately resulted in a decision that it was better to get out rather than drag something out that you knew in your heart isn't a fit."

jdobner@sltrib.com

 

 

 

 

 

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