SF Pride Seeks New Director
Just as the group behind the annual San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade and celebration appeared to be emerging from a spell of financial and leadership troubles, the nonprofit’s board is looking for a new executive director.
Brendan Behan, the current executive director of the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration Committee, has been praised for his work in helping organizers of one of the world’s largest Pride celebrations pay off debt and keep the nonprofit going. But after a contract dispute between him and the board, his job has been posted online.
"It took me by surprise," Behan, 31, said of learning that the board was seeking someone to replace him.
"I think Pride has really thrived with stability," and "whatever the board ends up deciding, I hope it will be with Pride’s best interest in mind," said Behan, who plans to apply for the position.
Asked after the Pride Committee’s annual general membership meeting Sunday, September 16 about the disagreement, Behan said, "I feel like I’m not entirely sure" what it’s about.
He said that he and the board have agreed on most issues, but the "main sticking point" has been whether he should be an at-will employee, meaning the board could fire him at any time.
Behan began working with Pride in 2006 as the organization’s administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator. He became deputy executive director in 2008.
In 2010, Behan left Pride, but it was only a short time before his return last April as interim executive director. He eventually gained the permanent position.
The top post had been vacant since former Executive Director Amy Andre left in November 2010, just over a year after she started the job.
Soon after the 2010 celebration, several community partners complained that Pride had shortchanged them. In December 2010, the city controller’s office revealed that the nonprofit was $225,000 in debt.
Behan, who said this week that he’s "open to talk" about his position, said he found out in July about the director search through conversations with Pride’s lawyer and his own attorney. Brooke Oliver, Pride’s general counsel, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
He said he was "willing to compromise" with the board, but there was "a difference of opinion."
He said he wanted to see if there was "a way to structure the position so there’s at least some sort of baseline commitment in terms of a timeframe," whether it’s at-will or not. He wanted to know how long he would be in the position or, he said, have a baseline about how much notice he’d have to give.
That would provide "some security in an at-will world," he said. The executive director’s job "is so important to the organization, it makes sense there [would be] some agreement around the when and how of the timeframe" for the position, he said.
Behan said he was "open" to what that timeframe "might look like."
"We never quite got to that subject," he said.
"I am committed to sticking with Pride," Behan said. "I care a lot about Pride." He added, "I will stick with Pride through the transition if I end up not being the choice for the executive director."
He’s applying for other jobs and is considering applying to graduate school for a master of fine art’s degree.
Behan, whose $80,000 salary is considerably less than the $105,000 figure for Andre, said the contract disagreement isn’t about money.
During a break in Sunday’s meeting, Pride board President Lisa Williams said, "At this time" the board was "unable to come up with an agreement with Brendan." She referred a question about what was at issue to Behan, whom she said "has been doing a great job." She acknowledged his at-will status was one of the topics that had come up.
There’s "no hard deadline" for finding a replacement, Williams said, adding board members want to have a "thorough process." They’re doing a national search.
A post on Craigslist dated September 5 says the organization is looking for a "chief executive officer (executive director)." Key responsibilities include production, vision and strategic development, fundraising, and community engagement, among other roles.
Pride recently distributed about $142,000 in grants to its 2012 beneficiary partners. Pride’s remaining debt is about $53,000.
At Sunday’s meeting, a new board member, Kirk Linn-Degrassi, was elected to join the panel. Pride members also selected the theme for 2013, "Embrace, Encourage, Empower."
For more information, visit http://www.sfpride.org.