A Season of Change

As New Yorkers psych themselves up for the gradually cooler months, the LGBT community faces significant changes, both in its own leadership and in a key government position responsible for serving New Yorkers living with HIV.

Both the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), the state’s gay and lesbian political lobbying group, and the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), the seven-year-old community center for queers of color in Brooklyn, will likely have new leadership by early 2003. In city government, the Human Resources Administration is seeking a new head of the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA), which serves more than 30,000 New Yorkers living with the disease. And new leadership is also being sought at an international gay rights organization, a group serving the city’s queer youth, and a leading LGBT Latino organization.

The turnover at ESPA was precipitated by the September 19 departure of Joe Grabarz, who served as executive director since last December and is said to have told the group’s board he did not wish to renew his one-year contract. Facing its major fundraising event, its fall dinner, not to mention the November 5 gubernatorial election, the group scrambled to recruit former executive director Matt Foreman, who served from 1997 through 2001, to step in on an interim basis. The Pride Agenda board is searching for a new permanent executive director, a process that it said would likely take several months.

At Audre Lorde, Joo-Hyun Kang, who led the organization through its first seven years of life, announced September 24 that she planned to leave her paid staff role in early 2003.

“Thanks to the labor, love, determination, and laughter of the community that makes up ALP (including staff, board, volunteers, donors, funders, allies, and other supporters), we’ve been able to grow our tiny organization into a well-respected force in both LGBTST and people of color communities,” Kang said in a written release. “We’re confident that the transition to a new executive director will be both smooth and exciting for the organization.”

Kang has encouraged those interested in the position or in identifying candidates for the job to contact Audre Lorde at 718.596.0342.

The city’s HIV/AIDS Services Administration, begun under Mayor Ed Koch as the Department of AIDS Services, will get new leadership after more than five years under deputy commissioner Gregory Mark Caldwell, who left this summer.

The tenure of Caldwell at HASA, which roughly coincided with Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s second term in office, was marked by harsh criticism from a variety of quarters, including former city Comptroller Alan Hevesi, City Councilmembers past––Steven DiBrienza––and present––Christine Quinn and a wide range of advocates for people living with AIDS. The AIDS service group Housing Works was particularly effective in its critique of Caldwell, winning lawsuits against the city’s provision of housing services for PWAs. HASA provides housing for more than 25,000 people.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s Human Resources Commissioner, Verna Eggleston, who once led the Hetrick-Martin Institute which serves queer youth in the city, announced on September 24 that she hoped to find a replacement for Caldwell “as soon as possible.”

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, which works globally on social justice issues for gay, lesbian, and transgendered people as well as those living with HIV, is also seeking new leadership. Surina Khan, who led IGLHRC for the past two and half years, has announced that she and her partner are leaving San Francisco, where the group is based, to move to Southern California.

During Khan’s tenure at the helm, IGLHRC scored important victories in a wide array of venues. In Egypt, the group’s work helped draw critical international attention to the arrest, torture, and trials of the 52 gay men arrested for debauchery on a Nile River boat in May 2001. In India, the group helped win the release of four jailed HIV educators. In Brazil, a court convicted skinheads of the murder of a gay man. In Thailand, AIDS activists and IGLHRC succeeded in getting the Ministry of Health to include coverage for HIV drugs in the country''s new universal health plan. And at the United Nations, in a controversy that grabbed world headlines during last year’s special session on AIDS, the group won inclusion as the first explicitly LGBT group recognized by the world body.

Here in New York, two other queer groups are also looking for new leadership.

FIERCE!, the Village-based community organizing project serving LGBT youth, is looking for a lead organizer to develop major campaign strategies for the group and to conduct outreach with organizers, members, and interns to identify future leadership.

Those interested in applying should send a resume by October 7 to FIERCE! at 437 W. 16th St., LL, New York 10011 or via fax at 646.336.6788.

Latino Gay Men of New York is looking for a qualified coordinator to oversee administrative and fundraising needs of the group and to administer VOCES, a program aimed at identifying and developing leaders among young Latino gay and bi men.

Resumes should be sent to Latino Gay Men of New York, 85 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn 11217 or via fax to 718.596.1328, or via email to www.papermill.org.