A Special Message From Glennda Testone, Executive Director

Dear Center Community,
Leading The Center has been the privilege of my lifetime. Together, we have accomplished so much for LGBTQ+ New Yorkers. Like so many of you, The Center has been my home, so it’s bittersweet that after much thought, consideration, and 13+ years as Executive Director, I have decided not to renew my contract. I will continue to serve until my contract ends in December 2023. Then I plan to start a new role that allows me to continue to lead in the broader non-profit and social justice world that is my life’s work. I have nothing but gratitude for my time spent within these sacred walls, and I could not be more excited to make room for new leadership to emerge for this incredible and essential community organization.

Because of the work, generosity, and commitment of so many, I can depart knowing that The Center is in a solid and stable position as an organization and celebrating our 40th anniversary stronger than ever. We are emerging from the height of the COVID pandemic, having worked hard to support and grow our community programs and services. We are moving ahead with plans to add long-term mental health treatment to our slate of offerings through an Article 31 mental health clinic. Equally as important, we have a strong and diverse board, dedicated leadership, and staff, and we are moving forward with a balanced budget and cash reserve.

I am so proud of the vital work The Center has been doing with BIPOC, trans and gender-expansive members of our community. This effort is ongoing, and it’s such a positive step toward explicitly claiming and living our organization’s values, rooted in racial, gender, and economic justice.  It has transformed the organization and me along with it. I am also so proud of the work we have done to strengthen and expand program offerings over the years, including leadership development for young people, broader support for LGBTQ families, more mental health & substance use resources, and too many others to namethat serve our entire community. Finally, I could not be more proud of the physical transformation of our community’s home on 13th Street that will stand for decades to come.

Nevertheless, when I look back on the over 13+ years I’ve been at The Center, I am most moved by the people I’ve had the privilege to work and share space with. This is especially true of the incredible staff and board members and includes fellow advocates, activists, elected officials, donors, community members, and volunteers. There is a strong village supporting The Center – a vibrant community of remarkable people who are dedicated to ensuring it will thrive. I know it will continue to spread that safe, welcoming, and inclusive spirit across our city, state, and country as we fiercely advocate for our community for another 40+ years.

I have complete confidence in our staff, our board, and The Center’s community to continue to run and strengthen this unique organization. I know that thousands of people count on The Center as a place of justice, joy, healing, and connection, and I know we will continue to deliver that and more.

Please read the letter below from The Center Board President Rahul Tripathi for more information on the search. And if you are wondering what comes next for me, starting in 2024, I will be joining The Nonprofit Leadership Lab as its CEO and Joan Garry Consulting as a senior partner. I could not be more excited to work with nonprofit leaders across the country and the globe who also dedicate their lives to making our world a better place.

Thank you for all you do as part of The Center’s community that makes our work possible. I hope to see you all over the next seven months, and I look forward to continuing to support The Center now and always.

With the deepest gratitude,
Glennda Testone

Executive Director

A Special Message From Rahul Tripathi, Board President

Rahul Tripathi

Dear Center Community,

I’ll be honest — I’ve grappled with my emotions since Glennda let me know that she was moving on to her next big professional adventure at the end of her current contract at the end of 2023. I’ve finally landed on being grateful (but not without first visiting mourning, sadness, grief, abandonment, and a whole slew of other emotional spaces in which I needed to wallow).

Why am I grateful? There have been many iterations of the purpose or mission of The Center over our 40-year history, and Glennda has been at the helm of the organization for almost a third of that time as we’ve continued to grow, evolve and flourish. I’ve spent my career in the nonprofit sector, at purpose or mission-based organizations (ranging from education to advocacy to social justice), both professionally and as a volunteer, and I’ve had the good fortune to work alongside many visionary leaders. Few have had the combination of integrity, dedication, empathy, humor, and fierceness Glennda exhibits on a daily basis and in every important decision she makes. I am grateful that she is made up of this improbable amalgamation of personality traits and that she is never shy or reluctant to speak honestly and from her heart “to fight the good fight,” even at times when such bravery might be accompanied by troublesome consequences.

I am grateful for her partnership in all matters, but I think of two particularly monumental events during our time working together that highlight her extraordinary leadership and the ability of The Center to thrive despite extraordinary circumstances: Her bravery throughout the pandemic, which required extraordinary care and diligence during an unprecedented period of disruption. Because of the profound dedication of the staff and the Board to the community we serve, we were able to continue to deliver many of our programs remotely and re-opened to the community as soon as we could safely do so.

At the same time, in response to many, many instances of systemic oppression, racism, and violence in our community and in society, we deepened our equity and inclusion practices and committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. These efforts ranged from increasing staff and Board diversity to realignment of our programs and budget to better reflect the needs of the least resourced and represented members of our community.

I am grateful for the team and extraordinary organizational culture Glennda helped build during her tenure and the wonderful network of supporters we have, and their unwavering commitment to the community we serve. From these moments of immense disruption, we’ve emerged as an even stronger organization.

Above all else, I am grateful to be able to call Glennda a friend and to support her as she launches bravely into her next chapter. I can think of no better, more aspirational mentor to emerging leaders at cause-based organizations. We will find many opportunities to celebrate Glennda in the coming months.

Now, as we contemplate the future, I am committed to an inclusive and collaborative process to identify the next leader of The Center. The Board will find a new partner in the continued evolution of our programs and ensure that the ever-changing needs of our community are being met with empathy, love, and focus.

We have partnered with Axis Talent Partners as our search consultants. Melissa Madzel and Crystal Combs will lead the search, and we’ll post the position description for anyone interested in applying for the position on our website in the near future.

I encourage you to explore your feelings too. Be sad. Wallow, a bit. It is natural to fear change, but also important to recognize that it is in moments of change that we have always grown and evolved as an organization and community. I hope and expect, like I have, that you will arrive at a place of profound and enduring gratitude for Glennda and all we have accomplished together. And I hope you will join us as we look forward and continue to fight the good fight on behalf of all those we serve and ensure The Center remains a place of justice, joy, healing, and community.

Rahul Tripathi
President, Board of Directors
The Center