Meet The Center’s New CEO

Dr. Carla Smith

The Center celebrates a historic next chapter with the appointment of Dr. Carla Smith as CEO. See below letter from Rahul Tripathi, Board of Directors President.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I’m thrilled to share some historic and exciting news with you. Dr. Carla Smith will be the new CEO of The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center. She will succeed Glennda Testone, who served as Executive Director for 14 extraordinary years. We are confident that Carla will build on Glennda’s legacy and are deeply grateful to Glennda for her remarkable leadership.

This announcement is the result of a five-month-long national search (almost 200 applications were received!) by Axis Talent Partners that included members of the board and staff at every step of the process. All of those who committed so much time, care, and consideration throughout this transition have our heartfelt gratitude. 

Carla is an accomplished, visionary, and dynamic leader with 25 years of experience in social services and an unwavering commitment to centering historically neglected populations. She will be the first person of color to lead The Center.

As I prepare to take on the responsibilities of CEO, I am filled with excitement and a deep sense of responsibility to continue the vital work of the Center. I am honored to step into this role and build upon the foundation that Glennda, the staff, and the board have worked to establish.

“The Center’s commitment to fostering inclusivity, advocacy, and support for the LGBTQ+ community has been truly inspiring, and I am eager to contribute to its continued growth and success,” Carla said. “I look forward to working closely with the dedicated staff, board members, and partners who have been instrumental in the Center’s achievements. Together, we will continue to navigate the future with a shared commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and empowerment.”

When talking to Glennda about Carla, she said,

As I transition from my role as Executive Director of The Center at the end of this month, I am thrilled to welcome Carla as The Center’s new CEO.

Her experience, skills, and commitment to our mission are truly inspiring. I’m confident she will positively impact New York’s LGBTQ+ community as she leads this organization into its next chapter.” 

Currently, Carla is the Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Urban Resource Institute (URI), the largest provider of domestic violence shelter services in the United States, with over 20 shelters across New York City serving up to 2,500 people every night. At URI, she is responsible for leading the organization’s day-to-day operations and overseeing staff responsible for the organization’s programming, operations, and fiscal health, as well as the implementation of their strategic plan. Under her leadership, URI has seen significant programmatic growth, including the Economic Empowerment Program (EEP), to increase awareness and access to resources and tools for survivors of violence and homeless families.

Carla is an exceptional trailblazer, a skilled advisor, a valued mentor, and a much-loved leader whose strategic insights and sound judgment have contributed greatly to Urban Resource Institute’s growth and success over the past eight years,

said Nathaniel M. Fields, CEO of Urban Resource Institute. 

Additionally, Carla holds a Doctorate in education. She focused her dissertation on “Examining Shelter Access Barriers for Transgender Identified Survivors of Intimate Partner Violence.” She’s received numerous awards, including being listed on the 2023 Schneps Media LGBTQIA Power List and as a 2023 & 2022 Crain’s New York Notable LGBTQIA+ Leader. She and Jackie, her partner of 11 years, are the proud co-parents of 5 children and one grandchild.

We are planning many events to introduce you to Carla, who officially starts on Monday, February 12, 2024; stay tuned for opportunities to welcome her to The Center. 

I know you will be as inspired by her as we are!