A brief history: Charlotte’s LGBT Community Center, 1998-Present

A brief overview, compiled from qnotes‘ archives and other reported sources, of the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte, from its birth in the late 1990s through June 1. Read the in-depth feature on the center’s latest struggles here.

Longtime community leader John Quillin leads a discussion in this undated photograph from a community center planning meeting.

Longtime community leader John Quillin leads a discussion in this undated photograph, circa 1999, from a community center planning meeting.

1998 — OutCharlotte conducts a strategic planning process. Community members attend forums and a repeated desire to create a community center are heard.

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1999 — Community members set out on feasibility study for a community center. Three town meetings are held.

2000 — The Lesbian & Gay Community Center Project is established. More community meetings and town halls are held.

2001 — The current Lesbian & Gay Community Center of Charlotte is founded.

2002 —The center’s first executive director, Dan Kirsch, is hired.

Jan. 17, 2003 — The center opens its first location on Central Ave.

Aug. 13, 2005 — The center hires Laura Witkowski as executive director.

2006 — This newspaper’s publisher, the center and other community members announce they’ll partner to produce the new Pride Charlotte.

January 2007 — Center debt, some $40,000, is revealed as the center announces it is close to closing. It is also revealed that center staff had siphoned some money from a reserve account for Pride Charlotte in order to pay rent, utilities and salaries. Center hours and staff are cut. Witkowski later resigns. The center will not hire another executive director.

June 2007 — It is reported that several donations enable the center to come out of debt, including $20,000 from Southern Country Charlotte, $18,000 from the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund and $10,000 from an individual donor, who promised to donate an additional $30,000. Center board members, then chaired by Joe Campos and vice-chaired by Denise Palm-Beck, do not follow-up on the additional donation.

August 2007 — The center and neighboring White Rabbit announce they will have to leave their Central Ave. location due to rising rents. Denise Palm-Beck later takes the reins of the center as board chair. Some time in 2007, the center drops its membership structure, at that time a fundraising mechanism having raised nearly $134,000 for the group from 2002-2006. The center’s various fundraising efforts outside of Pride, along with rental income and program income decreases dramatically.

Charlotte Business Guild President Teresa Davis, left, with Kevin Levine and Marcia Tillotson of the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund at a meeting at the LGBT center at the NC Music Factory in September 2012.

April 2008 — Center moves to the NC Music Factory.

July 2010 — Denise Palm-Beck steps down as chair of the center, but remains briefly on the board. John Stotler assumes the chairmanship.

May 2011 — The center changes its public name to “LGBT Community Center of Charlotte,” though all official documents continue to retain its official name.

July 2012 — Scott Coleman becomes chair, with Roberta Dunn stepping up as vice chair.

December 2012 — Center announces move to NoDa.

January 2013 — Volunteers with Pride Charlotte and the center jointly announce that the annual Pride event will spin off as an independent organization, Charlotte Pride.

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April 2013 — Glenn Griffin is hired as operations director at the center.

July 2013 — Roberta Dunn becomes chair of the center.

November 2013 — Glenn Griffin notifies Roberta Dunn that since May 2013 no payroll tax payments have been made to the federal or state governments.

November 2013 — Community members begin discussing publicly on social media and other platforms various concerns with the center.

December 2013 — Nearly 100 community members attend a town hall meeting to discuss various concerns about the center’s financial stability, transparency and accountability.

January 2014 — New bylaws are released opening board meetings to the public and instituting a new membership structure; members are not given the right to vote in board elections. The center announces that it has just $6,000 cash on hand and may close at the end of February.

February 2014 — The center holds a second town hall meeting, where similar questions regarding financial stability are again asked. The center hosts its first public board meeting. A new membership structure and fundraising event are announced.

March 2014 — The center board is unable to muster quorum at their monthly board meeting, just three weeks after the board said it might have had to close their doors.

May 21, 2014 — The center board is barely able to meet quorum for their meeting, with only four of seven members participating. Proposals are made to raise money, including a potential $25,000 ask to the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

May 30, 2014 — qnotes reports that the center has just $650 cash on hand, has not been paying its sole employee on time and owes at least $7,000 in payroll taxes. A group of six community leaders announce they will ask the center board to resign. Roberta Dunn resigns as chair but remains on the board. Ranzeno Frazier becomes chair of the board. The board approves new bylaws reinstating member voting rights in board elections.

May 31, 2014 — The center board holds a closed-door meeting, announces it will not be resigning, that it has paid Glenn Griffin in full and will be addressing its tax delinquencies. The group of six community leaders previously asking the board to resign grows to eight and announces they’ll seek to form a new organization.

June 1 — The most recent community meeting is held at the LGBT center. About 60 people attend the meeting, with a group of leaders pushing for change meeting with the center board afterward.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.

One Reply to “A brief history: Charlotte’s LGBT Community Center, 1998-Present”

  1. Somewhere in there, was another E.D, after Dan, and before Laura. Can’t remember his name. He used to own Smelly Cat. There were implications of financial improprieties associated with his departure.

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