Charlotte LGBT center votes to open board meetings, reinstate membership structure

Open board meetings to begin in February; Changes follow town hall, community's call for more accountability

lgbtcentercharlotteCHARLOTTE, N.C. — The board of directors for the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte voted this week to begin the process of opening their board meetings to the public and reinstate a membership structure, among other changes, according to a summary of a board meeting held this week.

The summary of the center’s Dec. 11 board meeting was released Friday afternoon, detailing several other changes decided upon by the center, which had come under scrutiny for their lack of transparency. On Dec. 4, nearly 100 people attended a town hall in which concerns over openness, transparency and board accountability were discussed. The town hall was planned in response to several commentaries from this writer at his personal blog last month.

The center board voted unanimously to open board meetings to the community. Changes to the bylaws, which currently require closed meetings, will be considered by a bylaws sub-committee and voted on in January, with open meetings expected to begin on Feb. 19. The center noted that the bylaws committee will review “rules and regulations for open meetings,” with the full board approving the new rules in January.

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The board also voted to reinstate membership for the organization. The center, founded in 2001, was originally started as member-based organization, but membership was disbanded sometime in 2006 or 2007. A new membership sub-committee will determine the specifics of the new member structure, with potential bylaws changes to be discussed in January.

The board also noted the need for uniformity in its space rental fees. That discussion will be held at the January board meeting.

One new board member, Patrice Shannon, was approved to join the board. Shannon, who was instrumental in organizing the center’s new Autumn Jubilee fundraising dinner in October, will serve on both the bylaws sub-committee and membership sub-committee. She will also serve as a new public relations committee chair; Shannon works as a public relations and brand consultant. Shannon will also serve on the programming and fundraising committees.

Board member Scott Coleman has resigned, effective Jan. 1, 2014.

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Additionally, the center summary noted that the organization has submitted the necessary information to reinstate its charitable solicitation license with the North Carolina Secretary of State. The license expired in August.

The next board meeting is expected to be held on Jan. 15. It will not be open to the public, unless the board specifically votes to open the meeting that night.

Click here to read the full summary of the center’s Dec. 11 board meeting.

[Ed. Note — This story was updated to include more committee assignments for new board member Patrice Shannon and to include next month’s board meeting date.]

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer is a staff writer for QNotes. He previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015.

5 Replies to “Charlotte LGBT center votes to open board meetings, reinstate membership structure”

  1. First I must commend the Lesbian & Gay Center of Charlotte for making a positive move to rectify a wrong that was done by the previous centers leaders and board members. In their summery from a board meeting that was held on 12/11/13 the board voted to re-establish the LGBT Community Center Membership and open board meetings after pressure from community members during a town hall meeting on 12/4/13. In their summary there was no mention of full accountability, giving monthly financial statement access for viewing by community members at the center. I feel that full transparency and accountability includes access to monthly financial statements provided to board members during their meetings.

    During sometime in 2006 or 2007 the centers chair and board of directors decided to make a morally illegal move to eliminated the very foundation of the organization by removing members from having any say or vote during an annual meeting in elections of officers and any access to the organizations financial records making an open community organization into a private club for a few. I feel and record shows that this move was the wrong move positioning the center to be in the state of ruin and failure that it is today.

    I also read in the summary of the board meeting 12/11/13 that the board appointed a Bylaws Sub-committee and the Membership Sub-committee. The group agreed that they will begin a membership process and will work to establish fees and structure. Two subcommittees were formed to make recommendations for both of these changes. I can make this process very simple by recommending that they go back to the original By-Laws that were put in place by the very community members who started the center with community participation in mind from the beginning.

    Like I said I commend the center for making a step forward to fix this problem, but the jury is still out until I see what they have in mind as far as transparency, accountability and especially membership rights and voting privileges during annual meetings for officers of the organization. Anything short of the original structure and intent of the community center by the original charter members will be detrimental to the centers future. I am in hopes that the board we have presently will be the people’s board by correcting past chairs and board members practices of deception by reinstating the original by-laws.

  2. I was on the Board starting in mid-2006. There was no membership structure in place at that time. Do we even have any information that shows that the Center ever had a membership structure? I’m not sure it ever did. The Center used to have something called “Sustainers”, who were people who made a commitment to support the Center financially. I am pretty sure the “Sustainer” program was in place by 2003, because I was a sustainer. So any membership model would have pre-dated that.

    I think the argument against having a membership structure was that would make people feel excluded if they didn’t belong. The idea was the Center belonged to everyone, and you didn’t have to have a membership or pay to be part of it.

    I hope the new membership model is executed in a way that doesn’t exclude the community, but only makes it closer to the whole community. I hope there will be some kind of sliding fee structure, along with discounts for students and seniors.

    I am also saddened by the fact that the history of the Center and its models isn’t clear. So much can be learned from history. It’s a shame to lose it. It also becomes much easier to vilify the people who put their hearts into the organization in the past, when you don’t know what was behind the decisions that were made then.

    1. David, just some factual follow-up. The center’s articles of incorporation, which have not been updated since they were first filed, note that the center will be a membership organization. The original bylaws also include information on membership. The 2006 990 was the last year in which monies collected specifically from membership dues are reported. Regarding membership, it was noted by at least a couple community members at the town hall that any membership structure should be open and unrestrictive.

      1. Hmm… the ‘membership dues’ may have been the last contributions via the sustainer program which died out around that time as I recall. Oh well… glad to hear the new program will be open! Thanks for the info Matt!

        1. Thanks David. I think from what I heard at the town hall, the desire for membership was drawn from a desire for accountability. Many felt like the board is currently accountable to no one. A membership structure would change that.

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