Disagreements surface after LGBT center’s chair removed

Ranzeno Frazier removed as chair of LGBT Community Center of Charlotte as Judson Gee installed as interim chair; Gee says group is moving forward with strategic plan, former controversial leader welcomed onto committee

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — New leadership changes at Charlottte’s LGBT center this week prompted public questions Thursday afternoon over the process used to remove the organization’s now-former chair and install a new interim leader. The new controversy follows after the center came under intense scrutiny for financial mismanagement, transparency and leadership accountability earlier this year — including its near closure and several high-profile resignations from the board.

Ranzeno Frazier, who took over as the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte’s board chair on May 29, was removed as chair of the organization this Tuesday.

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Frazier isn’t happy about the change and has said the decision was made behind his back.

The center’ s new leader said the correct processes were followed.

New interim Chair Judson Gee told qnotes Thursday morning that the decision was “unfortunate,” but necessary.

“Unfortunately, Ran was not the right person for the job,” Gee said. “I am very much used to cohesive leadership and one with direction, processes, deadlines and metrics. Unfortunately, Ran does not have that experience. Sometimes when we get overwhelmed as human beings, things can get out of control. I felt it time to step in and ask the board if, in fact, they felt as I did.”

Gee said other board members did feel similarly, a conclusion they came to after a conference call on Thursday, Oct. 9. They had originally planned to invite Frazier to join the conference call to discuss their concerns over his leadership, but instead decided to wait until the group’s next regularly scheduled board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Frazier, though, learned about the conference call before being informed by the board. Though he had some prior conversations about his work and family commitments with other board members, learning of the phone conference was the first time Frazier said he became aware the board had formed a consensus.

“I guess I wasn’t moving quick enough for them,” Frazier told qnotes.

“From what I was told, they had a conference call last Thursday and decided it was best I step down as chair and that Jud would take over as interim chair,” Frazier added. “Instead of having a phone conversation without me, they could have had it with me. It would have been more respectful if they told me this is what they wanted to do.”

Gee said it was the board’s intention to inform Frazier of their plans to discuss his leadership at the Tuesday meeting.

“What happened was the word got out and Ran discovered that,” Gee said. “That was the fatal flaw on our part. We should have stuck to the original plan and that was to bring him in and tell him that night of our potential decision.”

Once Frazier learned about the conference call “on Friday or Saturday,” he emailed the board to learn more about it. Following the email, board members Nate Turner, Ashley Love and Edward McCray called Frazier and told them they had, in fact, met and would ask him to step down as chair, but remain on the board.

“They had a conversation about me stepping down as chair and wanted me to stay on the board in a different position,” Frazier said. “I asked what position, but they couldn’t tell me what position, what they wanted me to do or what assignment I would have.”

Gee insisted Frazier was told of the board’s intention to discuss the issue at the Tuesday meeting. Gee also said Frazier had indicated he would attend and that he was told he could potentially be removed as chair.

Frazier, though, said he told the board he wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting due to work restraints.

“It would have been the first meeting I’d ever missed as far as dealing with the board,” Frazier said.

But, Gee said the board wasn’t informed of Frazier’s inability to attend until an hour or so before the scheduled meeting.

“Ran was fully aware of it and chose not to come,” Gee said.

Frazier said the offer to remain on the board was one he couldn’t accept after feeling betrayed by the board.

“How can I be on a board or a committee with individuals I can’t trust and individuals who want me to stay on the board, but don’t know what they want me to do?” Frazier said.

Proper processes followed?

It’s unclear if the board properly followed the procedures set out in their bylaws for removing an board of trustees member. The bylaws state that a member can be “removed for good cause by a two-thirds vote to [sic] the Trustees present at a meeting called for that purpose, after allowing the Trustee to be heard with due notice.”

Gee said the processes were followed appropriately.

“We had a board meeting which Ran, still being chair, chose not to come to, even thought he knew we wanted to speak to him personally about the issue,” Gee said. “He did not come. He sent an email and said he would not step down and thought he could not be voted off. We reviewed the bylaws and clarified that and from what we know, we had the ability to that with a quorum.”

The decision, Gee said, was unanimous.

Current members of the board include Gee, Turner, McCray, and Love, as well as Jenny Richeson and John Dimier, a CPA who was recently appointed as the center’s treasurer. On Tuesday, the board also appointed Tamika Lewis as the group’s programs chair.

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Former board member Clay Smith recently resigned from his position on Oct. 6.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve and support my community provided by The Center, but feel that, personally, it just wasn’t a good fit,” Smith said in a statement posted online the day after his resignation.

Frazier came into the center’s top leadership position following months of controversy. At the time, Frazier, the center’s first African-American chair, also received racist threats and derogatory messages left by email and voice mail.

Frazier said he thought the group made progress under his tenure, including reductions in rent costs and a resolution to the center’s outstanding federal and state payroll tax debts.

“As chair, I tackled a lot of those situations,” Frazier said. “I feel that at the time when there was a lot of negative energy toward the center and the board, I was the only person on the board to step up. I was that person who took the blame and had the finger pointed at. I took that. I stood up when no one else wanted to do it.”

Frazier added: “I appreciate everyone helping me out in the community, everyone who has been with me through this journey.”

Group moves forward with help of former leader

Gee said Thursday the group plans on moving forward with a strategic plan, mending relationships in the community and gaining more sustainable funding.

Last month, the group received just shy of $10,000 in funding from the annual Farewell to Summer party. It is expecting to receive the remainder of a nearly $20,000 grant from the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund after it meets certain benchmarks. Earlier this year, the fund gave the center $3,000 of the grant, with continued funding conditional upon improved performance. The fund has also set up an advisory board to assist the center with the counsel of several other community leaders, but that group was apparently seldom consulted as the center made changes this fall.

“We will be reaching out to the fund and taking help and advice,” Gee said. “Unfortunately, I don’t think we as a board on the leadership level took advantage of that and we will. We will take advantage of that.”

Gee also said the center has scheduled a board retreat for Nov. 2.

He plans on working the organization back to financial stability and sustainability.

“We must be economically viable and in order to be viable we have to get our finances under control,” Gee said, adding that he wants to introduce the board to new funding ideas.

The group will continue to seek grant funding, as well. Board member Ashley Love, whom Gee called a “very talented person,” is chairing the board’s grants committee. Gee also confirmed that former center vice-chair Bert Woodard, whose board term ended in June, is serving as a member of the grants committee. Woodard, at the time the center’s longest-serving board member, was among the group’s former leaders who came under the most public scrutiny after his public disagreement with former chair of the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, the center’s single-largest donor.

Woodard, a career PR professional, currently works as an employee for Gee.

The center is also searching for a new location. Its current space’s lease at 2508 N. Davidson St. will end in December. In the meantime, a local gym has taken possession of the facility’s first floor while the center utilizes the second floor’s three meeting rooms and other facilities. Additionally, the gym is paying the entire lease rate.

Gee said local realtor Kevin Levine — whom Gee said was a longtime friend and former Charlotte schoolmate — is assisting with the search for a new location.

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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.

4 Replies to “Disagreements surface after LGBT center’s chair removed”

  1. Janice Covington October 16, 2014 at 9:53 pm

    WOW, WOW, WOW, I smell Rat all over this. Talk about a setup. This is unbelievable and to think the community is as gullible as they think we are. WOW. I do not know where to begin with this travesty. This whole mess is so unbelievable that even I have a problem believing it. This guy came out of nowhere and drew the ignorance right out of the remaining board members and convinced them that Ranzeno Frazier was not a good fit and that he was better, what arrogance. Then they proceed to stick a knife into Ranzeno like he was a wounded dog. WOW.

    “New interim Chair Judson Gee told qnotes Thursday morning that the decision was “unfortunate,” but necessary, I felt it time to step in and ask the board if, in fact, they felt as I did.” Wow talk about orchestrating a coup. Is this the kind of guy we want as a leader, not me. And now Gee also brings a former center vice-chair Bert Woodard who works for him in his personal company, back as a member of the grants committee. This man Bert Woodard was told to leave as a board member back in May. Woodard at the last community meeting got into a verbal fight with Jenni of the Lesbian Gay Fund, right in front of me. We the community wanted Bert gone for several years because we felt he was a major problem and malfunction, now his boss brings him back. I guess the joke is on the community now. Lol A message for the new center Zar, we will never trust the center again. You got so many fences to mend it will seem like you’re on Ponderosa.

  2. Thanks to QNotes and Matt Comer for the outstanding coverage of this continuing saga regarding the LGBTQ community center. Appears that the downward spiral continues despite the time, effort, hard work and good will of many community folks in trying to salvage the LGBT Community Center in Charlotte. It is an effort we would like to see succeed, but the internal obstacles continue to become an issue. Wondering how much longer can the center receive influxes of cash to let them limp along? The rather quick exit of the last treasurer was an attention getter for me. Is the end near?

  3. Janice Covington October 17, 2014 at 11:31 am

    Some of you probably think I am half-nuts and sometimes go off half-cocked, but one thing I can say for myself is that when I write or say something it is the truth. The one thing that I am proud of is that I have integrity and will never guide you in a wrong direction. People who know me will attest to this fact. I have NO agenda other than to protect the community that I love with all my heart from deception and underhanded tactics by people who want to hurt you. Let me paint you a picture. Please read what I have posted below and make your own assessment.
    For many years, I have exposed the LGBT Community Center of Charlotte for its underhanded, misguided operation. This so-called Safe Place for you has done nothing but mismanage donations from good-hearted people who really wanted the center to be a place of pride in the Queen City. Furthermore, they have obtained Grant money for dedicated purposes and redirected it at their pleasure to cover short falls that the board of directors had created.
    For many years, the LGBT Centers Chairs and boards distanced themselves from the very community it served by having closed door meetings, no transparency and no accountability. They purposely secluded themselves as some kind of hierarchy that presided over the very community it claimed to serve. In the beginning, the community needed the center and it provided for the community at the time, but because people are people, they lost the prospective, the boards moved towards their own personal agendas, causing the organization to go on a downhill slide.
    Just last week a past ghost Judson Gee appeared who was on a previous board of the center that helped bring it down as the failure it is today. He went to each of the board members and expressed his concerns about the job that Ranzeno Friazer the Chair was doing. He claimed that Ranzeno was moving to slow. [ First let me say we as the community, never ever gave the centers new board a time frame, my contention was to take all the time you needed to bring it back in the right way, so it will give the community what it needs. In my opinion Judson Gee prayed on the ignorance of the center’s board members to convince them to vote Ranzeno Frazier out of office, so he could take over by making himself chair of the center. I feel like if it were not for the $10,000 that the center just received from the White Party, Judson Gee would have never bother because the center only had $200 in the bank.
    The coup was during a private phone meeting with the board of directors to over throw Ranzeno Frazier, ousting him as chair. This was a complete surprise to Ranzeno, these scallywags acted like a bunch of snakes in a pit not thinking about their own integrity because of backstabbing a fellow board member. Is Judson Gee our salvation, I think not, in my opinion, he used the power of persuasion on a bunch of incompetent, uneducated people in the operation of a non-profits, against them. Then Judson Gee the new Chair brought in a man who works for his private company, to be on the grants committee. This person is former center vice-chair Bert Woodard. This is crazy, we as a community just last May we finally got rid of this man. He was a negative person, who for the last 10 years along with others brought the center to its knees. At a meeting last May Bert Woodard came under public scrutiny after his public disagreement with former chair of the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Fund, the center’s single-largest donor. I am calling for Gee and Burt to leave along with all board members to resign immediately. Also I am calling for the reinstatement of Ranzeno Frazier. As far as a new board, there are several of us who are willing to help Ranzeno form a new competent board.

    Many of the problems that were caused, is the community’s fault for not nipping it in the bud when they had a chance, they turned a blind eye and as a result this caused the center to fail and be what it is today. If the community would have voiced its displeasure years ago, this situation would have never happened. Yes, I am blaming the community because the community allowed it to happen. Now we have no choice but to let it go if we can’t find a board who is dedicated enough to make this work, if not then let it fade into history, let it close and go away. However, let it be a lesion to remember

  4. As a Charlotte native I’ve watched this parade for decades. Part of the problem is the transient nature of the population here. Quality people are only around for a few years. A preponderance of control freaks volunteering on a non-profit board is another issue altogether. Good people that actually founded good organizations in Charlotte were subsequently railroaded right out the job because like an old friend back in the 80’s told me “you’ll never get two queens in this city to agree on anything,” 30 years later I’m afraid he was correct.

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