Gay Community Center Names Interim CEO
The Gay Community Center of Richmond announced today the appointment of Bill Harrison as the organization’s interim CEO. A freelance writer and nonprofit consultant, Harrison retired last March from the American Red Cross, Greater Richmond Region, as the Regional Director of Public and Government Affairs. He had served with the Red Cross for fifteen years.
Harrison has extensive background working with the LGBT community. He served on the ROSMY board when founder John Klein served as Executive Director and served as cochair of the Gay & Lesbian Pride Festival in the early 1980s.
During his time working at Fan Free Clinic, he did organizing, fundraising and volunteering in conjunction with the Richmond AIDS Network (RAIN) – the first organized response to the AIDS epidemic in Virginia. As part of that effort, Harrison helped bring a portion of the AIDS Quilt to Virginia Commonwealth University. Prior to his move to the American Red Cross, he was the first public information officer for the Virginia Department of Health’s Bureau of STD/AIDS.
Harrison says he has meetings scheduled on behalf of the GCCR as early as next week. He plans to meet with current staff and community organizations individually to get a feel for current programing – a fly on the wall approach according to Harrison.
“We’re at a crossroads [as an organization],” Harrison told GayRVA. ”This gives us an opportunity to step back and take a look at what’s next. I’ve got a lot to learn – I realize that, but I am excited.”
Harrison said the board is looking at a six month tenure as they look to fill the position permanently.
“The board needed someone to step in immediately so there was no gap in leadership,” he said. ”I’m going to hold it together and have an idea of a strategic plan or a direction we’re going to take by the time a new person comes in.”
He said after going into semi-retirement, this was a tough decision to make.
“I took early retirement in March and I’ve learned to love my life. I’ve enjoyed writing human interest stories for different publications and my freelance work,” Harrison said. ”I know it’s going to be a lot of work and long hours.”
“Non-profits are not for everybody. If you’re not getting an emotional fulfillment from it, you need to work somewhere else… I wanted to make sure I had the time and energy to do this. I take it very seriously because this is my community. This is critically important. I had to make sure that after I did a lot of soul searching that I could do what needed to be done.”
Diversity Richmond President Bill Harrison shares stories of early gay Richmond’s bar scene with local NPR
“And so when Jack came out to me, he told me about a gay bar in Richmond, the Dial Tone. And he said ‘I know a couple hundred gay men,’ and I thought to myself, ‘he’s really a liar, because there’s not 200 gay men in America.’”June 17, 2016
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