Vanguard Quarterly Spring 2022

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Pr Zig id Z e ag


A PUBLICATION OF THE LOS ANGELES LGBT CENTER

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SPRING 2022

Message Message from from the the Center’s Center’s CEO CEO Little Moments Make Make Big Big Memories: Memories: Little Moments Sharing Sharing Our Our Memories Memories and and Best Best Wishes Wishes to to the the Center's Center's Outgoing Outgoing Leaders Leaders

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In of Her Her Own: In a a League League of Own: Celebrating Celebrating the the Legacy Legacy of of Center Center CEO CEO Lorri Lorri L. L. Jean Jean

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Perfect Perfect Partner: Partner: The of Staff Staff Darrel Darrel The Center's Center's Chief Chief of Cummings Cummings Has Has Been Been the the Perfect Perfect Complement High-ProfileCEO CEO Compliment totoaaHigh-Profile

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A Mission-Driven Legacy Center's Mission Accomplished: Writes ManyToday Chapters: The Center Can Be Credited to The Center Today Can Be Credited to Director of Strategic Initiatives Alan Acosta Director of Strategic Initiatives Alan Acosta

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Time for His Bow: TimeCenter's for His Bow: The Director of Cultural Arts The Center's Director Arts Jon Imparato Reflects of onCultural Big Stars and Jon Imparato Reflects on Big Stars and Award-Winning Performances Gracing

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Award-Winning Performances Gracing Our Stages Our Stages

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His Life's Mission: His Life's Mission: The Center's Next CEO Joe Hollendoner The Center's CEO Joe Hollendoner Is Leading UsNext to the Future Is Leading Us to the Future

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Known then as the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, the organization's CEO Lorri L. Jean (left) and Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings (right) lead contingency of staff and volunteers along Santa Monica Boulevard during the 1996 LA Pride Parade.


VANGUARD | LEGACY


THANK YOU FOR THE MEMORIES!

• Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean

T

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

his is the last time you will hear from me in the Vanguard as your Center’s CEO. Even though I’m quite aware (and excited) that I’m retiring on July 1, I was surprised that the realization of this as my final column brought a lump to my throat. Over the decades I have used this space to relay important Center news, to share my take on what’s happening in our larger movement, to rail against injustice, and to try to inspire my readers to continue to do whatever they could to advance our cause. I’ve always taken very seriously the leadership role I’ve been privileged to play and the responsibility I believe that brings.

January: Attorney, activist, and Federal Emergency Management Agency Executive Lorri L. Jean becomes the Center's new Executive Director.

1993

April 25: The third March on Washington for Lesbian, Gay and Bi Equal Rights and Liberation attracts estimated 1 million attendees. The Center leads the Los Angeles delegation.

And while there is much about the stress of this supremely fulfilling job that I will not be sad to leave behind, THIS is one of the many things I’ll miss. I love connecting with people who care about the Center and our community. I love that queer Angelenos (and some terrific allies) have built and sustained this incredible organization for more than 50 years. I love that the Center has always strived to do its best for our people and to fight for our rightful place in society. And I love that even when we’ve made mistakes or failed in some way to live up to our own very high expectations, we haven’t given up. As an organization, no matter the challenges,

The Center opens the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic to expand its free and comprehensive early-intervention HIV/AIDS medical care.


James Alva

Michael Lombardo

Tess Ayers

Carlos Medina

Secretary

Lucinda Moorhead David J. Bailey Michael Mueller LuAnn Boylan Michael Ormonde Tad Brown Andy Ortiz Tamika L. Butler Loren S. Ostrow Sarah Dusseault Jayzen Patria Carolyn A. Dye Frank D. Pond Susan Feniger

Co-chair

Co-chair

• In October of 2010 the Center CEO, Lorri L. Jean and Chief of Staff, Darrel Cummings, visit Guangzhou and Beijing, China, meeting with LGBT leaders, community members, U.S. government officials, and employees of Chinese Centers for Disease Control and lecture at several of China’s most prestigious universities to standingroom-only crowds.

Francisco Ramos Alfred Fraijo Jr. Don Thomas Jordan Held Amy Gordon Yanow Annie Imhoff

The Center’s Audre Lorde Lesbian Health Clinic opens and serves more than 350 clients in its first year.

1994

don’t think I actually can retire. When I’ve asked them why they’ve reached such a conclusion, the answers all have a similar theme: They’ve seen how passionate and driven I’ve been about the progress of the Center and our larger movement and how much I’ve truly loved this job. They can’t imagine that an A-type personality can give up this kind of involvement. One of the reasons I can is Joe Hollendoner. Since Joe started last July, I have seen his dedication and determination, his competence and passion, his humor, and his huge heart. He is growing to love this organization as much as I do, and I know all will be well under his capable leadership.

First California AIDS Ride raises $1.54 million for the Center's HIV/AIDS services with the support of 478 riders.

Treasurer

Marki J. Knox, M.D.

Jaguar Busuego

Melantha Hodge

Production Designer

Strategic Partnership Manager

Nolan Ryan Cadena Operations Manager

Ari DeSano Platform and Systems Manager

Megan Phelps Managing Editor

Andrea Rodriguez Advancement Coordinator

Gil Diaz

Takashi Sato

Media and Public Relations Director

Art Director

Greg Hernandez

George Skinner Production Designer

Writer/Editor

June: Lorri L. Jean co-founds CenterLink (then called the National Association of LGBT Community Centers).

VANGUARD | LEGACY

we’ve picked ourselves up and persevered, determined to do better, always buoyed by the support (and sometimes forgiveness) of our community. That’s truly extraordinary. Even more extraordinary is what the Center does every day for our community. I’m beyond proud of the progress we’ve made since I first took the helm in January of 1993, and I will continue to be a steadfast supporter of the Center until, as my Mom used to say, I turn up my toes. Hopefully that won’t be for a very long time because I have things to do! Places to go! People to see! Many friends have commented that they


VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

I can take the next phase of my journey knowing that he’s the right leader for the next phase of the Center’s journey. That is an enormous relief and a gift—to all of us. And what is the next phase of my journey? My wonderful (and very understanding) wife of 30 years, Gina M. Calvelli, retired at the end of last year after decades as an attorney. She and I plan to divide our time between Maui, Los Angeles, and world travel (at least, as long as our wanderlust, bodies, and money hold out). I’m also going to spend time on interests I’ve never had a chance to pursue because of how all-consuming the Center job has been. Running the Center has indeed been my life’s greatest passion. But now I want to spend what years I have left on other pursuits. For example, my mother was an artist, and I inherited some of her talent. She was always after me

The Center opens Pedro Zamora Youth HIV Clinic: the first in the nation to specifically target teenagers and young adults living with HIV.

1995

to learn how to use it. Now I’ll have the time to do so. Maybe I’ll pick the guitar back up or even write a trashy novel (just don’t expect a book about “the movement” from me). Of course, I’ll miss the Center. I’ll miss being in the thick of things I care deeply about. I’ll miss being a full-time warrior in the fight for justice. I’ll miss my movement colleagues and everyone associated with the Center—my talented senior team members over the years, my phenomenally dedicated Board co-chairs, ALL of our fabulous Board and staff members and volunteers, our donors and clients. But retiring doesn’t mean I’m saying a final goodbye. I’m just changing the context in which I’ll get to see everyone I care about. As I approach the end of my career at the Center, I feel prepared for the change that is coming for me. But mostly what I

feel these days is enormous gratitude to all of you who’ve played a role in my and the Center’s success and survival and who have so greatly enriched my life. I wish I could thank all of you by name but that’d take this whole magazine. Suffice it to say that I believe you all know who you are, I hope you know how much I value you, and I thank you with every bit of my heart. There is one person who must be thanked by name (other than Gina, who I’ll be thanking for the rest of my life for the myriad support she has always given to me in this role). That person is Darrel Cummings, the Center’s Chief of Staff. Darrel and I first met in the early 1980s as young activists together in Washington, D.C. We were both idealistic and determined to change the world and very excited to be doing it in the nation’s capital. By the end of that decade, each of us had

The Center founds a local coalition to focus on challenges securing the right to marry. Coalition member and Center supporter Paul Lerner coins the term "Freedom to Marry." This phrase was later adopted by the national effort.

The Center purchases building at 1125 N. McCadden Place in Hollywood and begins planning extensive renovations to create The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.

1996


• (far right) Lorri L. Jean and Darrel Cummings celebrate with members of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force at LA Pride in 2013. • (this page, top right) Jean with community leaders at the opening of Center South in January 2020. • (top left) Jean and Cummings joined by Lady Gaga and thousands of people on the steps of L.A. City Hall in June 2016 at a candlelight vigil held two days after the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. • (bottom right) Jean speaks at the 1998 opening of The Village.

The Center celebrates its 25th Anniversary (dating from 1971, year of formal incorporation), unveiling a new logo and a new name: "L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center."

a four-and-a-half year break, we have years has been the great privilege of my life. run this organization together (with lots Thank you, Darrel. I and our community of help, of course). We’ve relied on each owe you an enormous debt of gratitude. That’s how I feel about all of you, too. other, backed each other up, learned from each other, occasionally pulled each other You’ve supported the Center through thick back from the brink. We’ve helped each and thin because you’ve understood how other and our teams stay focused on the important it is for the health and strength best interests of our community. We’ve of our community. I hope you’ll be there laughed together, cried together, raged for Joe as well as you’ve been there for me. together, dreamed and schemed togeth- Thank you for everything! I wish you great er, and, shoulder to shoulder, we helped happiness and continued progress in our fulf ill so many of the Center’s dreams quest to build a world where LGBTQ peofor our community. Darrel has been my ple thrive as healthy, equal, and complete trusted advisor, my right (and left) hand, members of society. my strategic and visionary partner, occasionally my therapist, my not-so-secret sauce, and always my beloved friend. I could not have asked for a better comrade and confidant. Again, I couldn’t have done it without him, and I wouldn’t have wanted to. Working so closely together for 30

The Center formally establishes a Senior Services department to provide services and programs specifically designed for older adults, including case management.

1997

The Center opens The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, a community education and cultural center. It includes the nation's first David Bohnett CyberCenter.

1998

VANGUARD | LEGACY

left D.C. for other adventures, but we stayed in touch. In the summer of 1992, when I accepted the job offer at the Center, Darrel was one of the first people I thought about. I knew I was going to need talented people I trusted to help me succeed at the Center. I was thrilled when Darrel agreed to move to L.A. and join the Center team. But I had no idea, really, how vital his partnership would become to me and to the Center. Or what a difference he would make in our f ight for justice as well as a healthy, strong community. I never could have succeeded as the Center’s CEO without Darrel. As the Center grew in the 1990s and required me to spend more of my time externally, Darrel kept things together internally (while also playing any number of important external roles). And ever since we returned to the Center in 2003 after


“I RECALL BACK IN

2016

GINA BIGHAM

Manager of Trans* Lounge

it was the night of the election, and I was flying to Arizona for a gender-affirming surgery. By the time I landed and got situated in my hotel, it became clear that the results had not gone our way. Feeling VERY alone and in ‘enemy territory,’ I tuned in to a livestream of Lorri speaking after the results. I was never so moved and inspired in all my time at the Center. Her powerful words gave me the hope and the resiliency I needed to carry on the fight. Those words have stayed with me to this day and continue to give me inspiration and determination.”

“THANK YOU, LORRI,

FOR ALL YOU HAVE DONE

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over the years and just for being such a kind, humble leader. Your bravery will forever be a staple in our history and hearts!

DARREL, IT’S VERY RARE

to have a leader you can shoot the sh*t with. Thank you for your support in helping grow Center South and your kind words of motivation. We will definitely miss you at the BBQ’s!

"

CHRISTOPHER WILLIAMS

Center South Site Manager


LITTLE

MOMENTS

BIG MEMORIES

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MAKE


“THIS MIGHT BE THE CAIN ANDRADE Program Manager, Mi Centro

VERY

FIRST job I’ve been at led by two people whose warmth and compassion lead the way. Lorri and Darrel have always been accessible and supportive, right from the start of my journey at the Los Angeles LGBT Center. They leave behind a foundation of kindness for the communities they so passionately have worked to empower and protect.”

“ THROUGHOUT MY TIME

WORKING WITH

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DARREL,

NICK PANEPINTO

Director of Culinary Training & Operations

I learned that great nonprofits are built when their leaders focus not only on achieving financial stability, but simultaneously developing an environment that fosters compassion and empathy among its workforce.”


JOEY ESPINOZA-HERNÁNDEZ Director, Policy & Community Building

“DARREL.

YOU HAVE CHALLENGED ME,

LORRI, FROM THE FIRST TIME I HEARD YOU SPEAK

as a first year student at UCLA, LGBTQ movement work was solidified as my lifelong career. Your story and work that you shared with the class that day resonated so deeply with who I wanted to become.

"

VANGUARD | LEGACY

made me think harder and more effectively. You've probed me with questions that, to this day, still have a deep impact on who I am as an advocate. Your mentorship over the years has supported my growth, my dedication, and my resilience in the work. I've gotten this far because you have always been willing to be in my corner.


“LORRI L. JEAN &

DARREL CUMMINGS

MICHAEL MCFADDEN

have provided steadfast leadership ensuring the health, safety, and well-being of our community. They have provided a powerful example of how to leverage resources for the greater good of the community. They have been fierce advocates, visionaries, and community partners, fueling an ever expanding network of support for those most in need. I am grateful for their dedication, commitment, and years of service.”

Associate Director of Programs, Senior Services

“DARREL’S CONSISTENT PRESENCE in Youth Services throughout the duration of the

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COVID-19

PANDEMIC

JAE O’DOUGHERTY

Operations Manager, Youth Services

has been so supportive. Whether he was hopping on a Zoom call to plan surge navigation, stopping by to check on mask inventory, or simply dropping in to lift our spirits, his presence was so appreciated. Thank you, Darrel, for all you have done to support Youth Services over the years. We appreciate you!”


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IN A LEAGUE

OF HER OWN Celebrating the Legacy of Center CEO Lorri L. Jean

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

by Gil Diaz

April 30: For the fourth LGBT March on Washington, the Center sends a large delegation, and former Center Executive Director Lorri L. Jean is a featured speaker.

2000

June: Recruited by Board of Directors, Lorri L. Jean returns as the Center's Chief Executive Officer with Darrel Cummings as Chief of Staff.

2003

The Center's "Vote for Equality" project is founded to begin massive voter identification, education, and mobilization work to fight back against an anti-same-sex marriage ballot measure.

2004


The Center, with collaborative partners, produces the TransUnity Pride festival, then the nation's only Pride festival specifically for transgender people and their allies.

an uphill battle, but after nine years of litigation, the university finally caved in and allowed the pioneering student group to exist on campus. After graduating from law school, Jean worked for a newly established government agency launched under the Jimmy Carter administration known as FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Her experience with FEMA afforded her with many opportunities. “Within six months, I was handling a case by myself in the federal district court. My friends who went to big fancy firms in D.C. and New York didn’t get the chance to go into court for six or seven years,” said Jean. “I rose through FEMA’s ranks and ultimately was named associate general counsel for general law.” In 1989 she applied—and became one of two finalists—to be executive director of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (which would evolve to become the Human Rights Campaign). Despite the fact that the staff unanimously endorsed her candidacy, the Fund Board decided to offer the position to a man, a decision which Jean believes was due, in part, to sexism. Yet, in hindsight, it was a decision which would change her life in the long run. “When I didn’t get the HRC Fund job, the FEMA director asked me what it would take to keep me at the agency. So, I brazenly asked for the deputy regional director job—the top career job in the western regional office,” said Jean. “In all of FEMA’s 10 regions, there had never been a woman, nor a man under 55, in that position—and I was a 32-year-old lesbian. I’d be damned if he didn’t give it to me!” She got the job and, for more than three years, Jean toiled at the regional office in San Francisco managing many people and billions of dollars. One of her first projects involved responding to the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake which caused an estimated $6 billion in damages throughout the Bay Area.

The Center's Youth Services begins GED program at Griffin Youth Center.

2005

GETTING CENTERED In 1992 she was contacted by a colleague by the name of Deborah Johnson. Both women knew each other through their work with civil rights organization Lambda Legal. Johnson reached out to Jean not to talk about Lambda Legal but, rather, about a place known as the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. “Deborah was a former Center board member who was one of the volunteers helping to identify candidates to become the Center’s next executive director. She calls me and said, ‘Lorri, there’s a job in L.A. with your name written all over it,’” recalled Jean. “I’d never heard of the Center nor had any interest in moving to Southern California. But, I did some research on the Center and decided to apply.” Jean glowed during the interview and made a lasting impression. “She was so charming and stood above everybody else we interviewed,” recalled Center Director of Strategic Initiatives Alan Acosta, then a member of the Center’s Board of Directors and the search committee. “She was smart and very engaged. At one point during our discussion at dinner, Lorri reached over and placed her hand over my arm—and that affectionate gesture won me over.” To hook Jean for the job, the search committee brought her to the Center’s new building, a four-story edifice once owned by the Internal Revenue Service which was being renovated on Hudson Avenue. The street would be renamed in 1994 to Schrader Boulevard in honor of longtime Center Board Member Rand Schrader. “I looked at the new building, and I was blown away,” recalled Jean. “I thought, “Oh, my God. There is no LGBT organization like this anywhere in the world, and I’ve got to be a part of it.” By the time she landed at the Center in 1993 to be its new leader, the organization

The Center launches a bold HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in local LGBT media, proclaiming "HIV is a gay disease. Own It. End It."

2006

VANGUARD | LEGACY

A

ctivism has always flowed through Lorri L. Jean’s veins. When she was in seventh grade, she led a petition drive in her rural Arizona school to allow girls to wear pants. The feisty 12-year-old Jean won the fight, but she learned two crucial lessons with that successful effort. “One was about the power which could be marshalled when people worked together, and the other was never to assume who your supporters or detractors are,” recalled Jean. “Imagine my shock when I learned my own father didn’t support girls wearing pants!” Jean continued her activism in high school where, to her dismay, the girls’ sports program was horribly underfunded compared to the boys’. As editor of the school newspaper and a burgeoning feminist, she exposed the inequity between the two sports programs. The girls’ sports program ultimately received more funding but not nearly close to equal to the boys' funding. She continued to create change throughout her college years. At Arizona State University, she led the successful battle to get full-time gynecological care and birth control at the student health center. By the time she attended law school at Georgetown University, she and her gay male schoolmate co-founded the law school’s first Gay & Lesbian Law Students Association. “At first, I was uninterested in creating the student group. I told my friend, Clint, that my interests were in the women’s rights collective,” revealed Jean. “Clint says, ‘Lorri, it can’t be just a man who does this. You have to do it with me.’” She reconsidered and helped her friend. However, after going through all of the processes to form the group, their existence was vetoed by the university’s president. They sued the university for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, using D.C.’s Human Rights Act of 1977 as their legal weapon. It was


was operating with an $8 million budget and 125 employees. “At the same time Lorri was coming on as executive director, I came on the Board. And I met her at the very first Board meeting I attended,” shared LuAnn Boylan, who still serves today on the Center’s Board of Directors and has served as Board Co-chair. “I thought she was very powerful. I knew what it took to walk into the room and look like you knew what you were doing there—and Lorri pulled that off from day one. I thought: Wow, this is going to be a good ride!” Jean’s arrival occurred during a precarious time. AIDS was the number one cause of death among adults in the United States. In response to the health crisis, the Center opened the Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic to expand its free and comprehensive early intervention HIV/ AIDS medical care. Soon after opening, the Special Care Clinic had 2,000 clients under its care. Nearly all of them had no access to health insurance and had nowhere else to turn for help. Knowing that the Center needed to do more to care for people living with HIV and AIDS, Jean and other leaders within the organization joined forces with fundraising consultant Dan Pallotta to begin conceptualizing a new event like no other: the California AIDS Ride.

HELLO, RIDERS! HELLO, ROADIES!

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

On May 1, 1994, nearly 500 cyclists departed from Fort Mason in San Francisco to embark on a seven-day, 535-mile journey through some of the most beautiful places in California. “When we decided to produce the first ride, there was nothing like it ever done before,” said Jean. “We came through the tiniest rural communities and, every step of the way, someone learned something about the disease. The people of those communities came out to support us—they stood beside the road with extra

water, they let people come into their homes to use their bathrooms. A group of migrant workers in a strawberry field donated $3.76!” It was a magical moment when the riders crossed the finish line at West Hollywood Park. Wearing long-steeved t-shirts in various primary colors, the riders trickled altogether through the crowd of supporters like a human rainbow on wheels. Despite the rain, the cold weather, and their exhaustion, the riders had made an incredible difference by raising $1.54 million for the Center’s HIV and AIDS related services. The unwavering participants of the very first California AIDS Ride showed they were up for a challenge—and succeeded. California AIDS Ride, now known as AIDS/LifeCycle, benefits both the Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Today AIDS/LifeCycle is the world’s largest event of its kind raising more than $291 million over the ride’s 28-year history, and it remains one of the events Jean looks forward to every year. Throughout the weeklong journey, she is inundated with hugs and handshakes from both new and longtime participants. She keeps a pen and notebook with her at all times to take notes. Her notes are weaved into stories—from the inspirational to the insane—that are shared with participants during dinner. Each evening Jean begins her highly-anticipated and always-entertaining remarks with the famed greeting: “Hello, Riders! Hello, Roadies!” “I owe the Ride’s success to Lorri,” shared Center Board of Directors member and former Board Co-chair Marki J. Knox, M.D., who biked in the inaugural ride and has ridden, or been a volunteer Roadie, nearly every year since. “She brought everybody together every night to that little tent in each camp site telling stories and reliving everybody’s experience—from the Chicken Lady to the porta potties! To watch what happened over the seven days,

Los Angeles Magazine names Center CEO Lorri L. Jean as one of the 100 most influential people in Los Angeles. She is the only openly-LGBT person on the list.

2006

The Center creates a new leadership development program for emerging LGBT leaders from China

2008

as we became a community, is probably the most amazing week of my life.”

LORRI 2.0 Jean continued to lead the Center throughout the 1990s with an extraordinary list of accomplishments and milestones, among them: • Co-founding CenterLink, the national association of LGBT community centers • Formally changing the organization’s name to the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center • Expanding the Goodman Clinic from an early intervention clinic to one providing the full range of primary and specialty medical care to people living with HIV/AIDS • Creating a robust Policy department • Opening The Village at Ed Gould Plaza which included the nation’s first David Bohnett Foundation CyberCenter and the creation of the Center’s Cultural Arts department • Quadrupling the Center’s operating budget (from $8 million in 1994 to $32.4 million in 1998) and more than doubling the staff Five years after the first California AIDS Ride, Jean decided to leave the Center. She never anticipated returning to LGBT movement work. Yet, during the two years before she was hired to become executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in 2001, she realized how much she missed it. But her experience at the Task Force wasn’t what she anticipated. “I thought going to work for the Task Force would be as rewarding as it was at the Center, but I learned it wasn't,” explained Jean. “The Center's blend of services and advocacy and policy work is pretty unique.” While Jean tackled the challenges of the Task Force, the Center experienced its own struggles. At the turn of the millennium, the flagging national economy had impacted charitable giving. The

May 15: California Supreme Court narrowly strikes down the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. Legal marriages begin en masse on June 17.


DARED TO DREAM In October 2006 the Center’s Board of Directors appointed a committee to develop a Long Term Strategic Plan—not a typical three-year-old strategic plan with a chart of specific programmatic milestones to be achieved quarterly but rather a visionary exercise to discover, and to remedy, the LGBT community’s most critical and unmet needs. For more than a year, Jean, Cummings, and members of the committee focused on what would be necessary to do so while simultaneously strengthening the Center. They surveyed thousands of community members for their input. Ultimately, the committee identified five programs prioritized for significant growth: primary medical care for everyone—lesbians, transgender folks, and LGBTQ seniors alike—regardless of HIV status; senior services; affordable housing; youth services, and public policy/community building (a sixth area for growth, substance use, was added in 2014). In addition, the plan expressly mandated expanding programs to geographical areas throughout Los Angeles and ensuring appropriate managerial capacity to implement the goals. Moreover, it included a pre-condition of financial feasibility and sustainability—any parts of the plan that could not meet this standard would have to be reconsidered. Finally, before the Board approved this ambitious new plan, Jean advised them it would require securing more space which meant another Capital Campaign. She even identified the property that she wanted to secure—then owned by the State of California—located directly across the street from The Village at Ed Gould Plaza. Planning for achieving this goal began immediately. [CONTINUED ON PAGE 34]

July: The Center is granted status as a Federally Qualified Health Center, the first in the nation to specifically serve the LGBT community.

2009

Federal Administration on Aging bestows a $1.2 million grant to the Center, the first federal grant ever given for services to LGBT seniors.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

November 4: Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage, passes, devastating the LGBT community in California and worldwide. Global demonstrations are held.

Despite the Center’s resurgence, its most ambitious years with Jean would still be on the horizon.

PHOTOS: BETSY MARTINEZ

Center’s revenues decreased dramatically: fiscal years 2000 and 2002 ended in the red. Staff layoffs ensued, staff morale reached a low, and the Center was forced to make drastic cuts. At one point, more than 60 employees were terminated. To make things worse, when disputes arose between the producer of the California AIDS Ride and the benefitting organizations (the Center and San Francisco AIDS Foundation) over the ride’s exorbitant overhead costs, the Center and the Foundation parted ways with Pallotta and created AIDS/LifeCycle, which they produced themselves at a much lower cost. Pallotta sued both organizations to stop them from mounting their own event, and the acrimonious litigation (which Pallotta ultimately lost) resulted in a dramatic reduction in ride participants for the first few years. To save the Center from imploding further, the Board of Directors asked Jean to return. “Several board members had tried to recruit me to return when I was only in the early stages of my contract with the Task Force, but I felt compelled to live up to that commitment so I had to say no,” said Jean. “But, when the Center came back to me and said they'd wait until my contract with the Task Force was done, I was overjoyed because I loved the Center and was very concerned about what was happening to it.” Back at the Center’s top post, once again with Darrel Cummings at her side as Chief of Staff, they overhauled its organizational structure, tightened expenditures, and helped to turn AIDS/LifeCycle into a highly successful and more fiscally responsible event. Her leadership and business acumen paid off substantially. The Center ended fiscal year 2004 back in the black with revenues hitting the $34.4 million mark. By fiscal year 2005, the Center’s revenues reached $37 million and, by fiscal year 2006, $41.2 million.


Perfect

PARTNER Low-Key Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings Has Been Ideal Ideal Complement Compliment to to High-Profile High-Profile CEO CEO Lorri Lorri L. L. Jean Jean by Greg Hernandez

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VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

oon after Lorri L. Jean accepted the job of executive director of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center in 1993, she asked her close friend and fellow Washington D.C. activist Darrel Cummings to come for a visit. He knew darn-well she was trying to recruit him, and he was determined to resist. “I’m an East Coaster, and I thought, ‘You must be kidding. I’m not coming to California,’” Cummings recalls. “But I thought it would be a nice trip, I’d get to see old friends, have a glass of wine, and hang out.” He certainly didn’t expect to have an epiphany as he toured the Center’s new headquarters in Hollywood that had formerly housed the Internal Revenue Services—the same IRS that denied the Center tax exempt status in the 1970s. (The Center successfully sued the IRS and later bought the building.) “Upon seeing the building and realizing what it took to be there, the thought that immediately occurred to me was,

December: The Center launches new transgender medical clinic, one of the first of its kind in the nation.

2009

‘This is a big pond to play in that has huge potential,’” Cummings recalls. Cummings had seen all he needed to make his decision which was helped by already knowing with absolute certainty that he had an ideological kindred spirit in Jean. “In a way, Lorri and I are both revolutionaries,” he says. “We share something really deep politically, and we feel a bond around the ideas that no one should live in poverty, people should not face discrimination, everybody should be housed. Those kinds of things seem simple to us, but they do seem revolutionary in the times that we’ve lived in. I think that common set of principles has helped secure our bond.”

THE FIRST STINT Cummings agreed to become the Center’s deputy executive director to manage all existing programs and develop new and innovative ones. He would also oversee the procurement of millions of dollars annually from all branches of government and provide national advocacy leadership related to the HIV/AIDS and social service needs of the LGBT community.

February: Entering into a partnership with charter school company Opportunities for Learning, the Center opens a charter high school for LGBT youth at The Village at Ed Gould Plaza.

2010

Among the most significant and long-lasting achievements during those early years was the opening of a youth center in 1996, despite having little money and facing resistance from the community—including landlords who refused to lease even their long-dormant buildings to the Center. “It was that controversial,” Cummings recalls. “It was interesting that we were living in a time when we, as LGBT people, couldn’t rent a space to help homeless people get off the street, have a meal and a shower, and get education about HIV. When we finally opened the Youth Center, I felt victorious. It was symbolic of something that we were doing right against lots of opposition for the right reasons, and we won. That set the stage for future growth.” Also especially gratifying was the 1998 opening of The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, a community education and cultural center and the establishment of a Cultural Arts department. “The Village marked the first time that we opened up a facility that wasn’t about taking care of the harm that had been done

August: U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the Prop 8 ballot initiative denying marriage rights to same-sex couples is unconstitutional.


October: The Center produces Models of Pride or the first time. Over 700 people attend, making it the largest LGBT youth conference in history.

October: Lorri L. Jean and Darrel Cummings visit China to meet with LGBT leaders, community members, U.S. government officials, and employees of Chinese Centers for Disease Control, and also lecture at several of China's most prestigious universities to standing-room-only crowds.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

September: Federal Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) Administration on Children, Youth and Families awards the Center largest federal grant ever to an LGBT organization ($13.3 million) for the development and implementation of a national project to improve the condition of LGBT youth in foster care.


TINEZ PHOTOS: BETSY MAR

to people,” Cummings points out. “We weren’t dealing with wounds, physical i l or otherwise. We were in celebration of who we are, and putting it out there for ourselves to see and for the world to see. We all go to gay Pride which has a celebratory feel to it, but it was the first time I really felt like I was in a space that was designed to celebrate—permanently—and reflect our true natures and our positive contributions in the world.”

YOU CAN GO HOME AGAIN

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

Jean and Cummings stepped down from their leadership roles at the Center in 1999 and remained a team when they took the reigns of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force as executive director and deputy executive director, respectively. But the Center hit rough times financially in their absence and, in 2003, they returned and began an uninterrupted stint that will reach 19 years by the time of their retirements in July. Their time leading what had become the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and then finally renamed the Los Angeles LGBT Center will total 25 years. “Lorri and I are very complementary human beings with complementary skill sets,” Cummings explains. “That’s worked really well for us, and we’ve taught each

June: The Center's Project SPIN (Suicide Intervention Prevention Now) organizes first summit to focus on ending suicidal ideation and reduce bullying in schools. SPIN evolves into OUT for Safe Schools.

2011

otherr the skills the otherr one didn’t have. We also have a deep friendship that has contributed to our being able to work together so well. We’ve had very few serious arguments, but we have been able to tell each other when we’re going down the wrong track.” As Chief of Staff, Cummings has worked closely with senior management to ensure smooth day-to-day operations of the Center. He holds final responsibility for the internal management of the organization which now has nearly 800 employees and 10 locations including the $141 million Anita May Rosenstein Campus that opened in 2019. Cummings has also played a leading role in directing the organization's external relations efforts, including its work in public policy advocacy, participation in significant coalitions, relationships with other community-based organizations, private fund-raising initiatives, and efforts to obtain government funding. “When I think of accomplishments, I put big and small together,” Cummings says. “It’s not necessarily the flashy things that I think are the most important. I like to think I’ve made an impact in a positive way to our workplace environment, the space in which people come to work and how they feel about what they’re doing. That

May: President Barack Obama announces support of the freedom for same-sex couples to marry.

2012

it’s not just a job, it’s not just a paycheck, but it’s something biggerr than that—more h that.” h ” meaningful than

GOOD TIMES AND TOUGH TIMES Since that day he met Jean in 1993 for a tour of what was later named the McDonald/Wright Building, the Center has become the largest LGBT service organization in the world with more than 50,000 visits per month from youth and adults. The McDonald/Wright Building has grown over the years into a functional health care center and pharmacy, and the Center’s growth has also included the addition of the Mi Centro location in Boyle Heights and Center WeHo in West Hollywood. The Trans Wellness Center opened in Koreatown four years ago, and Center South in South Los Angeles was launched two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020. “I never really processed it while it was going on,” Cummings says of the expansions. “It was, ‘Okay, we’ve imagined doing this, we’ve done that. What’s the next thing?’ It wasn’t like our accomplishments ended the need. So I didn’t really think of us as growing an organization. I thought we were doing what we can to fulfill a mission on behalf of our community.” When it comes to other specific

October: More than 1,000 LGBT and questioning youth gather for Models of Pride, the nation's largest conference of LGBTQ youth and marking the 20th anniversary of the event.


January: 29 graduates from the China Emerging Leaders program come to Los Angeles for a three-week intensive Advanced Leadership Program.

2013

actually happening is that system is harming young LGBT people in foster care, and we’re all paying for it.” But Cummings can’t help but to focus most on the smaller moments over the years and what they mean. “Some of the most significant memories for me have taken place one-on-one either with a client or a staff member where somebody told me about the difference the Center has made in their lives,” he shares. “These stories are about that particular individual, but they’re really about the whole community. They remind me of where we come from, the struggles that our community has faced over time, the damage those struggles have potentially done to many of us, and our ability to overcome and to help each other past those things.” Cummings can never forget how the LGBT community and its allies came together in solidarity in June 2016 after a gunman killed 49 people and wounded 53 more in a mass shooting at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. The LA Pride Parade went on as scheduled roughly 12 hours after the deadly shooting but, before the West Hollywood event started, it was announced that a heavily-armed man who was believed to have been planning an attack on the parade had been arrested that morning. The Center’s delegation marched in the parade holding signs that spelled out O-R-L-A-N-D-O. “It was a physical expression of our solidarity of one another and continued commitment to fight against prejudice and injustice and discrimination and the things that were at the root of what happened at Pulse nightclub,” he remembers. A few days later, thousands holding signs and candles gathered at Los Angeles City Hall for a rally and vigil organized by the Center with Lady Gaga among those in attendance. “That night when we all stood in downtown L.A. in remembrance and horror and commitment as we recognized the victims in Orlando, that to me was Pride,”

October: The Center launches Out for Safe Schools. More than 30,000 LAUSD employees—from bus drivers to teachers to food servers—requested badges that boldly identify them as an LGBT ally.

Cummings says, his voice thick with emotion. “You just looked out at that sea of people with candles, and everybody was feeling the same way. You really felt the community come together in a meaningful way.” It was less than four years later that the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed how the Center could offer many of its programs and services. Cummings would call on all of his years of experience and “go on autopilot emotionally” in order to lead “minute by minute” during an unprecedented time and to ensure that vital care and resources stayed in place. “I felt a sense of responsibility to understand the facts as best as possible, to weed through the misinformation that was out there and to really take care of the Center and all the people who work here and those who rely on us for services,” he reflects. “It was a 24/7 kind of experience, and there were many, many sleepless nights. My hope was to not only help calm people but to help inspire them to meet the moment. And I think that’s what happened.” It wasn’t until the opening of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus in 2019 and his retirement was beginning to be on the horizon did Cummings even begin to think about what had been accomplished during his years with the Center and what it has meant. “I started being nostalgic about those things and analyzing them, and there is a certain wow factor to it,” he admits. “I generally think of myself as a very modest person. But I feel proud of the contributions that I’ve made, that Lorri’s made, that the community has made, that all the staff has made, to realizing some of these visions that we’ve had. And there will be more. But I won’t be part of them, I’ll be a witness to them and I’m looking forward to that.” As Cummings prepares to leave behind a “large and complicated organization,” he is not feeling any regrets. “I have the sense that my time at the Center and contribution is appropriately done,” he says. “It’s time for new eyeballs, new ideas, new energies, to take over.”

November: The Center's application for designation as a Federally Qualified Health Center is approved.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

accomplishments, Cummings cites the Center's International Emerging Leaders Program (ELP). Launched in 2008, he describes it as “one of the highlights of my career.” ELP works to counter the influence of anti-LGBT activists in the world’s most populous country, China, and to advance freedoms for LGBT people there by identifying the country’s best and brightest activists. Pre-COVID pandemic, the Center was hosting the leaders for five-week internships. “It started out as an idea brought to us and that birthed a relationship with the entire LGBT community in China that I never could have imagined in the world’s most populous country,” Cummings says. “I feel a great deal of personal and professional satisfaction as a result of that.” The Center’s International Project Manager Geoff Chin shares that since Cummings’ first name has a pronunciation similar to “die róu” in Chinese – translated into a soft and gentle father – that has been the common nickname for Cummings used among the ELP fellows. “He definitely has cared about each and every one of them, just like a father figure,” Chin says. “He has always been willing to lend a helping hand to our fellows, inspiring them through his leadership along with his wisdom and sense of humor. He has guided them through difficult and challenging times.” Another specific accomplishment came last fall when the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors allocated $3.6 million to provide direct services and support to LGBTQ foster youth under its care–of which $1 million went to the Center. Cummings describes the funding as “extraordinarily meaningful” since 1 in 5 youth in L.A.'s foster system, which is the largest in the nation, are LGBT or questioning. “It was really a hard-fought battle,” he says. “You have the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable in custody of a system that is designed to care for them. What is


VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

March: Gay and Lesbian Elder Housing, a developer of affordable housing for LGBT seniors, becomes a program of the Center. The Center assumes management of its 104-unit Triangle Square.

2014

May: The Center launches a $25 million Capital Campaign for the purchase and construction of a new facility.

May: The Center launches its new logo and name "Los Angeles LGBT Center" to reflect the full diversity of the people the Center has always served.


A CENTER'S MISSION-DRIVEN MISSION LEGACY WRITES

ACCOMPLISHED MANY CHAPTERS The Organization We Know Today Can Be Credited The KnowofToday Can Initiatives Be Credited toOrganization the Center’s We Director Strategic to the Center’s Director of Strategic Initiatives by Gil Diaz by Gil Diaz

August: The Center's RISE Project announces the findings from a study, the first population-based survey to measure sexual orientation and gender identity of youth in the foster system.

June 26: The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Constitution guarantees the right to marry for same-sex couples. The Center hosts a rally covered by worldwide media.

2015

everybody else we interviewed,” he recalled. “She was smart and very engaged. At one point during our discussion at dinner, Lorri reached over and placed her hand over my arm—and that affectionate gesture won me over.” Their budding friendship would last even after Acosta resigned from the Center’s Board to become an associate vice president at Stanford University and Jean left the Center to become executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. After reconnecting at a Task Force fundraiser in San Francisco, Jean coaxed Acosta to become a Board member of the Task Force, of which he served dutifully for six years—the last two years as its Board Co-Chair. After Jean returned to the Center in 2003 as its Executive Director for the second time—along with Cummings as Chief of Staff—they approached Acosta with a job opportunity. The Board felt that Jean and Cummings had too much on their plates. They needed to expand the Center’s executive leadership, and they wanted Acosta to be part of it as the newly-created Director of Strategic Initiatives. “Alan is someone I can trust,” said Cummings. “He and I share an old hippie politic. He’s the only person I know anymore who

July: In response to the Center's Protect Youth from Institutional Abuse campaign, U.S. Representatives Adam Schiff and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen co-sponsor a bill to regulate residential youth treatment programs.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

T

here’s one Center staff person who can claim a longer relationship with the organization than CEO Lorri L. Jean and Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings: Alan Acosta. He joined the Center’s Board of Directors in 1991. Already experienced as a board member for other organizations, such as the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, and the University of California – Santa Cruz Alumni Council, Acosta felt it was a natural progression to add the Center—a social services organization—to his career portfolio. “I was a journalist by profession working as an editor at the Los Angeles Times so I wasn’t overtly involved with the LGBT movement,” he revealed. “Except for a few programs, I didn’t know much about the Center other than being the place where I got tested for HIV and STIs.” One of the first actions he took as a new Center Board member was vote to sign the purchase contract of the McDonald/Wright Building on Schrader Boulevard. Another pivotal moment: he served on the search committee that hired Jean as its new Executive Director. “She was so charming and stood above


knows who Phil Ochs is and all these revolutionary folk singers. Whenever I meet somebody who knows that part of our nation’s cultural history, I know there’s a kindred spirit—someone who’s out for something good that has zero to do with themselves.”

POLITICAL SHIFT—AND SCHIFF

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

Assuming a role that never existed before at the Center, Acosta was afforded the flexibility to delve into various projects beginning in June 2008. The Long Term Strategic Plan had been approved by the Board in February of that year. It included several critical goals, among them: the designation of Health Services as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), the crystallization of the ambitious plans to build an intergenerational setting for youth and seniors (which evolved into the Anita May Rosenstein Campus), and the bolstering of the recently formed Senior Services. Acosta worked on several of the plan’s key elements. “When the Obama administration took office and established grant opportunities for ‘Aging in Place’ initiatives benefiting the older adult communities, then-Director of Senior Services Arielle Rosen and I applied for one of those grants,” recalled Acosta. “It paid off! Our Senior Services department eventually was awarded a nearly $1 million grant to be distributed over three years—the nation’s first-ever federal grant given to benefit LGBT seniors.” The Obama administration was a time of great progress not only for the LGBT movement but for the Center’s visibility. One of Acosta’s earliest special projects involved flying to Washington, D.C., to visit with elected officials’ teams. At the time, the Center’s Policy team was still tiny, and Acosta, working with the Center’s lobbyist, helped give the Center presence in our nation’s capital. “After years of having the doors

closed on our faces during the Bush administration, we saw a shift in how D.C. treated us as an LGBT organization once Obama arrived,” said Acosta. “The offices of elected officials were so happy to meet us—literally, they wanted to give us hugs—and were eager to learn more about the Center. They could not believe that an LGBT organization like the Center—with hundreds of employees—even existed.” Acosta had the opportunity to introduce himself and the Center to the senior staff members of U.S. Congressman Adam Schiff whose 28th congressional district now included the Center after redistricting. Typically, they would meet with the congressional staff members and then be ushered back into the hallway. “It was perfect timing to visit him,” said Acosta. “There were two or three senior deputies in the front office, and they asked us to wait a minute as they entered Schiff ’s inner sanctum. The Congressman just said ‘show them in!’—it was the beginning of his growing support of the Center.” The congressman was so enthusiastic about the Center that he soon participated in AIDS/LifeCycle—the first and only congressional incumbent to bike it. He also gave remarks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus and at the Center’s 50th Anniversary.

GOING FOR A SPIN In 2010, a gay student at Rutgers University killed himself by jumping from the George Washington Bridge over the Hudson River. Tyler Clementi had discovered that his dorm roommate secretly filmed him having sex with another man. More distressingly, the roommate showed the video to other students. Clementi was devastated—and so were the Center’s leaders. “When Tyler’s suicide made it on the front page news—the fact that homophobia

July: The Equality Act 2015 is introduced. This legislation would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include protections that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and sex.

2015

September: In partnership with the Latino Equality Alliance, the Center opens Mi Centro in Boyle Heights.

could cause such significant mental health challenges and compel an LGBT person to take their own life—was deeply troubling,” he said. “Of course, we already knew that to be the case, but Lorri, Darrel, and other senior staff decided that this was an historic opportunity to take action to protect LGBTQ young people.” Working with the Los Angeles Unified School District, Project SPIN (an acronym for Suicide Prevention Intervention Now) was developed in partnership with other organizations, among them The Trevor Project and ACLU. As other organizations dropped, out, Project SPIN eventually became a Center program. Acosta and Project SPIN’s first full-time employee Sara Train devised the groundbreaking OUT for Safe Schools (OFSS) campaign in which school personnel would wear rainbow-colored badges signifying their support and allyship for LGBTQ students. Conversely, upon spotting these badges, LGBTQ students who were being bullied at school could depend on the school employees for assistance. “We had to find money in the budget to fund these badges. It was a leap of faith,” said Acosta. “OUT for Safe Schools was the first program in which we worked side-by-side with the LAUSD and focused on students in schools.” OUT for Safe Schools launched within LAUSD—the nation’s second-largest school district—on October 11, 2013 (the 25th anniversary of National Coming Out Day). More than 30,000 badges were distributed among educators and school administrators. Since then, OFSS has become a national program and has been introduced to nine other major school districts, including New York Department of Education, D.C. Public Schools, Chicago Public Schools, Duval County Public Schools, San Diego Unified School District, San Francisco Unified School District, and Oakland Unified School District.

October: The Center opens a facility in West Hollywood, aptly named Center WeHo.


Another important component of the Center’s Long Term Strategic Plan was expanding its geographical diversity beyond its Hollywood epicenter. Center leaders were eyeing the Los Angeles’s Eastside as a potential location. “As a Queer Latinx person, it was my dream project to help expand services to where so many Latinx people live, where Queer Latinx people live, and address their needs,” said Acosta, who grew up in Whitter and Van Nuys. After partnering with Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) to form this new Center facility, Acosta and LEA Executive Director Ari Gutierrez began scouring possible location sites from East L.A. to Lincoln Heights. They eventually would settle in Boyle Heights in a shared-space office hub called City Labs, located across the street from the Pico Gardens public housing project. City Labs was owned by Alfred Fraijo Jr., who now serves on the Center’s Board of Directors. In 2015 Mi Centro was founded. “I am extraordinarily proud of Mi Centro,” Acosta beamed. “The last two years have been difficult. We had to curtail services because of COVID, but we have laid such a great foundation. In order to get Mi Centro off the ground and running without a tremendous budget, I recruited

July: The California State Board of Education adopts new History-Social Science guidelines for grades K-12 which, for the first time, include contributions of LGBT people.

2016

Center departments to provide services there a couple of times a week.” Today, Legal Services provides immigration services; Senior Services offers assistance to housing and food resources; Youth Services hosts a Spanish-language support group for parents of Latinx LGBTQ youth; Health Services conducts HIV testings; and the Center’s Pride Pantry distributes food items weekly to local families. Center Executive Director Joe Hollendoner, who will assume the role of CEO following Lorri L. Jean’s retirement in June, says Mi Centro—a center embedded in a local community providing a myriad of vital services—can be a model for the Center’s future success. Mi Centro recently hired its first full-time staff member and will expand and deepen its programs thanks to a grant from Gilead Sciences.

JOURNEY FOR A LIFETIME One of Acosta’s fondest Center memories is the launch of the first-ever California AIDS Ride in 1994, an unparalleled fundraising event Acosta and two other Board members were three of the nearly 500 cyclists. The ride (now called AIDS/ LifeCycle) was—and still is—like no other fundraising event and has inspired dozens of similar events throughout the world. The ride allowed him to form a deep friendship with Jean and the other

December: The Los Angeles City Council unanimously approves the entitlements package for the Center's new Anita May Rosenstein Campus.

cyclists, spiritually and physically bonding as they ventured on a 500-mile-plus journey without knowing what twists and turns lie ahead during the weeklong ride. “The California AIDS Ride felt like we were inventing something new,” recalled Acosta. “It rained on a couple of days, and we were miserable! But, we all knew the ride was benefiting an important cause—we just didn’t know if we could make it alive through the 500 miles.” Jean, Cummings, and Acosta would continue to embark on a journey together—through the Center’s twists and turns, the highs and the lows—for decades, from the AIDS epidemic to the Center’s milestone 25th and 50th Anniversaries to the openings of more than a half-dozen buildings (McDonald/Wright Building, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, Anita May Rosenstein Campus, Center WeHo, Center South, Mi Centro, and Trans Wellness Center) to the COVID-19 pandemic. And, truly, the Center we know today can be credited to this partnership and Acosta’s diligence and influence. “Alan advised the Center in really important times that have been consequential,” said Cummings. “I always appreciate when Alan has something to say because I know it comes from a deep place, and it has created a deep impact on the Center. Alan is a comrade.”

January:The Center launches its bold "F*ck w/out Fear" campaign to promote PrEP.

2017

VANGUARD | LEGACY

HEADING EAST

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

• Director of Strategic Initiatives Alan Acosta was photographed in front of a vibrant mural by artist Dalila Mendez that will soon hang permanently at the Center’s Mi Centro location in Boyle Heights. The project was a collaboration of the Center’s Cultural Arts Program and the Latino Equality Alliance’s youth program. The youth chose five topics they wanted represented after viewing some of the historic murals in the area during a bus tour.


TIME FOR HIS BOW Cultural Arts Director Jon Imparato Has Brought Array of Big Stars and Award-Winning Plays to the Center’s Stages by Greg Hernandez

I

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

f the walls in the front lobby of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Renberg Theatre could talk, they most certainly would have the voice of Jon Imparato. The rich theatrical legacy built by the Center’s charismatic director of Cultural Arts is literally hanging on the walls of the Renberg lobby where framed posters of shows starring the likes of Billy Porter, Carol Channing, Leslie Jordan, Kathy Griffin, Jenifer Lewis, Margaret Cho, and Alec Mapa are strategically on display. “I rotate them sometimes,” Imparato jokes. “If Jenifer comes here and she’s not on that wall, she’d cuss me out. How could Coco Peru with Jane Fonda or Liza Minnelli not be on the wall?” The 200-seat Renberg Theatre is part of the Center’s Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center which also includes the 50-seat black box Davidson/ Valentini Theatre, as well as the Advocate

September 23: The 48th Anniversary Gala Vanguard Awards is the most financially successful Gala in the Center's history, raising more than $1.3 million.

2017

& Gochis Galleries. “Leslie Jordan has done five shows over the years, Kathy Griffin has been our dear friend who has done at least a dozen shows with us, Margaret Cho has done so many shows,” Imparato says as he scans the walls. “Joely Fisher did a show called From Here to Maternity when she was nine months pregnant and she had a full band, and Jenifer Lewis did Bipolar Bath and Beyond and a show called Getting It Off My Chest about her breast reduction. Quentin Crisp did his last shows here when he was 90.” The Brooklyn native refuses to use the word “retire” but he does acknowledge that, in June, he will be “moving on” from the Center and the job he’s held for nearly 24 years. He remembers it all in great detail with each poster triggering some kind of anecdote—some more heady than others. “When we were doing Joely Fisher’s show, there was this moment when I was in

this lobby talking to people who have gathered, and I realize it’s me, Lainie Kazan, Kathy Najimy, Holly Woodlawn, Michele Lee, and Melissa Etheridge all talking in a circle before the show,” he recalls. “I was acutely aware this is quite the assemblage of people all together in one group.” A former actor in New York with some stage and TV roles to his credit, Imparato had “survival guilt over AIDS” after three former lovers died in the 1980s. He decided to head to the West Coast to try his luck with acting there. He quickly landed an agent but, after a year, he knew he wanted to do something else with his life and knew it had to do with teaching kids how not to get HIV. This led to his being hired at the Center to do just that. His acting background turned out to be ideal for leading group discussions, and he worked tirelessly distributing condoms and safe sex materials.

November: The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approves two grants to the Center to help fund the nation's first Trans Wellness Center and to provide HIV and STI prevention services to young gay and bisexual men of color in South Los Angeles.

January: The Center participates in Women's March LA with CEO Lorri L. Jean among the leaders who spoke in front of City Hall.

2018


PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

April: The Center and collaborative partners open the nation's first-of-its-kind Trans Wellness Center, which provides resources and services to trans and non-binary people.

Village at Ed Gould Plaza. “He was incredibly passionate about working with young people and having a positive impact on their lives,” Cummings recalls. “He was as dramatic then as he is now and that’s why, when we needed some help to figure out what The Village was going to be, I thought of Jon. It wasn’t because he had been an actor or that he had worked at the Center before. It was the combination of his creativity and passion that I thought we would desperately need for a facility like this.” Cummings’ instincts would prove to be beyond correct. “I knew he was a keeper, but I didn’t know he was going to become the self-titled ‘Mayor of the Village,’” he says, laughing. “He had a vision and he was going to realize that vision. I don’t know that anybody else could have made the programming and reputation of The Village

May: The Center is awarded three grants to expand its domestic violence programs, including wraparound services for survivors.

as big as Jon has. And he did it scratching two nickels together.”

THE EARLY YEARS Imparato started his second stint at the Center focused on developing activities and classes to offer at The Village. He dove into the role with his typical zeal, but he soon wanted to do more in the role. “I’m a theater guy and I would think, ‘I want to make real theater here,” he shares. “So we started doing theater but everything was done with spit and chewing gum. We heard the Mark Taper Forum downtown was getting rid of all their lights. I ran down there with a truck and a friend of mine, and we took as many out of the basement as we could take. I was always running around getting everyone’s lights when they were going under and just trying to make it all work. Little by little we were able to build a real lighting grid.

January: In complying with the 2011 FAIR Education Act, the Center publishes the first batch of lesson plans for teachers.

2019

VANGUARD | LEGACY

Imparato became Outreach Director and had a key role in the opening of a youth center in the mid-1990s which he ran for three years. Thoroughly devoted to the work, it eventually took an emotional toll, and Imparato left the Center in 1998 after a decade to explore other opportunities. “I just got so tired,” he remembers. “People have no idea how hard it was. Back then, there were pimps, gangs. It was an intense world and the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” After about six months of unemployment, Imparato got a call that changed his life. It was from Darrel Cummings who was then the Center’s deputy executive director and is now its chief of staff. They had worked together to open the youth center, and Cummings wanted to know if Imparato could return as a consultant to help the Center open its brand-new cultural arts facility that would be called The


It was all done piecemeal, little by little by little.” In October 1998, Imparato produced the West Coast premiere of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues which had a soldout three-night run. “That was the first play we ever did,” he recalls. “It was a big, big deal. When that happened, we made a lot of money, and it was well-reviewed. Poor Eve. I put her on blocks and in a big director’s chair so people could see her, and I got an old theater company to give me a followspot.”

Imparato considers that to be one of the top three plays he’s presented along with

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

There would be so much more to come during the next 20-plus years including three official 25th anniversary productions: Jack Heifner’s Vanities starring Kathy Bates; Jane Chambers’ lesbian classic Last Summer at Bluefish Cove; and an all-star staged reading of Larry Kramer’s incendiary AIDS drama, The Normal Heart, directed by Joel Grey and starring Lisa Kudrow. Especially memorable shows are remembered with large standing posters in the Renberg lobby. They include Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe Revisited, Tectonic Theater Project’s The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later; and The Lost Plays of Tennessee Williams. Of the latter he says: “When these short plays were found in a trunk, Tennessee Williams had written on it: ‘I’ll never live to see these produced.’ Especially And Tell Sad Stories About the Death of Queens which is all about trans and non-binary and queer people.” The three short plays got rave reviews including one from the Los Angeles Times that is part of the lobby display and which Imparato proudly starts to reads aloud. “I would sit in the back of the theater and go, ‘Tennessee, those are your plays being produced and look where it’s being produced,’” he remembers. “I would get chills.”

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

Through the Years

The Tomlin Connection

Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Silvia? and the multiple award-winning Hit the Wall by Ike Holter.

April 6 & 7: The Center celebrates the grand opening of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus.

2019

Other producing credit highlights include the world premieres of Victory Dance by Jessica Litwak; The Break Up Notebook: The Lesbian Musical; Miss Coco Peru Is Undaunted; Adelina Anthony’s Bruising for Besos; Nick Salamone’s The Sonneteer; Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love; and D’Lo’s To T, or Not to T, the groundbreaking solo show by the acclaimed queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan-American actor/writer/comedian. The highly acclaimed revival of Ira Levin’s Deathtrap is also featured in the lobby and, as Imparato stands before it, he launches into a detailed story of how the production got shut down because of a brief nude scene of one of the leads. “It says in the play, ‘Take your clothes off, you’re dragging mud into the room and it’s evidence,’” he recalls. “The director had him take off his clothes and he’s right by a fabulous fire. It looked like a real fireplace. You never see (frontal nudity). It’s a really romantic scene. Some critic wrote they had done the part four times and that the nudity was unnecessary. We got so much press because of it. The London Times even called me. The foundation took the rights away.” But over the years, Imparato’s productions for the Center have had far more supporters than detractors and have been honored with 105 awards. That includes five LA Stage Alliance Ovation Awards including Best Musical: HAM! by Sam Harris and the highest award, Best Season from 2015-2016. His Center career was also honored in 2018 by the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle with their Margaret Harford Award for Sustained Excellence in Theatre.

May: The Center's launches its Culinary Arts program, which engages youth and seniors to learn basic culinary skills and complete internships at local food service businesses.

It seems like fate that Imparato would end up overseeing programming for a venue proudly known as the Lily Tomlin/Jane Wagner Cultural Arts Center. “I was obsessed with Lily as a kid because she is a genius,” he shares. “I can quote her records verbatim. She always

June: The Center helps lead a coalition that secures $17.5 million to create the first ever Lesbian, Bisexual, and Queer (LBQ) Women's Health Equity Fund under the California Department of Public Health.


January 11: The Center celebrating opening of Center South, its newest facility in South LA's Leimert Park.

2020

JON IMPARATO DISHES ON RENBERG THEATRE’S FAMOUS HEADLINERS Carol Channing “I gave her a note on how to sing the title C so song to Hello, Dolly! I said, ‘Carol, when you sing “Wow, wow, wow fellas, look at the old gal now fellas,” that’s a big, big w m moment. You are the old gal now.’ I suggested she show her ggam after the line and pause without saying a word, take six bbeats and let them feel that moment. They rose to their feet and screamed. She got a standing ovation and it stopped the show. sc T The audience went nuts. I just wanted that moment to live and bbreathe. She got in the wings and said, ‘What else am I missing?’ I said, ‘You’re missing a beat in Before the Parade Passes By.’” Billy Porter “He was the second show we did in the theatre B in 1998. He came with a full six-piece band and killed it and I was like, ‘You’ve got to become a star, you’re unbelievable.’ T voice was volcanic.” The

JJane Lynch “Before anybody knew who she was, pre-Best IIn Show, we did a play with her called The Break-Up Notebook. W When she got to be somewhat famous but before Glee, we did My M Sister, My Sister.”

Liza Minnelli “She was wonderful, a joy to work with. We L had h been trying to get her for years. She’s very good friends with w Coco Peru so that’s the connection. Her manager called me m and said, ‘She’s playing Disney Hall on Saturday so could you y do this on a Thursday?’ I’m like game on. She sang for us, sh was a joy to work with.” she

Megan Mullally “It was the very beginning of Will & Grace. M She’s this rock and roll chick who came in with a Judas Priest S T-shirt, T clogs, black tights with a rip in them, and this skirt. She s said, ‘Jon, I do hair and make-up every day for Will & Grace, c I go out like this?’ I said it’s your show do whatever you can w want! She was a dream, dream, dream to work with. Couldn’t h have been nicer.” Lainie Kazan “She had these musicians who were 110 years L o old. She’d say, ‘He worked with Judy (Garland), he worked with Sammy (Davis Jr.), he worked with Louis (Armstrong), w h he worked with Frank (Sinatra).’ So I spent the whole weekend ta talking to these old guys. Lainie had stories for days. The first ti time we had dinner together, the waiter came up and said, ‘The busboy wants to go home’ and Lainie said, ‘Does he need ‘T a ride?’ We looked and the chairs were on the table. We hadn’t eeven noticed because we had so many stories to share.”

May: Pride Pantry is launched to assist community members experiencing food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

August: Liberation Coffee House, a café and community space operated and staffed by graduates of the Center's intergenerational Culinary Arts program, opens to the public.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

jokes when we’re together that I know her material better than she does because I saw The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe a million times. She and her wife Jane are the kindest people I’ve ever met. They hadn’t lent their name to anything in all the years they were together until this.” Imparato first met Tomlin in 1977 while standing in line during the early hours of the morning to try and get tickets to her Broadway show Appearing Nitely. “Lily pulls up in a van and she’s dressed as Mrs. Beasley and she has tons of donuts and hot chocolate and coffee for people in line,” he remembers. Imparato saw Tomlin perform her one-woman show Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe on Broadway 17 times. After he had known her for 20-plus years, he pitched doing the show — written by Wagner — as a full-blown play for 12 actors. They agreed and even sat in on a few rehearsals of 2016’s The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe Revisited and helped publicize it. When presenting him with the Ovation Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 2021, Tomlin described Imparato as “one of the kindest, funniest, most capable, most upbeat, and loving people I’ve ever known.” “As a producer, Jon is known for taking great care of everyone involved in his productions—protecting them from distractions and outside pressures to ensure that they can do their very best work, nurturing them through any difficulties that arise,” she said. “He keeps the whole team buoyed, encouraged, and appreciated.” Imparato considers his decades overseeing Cultural Arts at the Center as “the greatest gift of my life,” and he is confident the strong foundation he has built will continue to evolve and grow under fresh leadership. “No one is going to do the job the way I did, nor should they,” he points out. “It’s going to be different. I’m sure they will take it to the next level, be cutting edge, and continue to serve diverse communities. One thing that will never be different is The Village being home to so many people. It’s a great, safe place.”


LIFE'S MISSION HIS

Incoming CEO Joe Hollendoner Poised to Continue Moving Center Forward by Greg Hernandez

J

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oe Hollendoner knew the enormity and the symbolism of the moment. Last November, more than 300 sustaining donors had been invited to the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Anita May Rosenstein Campus for a celebratory appreciation event to thank them for their ongoing and impactful support during the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Longtime Center Chief Executive Officer Lorri L. Jean introduced Hollendoner —for the first time at an in-person, public event—as the man who would be taking the reigns of the organization upon her retirement in July 2022. “Here I am today, standing on this Campus about to become the CEO of this iconic organization, and I am truly moved beyond words,” Hollendoner said to the group. “It’s a pretty overwhelming thing coming into this organization and to be its new leader on the heels of its incredibly successful CEO like none other our movement has ever seen. There is no better organization for me to fulfill my life’s mission than the Los Angeles LGBT Center.” Speaking directly to Jean and retiring Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings Hollendoner then said: “I just want to guarantee you and Darrel that your baby is in good hands.”

September: Love In Action telethon airs on KTLA Channel 5 as a substitute for the Anniversary Gala, which could not be held because of COVID-19.

2020

HOW A LEADER WAS BORN Hollendoner led San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF) as Chief Executive Officer from 2016 until he began at the Center in July 2021. During his tenure, he spearheaded the adoption of a new five-year strategic plan in 2019 that prioritized the expansion of health and social services and established racial justice as a fundamental principle to guide the organization’s growth. During his time at SFAF, the organization’s revenue grew by 84 percent, and corporate and private donations to support the organization’s life-saving services increased significantly. Prior to leading SFAF, Hollendoner was chief of staff and first deputy commissioner at the Chicago Department of Public Health, the nation’s third largest health department. From 2001 to 2012, he served in several roles at Howard Brown Health, the Midwest’s largest LGBTQ health organization, and ultimately became its vice president and chief program officer. While at Howard Brown, Hollendoner was one of the founders of Broadway Youth Center (BYC), a comprehensive health and social services center for LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness.

January: The Center announces that Joe Hollendoner, CEO of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, has been selected to succeed Lorri L. Jean as CEO.

2021

Hollendoner has been part of the LGBTQ movement since coming out as gay at the age of 16. He got a lot of support from his family at this time but not at his all-boys high school in the suburbs of Chicago. He shared with the crowd at November’s sustaining donor event how a group of guys cornered him at school one day and started calling him anti-gay slurs and throwing punches. He remembered running to the school principal’s office with tears and blood rolling down his cheeks and asking: “What are you going to do to keep me safe?” The principal paused and said, “I’m going to pray for you.” “I knew in that moment I had one of two choices: I could either sink into a further depression or I could go get the help I knew that I deserved,” he recalled. Hollendoner went to the public library to do research and found out about a nearby youth drop-in center for LGBT people. “The moment I walked through the doors, my life changed forever,” he remembered. “In that moment, I not only found my community, but I discovered a safe space where I could be my authentic self. It was at that group where I ultimately found my life’s mission which was to make sure that no member of the LGBT community ever went without the support that they deserve

February: U.S. House of Representatives passes The Equality Act, which provides national, consistent non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.


With nearly 25 years of LGBTQ movement leadership, Hollendoner joined the Center in July 2021 with the temporary title of Executive Director and has since been working alongside Jean and Cummings in leading the world’s largest LGBT organization. He quickly began immersing himself in the organization’s work and culture. He embedded himself in various Center programs including volunteering at the youth shelter and Pride Pantry, spending time at the Trans Wellness Center, Mi Centro, and Center South, and with seniors at Triangle Square. He even took a cooking lesson alongside Culinary Arts program students in the Center’s commercial kitchen. “I’m so proud that the Center has been able to evolve and innovate its work during the pandemic to make sure that we’re responding to the ever-changing needs of our community,” he observes. “Not only is the demand high, what we are seeing from our clients and community members is that the needs they are experiencing are more dire and more complex than before the pandemic.” Hollendoner has also been a presence at most of the in-person events the Center has been able to hold during the pandemic and was among the volunteers who personally delivered Thanksgiving meals to the homes of seniors that were prepared by Culinary Arts students and staff members for nearly 900 people. “When I arrived on my first doorstep and knocked on the door, I was greeted immediately with a warm smile and words of gratitude towards the Center,” he shared that day. “To hear all the ways in which the Center had supported them, it just made me feel so much gratitude for the staff and volunteers of the Center and for our clients and the community that we serve.”

AN EMERGING VISION One of Hollendoner’s initial goals has been to address race and gender-based health disparities within the LGBTQ+ community through significant expansion of programming at existing Center community sites.

April: The Center opens the Michaeljohn Horne & Thomas Eugene Jones Youth Housing, which includes 25 supportive housing apartments for youth ages 24 and under.

June: Charity Navigator gives the Center its highest rating for the 11th consecutive year.

November; The Center opens The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing with 98 affordable housing units.

VANGUARD | LEGACY

HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING

He has made it a priority to expand the services at the Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program and at its Mi Centro located in Boyle Heights with full-time staff members dedicated to the programs. This and a number of other initiatives have been made possible through new multiyear grant funding provided by Gilead Sciences. “Within my first few months at the Center I met with staff serving on committees for both Audre Lorde and Mi Centro,” Hollendoner explains. “The conversations in those two meetings were very similar; staff spoke of how proud they were of what had been accomplished but identified the need for a full-time manager to help truly fully the program’s vision. Hearing this feedback and recognizing the importance of these two programs, I left both meetings committed to securing funding to hiring these roles.” Hollendoner has further displayed a commitment to diversity with the hiring in January of Gerald Garth as the Center’s first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI). Garth is working with Center leadership and staff on creating a racial equity plan to establish actionable and measurable initiatives in every Center department to further the effort of dismantling systemic racism. When it comes to getting to know some of the Center’s nearly 800 employees spread out over 10 locations, Hollendoner has sought to connect virtually when it hasn’t been possible to in person. He personally led Wellness Wednesday virtual sessions for Center staff during the entire month of January when most were working remotely due to a surge of the Omicron variant and launched a Cup of Joe video feature in which he has coffee and casual conversation with a different staff member about their background and their role at the Center. “As social worker who spent most of my career in direct service, I know what it is like to be on the frontline and how challenge it can be,” he says. “Something that is important to me is that Center employees have the support they deserve to do often unimaginable work.”

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

and that my life’s mission was going to be committed to the liberation of all LGBT people.”


A

ctivism has always flowed through Lorri L. Jean’s veins. When she was in seventh grade, she led a petition drive in her rural Arizona school to allow girls to wear pants. The feisty 12-year-old Jean won the fight, but she learned two crucial lessons with that successful effort. “One was about the power which could be marshalled when people worked together, and the other was never to assume who your supporters or detractors are,” recalled Jean. “Imagine my shock when I learned my own father didn’t support girls wearing pants!” Jean continued her activism in high school where, to her dismay, the girls’ sports program was horribly underfunded compared to the boys’. As editor of the school newspaper and a burgeoning feminist, she exposed the inequity between the two sports programs. The girls’ sports program ultimately received more funding but not nearly close to equal to the boys' funding. She continued to create change throughout her college years. At Arizona State University, she led the successful battle to get full-time gynecological care and birth control at the student health center. By the time she attended law school at Georgetown University, she and her gay male schoolmate co-founded the law school’s first Gay & Lesbian Law Students Association. “At first, I was uninterested in creating the student group. I told my friend, Clint, that my interests were in the women’s rights collective,” revealed Jean. “Clint says, ‘Lorri, it can’t be just a man who does this. You have to do it with me.’” She reconsidered and helped her friend. However, after going through all of the processes to form the group, their existence was vetoed by the university’s president. They sued the university for discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, using D.C.’s Human Rights Act of 1977 as their legal weapon. It was

OF HER OWN Celebrating the Legacy of Center CEO Lorri L. Jean

VANGUARD | SPRING 2022

PHOTO: BETSY MARTINEZ

by Gil Diaz

April 30: Fourth LGBT March on Washington. The Center sends a large delegation and former Executive Director Lorri L. Jean is a featured speaker.

2000

June: Recruited by Board of Directors, Lorri L. Jean returns as the Center's Chief Executive Officer with Darrel E. Cummings as Chief of Staff.

2003

The Center's "Vote for Equality" project is founded to begin massive voter identification, education, and mobilization work to prepare for an anti-same-sex marriage ballot measure.

2004

The Center, with collaborative partners, produces the TransUnity Pride festival, then the nation's only pride festival specifically for transgender people and their allies.

an uphill battle, but after nine years of litigation, the university finally caved in and allowed the pioneering student group to exist on campus. After graduating from law school, Jean worked for a newly established government agency launched under the Jimmy Carter administration known as FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Her experience with FEMA afforded her with many opportunities. “Within six months, I was handling a case by myself in the federal district court. My friends who went to big fancy firms in D.C. and New York didn’t get the chance to go into court for six or seven years,” said Jean. “I rose through FEMA’s ranks and ultimately was named associate general counsel for general law.” In 1989 she applied—and became one of two finalists—to be executive director of the Human Rights Campaign Fund (which would evolve to become the Human Rights Campaign). Despite the fact that the staff unanimously endorsed her candidacy, the Fund Board decided to offer the position to a man, a decision which Jean believes was due, in part, to sexism. Yet, in hindsight, it was a decision which would change her life in the long run. “When I didn’t get the HRC Fund job, the FEMA director asked me what it would take to keep me at the agency. So, I brazenly asked for the deputy regional director job—the top career job in the western regional office,” said Jean. “In all of FEMA’s 10 regions, there had never been a woman, nor a man under 55, in that position—and I was a 32-year-old lesbian. I’d be damned if he didn’t give it to me!” She got the job and, for more than three years, Jean toiled at the regional office in San Francisco managing many people and billions of dollars. One of her first projects involved responding to the magnitude 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake which caused an estimated $6 billion in damages throughout the Bay Area.

The Center Youth Services Department begins the GED program at Griffith Youth Center.

2005

GETTING CENTERED In 1992 she was contacted by a colleague by the name of Deborah Johnson. Both women knew each other through their work with civil rights organization Lambda Legal. Johnson reached out to Jean not to talk about Lambda Legal but, rather, about a place known as the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center. “Deborah was a former Center board member who was one of the volunteers helping to identify candidates to become the Center’s next executive director. She calls me and said, ‘Lorri, there’s a job in L.A. with your name written all over it,’” recalled Jean. “I’d never heard of the Center nor had any interest in moving to Southern California. But, I did some research on the Center and decided to apply.” Jean glowed during the interview and made a lasting impression. “She was so charming and stood above everybody else we interviewed,” recalled Center Director of Strategic Initiatives Alan Acosta, then a member of the Center’s Board of Directors and the search committee. “She was smart and very engaged. At one point during our discussion at dinner, Lorri reached over and placed her hand over my arm—and that affectionate gesture won me over.” To hook Jean for the job, the search committee brought her to the Center’s new building, a four-story edifice once owned by the Internal Revenue Service which was being renovated on Hudson Avenue. The street would be renamed in 1994 to Schrader Boulevard in honor of longtime Center Board Member Rand Schrader. “I looked at the new building, and I was blown away,” recalled Jean. “I thought, “Oh, my God. There is no LGBT organization like this anywhere in the world, and I’ve got to be a part of it.” By the time she landed at the Center in 1993 to be its new leader, the organization

The Center launches a bold HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in local gay media, proclaiming "HIV is a gay disease. Own It. End It."

2006

VANGUARD | LEGACY

IN A LEAGUE

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LORRI L. JEAN

[CONTINUED FROM PAGE 19] At the same time, work began on expanding geographically. Within several years, and in time for its milestone 50th anniversary, the Center expanded west to West Hollywood (Center WeHo), east to Boyle Heights (Mi Centro), south to South LA in Leimert Park (Center South), and southeast to Koreatown (Trans Wellness Center). By opening these additional locations, the Center was able to reach members of the underserved communities who could not, or did not feel comfortable enough, to travel across the city to the Center’s main Hollywood location. “Each Center building gives us a sense of place, a feeling that we belong in the world,” said Jean. “For many of us who have been cast out from, or made unwelcomed in, so many places in our past, this sense of place is a long-deferred but richly deserved gift.” Openings of the Center’s expanded locations culminated in the birth of the Center’s flagship Anita May Rosenstein Campus. In 2012, Jean and the Board of Directors had begun raising money privately to support the construction of their dreams: an intergenerational Campus like no other where youth and seniors could live and learn from each other in one unified setting. In fact, there would be no other Campus like this anywhere in the world for LGBT people or for straight people. To make this dream a reality, the Center had to rally support—and raise a lot of money. The Center’s Capital Campaign was unprecedented. Never before had a living donor made a seven-figure gift to the Center other than in an estate. Two board members led the way (Loren Ostrow/Brian Newkirk and David Bailey/Ron Shalowitz), inspiring the $8 million lead gift by Anita May Rosenstein and her family foundations. These generous philanthropists, in turn, inspired others. All told, more than 165 people, including many Center staff, contributed. The Capital Campaign, in the end, included a re-

cord-breaking 14 seven-figure pledges. The Campus opened gloriously in April 2019 complete with a star-studded ribbon-cutting ceremony and a community celebration which attracted hundreds of spectators to the six-hour block party. Hosted tours of the 180,000-square-foot Campus and its impressive facilities for youth and seniors gave visitors an immense feeling of awe and pride. “Fifty years ago, a Campus like ours was unfathomable. No one would ever have imagined an LGBT organization creating a revolutionary Campus like this—people can scarcely imagine it now,” said Jean. “It’s remarkable to think that this Campus was completed at a time of great challenge for our community. When the nation’s highest leaders were building a wall to keep the most vulnerable among us out, the Center built a home to invite the most vulnerable in. Today the Campus stands as a beacon of hope for the LGBT community in Los Angeles and beyond.” Phase II of the mammoth two-acre Campus included the Michaeljohn Horne & Thomas Eugene Jones Youth Housing and The Ariadne Getty Foundation Senior Housing. Residents of both buildings have access to the Center’s full range of wraparound services and support, including case management; health and mental health care; counseling and support groups; and activities and events. Additionally, the Center opened the retail café Liberation Coffee House at the Campus’s southwest corner.

AN ERA LIKE NO OTHER All of the Phase II construction projects were completed, albeit considerably delayed, amid COVID-19. In fact, the Center never ceased offering services during the pandemic. The decision for the Center to remain open—and to require all staff to be vaccinated as a condition of employment—was taxing. For more than 50 years, the Center had always been there for the community even during the most challenging and devastating times: the AIDS epidemic; the passing of California’s Prop 8; the election of Donald Trump who turned out to be the most anti-LGBTQ U.S. President in history. Why would the Center close now? The pandemic was part of an era experienced like no other among the Center’s nearly 800 employees. “Although many services were available virtually, hundreds of our frontline workers—doctors, nurses, security and facilities

staff, housing managers, youth services personnel, and more—continued to come in daily, putting their lives on the line to help those most in need during the pandemic,” explained Jean. “As a public health organization, we felt it was necessary to stand behind the facts: vaccines are safe and effective. This was not a decision taken lightly. We spent months looking at this from every perspective. Our final decision was guided by the overwhelming scientific evidence about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine and the belief that public health must come first. This wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one.” After more than 25 years at the Center’s helm, Jean is passing the baton to Joe Hollendoner who will formally assume the CEO role in July. She has moved from her corner office—with breathtaking views of the Anita May Rosenstein Campus, The Village at Ed Gould Plaza, and the Hollywood Hills—to an office sandwiched between the offices of other executive management. “I fully supported the Board’s decision to hire Joe,” said Jean. “In the months we’ve had the opportunity to work together, he has surpassed every high expectation I had of him. Put simply, Joe is a rock star! He has everything it takes to successfully lead the Center on the next stage of its journey, and I can step down with confidence.” Jean knows she is leaving the Center in good and mighty hands. It thrived under her expansive leadership because, in the inspiring words of the feminist movement, she persisted—beginning in her rural Arizona school to Georgetown University to FEMA to two tenures at the Center. The feisty yet precocious 12-year-old Jean ended up fighting for equality for the rest of her life. “Leaving the Center after nearly three decades is bittersweet—I have cared deeply for the Center and our community, and I’ve always tried to put the best interests of our community first,” said Jean. “I’m most proud of how the Center does its work and what we stand for. We strive to meet the most serious needs of our community by providing the highest quality programs and services and making sure all of our work is done in the context of our overall mission: building a world where LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. It has been my honor to steer the Center into becoming the largest—and, in my heart, the best—LGBT organization in the world.”