Dave Garcia to Return as Affirmation’s Director
(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 13, 2019)
Ferndale, MI – Former Affirmations Executive Director Dave Garcia is returning after five years of working for Los Angeles LGBT Center in California. Garcia left affirmations early in 2014 to take the lead of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, which has six locations, a budget of over $100 million, and over 700 employees.
“I left Affirmations in a strong position five years ago. I’m a better Executive Director now because of the experience I’ve had the past five years here,” Garcia said, speaking on the phone from LA.
Garcia served as the Executive Director from 2011 to 2014. Since that time the organization has seen many challenges with leadership, including turnover in the director position. In November, Intrim Director Lilianna Reyes left to work for Ruth Ellis Center, and the Board of Directors did not immediately fill the position.
“Over the last few months, the Board embarked on a discovery and listening tour to understand what the community wanted in the next Executive Director,” explained Mike Flores, Affirmations Board President in a statement early Wednesday morning.
“The community expressed a strong desire for the next ED to have an intimate knowledge of the Michigan LGBTQ+ community, other stakeholders requested the next ED have a proven executive track record, and the Board envisioned an ED with foresight, strategic thinking, and strong administrative/development skills. Dave Garcia is a known leader that meets all these requirements, and we are excited to welcome him back to Affirmations.”
When Garcia was the previous ED he worked on programs within the center, as well as making bold moves to bring attention to the political issues around equality. He led a cross-state “Shore 2 Shore” bicycle ride for equality, and the 100 day “Hungry 4 Equality” hunger strike where volunteers took 24 hour shifts fasting and spending their day in front of the large community center windows and viewers watching as it streamed live online. Garcia and his team brought the center’s bank account up, extended hours, reduced spending, and increased programming. He said he is returning with his eyes on “fund development and board development,” and that “We’re going to need volunteers. Not just volunteers in the center and at events, but volunteers for promoting Affirmations, and for activism.”
“When Affirmations announced the November 2018 restructuring, the Executive Director Search Committee shifted focus to find candidates for the interim executive director role and we were lucky to have several highly qualified community members interested in supporting Affirmations during the transition period,” said Cheryl Czach, Board Vice President and Committee Chairperson. “Additionally, several candidates for the permanent ED role presented themselves and David Garcia stood out due to his extensive non-profit background and increasing leadership roles at the local and national level.”
The CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, Lorri Jean, said, “When Dave first told me that he was being recruited to return to a critical LGBTQ leadership role in Michigan, I wasn’t surprised. I’ve known and worked with Dave for more than a decade and his skill, leadership and dedication are rare. While he was using his talents here, to the great benefit of our Center and our community here and across the globe, his heart never left Michigan. For the last five years not a week passed that he wasn’t talking about his home state of Michigan, and how what we do in Los Angeles would be invaluable there. I’m sad to lose Dave, but I’m thrilled he’ll be doing such important work in Michigan.”
Garcia will begin on April 29. But prior to that he will be at the Affirmations’ Spring Bash which will honor the organization’s 30th Anniversary. The event will feature Dennis Shepard of The Matthew Shepard Foundation, and Garcia will be there as well to make several announcements about the direction of Affirmations and the LGBTQIA community in Michigan moving forward.
“Having Matthew Shepard’s father speak means a lot to me. When Matthew Shepard was killed back in 1998, it started a life of activism for me, and for so many others.” Garcia was honored to give Dennis Shepard a tour of the Los Angeles-based community center just a couple of years ago.
To learn more about Affirmations, visit their website www.goaffirmations.org.
For more info. on the Spring Bash, click here.