Christopher Street West, producer of the annual LA Pride parade and festival, today announced a roster of newly elected board members that signals a continuing shift from those whose management of the non-profit sparked controversy and even threats of boycotts over the last few years.
The new members are:
–Jake Brooks-Harris, president of MKG West, Experiential Marketing
–Candie Davidson-Goldbronn, associate senior vice president, Foundation Operations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
–Craig Greiwe, senior vice president and head of digital for Rogers & Cowan
–Tracy Paaso, director of membership and events for the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce
–Johanna Padilla, linkage and retention coordinator at Trans Wellness Center
Board members may serve up to three consecutive two-year terms. Two board members with expiring terms — Raul Rios and Shayne Thomas — will continue their service to CSW and LA Pride for another two-year term.
The newly elected and re-elected board members will join the remaining CSW board members, all whom will all be up for re-election in 2019. They are Gregory Alexander, Mistress Cyan, Gerald Garth, Kevin Kelly, Alexandra Magallon, Estevan Montemayor, Julie Newmark and Brian Rosman.
“Every year, CSW and L.A. Pride has an opportunity to reinvent itself with a fresh infusion of new board members, all who bring different perspectives and skills to our all-volunteer board,” said Estevan Montemayor, president of the CSW board of directors and deputy chief of staff to L.A. City Councilmember David Ryu. “The members of this year’s class all bring a wealth of personal and professional experience, which will help us continue to evolve and grow L.A. Pride — from being the best full-weekend pride festival in the country to providing the best year-round pride-focused programming in the world.”
Leaving the board of directors will be Chris Classen, an event promoter and the controversial former board president, and Marquita Thomas, president of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and Steve Andrews, a DJ. Classen and Craig Bowers, who resigned from the board in September 2017, took CSW in a different direction in 2016 when they recast the annual Pride event as a music festival. That move, which targeted Millennials, angered older LGBT people. Also upset were transgender and lesbian members of the community, whose specific programming originally was reduced by Classen and Bowers. Several LGBT groups called for a boycott of the event, which lost $395,000.
Classen and Bowers also were criticized when WEHOville reported that Classen had engaged Bowers, his events production business partner, with an exclusive contract to sell Pride sponsorships. Such a move is a violation of standard non-profit organization ethics and appears to have been a violation of state law.
In addition to Montemayor assuming the role of CSW president, the board also decided to hire a full-time executive director. Previously the Pride event, a major revenue producer for West Hollywood businesses, was organized and overseen by volunteer board members with the help of a contracted event promoter. That executive director, Madonna Cacciatore, previously had served as director of special events for the Los Angeles LGBT Center. In that role, she oversaw the Center’s annual Gala Vanguard Awards and Simply diVine events, which have been major fundraisers. Before joining the Center, Cacciatore worked at AIDS Project Los Angeles (now APLA Health).
Cacciatore and Montemayor have embarked on a series of community “listening tours” to get feedback from LGBT community members and group.
In its announcement of the new board members, CSW said it “would like thank a few people who have completed their board terms, having contributed enormous value to the ongoing success and growth of the organization over the last few years: Steve Andrews, Chris Classen, Erica Meyer, and Marquita Thomas. The entire CSW Board thanks them for their service and unwavering dedication to LA’s LGBTQ+ community.
“With new board leadership, new board members, and a new executive director, Madonna Cacciatore, appointed earlier this year, CSW is poised to begin a new chapter in its near 50-year history. This will include exciting changes and improvements to the LA Pride Festival and Parade as well as year-long programming that will be announced throughout the year. “