Two years after accepting an interim position as director of the Utah Pride Center, Carol Gnade has announced her plans to retire — again.
Gnade, who ran the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union for 14 years, came out of her first retirement in 2015 to take over the center. It had experienced two years of instability, including the unexpected resignation of the previous director and allegations of financial mismanagement.
Gnade’s job was supposed to last only three months.
“It’s no secret that the center was kind of in crisis,” said Gnade, who is now 72. “They needed someone who could be vocal, had some experience in the community and who could give [the center] the opportunity to look at things and decide what needed to be done. That doesn’t happen in three months.”
Gnade elected to stay for two years but now says the center is more stable and it feels like the right time to pass the torch.
“I said to the board, it’s really time now,” said Gnade, who announced her plans to the LGBTQ community in a Facebook post on Friday.
A national search for a new director is already underway, but it will be tough to fill Gnade’s shoes, board chair Sue Robbins said Saturday.
Gnade’s leadership, caring nature and connections have improved the way the center provides services and support to the LGBTQ community by focusing its mission and programs, creating partnerships and helping to hire a solid new staff, Robbins said.
“Carol is the center reason we are where we are,” she said.
One major accomplishment of Gnade’s term has been to eliminate the center’s debt through the $1.6 million sale of its building at 255 E. 400 South in downtown Salt Lake City.
Purchased in 2013, the 6,000-square-foot center was just too big and too expensive to renovate, Gnade said. It was sold in May and the proceeds were used to purchase a building at 1380 S. Main Street.
The new location — once the office of the Mexican Consulate — will be better suited to the center’s programming and administrative needs, including offering meeting rooms for community groups and possibly business incubator space for LGBTQ entrepreneurs, Gnade said.
Under her agreement with the board, Gnade will stay with the center through the hiring of a new director and the relocation to the new building.
“I will be here until I’m no longer needed,” Gnade promised the LGBTQ community in her Facebook post. “You have my word.”