Utah Pride Center boss stepping down after an active, sometimes-stormy tenure

Rob Moolman says he leaves behind a “stronger” operation, but the LGBTQ nonprofit group also faced staff turmoil during his three-year run.

(Francisco Kjolseth | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Rob Moolman, right, joined then-Mayor Jackie Biskupski for a Pride Week event in 2019. Moolman announced he will step down after three years serving as executive director of the Utah Pride Center.

After three years at the helm of the Utah Pride Center, Executive Director and CEO Rob Moolman has announced that he is stepping down.

In a news release this week, the nonprofit’s board chair, Chris Jensen, said it was formally beginning a nationwide search to find Moolman’s replacement.

Jensen praised Moolman’s role in establishing the center’s SAGE program, which offers services for aging members of the LGBTQ community. He also credited Moolman with introducing a formal education and training department that focuses on schools and teachers in Utah.

Moolman indicated he will remain in his role until a new executive director is found.

“I have brought powerful change to the center, and I know that the center, its people, and our community have changed me for the better as well,” Moolman said in a written statement. “There is so much wonderful and exciting work to do, and I continue to be so proud and fortunate to do it with the incredible team here at the center.”

During Moolman’s tenure, the center faced allegations of nepotism, financial mismanagement and discrimination by current and former employees and volunteers as far back as 2018. He addressed those complaints, which were outlined in a previous Salt Lake Tribune story, in his statement.

“Through 2020, we faced the challenges that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. We saw our funding decrease dramatically, and we saw baseless and cruel attacks on our work and team by ex-employees with personal agendas who actively strove to divide us, our donors, and our community relationships,” Moolman wrote. “But we persisted! There is still work to do to repair that damage, but our center is stronger.”

Moolman terminated nearly a dozen employees in the early days of the pandemic, citing a loss of revenue. Staffers later learned the center had received federal Paycheck Protection Program aid that would have allowed them to bring back those laid-off workers.

Moolman opted not to do so.

Many of the let-go staffers had previously come forward with complaints and concerns about the center’s management. They told The Tribune their removal was a form of punishment under the guise of pandemic concerns.

Reached Wednesday by phone Jensen, the center’s board chair, said Moolman had done an “excellent job” as executive director and noted that Moolman had been planning his exit for “a while.” He declined to comment further.

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