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The Utah Pride Center’s new CEO resigns five months into the job

After almost two years of controversy and funding woes, the Salt Lake City-based center will now split leadership into three “co-collaborative executive officers.”

(Utah Pride Center) Stacey Jackson-Roberts became the new CEO of the Utah Pride Center on Sept. 1, 2021. She quit less than five months later.

Less than five months on the job, the new CEO of the Utah Pride Center is stepping down.

In a message posted to the Salt Lake City-based center’s website Wednesday afternoon, board chair Chris Jensen said that Stacey Jackson-Roberts — the first transgender woman to lead the center — had resigned “due to health and family reasons.”

“We thank her for her service at the Center and wish her well,” Jensen wrote.

Reached by phone, Jackson-Roberts declined to comment on her departure.

A Utah native who grew up in Beaver, Jackson-Roberts relocated from Washington, D.C. to take the job in her home state on Sept. 1 and brought an impressive resume with experience in law, nonprofit program administration, healthcare policy and labor relations.

But Jackson-Roberts took over as the Utah Pride Center faced allegations of discrimination as well as a lawsuit from five former employees who claim they were wrongfully terminated.

The wave of controversy struck at the same time as the coronavirus pandemic, which has meant cancelled fundraisers and closures of the center’s headquarters.

In his online message, Jensen praised Jackson-Roberts for hiring “a team of qualified people” during her short tenure. Moving forward, the pride center will split its CEO role into three “co-collaborative executive officers” with different responsibilities.

Those three executives include Tanya Hawkins, co-CEO of Community Engagement and Center Programs; Benjamin Carr, co-CEO of Development and Communication; and Jessica Drummar, co-CEO of Operations and Administration. All three are recent hires made by Jackson-Roberts, according to Kevin Randall, who manages public relations for the center.

“[The board chair] is confident in them and their leadership styles,” Randall said.

The center’s previous CEO, Robert Moolman, announced he was leaving in April 2021 after three years in his leadership role. The pride center’s board then embarked on a months-long, nationwide search to find his replacement using a hiring consultant.

This time around, Randall said, the center doesn’t have the luxury of time for another CEO search. But the board may reconsider in several months.

“We need to get to Pride Week in June,” Randall said. “We’re already planning that event and we can’t stop that momentum.”

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