33,438*Editorial, Top Highlights Thursday, May 25th, 2017
That’s the number of people that attended the Milwaukee Pride Festival in 2016. Guess what, the new executive director of San Diego Pride is Eric Heinritz, the former executive director of Milwaukee Pride. I am sure that Eric is a great person, but I question the decision making of the San Diego Pride Board. As should you.
With the turmoil that has been San Diego Pride within the last year, the board in their infinite wisdom decided to pick someone outside of the San Diego community. The San Diego Pride executive director job is clearly a promotion for Heinritz, although he was the food and beverage director for an 11-day festival called Milwaukee Worldfest prior to becoming the executive director of Milwaukee Pride. Worldfest is attended by 900,000 people over the 11 days, but managing the food and beverage for an event that averages 80,000 people per day is a far cry from managing the entire SD Pride weekend.
Fernando Lopez, director of operations SD Pride and Barbra Blake, CEO of the GSDBA and the former second executive director of SD Pride, were finalists in the selection process. Blake took over when the original executive director passed away during the AIDS crisis and moved the festival to its current location in Balboa Park.
While Lopez and I have had our issues over the years, it is he who will be responsible for putting on Pride this year. Heinritz will be a deer in headlights trying to figure out the lay of the land. Of course, that assumes Heinritz will be here before Pride which was not communicated in the SD Pride press release. What if Lopez quits before Pride, as is rumored? Then what happens? Of course, Pride will pay Lopez almost anything to stay through 2017 Pride, knowing full well that he is critical to making the event happen in six weeks.
Blake ran AIDS Walk San Diego for eight years and as well as her previous work for SD Pride she has also worked for large San Diego health organizations in upper management capacities. So why was she not chosen?
The last three SD Pride directors have been men; Ron DeHart, Dwayne Crenshaw and Stephen Whitburn. While Blake has great ties within the business and LGBT communities in San Diego, she was not selected. Blake has a reputation for being a firm executive leader. She would have been able to use her years within the community to exercise control over the SD Pride community and governmental relations which would diffuse the importance of the SD Pride Board. Exactly what the SD Pride Board does not want. In the last 10 years, not one woman has been qualified for the job?
We all know that California is turning from golden to brown. Shouldn’t the SD Pride executive director reflect that development? Lopez would have been a Latino who could speak Spanish and adequately reflect the growing underlying LGBT community. Blake would have been an excellent task master and someone deeply steeped in the San Diego community. But the San Diego Pride Board went with the outsider, just as America did in electing Donald Trump.
So Heinritz comes with suitcase in hand. Moving 2,500 miles across the country to take a job where he will learn very quickly he has no control. He will be the sycophant of the Pride Board. In a new expensive city where his job is critically important, Heinritz will not be taking on the Pride Board and that is exactly what they want. Reputedly, Heinritz left his job as Milwaukee Pride director because he had accomplished everything he was hired to do. If Heinritz accomplished so much in a year, why did Milwaukee Pride and Heinritz end the relationship in December 2016? Sounds to me like an agreed to press release when the relationship ended. I mean, what does SD Pride say about Whitburn’s ouster?
This is exactly what happens when boards hire people who are at higher levels than they have achieved. Alberto Cortez runs Mama’s Kitchen but what qualified the other people on the executive director selection committee? Have they ever run organizations as large as SD Pride? No.
33,438. I guarantee more people in San Diego will be upset with the SD Pride Board’s choice than attended Milwaukee Pride last year.
*Source: PrideFest Milwaukee 2016
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