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33,438*

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Eric 2That’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

Fernando Lopez

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.

Barbra Blake

Barbra Blake

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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Posted by on May 25, 2017. Filed under Editorial, Top Highlights. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

6 Comments for “33,438*”

  1. So because this guy is from Milwaukee he is under qualified? Did the person who wrote this article was born and raised in San Diego? Judging from the person who made this standards if they cannot fit they shouldn’t write for San Diego too right?

  2. Writing the article and running the San Diego Pride festival are somewhat different. I believe that the point was that a newcomer from out of state may not be as familiar with San Diego’s LGBT community and our goals as well as the challenges we face particular to the area. A local might have been a better choice.

  3. Was it really necessary to have the DT line?

    • That is the trendy thing to do, lets bash Trump, it is like making accusations he is homophobic but never backing them up with actual facts.

      What A Country.

      Liz W

  4. So Heinritz is coming from Wisconsin. So did Stephen Whitburn. So there’s the similarity. Stephen Whitburn, however, made San Diego home for his love for the City. He was hired after working in Southern California nonprofit world for year, after years as a community leader and having run competitive races for City Council and Board of Supervisors. What does Mr. Heinritz have, in contrast? He ran a very small Pride, not the San Diego Pride that draws millions to Hillcrest/Bankers Hill/Balboa Park.

    Fernando is a seasoned key staff member and, in most respects, the logical successor to Stephen. While I don’t know Ms. Blake, she sounds eminently qualified, per Stampp, and of course has the local history.

    Once again, the Pride board disappoints. I hope Fernando will stay through Pride, he is needed and this organization and this Pride is his baby.

    I wish Mr. Heinritz well, but he certainly has lots of challenges ahead.

  5. If Corbin didn’t predictably bring race and gender into his divisive argument, I might be more sympathetic.

    But his argument is based on the usual racial and gender bean-counting — San Diego’s gay leadership is too white, too male, blah, blah, blah.

    Maybe it’s also “too gay”?

    Some people around here need to look up the word “prejudice”.

    As for the selection of an outsider, I’m sure there was a reason for that, but of course we won’t hear it.

    Bottom line: the deed is done.

    Instead of welcoming the new director and giving him a chance, self-appointed “leaders” of the community are dissing him before he’s even gotten here and done anything.

    Sounds like a prescription for failure, no matter how good a job he tries to do. As usual, the gay community defeats itself with pointless squabbling.

    As a resident of Hillcrest, I would be fine with the parade — with all of its politics, which a few years ago including “outing” and expelling volunteers who were registered sex offenders (with gay politicos refusing to attend unless the volunteers were shown the door; did anyone make the same demand with respect to volunteers at straight events? No.) — moving elsewhere.

    We don’t need this kind of ugliness.

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