Annual Meeting Marks Major Milestones for Spencer Pride

The Annual Meeting of Spencer Pride, Inc., took place this past Sunday & marked several major milestones for the 13-year organization.  Highlights included announcements about a reorganization of the Board of Directors, election of new directors & new officers, as well as approval of bylaw changes such as the addition of a vice president position for the first time.

Directors & other organizational leaders presented on both what the organization has accomplished over the past year as well as what is planned for the coming year.

Jonathan Balash, President, served as emcee of the event.  He welcomed attendees, first introducing the organization’s mission.  Later, Jonathan described the proposed organizational changes to the Board of Directors, which were ultimately ratified by the members in attendance.

Joy Hellman, Youth Empowerment Director, presented on both the Iris Youth Group as well as the Volunteers in general.  She noted that Spencer Pride welcomed 45 brand-new volunteers in the past year & that volunteers have logged more than 12,500 hours in that time.  Meanwhile, participation in Iris events tripled.  Joy also described major activities from Iris this year, including their first-ever alternative prom & their role in establishing Owen Valley High School’s Gay-Straight-Alliance (GSA).

Emily Carroll, newly promoted to Pride Festival Director, covered the 2019 festival sharing some remarkable facts from this year.  More than 4,500 people attended the festival, with 2,400 of them visiting the Spencer Pride commUnity center alone.  Entertainment doubled this year due to the addition of the second venue in the commUnity center’s Gathering Place.  Camden’s Carnival, the festival’s prime area for games & activities for all-ages, more than doubled the number of participants.  Emily had been Lead of the Festival Activities Committee for the past two years & will now be taking on ownership of the entire festival from Jonathan, who has been responsible for the event since the first Spencer Pride Festival in 2007.

Jacob Balash presented a recap of commUnity center activities, which mainly focused on the physical improvements that the center has undergone in the past 12 months.  Notable among those improvements has been some exterior painting, demolition of the addition at the back of the building, & a myriad of enhancements inside such as the construction of a display window stage, installation of new furniture in the meeting room, & much more.  Jacob, who had been serving as retail manager until the Board reorganization, has been promoted to commUnity center Director.  This means that Jacob will now take on all aspects of commUnity center operations.

Rex Hinkle, Outreach Director, described the thousands of dollars & hundreds of volunteer hours that have been given out by Spencer Pride this year.  He also outlined the many events that Spencer Pride volunteers have attended on the organization’s behalf, including participating in the 2019 NYC Pride March where the organization received national attention by being featured on live television.  Rex also detailed the Midwest Pride Conference, which had been hosted by Spencer Pride in March.  The event was a huge success, with more than double the expected number of participants.

Judi Epp presented on the organization’s fundraising over the past year, noting that $18,000 in grants were received.  She also described the many ongoing opportunities for individuals to support facility rehabilitation efforts or overall operating expenses.   Judi took a moment to explain the influence of the commUnity center & retail operations on the organization’s revenue.  Activities associated with the commUnity center accounted for nearly 2/3 of the organization’s income this year.  Judi, who is a founder of Spencer Pride & has been a long-standing officer, stepped down from her role as Treasurer.

“It has been my privilege to serve as an officer of Spencer Pride for the past 13 years,” said Judi. “I’m happy to make room for new blood, however, & I think the organization now needs someone with more extensive financial expertise.  They will find that expertise in Nathaniel.”

Judi has agreed to take on the newly created Fundraising Director role, where she will be able to continue to use her skills at generating funds for the organization, especially through promotion of the 50 From 50 campaign.

Nathaniel Clawson & Cameron Glass were both elected as first-time Directors onto the Spencer Pride Board.

Nathaniel Clawson was elected as both Director & the organization’s Treasurer.  Nathaniel has worked in finance & accounting for multinational corporations in North Carolina, Indiana, & Hangzhou, China.  His commitment to Spencer Pride comes from his love of his transgender daughter & wanting to create a world where everyone’s children can be themselves & love whomever they love.  Nathaniel supports his habit of spending time with his family by working for Boston Scientific in Spencer.    Nathaniel will chair the Finance Committee.

Cameron Glass will serve as the Iris Youth Lead, having just been elected by the youth at a recent Iris meeting.  The organization prizes the perspectives of its youth, which is why the Iris Lead is always asked to serve on the Board of Directors.  Cameron is a passionate & outspoken member of Iris & attends Owen Valley High School.  Luke Brinson, who served as Iris lead for the past year, has stepped into the Vice Lead role after his term ended on the Board of Directors.

Members voted to adopt changes to the bylaws that included lengthening officer terms from 1 to 2 years as well as incorporating a vice president into the officer line-up.

Katie Zuber was elected Spencer Pride’s first-ever vice president.  Katie has been a member of the Spencer Pride Board of Directors since 2015 & has served as Secretary since that time.  She is a wife & mother & is excited about her new role within the organization.  Katie will chair the Development Committee, which is responsible for Fundraising, Outreach, & Volunteer Development.

Kim Fidler, longtime Director of Spencer Pride, was elected as Secretary, replacing Katie.  Kim is also a member of the Putnam Pride Initiative based in nearby Putnam County.  She has been involved in nearly every aspect of Spencer Pride over the years & is looking forward to serving as Secretary where she will be able to contribute to the organization in a new way.

Dana Beth Evans, who was unable to attend the meeting, was announced as the organization’s new Volunteer Development Director.  Most recently, Dana Beth served as Spencer Pride’s volunteer coordinator, a position that has now been eliminated & incorporated into other leadership roles within the growing organization.

It was announced that the third (& final) board committee, Programming, will be chaired by Jonathan Balash.  That committee is responsible for the coordination of the organization’s key programs, which include the commUnity center, Pride Festival, Youth Group, Health & Wellness, & Outreach.

“The changes that were made today will have a significant impact on our organization for years to come,” Jonathan said enthusiastically.  “I’m excited to have such a passionate, dedicated Board of Directors to lead our organization in achieving it’s mission of making Indiana a more welcoming place for ALL people.”

Two videos were shown during the event.  The videos can both be found on Spencer Pride’s YouTube channel.  In addition, Emily Carroll coordinated two skits to advertise volunteerism & the 50 From 50 program.  The skits & videos added fun & diversity to the meeting.

Information on the organization’s plans for the upcoming year will be shared in a future post.

Individuals interested in becoming a volunteer for Spencer Pride should visit the organization’s online application at www.SpencerPride.org/Volunteers.

After the meeting adjourned, several of Spencer Pride’s volunteers stuck around & posed for this photo.