January first was my one-year mark of serving as Executive Director of Stonewall Columbus (I was interim from June – December 2020).
It has been a very full experience of challenges and wins, of obstacles and resistance, accompanied by lots of learning and teaching; all rewarding lessons. I am truly a better person after the journey of the last year.
A year in and I feel no more like “Eleven” than I did a year ago. Eleven because I am the 11th person to sit in this role as Executive Director of, some version of, this organization over the last 40 plus years. I say “some version” because Stonewall has evolved and changed as the community has necessitated its change. In Stonewall’s forty-year history the organization has often been the first, across Central Ohio, to step into LGBTQIA+ causes that lacked organization—and organizations have come after building on that inspired work.
With each new executive director, the mandate for what the community expects has expanded, as it should, because if the work is being done correctly more members of our queer family are empowered to live out loud and proud; our community is emboldened to live our lives openly and authentically. With each new executive director comes new ideas or expansion on former ideas and some ideas become less essential as the organization evolves to meet the dynamic needs, and wants, of an evolving community with a diversity of identities.
Ten people before me led this organization to the best of their ability during whatever obstacles and challenges our community was facing or creating. Ten people found ways to fundraise in an effort to create and support evolving programming for a variety of members of our community. Ten people before me felt a little more empowered by someone before them who did something to make a little more space for our community.
Maybe when it is time for Twelve to come along, I’ll feel like Eleven; I do know that when the time comes I’ll be glad to work alongside Twelve as they navigate a changing landscape, implement their ideas, and work to evolve programs and initiatives that were in place prior to their arrival. However, until that point in the future arrives I’ll endeavor to keep making space as our community necessitates.
Our work for our equity and equality continues, but I know the type of work will change—as it has in the past. The work we aim to do now is what is next for Stonewall, for our community—it’s what is right for the moment, for our time.