Overseeing Nashville Pride's growing pains
Nashville Pride’s current president, Joey Leslie, is well known in Nashville’s LGBT community. He has served his community in a number of capacities, including by serving on the Pride Board as Secretary, PR & Marketing Director, and President-Elect. Formerly managing editor and creative director of O&AN and brand manager at the Nashville Scene, Leslie now works as part of the marketing team at Bridgestone Americas.
Leslie has been involved in the leadership of Nashville Pride for six years. "I was invited to get involved with Pride by then board members Jenn Garrett and Jeremy Davis back in 2010 shortly after I left O&AN,” he said. “I had been involved with Pride on the periphery for a couple of years, working on O&AN's Pride Guide and having a vendor booth at Riverfront Park."
There were a number of draws, to getting involved, he said. “I saw it as a great opportunity to serve the community while also getting extra experience flexing my creative muscles through Pride's marketing initiatives. After my two-year term as Secretary, I was named Pride's Marketing Director and after that President-Elect and now President.”
During the time Leslie has served on the board of Nashville Pride, the festival has undergone massive growth—and this year has seen a dramatic increase in interest over the last year. “One of our biggest challenges this year—and it's a good one to have—is growing pains. As the festival continues to grow we're constantly evaluating how we can elevate the experience for attendees year over year, while keeping our budget tight and saving up for a rainy day fund. I thank our Festival Director Jack Davis every single day in my mind.”
This year, for instance, the festival is trying to maximize the availability of space for more vendors, while keeping costs in check. “We sold out of vendor booth space months ago and have a waiting list. Of course we want to provide a spot for as many vendors as we can, so we've got to consider expanding the festival’s footprint, which costs more. And we want to up the ante on entertainment, which costs more! It can be overwhelming, but really these are all good problems to have.”
Leslie promised, “People will notice that we've raised the bar when they come out this year. I'm thankful every day for the fantastic people I serve with on Pride's board, and the legacy left by the dedicated board members who helped pave the way before us, as well as for the hundreds of volunteers who gladly step up to help us orchestrate the Festival each year. When you've got an amazing team like that, these are wonderful problems to solve.”
Leslie is photographed above along with Former Mayor Karl Dean and Past President Claudia Huskey