Reynolds named interim Nashville Pride president

Nashville Pride has a new set of appointed officers, named at a meeting that was intended to elect officers for the upcoming year. But instead of elections, the outgoing president named an interim board-of-directors until the group holds general elections on August 18.  

Doug Sladen, former president of Our Pride Encompasses Nashville, Inc., (OPEN), appointed the interim board officers yesterday at a meeting at OutLoud Bookstore. Sladen, who was vice president, took over earlier this year after Brad Bennett stepped down as president.

As his last act as president, Sladen appointed John Reynolds, former CFO, as president; Randall Roop, former member-at-large, was named vice president; Keith Kidwell, former member-at-large, was named treasurer; and Brian Widmar retained his position as secretary.

The four men will hold those offices until August 18 when their seats and seven member-at-large positions will be voted on at a 6:15 p.m. meeting at Outloud.

About 20 community members attended the June 30 meeting and spoke candidly with current board leaders about the pros and cons of the 2008 festival. Many of the attendees volunteered with past Pride festivals. Some of them, including Pam Wheeler (who was once president of Nashville Pride) and Jen Garrett, expressed concern that elections held during the June 30 meeting would not be in accordance with the group's bylaws.

"I don't know yet if I want to serve on the board but it is important that new members have that option," Wheeler said. "We just want a chance to be a part of the process."

Members of the board had originally planned to elect a board-of-directors for the 2008-09 year at the June 30 meeting, but decided to push the elections back to August, allowing more people a chance to vote and run for office, after hearing the opinions of some of the attendees.

According to OPEN's bylaws, a person must be a member of OPEN for 28 days in order to vote in an election or run for a board-of-directors seat. The annual meeting and board election must be held between 60 and 90 days after Nashville’s annual Pride festival in order to give people a chance to join the group and attain voting rights before the election is held, according to the bylaws. Nashville’s Pride festival was held on June 1.

Sladen, who plans to move to Austin, Texas, in a few weeks, said the group had planned on holding the general elections at the June 30 meeting to avoid having empty board seats through August.

"When we made the decision to hold the elections in June, we had no idea that anyone outside of the current Pride members would want to be a part of the board," Sladen said.

After a moment of deliberation, Sladen appointed an interim board and the group amicably decided to move the general election to August 18 at 6:30 p.m. at OutLoud Bookstore. A round of applause from attendees followed.

Reynolds expressed great interest in increasing efforts to reach out to volunteers during the upcoming months in order to  grow Nashville's Pride festival. Members of the group spoke candidly about stumbling blocks which caused trouble during the planning of the 2008 festival, including the lack of an operating manual.

"Part of what we needed to do, we didn't know we needed to do until the time to do it," Widmar said.

Reynolds said the group plans to create a standard operating procedure (SOP) that can be passed on as the Pride board changes year-to-year.

"We are looking to make an SOP so that in three years a new board will already have in there hands all they need to know," Reynolds said.

Reynolds said the group ultimately put the festival together in about 45 days and was pleased with the outcome. Sladen noted that deficiencies in advertising might have led to poor sales for Pre-Party in the Park, typically held the Friday of Pride weekend.

Widmar said several potential-sponsors sent in emails but were never followed-up with because of problems with the email system.

MAC, a member-at-large, said the group had only about ten volunteers as the festival approached.

"We only had nine or so people left to do everything," MAC said. "We had to pick and choose what we could do and what we could afford to do."

The group has already created an online survey to gauge opinion of the 2008 festival and make applicable changes to the upcoming festival. During the meeting, Widmar said that about 35 people had taken the poll so far. Results show that respondents wanted more food vendors, portable toilets near the alcohol tent and a parade.

OPEN currently has $11,000 dollars in the bank, Sladen said. He expects OPEN will have about $4,000 remaining in the bank after expenses are paid and "sponsorship money trickles in and outstanding checks clear."

The 2008 Pride festival cost more than $35,000, not including the cost of the Pride Scholarship or Pride Week activities, Sladen said.

"We have enough money to pay the bills," Sladen said. "But we need a lot of fundraisers to pay for Pride."

As the meeting closed, optimistic tones prevailed with attendees agreeing that the success of next year's festival will be hinged on the collaborative efforts of volunteers; those from the past, current volunteers and those the board hopes will step forward in upcoming weeks.

"Its all about the future," Garrett said. "Its where we go from here that matters."

There is still time to become a member of OPEN and help organize Pride 2009. For more information contact John Reynolds at

Community members are encouraged to attend the election on August 18. An informational meeting will be held at OutLoud on July 21 at 6:30 p.m.

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