Samantha's Corner - June, 2018

Whew. The past month has been incredible. There has been so much going on in the Kansas City area from AIDS Walk to our Third Annual Equality Teen Prom.

I was selected by CenterLink, the Kansas City Center for Inclusion’s national group, to attend the Executive Director Boot Camp in Florida at the beginning of May. Executive directors from 20 other LGBTQ+ community centers all around the country participated in the intense workshop. I took a lot away from the training, including how to take care of myself, how to work with other partners, and how to better communicate with the board of directors.

One of the boot camp speakers, Marta Miranda-Straub, affected me with a powerful statement: “It’s not about me; it is about the mission.” It is easy to become emotionally involved in the center’s work, which can be draining. She also talked about the difference between fundraisers and friendraisers. But the thing that resonated with me the most was “how to top from the bottom” (or, in layman’s terms, lead when you are not in charge).

So many things happened in April and May:

The mid-April LGBTQIA Leaders Forum was a great opportunity to network and develop ideas on how to work together better with more than 100 other community leaders. We also discussed opportunities to help provide self-harm awareness and prevention.

GLSEN’s Day of Silence event raised awareness for anti-bullying efforts. I joined more than 50 youth who spent the day in silence in order to make a powerful statement.

We also partnered with SocialScope Productions to host the Queering Violence training in late April. This was an opportunity for the Center to give those in the community who work in harm reduction a safe and healing space.

And, of course, we hosted our prom with more than 130 youth present.

While I am looking forward to Pride and all the great activities that take place in June and July, I also pause to reflect. Two years ago, the LatinX LGBTQ community in Orlando, Florida, was targeted; and 49 young people were killed. Similar to last year, KCCI again will #HonorThemWithAction by continuing to create safe spaces. In leading this organization, I promise to respond in an appropriate, respectful manner.

June 26 is the third anniversary of the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling, which allowed for same-sex marriage all 50 states. I am particularly excited for this anniversary because I will be officiating a same-sex marriage.

I hope to see you out and about. If you ever need a place to go or need to know about our resources, please reach out.

Samantha Ruggles is the Interim Executive Director for Kansas City Center for Inclusion. She can be reached at




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