Center to host minority-inclusion conference

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The William Way LGBT Community Center will host leaders from other LGBT community centers throughout the region this weekend to discuss how to boost minority inclusion in their organizations.

The Pipeline Project, an initiative of CenterLink, the umbrella organization that oversees LGBT centers across the nation, works for the advancement of people of color in LGBT-advocacy organizations.

Ten leaders from centers throughout the Mid-Atlantic region will come together at William Way tonight and tomorrow to evaluate what steps the organizations can take to meet the needs of the diverse communities they serve.

’Dolph Ward Goldenburg, the center’s executive director, said the event will draw participants from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Maryland.

Goldenburg noted that the center volunteered to host the summit last fall in part because of Philadelphia’s prime location.

“One of the things we love about Philadelphia is that we are so centrally located,” he said. “We’re equidistant from a lot of these centers, which is why we’re a great destination for conventions like this.”

Pipeline hosted its first executive-director meeting in Florida last month and will stage two other regional meetings after the local event.

Clarence Patton, administrator of the Pipeline Project, said that while the organization is looking to boost the number of minority individuals involved in such organizations as LGBT community centers, the regional meetings also give the centers a chance to analyze how well they’re reaching out to this population.

“We’re looking at the issue from a number of different vantage points. The first is looking at driving people into the movement — staff, interns, board members — using a more human-resources model. But another important piece is looking at organizational and institutional change around issues of diversity and inclusion,” Patton said.

Patton said the progress made during the meetings can have a measurable effect on the communities the centers serve.

“These two-day retreats are kind of strategic-planning meetings where folks get to talk about what the situation is in their professional situations and their organizations and communities around race, diversity and inclusion and then start looking at solutions and strategies to change those dynamics,” he said. “In the end, they’ll come up with goals and objectives for themselves in their professional networks and organizations, which can impact the communities that these centers are leaders in. These community centers really are the front doors to the community, the point of entry for so many folks.”

Throughout the meetings, Pipeline representatives will facilitate discussion, but Patton said the participants themselves will play an integral role in brainstorming and creating viable solutions to minority inclusion in their organizations.

“The point of working with the EDs is that they are really charged with creating the vision of the organization and implementing it. As opposed to a situation where we come in and talk to them for two days, much of the work that will be done is at the discretion of the EDs. The answers and solutions will actually come out of the participants, the executive directors themselves, which is great. This is us getting together, rolling up our sleeves and hammering out some real achievable things that folks can do.”

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].