Nashville Pride begins Festival planning with new board

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Is bigger better? The leaders of Nashville Pride believe so. One of the city’s chief GLBT organizations added to its board last month, doubling the size of its voting body as the group begins planning for the 2012 festival.

The current board approved a slate of eight new board members at their September board meeting.  A diverse lot of GLBT community members and allies, it includes experts in the fields of public relations, marketing and accounting.

Increasing responsibilities for  the organization dictated these additions to an already impressive roster. In 2009, the board moved the festival from Centennial Park to Riverfront Park in downtown Nashville. With support from the Nashville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Mayor’s Office, the organization has undergone a slow but steady expansion.

"With the growth of Nashville Pride and the Nashville Pride Festival, combined with a financial resurgence, our organization was at a critical junction strategically," says Jason Hunt, president of Nashville Pride. "To continue that growth trend, provide a bigger festival and increase our presence in middle Tennessee, it was necessary to have a board as diverse in talent and experience as our GLBT community."

Though the Pride Festival remains the pinnacle event on the organization’s calendar, the board creates events throughout the year to heighten awareness. To that end, Nashville Pride will roll out a new event Friday, Nov. 4 to introduce its new season. Cocktails & Cabaret, the sister event to last spring’s Martinis & Jazz, will offer an atmosphere of fun and fellowship.

Former Belmont University soccer coach and gay-rights advocate Lisa Howe is one of eight new members of the Nashville Pride board. Photo provided."We consider it a primary responsibility to keep GLBT rights top-of-mind in the community all year long, not just one month or one day out of the year," Hunt says. "While the Pride Festival is certainly an important, beautiful celebration of tolerance and acceptance, our hope is to create many opportunities for GLBT people and their allies to to be active throughout the year."

According to Hunt, enhancing the city’s GLBT culture takes effort from all corners of the community. As the season progresses, Nashville Pride will form relationships with other prominent organizations citywide.

"We are continuing to expand our presence in the community through partnerships with other organizations including The Nashville Film Festival and many others," Hunt says.

 The new board members are: Joey Brown, Co-Owner of Play Dance Bar; Aaron Campbell, Tennessee Government Affairs Specialist for Youth Villages; Joseph Conner, Director of Publicity for Lotos Nile; Allen Gonce, Senior Buyer for Metro Public Schools; Lisa Howe, Owner of Howe About Consulting; Brent Meredith, Marketing and Communications Director for Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College; Nora Spencer, Director of GLBT and Women’s Studies at Vanderbilt University; and Milton White, Director of The Fashion Office. Returning board members include: Teryl Brake, Christy Ikner, MAC and Joseph Woodson.

For more information, visit www.nashvillepride.org. If you’re interested in getting involved, visit http://nashvillepride.org/festival/volunteer.