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GUILFORD GREEN FOUNDATION GALA

The Guilford Green Foundation Gala and Green Party took place this past weekend, and event organizers say that a diverse crowd of more than 400 people gathered to support the group’s fundraising efforts.

The GGF is a leader in the advancement of equality for the LGBTQ community, and the annual gala event raises money to be distributed via grants that support transformative philanthropy. The organization got its start in 1995 as an effort to address the AIDS epidemic and to raise money to support the Triad Health Project.

GGF Executive Director Brenna Ragghianti said that this year’s gala was “a complete sellout.”

“We exceeded our expectations for attendance and the final auction that is part of the gala,” she said. “It was probably the most diverse crowd we’ve ever had at the gala.”

One of the focal points this year was addressing the epidemic of homeless youth. GGF is partnering with Youth Focus to fund beds for youth in need and to start a dialogue among community leaders to create training for foster parents and others to bring about a solution, Ragghianti said.

The gala was themed as a wedding reception, but Ragghianti said it turned into the real thing when April Parker and Nikki Mintz were married at the event. Parker, who is with the Queer People of Color Collective, received the GGF’s leadership award for helping organize and bridge relationships across the Greensboro area.

“The spirit of it was definitely celebration,” Ragghianti said.

“So often we forget to celebrate our achievements and only focus on the problems.”

Ragghianti was thankful for all the event sponsors, and said Quaintance Weaver did a wonderful job of transforming the Proximity Hotel “into something that seemed life it was from another world.”

“You weren’t sure if you were awake or walking into a dream because it was so beautiful,” Ragghianti said.

Other award recipients included: Attorney Ron Johnson (Visionary award), Jeff Thigpen (Service Award), Kay Hagan (Dawn Chaney Award).

JUDGES REMOVED FOR SC2 FINALS

Finalists for the Strong Cities, Strong Communities Challenge (SC2) learned last week that the contest will replace all three finalists judges due to conflicts of interest. Prince John Gaither-Eli, the Project Manager for the challenge, reported via email that Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland, Bennett College President Rosalind Fuse-Hall and Sue Cole, who is the Founder and Managing Partner of SAGE Leadership & Strategy, LLC, have all been removed as judges for the final phase of the contest.

According to Greensboro Communications Manager Donnie Turlington, the conflicts were self-reported by the three judges after Gaither-Eli requested they disclose any conflicts they may have. Turlington told YES! that Westmoreland’s conflict was confirmed as a member of Greensboro Partnership Board of Directors. One of the SC2 finalist has a team member who works for the Greensboro Partnership.

Rosalind Fuse-Hall’s conflict is also employee related.

A finalist for the challenge is employed by Bennett College. Sue W. Cole’s conflict relates to her being a member of UNC-Greensboro’s Investment Fund. UNC- Greensboro is a Finalist via UNC-Greensboro’s Office of Research & Economic Development.

The SC2 challenge is an economic development contest operated by the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The purpose of the contest is to generate ideas from the public on how to stimulate local economic develop and enhance job growth.

In the fall of 2012, Greensboro was one of three cities chosen to participate in the contest along with Las Vegas, Nevada and Hartford, Connecticut. Originally, the grand prize was $1 million. However, that was changed to $500,000. Now, the rest of the prize money will be split between the top five finalists.

Gaither-Eli told the finalists that two of the three judges have already been replaced and another one would be named soon. The two new judges are Greensboro Assistant City Manager David Parrish and NC Aerospace Managing Director Penny Whiteheart. Gaither-Eli stated in his email that, “Both the SC2 Catalyst Website and the City’s SC2 Website will be updated shortly to reflect these changes.”

Turlington emphasized that the committee will not begin participating in any “judging” of the finalist’s proposals until late June/early July.

“The selection committee vetting process is under intense scrutiny from the EDA, who is keeping tabs on how the program is being run and the process through which we are determining conflicts of interest. Ultimately, the fact that changes are occurring now is good, as it’s always better to find potential conflicts three months in advance instead of three months after the competition is complete,” Turlington said. !

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