Since Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan became the Guilford Green Foundation’s executive director in Feb. 2016, she and the nonprofit have seen many ups and downs.
Mayor Vaughan said the main focus for the past year has been to create a community center for a base to offer their programming.
“We may have to move into a temporary space,” she said. “We’ll be looking at raising capital but really what we are focused on is providing programming and services that don’t currently exist within our city. That is something that we’ve been working on this year to identify where the gaps in services are.”
According to Vaughan, the past year was a challenging time for fundraising for GGF and many other nonprofits.
“Many people point to the elections and the uncertainty and the fact that they have been financially supporting their candidates. So we have seen an up in fundraising now, but for a few months, it was very difficult.”
GGF has focused on youth and families, the transgender community and the elderly.
“We’ve put together groups within those communities to find out how we can best serve them and what type of programming we can offer,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan and GGF are working toward making the City of Greensboro a welcoming environment for the LGBTQA community.
“There are a lot of organizations that are focused on making Greensboro a good place to live for all. I think we have a history of trying to focus on civil rights. I do believe this is a civil rights issue. It was decided long before I was on board at GGF that they were going to create this community center and I think now more than ever, a community center is very relevant.”
Vaughan believes laws like HB2 are proof that GGF is doing important work.
“I think for a while people got complacent when Amendment One was overturned so quickly that we didn’t really think that something like HB2 would come along,” she said. “Seeing hate crimes across the country and of course the awful Pulse nightclub shooting, and when you see transgendered people being victimized, some are being killed, but also being marginalized, it shows that the mission of Guilford Green is extremely important.”
When the Mayor took the position as executive director of GGF in Feb. 2016, there was some controversy. Some people within Greensboro’s LBGTQA community thought the executive director position would be better suited for someone who identified as queer.
“I wouldn’t say that the controversy has faded away,” said Vaughan. “But I have a history of supporting the LGBTQ community. I don’t know what type of applications the GGF got when they hired me. I am not the first straight ally to be executive director of Guilford Green.
“Whenever we have an event, we make sure that we reach out to make sure people are included. Sometimes they take us up on the offer, sometimes they don’t. But the core complaint that I’m a cis-straight woman isn’t going to change. I mean, that’s what I am.”
As for the year in review, Vaughan believes it had both highs and lows. On the highs, she loved making connections in the community and working with an active board.
“We’ve got a very active board. I think that’s good because people really want to see what’s going on and how we’re going to make an impact,” said Vaughan. “They don’t just read board material and vote. Also the opportunities I’ve had to get out and meet different people in the community has been a lot of fun. That’s really what I like to do best.”
Among her lows was HB2.
“There was frustration this year with the HB2 legislation that was passed after I was hired as executive director,” she said. “That was something we didn’t see coming. To hear from my friends and colleagues how that legislation made them feel. There was frustration with this year’s election and people are really concerned with the appointment of a new Supreme Court justice and what that will do to existing rights that the LGBT community currently has.”
Looking toward the future, GGF plans to have a very busy calendar of events for the community to be involved in. Their biggest ticketed event, the Gala, will be on March 25. Last year, over 400 people attended.
“It will be held in Downtown Greensboro at the old Black Cadillac service building, which is under construction right now by Jay Jung. It’s going to be a phenomenal event space and we’re happy that we will probably be the first large event that he hosts. It is our biggest fundraiser of the year and it’s a really fun dance party.”
This month GGF will host Ask a Trans Person Anything at Scuppernong Books on Jan. 26 at 7:00 p.m. They will also do a Takeover at the 1618 Wine Lounge on Jan. 27 at 5:30 p.m.
“We have a series of takeovers, which are fun events that we work on with local restaurants and bars,” said Vaughan. “We pick out a day and we say Friday at five, we’re just going to all come to your place for a cocktail or a bite to eat. Those are usually very well attended.”
Vaughan said that outreach in 2017 is going to try to focus more on families.
“We raise money so we can fund these programs,” she said. “As we are developing a community center and we are looking at…youth, family, the trans community and elderly, the money that we raise goes back into (grants) to make sure those programs can get up and running.”
Vaughan is well loved by her co-workers, who look forward to another year with her.
“She has the luxury of leading this community in two major ways that allows her belief in pro-equality to shine,” wrote Guilford Green’s Program Director Ivey Ghee to YES! Weekly in an email.
“Most don’t remember that before Nancy became ED for GGF she won the Ally of the Year award at the 2015 Equality Gala so the work is in her blood. We are all excited about what 2017 will bring as Mayor Nancy Vaughan continues to lead Guilford Green Foundation.”
Want to learn more about GGF and their upcoming events? See their website at www.ggfnc.org/