Our Story

Blue Ridge Pride Center Inc. began in 2009 through the collaboration of several individuals most notably Amy Huntsman and Ashley Arrington who saw the need for a community-driven organization that would appeal to the diverse LGBTQ communities of the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. They invested in forming partnerships, not just sponsorships, in our community and in October of 2009, we held our first festival at Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Asheville. Approximately 2,000 people came out to the event on a rainy day to learn more about our community and the resources available while also celebrating the first Blue Ridge Pride Festival. Because of the desire to be community focused, Blue Ridge Pride decided to incorporate community charitable giving through the festival. The purpose and original intent of the group was solidified and it was decided to continue adding to our portfolio of events.

Our Mission

The primary mission of Blue Ridge Pride Center is to educate the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) community and general public about the history, diversity, and future of the Western North Carolina LGBTQ community; to increase public awareness of the LGBTQ community to eliminate homophobia, transphobia and discrimination; and is organized to transact any lawful business within the State of North Carolina consistent with the provisions of Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

Our Board

        • Michael-David Carpenter, President
        • Herb Arnold, Vice President
        • Darryl Hansome, Treasurer
        • Rick Swilling, Secretary
        • Paul Rogers, WNC Elders

Our Team

        • Yvonne Cook-Riley, Executive Director
        • Tina White, Director of Operations
        • Sarah Henry, Wedding Expo Chair
        • Diana King, Wedding Expo Operations
        • Rev Jacqueline Weiks, Special Events Marketing
        • Fiona Young, Volunteer Program
        • Rachel Stein, Merchandise
        • Nikki Swafford, Systems
        • Amanda Watkins, Accounting