A remarkable year for Blue Ridge Pride

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Right now, I feel like a co-parent. Our child has grown older, wiser and is ready for their continued journey. I am nervous, anxious, and excited. My child is Blue Ridge Pride, and my co-parent is Tina White, our Executive Director since 2017.

Since it’s inception in 2009 Blue Ridge Pride has been an all-volunteer organization. Many individuals have donated their time, money, and passion to continue growing this LGBTQ+ community together. I am proud and grateful for our ‘Champions of Pride’ envisioning a thriving PROUD community in Asheville and the greater region.

2022 has been a remarkable year for our organization. We saw record numbers at our Pride Procession with an overwhelming array of businesses, churches, organizations, and individuals. The crowd for the festival was the biggest in our history. Our programs and projects have seen tremendous growth with new funding streams, and we recorded more sponsorships than ever for the organization. We have seen volunteers step up to help further our mission. Over 6,000 volunteer hours were recorded this year! Whether you slapped on a wrist band at Downtown After 5, gave away swag at a drag show benefit, poured beer for hours at the festival or donated, YOU helped make 2022 a banner year! Thank you! You are appreciated!

Guiding a non-profit organization takes a great deal of teamwork. This year we developed strategies for sustainability, welcomed three new board members to the team and we recommitted our focus for the organization. Our Board of Directors helps chart the course, the program and team leaders paddle the boat while the Executive Director steers, directs, maneuvers the boat. And yes, she also spends a great deal of time paddling the boat.

I have worked alongside our Executive Director for years now. It has been a learning, growing, exhausting journey at times for us both. But mostly a delightful, meaningful, impassioned experience. In her tenure with Blue Ridge Pride Tina has logged over 10,000 hours of service to our LGBTQ+ community. She has worked tirelessly to help our region become more inclusive, more engaged, and more visible.

I am overwhelmed by all that she has accomplished.

However, I am sad to write, Tina White, our Executive Director since 2017, will be stepping down at the end of the year, shortly before her 65th birthday. Family is important to Tina, and her family wants her back! When not writing and speaking, she plans to visit her children and grandchildren, and to travel wherever her wife, Mary, takes her. Tina deserves it. She will continue to provide targeted support to Blue Ridge Pride. We cannot cut all the strings to fast. She truly is the public face, the backbone, and the spirit of Blue Ridge Pride. Everyone is grateful for her determination and vision.

As we move forward, I am (see above) nervous, anxious, and excited for the next chapter in our organization. We are working to hire a new Executive Director and continuing our projects and programs during this transition. I am confident we will find the next leader for Blue Ridge Pride and embrace that person with welcome arms and continue our work in the region. Stay tuned for more exciting news for 2023!

In closing from my heart, thank you. Thank you for believing in Blue Ridge Pride, for trusting us, for honoring us with your time, talent and more. I know 2023 will be another remarkable year! Join us!

Cheers,

Butch Thompson

Blue Ridge Pride Board of Directors President

– we make a living by what we get but we make a life by what we give- Winston Churchill

-You can continue to reach Tina at TinaWhite@BlueRidgePride.org. Please use tinamadisonwhite@gmail.com for personal correspondence. If you want to address our incoming Executive Director, please use ExecutiveDirector@BlueRidgePride.org.

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