Facing Division At Pride Center Of Vermont, Interim Director Calls For 'Restorative Work'

Oct 19, 2017

After just five months on the job at the Pride Center of Vermont, executive director Susan Hartman abruptly stepped down in early October.

Volunteer and board member Rex Butt has stepped in to lead the organization in the interim, and he said turmoil within the local LGBTQ community contributed to Hartman's swift departure.

In his interim role, Butt said he aims to unify what he calls a divided organization. That division, he said, can be traced back to a controversial Winooski bar called “Mister Sister,” a name many in the transgender community called a slur.

Discussion of the name frayed relationships and ultimately two Pride Center board members resigned. Butt said that sowed a sense of division.

"This community has been in turmoil for at least the last six months. ... It would be foolish for me to say that this turmoil has not affected the [Pride] Center; it clearly has," he said.

Butt added the Pride Center is now focused on what he calls "restorative work" internally, which the organization plans to extend to the public this winter.

"We need to find a way to come together, find a common voice, find our common values and move forward together," he said.

Butt said the Pride Center will conduct a nationwide search for a new leader, but says he will not seek the job himself. He plans to step down from his interim position in June.

Listen to the full interview above.