NYC LGBT Center announces new executive director

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Tuesday Sep 15, 2009

The LGBT Community Center in New York today announced it has appointed its first woman executive director.

Glennda Testone comes to the Center from the Women's Media Center, where she launched the organization's Progressive Women's Voices media training program. The Syracuse, New York, native also spent six years at the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. She began her tenure at GLAAD as a regional media manager. And the organization later elevated her to Senior Director of Media Programs.

Testone told EDGE in an interview shortly after the Center announced her appointment she hopes to bring her experience as both a feminist and an LGBT activist into her new role.

"The Center offers something that's unique," she said. "The Center offers everyone an opportunity to be part of the LGBT movement in a really exciting and tangible way. The Center really belongs to everyone."

"I am excited to bring as many people and as many parts of the community to the Center as I can," Testone added.

"The concept of working with an organization that leads people to better lives: I can’t think of anything more important."

Testone succeeds former executive director Richard Burns, who stepped down earlier this year after more than two decades at the helm of the lower Manhattan-based organization. She comes to the Center as the organization continues to experience a decline in revenue to sustain its advocacy efforts and programming because of the recession. But board members were quick to applaud Testone's appointment.

"We found a dynamic leader who we believe will be at the forefront of the next generation of advocacy and services for the LGBT community," Brian Offutt said in a statement. "Glennda inspired all of us and we cannot wait to begin the next chapter of the Center's history under her leadership."

Testone remains optimistic as she prepares to take the Center's helm in November.

"The concept of working with an organization that leads people to better lives: I can't think of anything more important," she said.

Editor's note: Michael K. Lavers is a former GLAAD employee.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.


  • Golden Bamboo, 2012-06-18 08:23:29

    Greetings, all: I am a member of the Center, have been for a good portion of Glendda’s tenure. But I am very concerned about the direction that Glennda has steered our organization to: THE CENTER CANNOT HOLD UNLESS SIGNIFICANT CHANGES ARE MADE. To wit: Multiple permutations of Democratic Party clubs are allowed (!?) to meet at the Center, but the Log Cabin Republicans (note: I am a member, national and NY State) were ordered to vacate, I mean, were thrown out. 2. SAGE, our esteemed elders (I am a contributor and invitee to group meetings), have been ordered to vacate the downstairs meeting room and upstairs office at the Center. 3. At the last meeting of the Zappalorti Society (of which I am an active member), June 16, 2012, our downstairs, totally wheelchair and walker and cane accessable meeting room was taken away from us; we were ordered, without any prior notice or way in which we could work out a win-win compromise for all involved....and had to go to the third floor, a room with many wooden steps and absolutely no wheelchairs access. I ask you, oh readers, oh free thinkers, where are we going? I am not a patrician. I am a plebe. And Glennda? Put it this way: When I am at the Center, I feel more and more as if I were a character in Frank Baum’s original book, "The Wizard of Oz". Glennda, the Good Witch ("Come out, Come out, wherever you are, and greet the young lady who fell from the star"...uh, Turner Classic Movie moment). Dorothy, as an elderly woman who uses a wheelchair to get out and about; and I, the Cowardly Lion. Courage, indeed!!!! I am sending this message out because I know I am no match for slick, preening bigshots who would rather gloss over the realities of dysfunctional family and organizations of such... My intention is not to be petty, dishy, or disloyal to an otherwise effective organization. And perhaps my membership will be canceled now and I will then be banned from the Center’s premises. Reluctantly and sadly, that could very well happen. I sure hope not... I am out, and happy to be so, but I am not proud. I am not proud at all. I am humbled by all who have gone before me. I must be authentic, true to myself, and a sterling role model to all who shall come after me. Onward, ye Children of the Rainbow. Avram "Avi" Gropper

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