On behalf of The Center Board of Directors and as Co-Chair of the Board, it is with a heavy but very hopeful heart and spirit that I let you know that Mike Thompson will be stepping down as CEO of the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert effective February 3rd of 2021. This decision was a very personal one for Mike and his partner Ron Brady, as they are moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma to be near both of their families.
It’s very hard to over-state the impact and accomplishment of Mike’s six and a half years at the helm of our Center. Whether it be the capital campaign and completion of the buildout of the McDonald/Wright building as the new home for The Center; the amazing staff he has recruited and worked to develop; the stabilization and growth of our donor base and community sponsor support; the near completion of our renovations and expansion of the Behavioral Health Center into the second floor of our building; the establishment of two premier community events in Center Stage and the Red Dress/Dress Red or, the recent announcement of the incredible geographical growth in the East Coachella Valley with the opening of The Center Coachella.
As incredible as all of that is, I think we will all agree that the most enduring impact of Mike’s time in our community is the strength of the relationships and friendships he has nurtured with all of us. Maya Angelou wrote: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Mike’s impact on us has been his capacity for recognizing each of us for who we are and for acknowledging our community individually and as a whole, and helping to inspire us for what we can be.
Working with our incredible Center Staff, Volunteers, and the Board of The Center, and with all of our supporters, Mike leaves us as a very strong organization with a firm foundation and platform to continue to pursue our Vision and Mission. Building upon our current strong position, even in the face of the COVID pandemic, we are very confident that our transition to the next era for The Center will protect our culture and relationships with our community, and will build upon our successes to better serve the vibrant LGBTQ community of the Coachella Valley.
The Board of Directors of The Center is excited to announce that my Board Co-Chair Mary Sue Allen has been appointed as the interim CEO. Effective January 1st, Mary Sue will step down from her role on the Board and work with Mike to focus on the transition and moving our operations forward. Our Board unanimously supported this decision to appoint her to this role. Mary Sue will provide the skills, continuity and energy we know her to have in guiding the organization and its staff through this transition. I personally look forward to continuing to work with Mary Sue in the months to come.
Mary Sue Allen brings with her a wealth of corporate and non-profit experience. She has been on the Board of The Center since 2015 and became the Co-chair last year after serving two years as the Board Treasurer and member of the Executive Committee. In her professional life she retired from UPS leading the human resources function serving over 80,000 employees in 25 states. During her time at UPS she served on numerous non-profit Boards on behalf of the company. In accepting the appointment Mary Sue said, “I am looking forward to bringing my 30 plus years of management and non-profit experience to my role as interim-CEO of The Center. With my time here, I am familiar with the great work The Center does and the amazing staff that makes it all happen. I look forward to working with them in this new capacity.”
The Board of Directors also authorized the hiring of a search firm to conduct a nationwide search for a new Executive Director/CEO. This search will ensure that we find an effective leader that understands our Mission and Vision and fits well within our Community throughout the Coachella Valley.
We plan to find a way to appropriately celebrate and show our appreciation to Mike. Please stay tuned for those plans. We thought it best to let you hear directly from Mike as to his and Ron’s decision. The following comes directly from him:
“If there’s anything my partner Ron and I have learned in this pandemic, is the value we place on family and our interest to be closer. You’ve often heard me speak of my soon-to-be 85-yr old Mom. She’s the one who taught me the importance of embracing our community, to give to it by wrapping our arms around it. That’s been my goal during my time in Palm Springs. Ron and I are now choosing to leave this wonderful community and our respective jobs to move to Tulsa -- to put our arms around my Mom and our families. Serving as CEO of The Center over these past six and a half years, has been the joy of my professional life. Working alongside dedicated Staff, Board Members, Volunteers, Donors, and Community Members, we have created something extraordinarily special and I'll be forever grateful for this experience.”
Mike has accepted our request that he remain available to our Center Team as we move forward and will consult with our Board, Strategy Committee and Management Team. We all extend our sincere thanks to Mike Thompson who has done such a remarkable job in making our Center one of the finest and most impactful LGBTQ Centers in the country.
We are so grateful for your support!! Without your continued help we would not be able to do the amazing work The Center does.
We welcome your thoughts or concerns. You can communicate directly with us through our Center emails:
Please feel free to contact me via my mobile phone (310) 245-4686.
Co-Chair, Board of Directors