New members of Christopher Street West’s board of directors

Christopher Street West (CSW), the nonprofit that produces the annual LA Pride festivities, welcomed five new board members at its monthly meeting on Tuesday night.

The five new members have expertise in marketing, fundraising, public relations, event production and community engagement, all areas in which CSW intends to focus in the coming years. Beyond just putting on LA Pride during the second weekend in June, CSW hopes to expand its mission to include Pride- and LGBTQ-related events throughout the year, so those skills will be especially useful.

The five new members are:

• Jake Brooks-Harris, president of MKG West, Experiential Marketing.

• Candie Davidson-Goldbronn, associate senior vice president, Foundation Operations for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

• Craig Greiwe, senior vice president and head of digital for Rogers & Cowan, a marketing and PR firm.

• Tracy Paaso, director of membership and events for the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

• Johanna Padilla, linkage and retention coordinator at Trans Wellness Center

These five were selected among many applications to join board and will serve two-year terms.

They replace outgoing board members Chris Classen (former board president), Steve Andrews (former board secretary), Erica Meyer and Marquita Thomas, whose terms had expired.

When asked why he wanted to join the CSW board, Brooks-Harris, who moved to Los Angeles from New York in 2013, told WEHOville via email, “As someone who’s been active in LGBTQ+ organizations and causes their whole life, I’m thrilled to be joining the Board of LA Pride, where I hope to leverage my career in experiential marketing and event production to add value to the organization as we continue building a multi-faceted pride celebration that is inclusive, progressive, and engaging. There’s so much to do and I’m excited to dive in.”

Likewise, Greiwe told WEHOville via an email, “I joined the board because CSW has made incredible progress in the last two years, and has an amazing opportunity in front of it. In a time where inclusivity, diversity, and a positive embrace of the values we all share are needed by leaders of our community, CSW’s legacy and heritage are a standard bearer in what we can all aspire to be—including the CSW of today.”

During the board meeting, executive director Madonna Cacciatore and board president Estevan Montemayor discussed the importance of the CSW’s Community Advisory Board (CAB), a volunteer board which provides year-round input about CSW’s activities.

Montemayor explained that the CAB is often a “training ground” for future CSW board members. In fact, Gerald Garth, the current board treasurer, served on CAB for several years before joining the CSW board last year. Similarly, Padilla, who just joined the CSW board, was also a member of the CAB beforehand.

Cacciatore said that several people who were not selected to join the CSW board this year were invited to join the CAB instead. That board currently has nine members, but CSW hopes to add a few more people in the coming months.
Cacciatore also told the board she is working with Accessible Festivals, an organization that provides ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) services for live events. Cacciatore, who has been meeting with various community members and groups to discuss their concerns for improving the LA Pride festival, explained that some people with disabilities reported they don’t feel LA Pride is a safe space for them and consequently don’t attend.

“We’re working with [Accessible Festivals] to make our festival really safe and compliant all the way around,” Cacciatore told the board. “They will be going through the vetting process with anybody who wants to come in [to LA Pride] who has any type of disability, whether its physical like they couldn’t walk and are in a wheelchair, or they have sight issues or even hearing issues. They have everything to help them get around the festival.”

CSW holds its monthly board meeting on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. in the CSW offices in the Pacific Design Center’s blue building. The public is welcome to attend the first portion of the meeting (until the board goes into closed session) and make comments during the comment period. (The November CSW board meeting was held a week early so as not to conflict with the Transgender Day of Remembrance event being held next Tuesday (Nov. 20) at 6 p.m. at the Jeremy Hotel on Sunset Boulevard at La Cienega).

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