YouthPride’s board of directors has not met in two years, according to one board member who added she was not aware of the nonprofit’s current financial crisis and possible closure.
YouthPride, which serves lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth ages 13-24, is facing a $67,000 shortfall this year after it did not receive expected grants of $27,000 from United Way and $40,000 from Fulton County, according to Terence McPhaul, the organization’s executive director.
McPhaul said in December that if YouthPride did not raise $40,000 by Dec. 31 it would be forced to close in 60 days. The agency has only raised about half of that amount, McPhaul said on Jan. 12, but continues to operate and offer programming.
YouthPride board member Marlys Bergstrom told the GA Voice in an interview Jan. 17 that the board has not met in two years. She also said she did not know about the organization’s financial straits.
“I’m not sure they even consider me a board member,” she said. “It’s too bad what’s happening over there. I think people need to know.”
When asked when she learned about the agency trying to raise $40,000, Bergstrom answered, “About 10 minutes ago, when you told me.”
“But I’ll have to double check. I get 200 emails a day. If I was notified it was in one email that I haven’t opened. I’ll have to go back and look,” she said.
Bergstrom said she receives occasional email correspondence from McPhaul about YouthPride.
Bergstrom is listed as a board member on YouthPride’s website. McPhaul has said the volunteer board of directors has not been meeting regularly despite the financial crisis. When asked who the board members are, he said the members were listed on the organization’s website.
Board President Jordan Myers was also asked for a list of board members and when the board last met but did not provide answers.
“Due to attrition over the last year or so, the list of board members shown on the website is not up-to-date. It’s just not something that I’ve thought to maintain,” Myers said via email Jan. 13.
“During our financial struggle, I have focused more on the financial aspect of our organization than in holding to a meeting schedule. I found it more prudent to be responsive to Terence and the youth. There is only so much time that anyone has, and I allotted mine in that regard,” Myers said in the email.
Myers, who has refused interview requests since the financial crisis became public, also criticized the media coverage of YouthPride’s financial woes.
“I don’t feel that the online media outlets have been helpful during our struggle, as their coverage, while fact-based, carries a dubious tone. Instead of making a plea, most reports read as though [they are] making an indictment,” Myers said in his email.
The GA Voice reached out to all other board members except Willis, for whom contact information could not immediately be found.
On Jan. 13, the website listed the board as Board President Jordan Myers, Vice President Frances-Ann Moran, Jamie Ensley, Randy New, Seth Woodard Persily, Marlys Bergstrom, Sarah Berlin, Gabriel Haggray and Theresa Willis.
Three of the board members — Frances-Ann Moran, Jamie Ensley and Gabriel Haggray — have said they are no longer on the board.
Moran said she resigned her post after she moved to North Carolina in April but agreed to help out in an unofficial capacity until her term expired in October. Ensley said his term expired in 2010.
Haggray, the youth member of the board, said he hasn’t been on the board for two years.
New confirmed he is on the board but directed all questions to Myers.
After questions from GA Voice, the list of board members on the YouthPride website was changed this week.
The new list removed Haggray and Ensley, but still includes Myers, Moran, Berlin, New, Willis, Persily and Bergstrom — the board member who said the board has not met in two years.
Asked to provide a list of board members, the date of the last board meeting, and YouthPride’s most recent IRS 990 tax form, McPhaul said that after he deleted Haggray’s name, “the board list on the website is complete.”
“Regarding all other requests I will work with the board on addressing your requests,” McPhaul said via email Jan. 17.
UPDATE: In an email late today, Seth Woodard Persily said he was no longer on the board and has not been involved with YouthPride in “quite some time.”