WHO WE ARE
What began as an informal group of full and part-time residents to create a welcoming and safe environment for the LGBTQIA+ community, has evolved into an organization that has an active voice in the broader Catskills and it's neighboring New York communities. Catskills Pride focuses on improving visibility and social support in areas such as: education, business, arts & entertainment and tourism.
Meet The Team
Gary Ott (He/him) is a New York City transplant, living in Grahamsville. Gary is a Territory Account Manger with ViiV Healthcare, and promotes the use of HIV medicine. Gary serves on the Board of Directors with GlaxoSmithKline PAC. The bass/baritone enjoys performing and is a member of the Sullivan County Community Chorus.
Luke (he/him) is a digital marketing and community building leader with 20+ years of experience working with big businesses around the world. He is also an Aspen Institute First Movers Fellow. Luke is Australian (with the funny accent to prove it) and now lives with his two cute puppies in the town of Deerpark, where he is trying his hand at beekeeping and gardening. Oh, and he bakes a mean cake!
Natasha (she/her) is an activist and nonprofit professional with over 15 years of experience growing organizations through marketing and events. Her community involvement began with PFLAG, where she served as Regional President. Natasha is a southern transplant living in Callicoon, where she enjoys being surrounded by four-legged friends and tries to overcome her black thumb with gardening.
Brent (he/him) has had more than 25 years’ experience in fundraising; major gifts, special events, individual giving, annual appeals, sponsorships, public relations, relationship building, and public speaking. Prior to his current non-profit fundraising career, he was a performer in NYC, having appeared on Broadway, television and film.
Our mission is to nurture, support, and advance the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies by:
Building, connecting and enhancing relationships in the community;
Maintaining social networking through various networking opportunities throughout the year;
Supporting past, present and future generations of our community; and
Developing resources and providing support through financial funding and in-kind services.
What We Do
For the past 19 years, Catskills Pride has invested in people to strengthen our community. Our goal is for every LGBTQIA+ person to reach their fullest potential.
The Board and sub-committees work collaboratively to actively identify and cultivate partnerships with organizations and individuals who are committed to making a real difference in our community and in the greater social fabric of our county. We engage the community, raise funds, and dedicate them to a variety of initiatives. Transformational change takes a collective effort and we are proud of our collaboration with other non-profit organizations by nurturing community life and supporting connections and neighbors. We lead by being open to change and opportunities, staying attuned to the social forces shaping our society and by sharing our learning with others.
As responsible stewards, we recognize our duty to safeguard the organization’s resources and to utilize and preserve its assets for current and future generations through sound financial management, by operating within our means and by ensuring a diversified funding base, which is at the core of sustainability. We are guided by the highest professional and ethical standards and a rigorous commitment to excellence. We are transparent and accountable to our stakeholders and we respect the environment and the impact of our operations on it.
Catskills Pride was formed in 2015 when several long-time, significant organizations were merged. Our organization was the result of the unification of several longtime LGBTQIA+ organizations such as Day To Be Gay; GALA Catskills and The Gays of Sullivan County.
Day To Be Gay
The LGBTQIA+ community took the initial steps to organize in a structured way by forming the Day to be Gay Foundation (DTBG). Spearheaded by Kathy Reiser and David Knudsen, the foundation was established as a 501c3 non-profit to actively pursue public funding opportunities for local LGBTQIA+ youth. DTBG organized events such as a day-long community picnic that brought together more than 500 participants.
THE GAYS OF SULLIVAN COUnty
The Gays of Sullivan County (TGoSC) was launched by Jeff Spitz, Hugh Hysell and Rich Kiamco. TGoSC began as a social networking platform and expanded the opportunities for local community members to get together and network. Many of the TGoSC events quickly became popular staples of the current annual calendar.
GAY AND LESBIAN ALLIANCE
As the Catskills changed, the role of DTBG was limited and required a renewal; a new Board of Directors, led by James Lomax and Heinrich Strauch, came together to revitalize and broaden the foundation’s mission to engage in a variety of philanthropic activities such as: public information, cultural support, fund raising, and grant distribution. The name was changed to Gay and Lesbian Alliance (GALA) Catskills. This new organization focused on support for important community-based organizations and programs such as GLSEN training for teachers to counter bullying in schools; and offering scholarships for LGBTQIA+ students at SUNY Sullivan.
GALA and TGoSC merged into Catskills Pride. Since then, Catskills Pride has been successful as an umbrella under which a range of activities happen that are as diverse and multi-faceted as our community itself. This was the launch of a new, multifaceted organization.
In 2021 Catskills Pride voted in its most diverse Board and sub-committee members to date, allowing us to create and provide programming that meets the needs of the Catskills growing diverse LGBTQIA+ population. Catskills Pride is focused on becoming the "go to" organization for access to LGBTQIA+ resources, community connection and social events throughout the Catskills. In short, we are evolving. Please join us and become a part of a burgeoning new Catskills Pride to be proud of!
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