The bandying about of personnel between the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the city of Chicago continued this week as Horizons Community Services announced that Frank Oldham, Jr. will take the helm as its new executive director.
Oldham returns from the L.A. Center, where he has served as managing director since leaving Chicago in February. Before his departure he was the assistant commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, heading up the division of STD/HIV/AIDS.
"This is a dream come true to be able to return to Chicago and work for the LGBT community," Oldham said in a release.
He could not be reached for further comment by press time. Oldham's appointment comes less than two weeks after the departure of Horizons Executive Director Roger Doughty. In a press release dated Oct. 24, Horizons announced that Doughty was leaving, citing disagreements between him and the board of directors. His leaving came one month after the noisy exit of Youth Program Director Karen Hutt, who was fired on Sept. 26. Hutt has claimed that her firing was in retaliation for a racial discrimination complaint she filed against
Horizons with the Chicago Commission on Human Relations in August. Hutt leveled allegations of discrimination at Horizons management, including Doughty.
Horizons has seen a number of staffing shake-ups in recent months, and Hutt has claimed that the agency lost or fired 14 staffers in 12 and a half months.
Oldham, during his tenure with the CDPH, was widely regarded as a strong, unifying force, bringing representatives of the city's many AIDS/HIV service organizations together at the same table for the first time.
In the Horizons release, Oldham lists a diverse range of activists and officials he anticipates re-connecting with.
"I am honored and looking forward to joining with leaders and friends like Michael Bauer, Renae Ogletree, Mark Ishaug, Lora Branch, Keith Waterbrook, Mary Morten, Derrick Hicks, Tico Valle, Greg Harris and the entire leadership of Horizons as well as the Center on Halsted Steering Committee," he said. "Together with old and new friends, I envision working towards a future that is a multicultural and multiethnic lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community ... symbolized by cutting-edge programs and services and the Center on Halsted."
Oldham added, "Chicago is a unique place. We are fortunate to have a supportive and accessible mayor. I look forward to reengaging with Mayor Daley and his staff."
Denise C. Foy, president of the board, referred to Oldham's reputation as a coalition builder in her statement, saying, "Frank's passion for community building is most impressive. Our focus is clear; we are committed to providing the best programs and services that meet the needs of the community. We look forward to Frank's vision and leadership in that regard."
Oldham takes over an agency poised to steward the city's Gay and Lesbian Community Center. Horizons has begun collecting community input about plans for the Center, holding invitation-only meetings and focus groups.
The link between the L.A. Center and Chicago is a strong one. Doughty served there before joining Horizons, as did Keith Waterbrook, who is the new executive director of Howard Brown Health Center. Diane Goodwin served in the communications departments both in L.A. and at HBHC.
Oldham is set to take over his new post on Dec. 3. His past appointments include posts with the New York City Department of Health, the HIV/AIDS division of Washington, D.C., the Gay Men's Health Crisis and the Private Industry Council of New York City.
Jamie Weinhold Collier, Horizons' director of finance and operations, is serving as interim executive director until Oldham arrives