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Pride Toronto's Tracey Sandilands resigns


Pride Toronto's Tracey Sandilands resigns

Leaving post effective Jan 28
Tracey Sandilands, executive director of Pride Toronto (PT) since 2008, has resigned from her position, PT's board of directors announced on Jan 26.

The board will take over supervision of day-to-day activities of the staff and volunteers until a recruitment plan is developed. “Planning for the 2011 Pride Week festival is well underway and will continue without interruption,” the PT board states in a Jan 26 news release. Over the next few months, Pride Toronto will be reviewing its structure to ensure that it is properly positioned to meet its members' needs.

Sandilands presided over a tumultuous period in PT's history, including two attempts by the organization's board to censor pride parade participants. In December, Xtra named Sandilands Toronto Newsmaker of the Year.

PT racked up one of its worst financial losses in recent memory in 2010, according to the organization's audited financial statements, released by the PT board of directors on Jan 25. The document reveals a loss of $431,808 including the exhaustion of the organization's contingency fund. That leaves the organization $109,401 in the red. The statements also reveal that PT spent an extra $100,000 on staff salaries and benefits in 2010.

The statements include a note about Sandilands’ partner, Janine Marais. Marais was employed “through various periods” between April 2009 and November 2010. Despite laying off six staff in July, PT paid $40,317 for the fiscal year in consulting fees to Marais for website updating and newsletter services. Board members Mark Singh and Jim Cullen approved her for the work.

PT board co-chair Francisco Alvarez maintains it was Sandilands' decision to leave. "All she said was it is time for her to leave to do other things," he says.

Sandilands will receive a severance package, but Alvarez refused to reveal the amount. “I’m not at liberty to discuss the package. We have an agreement with her that specifies confidentiality.”

"We are going to wait for the results of the Community Advisory Panel recommendations before we make any decisions moving forward with our administrative structure," he says. "We will announce what we’ll be doing at some point, but at the moment we will just carry on and take a more direct oversight of expenses.”

The new executive director will need to have the experience to manage an event the size of Pride Week and a solid knowledge of fundraising, Alvarez says. "Also, going forward, community relations are going to be a stronger focus." 

Alvarez wouldn’t state Sandilands' salary, citing confidentiality.

Sandilands' cellphone is no longer working, but she sent the following tweet at 5:09pm to Singh, who was part of the board committee that hired her in 2008: "Thank you Mark. The quantity of supportive messages I am getting from those who actually know is very heartening! "

PT board member Roy Mitchell says he wishes Sandilands "all the best." But he adds that PT still faces some real problems.

"It's a system that has to be fixed," he says. "Tracey's resigning is part of a bigger process that Pride has to go through. The community owns Pride. It's our Pride. Pride has lost that connection to the community. Her leaving is part of Pride reconnecting back to the community."

Don't expect the drama at PT to be over, says Ashleigh Ingle of the Pride Coalition for Free Speech. Ingle worries that Sandilands’ resignation could be used to “silence criticism” at the Jan 26 general meeting.

“I do think it’s important, but I think it’s dangerous if you stop there,” says Ingle. “Given all the things that have come out, we also worry about her being scapegoated as a way to absolve the board of any responsibility.”

“This isn’t something that happened overnight in 2008 when she arrived, and it’s not going to go away overnight in 2011 when she leaves,” says Ingle.

Savannah Garmon called the news "long overdue."

"It's clear she didn't have a handle on the situation," she says. "Now it depends on what the board does next. It's time to appoint a new director. PT should be asking, 'How do we reconnect with the community? I hope they pick someone with legitimacy."

“I don’t bear her any ill will,” adds Elle Flanders, who went toe to toe with Sandilands over Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, “but I think it was clear from the beginning that she wasn’t capable of handling complex issues.”

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Actually, no.
Actually, I love Toronto and have been to every Pride for the past seven years.

The PT organization is a fustercluck that is beyond compare.

It is unworthy of community, government or individual support.

It has become an orgy of PC corporate excess and is afraid of its own shadow.

I applaud those on the committee who have studied the PT abortion.

It’s now time to put this sad festival out of its misery and begin anew. Again, put the drag queens in charge, it might regain some sense of humour about itself and it might actually become relevant again.

Toronto is a terrifically vibrant world class city of wonderful folks and without a doubt our nation’s greatest city.

Pride Toronto has become a national and international embarrassment though.

If you can’t see that, you ain't looking at it objectively.

Get at it Toronto - you have a lot of work ahead of you if you hope to revive this dog.
@mark dean :: bitter, much?
seriously ... u live in Vancouver...and your hatred of Torontonians is pretty darn clear.

world pride is ours as we earned the right to hold it here. sure things are not perfect and screwed up. question to you tho mark, were you at the GM on Jan 26? or erm ... have you been to the festival in Toronto, within this decade?
if not then by what authority do you have to criticize the event?
to slander each and everyone involved in PT? seriously? really? thats pretty lame

Grow up Toronto
Dear Toronto,

Not only have you become an international laughing stock - your collective incompetence in the "administration" of Pride reflects poorly on all glbt persons in Canada.

I hope they immediately yank World Pride from your incompetent and amateurish little hands and give it to Vancouver where Pride actually MADE $400,000 last year. Or Winnipeg, or Edmonton or Red Deer - anywhere for chrissake but Toronto.

You simply do not deserve any international validation of what has transpired.

Seriously, you could not have fucked up any more if Fred Phelps and the Westborough Baptist Church were in charge of Toronto Pride.

Stephen Harper, Tony Clement and Charles McVety could not be happier about how you collectively managed to set back the glbt struggle for justice in this nation.

To the actual Pride members - shame on you for not booting the entire board and ED at the first whiff of incompetence.

To Board and Former E.D. - a pox on you all for not resigning last spring. You have no honour.

To the rest of you - shame of you for allowing the amateur hour to forever stain your city and formerly (10 yrs ago) great Pride and let descend to this level of ick.

So pack it up. Close Pride Toronto. Call in the cops and forensic auditors and begin again. That means letting the drag queens clean up your mess and plan a celebration that might actually mean something other than greed and self interest.

Now go to your room and think about what you have done.
re:- Redundant (Jan 28/11)
@DSQ:- Darling, you are completely correct, let's just let Pride die a natural death because it no longer serves a useful purpose. If you want to party then you can do so every night of the week at any of the gay party palaces on Church St (except for Zelda's which has moved to Yonge St) and if you just want to get laid then you can do so 24/7 at the various local houses of gay physical culture (aka "bathhouses"). There is really no more need for people to donate their time and money to this redundant organization when there are other more pressing needs in the gay community which need to be addressed. I prefer to do my giving over at ACT where the people still know how to say "thank you" and there is no radical silliness and hysteria. Perhaps Pride is really as you imply an indirect victim of AIDS which seems to have taken away the core group of stable and sensible elders which the gay community really needs to lead it just like the two world wars in the 20th century took away many of the missing leaders who should have been running the world over the last 80 years. If they want to reform the governance of Pride to make it more stable then perhaps they should impose a condition that all directors of Pride must be gay or lesbian and at least 40 years old without a propensity for pedophilia so at least they will be more resistant to all the silliness and hysteria which has afflicted this organization in the recent past.
Actually what the gay and lesbian community in Toronto really needs is a new general community organization which will integrate all those very closeted ethnic gays and lesbians who far outnumber Anglo-Torontonians and who are completely ignored and neglected by the Church St Anglo gay establishment. Oh, and by the way the ideal party to satisfy all the residual debts of Pride would be Pink Triangle Press which has been so instrumental in orchestrating its euthanization and because they are so rich and can easi
Last words of Redundant
Pride is redundant. It no longer celebrates HOW we got there. It only celebrates that we did, somehow. It's a biiiiig corporate cash grab and an opportunity for corrupt organizers to feather their own nests. It's a big-ass party and freak show for many suburbanites and their children who would just as soon kick us in the head tomorrow as stand beside us on the parade route today. It's no longer relevant.
I've been reading all of these comments for about the last half hour. I'm bored. I was at the first pride picnic when I was 17 years old. I was at the first PROTEST and PUBLIC AWARENESS parades. I remember when all of the bars, clubs, community organizations contributed their home-made efforts at floats into a really fun parade that was uniquely "ours" and put on by "us". There were no barricades on the parade route. People could join in the parade and dance along with whoever they liked and join in with whatever group they felt embraced and included by. People were still getting bashed, beaten up, verbally abused, and targetted in all various ways. Police did the minimum... really. I could go on forever about what I "remember". A hefty percentage of my generation died in the health crisis of the 80's and 90's. And I know that many of my contemporaries are of the same mind as me, when I say we just sit back at home and don't bother any more. Not because we're "old" and don't have the energy. Not because we're jaded. I think we're just bewildered at how all of the meaning that this celebration had to us has been lost in a blatant, corporate advertising/sponsorship opportunity and exploitation of a demographic that most "in-the-know" advertising people recognize as those having the highest disposable income. The "acronym" community fought for so long, through so much pain, loss and abuse to be "equal" and, for lack of a better term "main stream". Well, a lot of that has been done now. We get same-sex benefits, equal treatment in employment,the right to prosecute those who persecute, the right and benefits that come from legal marriage....the list goes on. What I think we do NOT have, is the right to forget how we got there. Pride is redundant. It no longer celebrates HOW we got there. It only celebrates
HR Policies and practices
I just want to clarify that it is common practice in all organizations to avoid discussions regarding termination, severance packages, etc. The thinking behind such policies is that to fire someone, you leave the door open for legal action (for unlawful dismissal, libel/slander, etc.) Prudent organizations enter into these negotiations with lawyers who are charged with minimizing the non-profit's liabilities.

When a termination agreeme0nt is written and signed, the terms of that agreement usually include a non-disclosure agreement by both parties.

Failure to honor an agreement could cost Pride Toronto much more in legal fees and payouts.

You might not like it, but it's the way the system works.
Even if you oppose QuAIA...
@Ryan - We obviously disagree on the degree to which Pride Toronto needs to be accountable and transparent to the public and why governments fund Pride. I do agree that Xtra and the supporters of QuAIA have been mounting a campaign against Sandilands and the Pride board for some time and have an "agenda". But, even if a person opposes QuAIA's participation in Pride, they should not defend misinformation by the Pride board and should want Pride Toronto to be accountable and transparent to the public. Ironically, after the Community Advisory Panel reports and the Pride board accepts their recommendations (the panel will undoubtedly support QuAIA's participation in Pride), I think that QuAIA opponents will then "give up" on the Pride board and will no longer have any reason to oppose the efforts of Xtra and others to "clean house" at Pride Toronto.
Re: still none of our business?
@David, No I do not work for Pride, I share a common name with someone who does and I don't understand why people on this forum are constantly trying to "expose" others. You say, "The only reason that governments fund Pride is because it purports to serve the gay community. The moment you take taxpayer funds is the moment you become accountable to the public." First, governments fund Pride because they get a much larger return on their investment if you factor in all the tourists who come here and pay GST/HST, etc. So even though 2010 was a bum year for the organizers, the public didn't lose a dime, it gained. In that sense, Pride has been accountable. Transparency is another thing, and it's just my personal opinion (and again I'm not an insider) that we don't need to know if the ED quit or was fired. Especially when that kind of scrutiny is being used to drive a particular agenda.
Pride Toronto needs to stop the misinformation
@james dubro. I agreee that it's really disturbing that Pride Co-chair Franciso Alvaraez would tell the media that Sandilands resigned and then indicate to the Pride general meeeting that she was forced out. The Pride board still doesn't get it: they need to either STOP the misinformation or resign.


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