Christopher Street West, producer of the annual LA Pride parade and festival, today announced the resignation of its president, Estevan Montemayor, and the installation of Sharon-Franklin Brown. Brown will be the first Black transgender woman to head the organization.
The change in leadership comes after a difficult year for CSW. The organization had to cancel June Pride parade and festival in West Hollywood because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It then announced plans to stage a march from Hollywood into West Hollywood to protest the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers, which was criticized by some members of the Black Lives Matter movement because they hadn’t been included in the planning. Then West Hollywood, which has been home to the CSW-organized event since 1979, said that it would seek proposals from other organizations to stage the annual event. CSW said that it would stage the event elsewhere.
Brown, who has been a member of the CSW board, assumes the role of president today. An announcement of her installation from CSW says she “will now steer the direction of CSW and forthcoming planned community activities and civic engagement alongside its recently formed executive committee. Together they will be meeting on a weekly basis to execute the organization’s diversity initiatives and planned community engagement. “
“It’s never been a more important moment for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to continue fighting for all of us,” said Brown. ” As a robust community across Los Angeles, we value inclusiveness and diversity. I’m so humbled to have been appointed by the board to this position as the first Black trans woman to lead CSW/Los Angeles Pride and our community efforts forward, beyond the pandemic and election, and into the future.”
Brown currently is the chief human resources officer at the Los Angeles LGBT Center, where she is responsible for managing a staff of 800 employees across organizational development, strategic planning, recruitment/hiring, administration, and organized labor relations.
Outgoing president Montemayor said: “Sharon Brown is an exceptional leader and I could not be more proud to pass the baton to her. I have no doubt she will lead with inclusiveness and passion for our entire LGBTQ+ community.”
“I have known and worked with Sharon for more than eight years of my career at the Los Angeles LGBT Center and Christopher Street West,” said CSW executive director Madonna Cacciatore. “She has never failed to inspire me and those around her through her intentional leadership, unwavering dedication, and her openness and honesty. She is the right person to walk our community into the next chapter of our history. I look forward to her flair, vision and leadership.”