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Dulmage resigns from PTS board

Controversial president cites 'professional conflict of interest'

DONE HER TIME. Ruth Dulmage, the focus of controversy last fall, has resigned from the Pink Triangle Services board of directors. Credit: Gareth Kirkby

The controversial president of Pink Triangle Services has stepped down months after calls for her resignation began.

Ruth Dulmage’s resignation, effective December 12, 2005, was attributed to “a professional conflict of interest” in a media release from PTS. The release noted Dulmage resigned after a two-month leave of absence.

In an e-mail interview with Capital Xtra, Dulmage explained she declared the conflict regarding a new member of the PTS board of directors appointed at the Special General Meeting last October.

“I declared the professional conflict of interest immediately following the SGM and proceeded to take a leave of absence while this matter was being reviewed.”

Dulmage, a queer and gender specialist, provides counselling services to individuals, couples and families.

Dulmage had faced concerns about a past sexual relationship with a fellow executive member on a powerful three-member executive. A messy break-up between Dulmage and former treasurer Sandi Bonini last summer has previously been blamed for difficulties in getting work done on the executive, and ultimately led to resignations that brought the board below quorum.

Judy Girard, a founding member of PTS, had called for Dulmage’s resignation, accusing her of conflicts of interest resulting from relationships with other board members. Among other things, Girard also questioned the legitimacy of the board after it carried on business while below quorum.

At the October meeting, Dulmage blamed the controversies on “sexism, biphobia and transphobia.”

“Whether you believe that sexism, biphobia and transphobia are the root causes or underpinnings of recent challenges or whether you are understandably fearful of change, growth and expansion or whether some of the resignations personally affected or concerned you or whether some of the historical problems, that have now been solved, concerned you, we ask that you move along with us and support PTS in any way you can.”

In her e-mail to Capital Xtra, Dulmage said she feels confident the “inclusive” work she participated in at PTS will be continued.

“I am thankful for having had this opportunity and I leave feeling proud of the accomplishments we have experienced and the momentum that is ever so present,” she wrote in closing.

Vice-president Richard Montminy has been appointed as president. A new president will be elected at the next annual meeting. With Dulmage’s resignation, the board also has four vacancies among its 13 seats.

In an interview with Capital Xtra, Montminy says Dulmage’s departure is a loss for PTS due to her dedication and because she has some historic knowledge of the organization.

Montminy says he convinced Dulmage — who had been on the board since 2001 — to become president after senior members resigned last summer. Her experience was needed, he says.

“And so, that’s why I said to her that she had to become president at that point in time. There was no choice in the matter until we could get things righted and on kilter and running smoothly again. And so she did but it was at large personal cost to her both professionally and her free time.”

Montminy says Dulmage’s period as president, even punctuated by calls for her resignation from Girard and other founding members, was in the best interest of the organization.

When asked what the future holds for PTS, Montminy said the organization should re-identify its goals and objectives through community involvement. Because the environment for gays has changed so much recently, new issues may emerge, including aging, partner abuse and parenting, he says.

While not sure if she would return to participate in PTS after Dulmage’s resignation, Girard told Capital Xtra she still supports the organization.

“I wish it the best but I don’t know if I’m the one to carry it to the 21st century.”

Girard agreed PTS should reassess itself. “PTS is getting old. It has to make sure it’s au courant,” she said. “The programs were conceived 20 years ago and I think it’s time for a rethink and this is the golden opportunity.”

She envisions PTS moving beyond a central location, facilitating programs and services in other agencies. “Now it’s time to negotiate with all mainstream agencies to get gay-specific services in everywhere, not just housed in one building downtown.”

But before PTS can re-examine itself, Girard says the vacancies on the board must be filled.

Montminy would like to see those positions filled by people with specific skills and experience.

“There’s a lot of people who are well-meaning but, God love them, they don’t have the knowledge, the expertise that is needed in an organization that is becoming as complex as PTS has become,” he says.

He said the board would like to recruit those with backgrounds in fundraising, communications, social agencies, law, accounting and other financial activities.