After four years at the helm of Qmunity, Dara Parker is stepping down as executive director at the end of March, the organization announced March 16, 2016.
“I’m taking a new position in a new organization that I’m really excited about,” says Parker, who starts April 18 as executive director of Social Venture Partners Vancouver, a philanthropic organization.
“It’s not queer-specific but I hope that I can build on the work I’ve done at Qmunity and continue to advance social change for our community and others,” Parker says.
Board chair Morgan Camley says Parker’s tenure at Qmunity has seen a 61 percent increase in private and public funding for BC’s queer resource centre, and a 37 percent increase in client outreach.
“Dara successfully built new relationships across the province, and focused unprecedented media attention on queer and trans issues in British Columbia,” Qmunity says in a press release. “We are especially grateful to Dara for helping secure a $10 million partnership with the City of Vancouver; her legacy will be felt at Qmunity for decades to come as we work towards finding a new home.”
The City of Vancouver allocated $7 million to Qmunity in December 2013, with an expected $3 million more to come, towards finding or building a new queer community centre. So far the search for a new site has come up empty but it’s still going strong, Parker told Daily Xtra in February, after sharing the results of Qmunity’s community consultation with attendees at a LOUD Foundation lunch.
“We do so much work in the background trying to identify that site — which is the next step,” Parker said.
“In 2014 I said, ‘We’re going to have a space by the end of the year, everyone.’ And now we don’t set timeliness because it’s a year and a half later and I haven’t delivered on that,” she said. “But I can assure you we’re working really hard, and I’m hopeful there will be news this year about acquiring a space.”
Camley says Parker’s departure will not delay Qmunity’s search for a new home.
She says she’s looking forward to finding the right space. “In 2015, we helped over 48,000 people — with our new space we will be able to help even more,” she says. “We have a very strong board with years of combined business and social profit experience to help guide Qmunity during this time of change, opportunity and growth.”
Camley says a transition committee will oversee daily operations until Qmunity hires a new executive director.
“There’s going to be some kind of transition period,” she tells Daily Xtra. “But we have such an amazingly strong board, so we expect these transitions because you don’t get to keep someone as talented as Dara for that long.”
Parker says she will continue to support Qmunity.
“I’m going to be cheerleading graciously from the sidelines,” she says. “I think we have the strongest staff team we’ve ever had at Qmunity, building on the work of their predecessors. I’m enormously proud of our staff team and their work at the organization and intend to support them.”