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Meet the new executive director of Vancouver’s Queer Film Festival

Stephanie Goodwin says she’s excited to make space for queer art

The new executive director of Out on Screen says she feels “humbled and really excited to make space for high quality queer art.”

Out on Screen produces Vancouver’s annual Queer Film Festival and its educational outreach program, Out in Schools, which aims to facilitate gay-friendly conversations in schools across BC.

Stephanie Goodwin’s first day as executive director was Nov 2, 2015. The organization’s previous executive director, Drew Dennis, stepped down on July 24, after 15 successful years at the helm.

“I feel pretty honoured,” Goodwin tells Daily Xtra in a phone interview Nov 4. “Out on Screen is a strong, vibrant, vital organization in the community, and it has the respect of the community.”

Goodwin, who identifies as queer, has been actively involved in Greenpeace for 10 years, most recently as BC director of the global environmental organization.

The former secondary school teacher, and staunch anti-oppression advocate, has also raised $2 million in fundraising campaigns, has negotiated agreements with diverse stakeholders, and helped draft the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement — the largest rainforest protection package in North America.

Though Goodwin says it’s still too early in her tenure to announce specific plans for Out on Screen, she says community inclusion and transparency are key.

She says she plans to honour and nurture Out on Screen’s commitment to fostering community connections.

“Everything is on the table. Whatever we do, we will engage with and have the support of the community,” she says.

“We only have the legitimacy to do what we do because of the support of the community,” she adds.

Goodwin also says she’s interested in carefully examining the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s final report and the impacts of colonization on Canada’s indigenous people. “Any meaningful steps we take toward human rights will ultimately enable impacts in other areas,” she says. “We are a community-driven organization that is open and responsive to all portions of the community.”

James Ong, chair of the board of Out on Screen, says the decision to appoint Goodwin was undisputed among the three hiring board members.

“We were looking for a seasoned leader, someone who had experience managing and organizing, someone great at building relationships, and someone who believed in our mission. It was unanimous,” Ong says. “We could see how Stephanie could fit in the organization.”

“She brings a passion for the arts, an understanding of the transformative power of film to build vibrant communities, and the tested skills and expertise to grow the organization,” Ong adds in an Oct 29 news release.

Ong says Out on Screen hired a consulting firm to help the organization find a new executive director. “The transition consultants conducted extensive interviews with both board and staff members,” he says.

Goodwin was the successful candidate out of 16 applicants.

“I am proud to lead Out on Screen because of its leadership in advancing the lives of queer people through creativity and the arts,” Goodwin says in the news release.

“I plan to use my decades of experience championing the rights of people and the environment to carry forward Out on Screen’s mission with the passion and commitment to high impact that the organization is already known for in the community,” she says.