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New executive director for LGCA

Wong plans to raise more cash for queer groups

NEW LEADERSHIP. Philip Wong is the new executive director of the Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal. Credit: Jenna Wakani

The Lesbian and Gay Community Appeal Foundation’s (LGCA) new executive director is scheduled to start work on Mon, Sep 17.

“It’s an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” says Philip Wong. “They haven’t had an executive director for a number of years and they’re psyched for a period of growth.”

The LGCA raises funds and gives grants to individuals and groups that help develop Toronto’s queer culture through services, advocacy and the arts. This year the LGCA gave away more than $63,000 in total to more than 30 grant recipients including Drumdrag, the Halton Organization for Pride and Education, Supporting Our Youth and the Rainbow Railroad.

The LGCA is steward of the Steinert and Ferreiro Award which recognizes outstanding contributions to Toronto’s queer community through the arts and sciences with a $10,000 cash prize. The LGCA is also trustee of The Bill 7 Award, a post-secondary scholarship for Ontario’s queer youth.

Founded in 1980 the LGCA has granted more than $2 million to community initiatives of all descriptions. It is supported mainly through private community donations and the Ontario Trillium Fund, an agency of the provincial government.

Wong says LGCA support can make all the difference to a community initiative that is struggling to get off the ground.

“The [Lesbian Gay Bi Trans] Youth Line is a great example of having support from the community early on. See where it is now,” he says. “It’s had 13 years and it’s a great example of what the LGCA has done and continues to do.”

Wong joins the LGCA after five years as executive director of the Youth Line. He was a Youth Line volunteer for four years before that. He says he understands how nonprofit queer groups can struggle to stay afloat and grow while serving their communities.

“As an underresourced community there needs to be other channels for fundraising,” says Wong. “Sometimes program staff are involved with fundraising and that weakens our social structures a little bit. Things have changed recently; you definitely see some more funding support from corporations but there’s definitely a need for the LGCA and support from our own community. What the LGCA does is provide a queer-friendly place to go for funding.”

Part of the trouble queer groups face is the vast number of other charitable groups also in need of funds.

“I think it’s a highly competitive funding environment,” says Wong. “I’d like to see what other resources we can provide to support other agencies and communities. The LGCA already fills an important gap, so to help the LGCA grow, basically it’s about raising more money for more people.”

Wong says he isn’t yet ready to discuss specifically how he plans to make the LGCA grow but he has identified areas he would like to focus on.

“The LGCA recently committed to a strategic plan but I’d like to review it,” he says. “I’d like us to update the website and look at the marketing and branding of the LGCA. We need to look at the community and see what we can do to get as much support as possible. There’s a real need for the LGCA, we just want to build it.”