Utah Pride Center announces new leadership after layoffs, financial debt

Ryan M. Newcomb, the new executive director of the Utah Pride Center, speaks at the center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday.

Ryan M. Newcomb, the new executive director of the Utah Pride Center, speaks at the center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday. (Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)


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SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Pride Center on Wednesday announced new leadership and a pathway forward after mounting debt forced over two dozen layoffs.

The Utah Pride Center says it spent approximately $1.5 million more on the 2023 Pride Festival than in previous years, despite revenues remaining flat and leaving the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. The mounting debt resulted in the furlough and layoffs of over two dozen employees of the Utah Pride Center and the board, it said in a statement.

Ryan Newcomb was announced as the new executive director of the Utah Pride Center; a new board of leadership was also announced. Newcomb began his role at the end of September and says he has begun working with the newly established board to chart a sustainable path forward.

"UPC has been a community voice and leader in the fight for equality, queer visibility and pride for so long and I'm honored to be in this role and taking it on the way of delivering to the needs of an incredibly diverse community," Newcomb said.

"The new board leadership and I join public calls for full accountability and take full responsibility for correcting the mistakes of the past. We are charting a new, clearer path with a relaunched organization that will ensure this never happens again," Newcomb added.

The organization will be launching an internal review of all finances in the last year to ensure there were no irregularities and to determine the cause of the debt. The center's new leadership will also undergo the task of creating new financial and ethical guardrails, according to Newcomb. In addition to the review and new policies, the organization will be reviewing its role in the LGBTQ community.

The Utah Pride Center says it will work to stop duplicative programming that competes with other nonprofits in the same space. The organization will cease direct programs for seniors or direct mental health services going forward, but will continue to provide youth and transgender programming. The details of the programming are still being finalized, according to the nonprofit.

"Of paramount importance is our intent to deliver a 2024 Pride that is responsive to our community and continues to be the conduit for all UPC programming that is done going forward, including keeping UPC and our communities that are here open and operating as a space for peer support groups, community members to congregate, meet and just be themselves," Newcomb said.

In planning the 2024 Pride Festival, the new leadership will be conducting roundtable discussions with diverse members of the community to understand concerns regarding accountability, policing and pricing.

"We recognize and value the complex and multifaceted needs and experiences of the many diverse groups in our queer movement. We aim to listen more ... while being a unifying force for progress in a time when hate crimes and scapegoating of marginalized communities are at an all-time high," said Newcomb, adding that the center's sign had been vandalized Tuesday. "That heightens and continues to remind us of what we are facing."

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.

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