Twenty Years: A Message I Never Expected to Write

A line of six-striped rainbow flags blowing in the wind

Exactly 20 years ago, I showed up for my first day of work with Horizons Foundation. The reason that I never expected to write this message, or one like it, is simply because I’d never have guessed then that I’d be at this desk for two decades. I remember clearly walking into Horizons’ offices in the venerable Flood Building and diving into a fat, meticulously prepared binder packed with history, information, spreadsheets, analyses, and plans. And there were wonderful people like Paula Morris, Dave Gleba, Lia Shigemura, Miguel Bustos, Gale Richards, Prado Gomez, Shannon Minter, Scott Hafner, Jeff Lewy – and many more – standing ready to be my teachers and anchors during those earliest days.

Still, I admit to having been a bit intimidated. The foundation found itself in a bit of a tough place, as many organizations did in those dot-bust days. Then there was already a proud 20+ - year history to live up to. And most daunting of all, Horizons had a large vision for our LGBTQ community – a vision that humbled at least as much as it inspired.

How the heck did this happen?

From time to time, someone asks what explains my lengthy tenure here. The simplest answer? I’ve enjoyed both good fortune and good people.

But there’s more to it than that. It’s the joy in being part of a movement that has changed – and will keep changing – the world. It’s the immense privilege of working with a spectacular array of LGBTQ nonprofits and queer leaders throughout our community, both here in our Bay Area home and well beyond. It’s the pleasure of working with some marvelously talented and dedicated people. It’s the never-gets-old experience of real partnerships with scores of board leaders and board members. It’s the honor of joining with some of the most generous donors I’ve ever met in a cause we all believe in so deeply.

What lies beneath

Those alone would have been plenty. But there’s something more. Well, two more things. One is the thrill of knowing how great Horizons’ potential is. I’m proud of what we’ve achieved over these years, but – truly – this foundation has only begun to have the kind of impact that it will for generations to come. And we know that because – together – we’re creating that future by realizing the vast promise in legacy giving and building the LGBTQ Community Endowment Fund.

The second is, quite simply, this unendingly astounding community of LGBTQ people – our families, our organizations, our festivals and celebrations; our fierceness, our generosity, our capacity for coming together – for taking care of one another – when the proverbial chips are really down. Sure, our community has plenty of flaws, some quite deep. And still: what a treasure it is. It has been the privilege of my lifetime to be part of it in this work with Horizons – and with you.

I’m deeply grateful to Horizons’ board, my staff colleagues, as well as the foundation’s hundreds of grantees and thousands of supporters for this continuing opportunity. It is a great privilege, every bit as much so today as it was to first step on board.