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About Us

Our Mission

To enrich the lives of the diverse LGBTQ+ community through advocacy, support, education, and celebration.

Our Vision

The LGBTQ+ community is embraced and celebrated as an integral part of the thriving Northeast Ohio region.

Our Values

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We strive for excellence in programming and all aspects of our work.

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We are committed to being welcoming to all people.

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We will conduct all aspects of our business with compassion and integrity

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We will be proactive in addressing community needs within our mission.

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We believe partnerships and collaboration with community stakeholders enable us to enhance our work for constituents.

Our History

  1. 1975

    Foundation of GEAR

    The Gay Educational and Awareness (GEAR) Foundation was created to research human sexuality and sexual orientation, educate the public, provide mental & physical health, and social services to the homophile community. GEAR operated out of the home of Art MacDonald and published the High Gear newspaper, sponsored a gay hotline and speaker’s bureau, provided limited services in spaces at St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Free Clinic

  2. 1977

    Our First Location

    GEAR signs a lease to rent space for a community center in University Circle, but University Circle then reneges on the lease. Following this setback, GEAR opens the GEAR Gay Community Center of Cleveland in a three-room suite on the third floor of the Coventry Yard Mall Building. Less than a year later, this space and all of its content are destroyed in a devastating fire and it is decided that the community center will be moved into downtown.

  3. 1983

    First Executive Director

    Increased support from memberships and foundations allow the organization to hire its first executive director, Vincent Bluett. Increased funding also allows a wide variety of new programs to support the community.

  4. 1988

    The Lesbian/Gay Community Center of Greater Cleveland

    GEAR renamed itself the Lesbian/Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland additionally, The Living Room and Presence and Respect for Youth in Sexual Minority (PRYSM) programs opened. The Living Room supported people with HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic. It had its own entrance so people seeking support were not stigmatized. PRYSM provides innovative social supports for LGBTQ+ youth.

  5. 1989

    First Cleveland Pride

    Pride 89: An Out of the Closet Experience is the first full-scale Pride in Cleveland in many years. This was the first grassroots Pride to pull together the entire community outside of the W 29th Street location of The Center. In 1990, Pride added a parade/march. Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE trace their roots back to this celebration.

  6. 2000

    Move to Gordon Square

    In 2000, The Center moved into its current location in the basement of the Gordon Square Arcade. This more than tripled office and program space.

  7. 2005

    New Name

    In 2005, our current name, The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, was officially adopted.

  8. 2015

    Angel Donor

    An anonymous angel donor made a dream come true with a $1.8 million gift—the largest donation in The Center’s history. The purpose of the donation is for the Center to construct a new facility and increase staffing and program capacity. To date, this generous donor has given $4.9 million so the LGBTQ+ community could come together in a new, visible, modern and adaptable facility.

  9. 2016

    First “Pride in the CLE”

    Less than three weeks before Cleveland Pride in 2016, it was announced that organizers were canceling Pride due to a ‘changing social climate.’ The Center heard the outrage of the community and came together with elected officials, community organizations, and volunteers to hold the first Pride in the CLE, a true grassroots Pride march and festival in Cleveland’s Public Square. This became an annual event and in 2018, Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE consolidated into one event managed by The Center.

  10. 2017

    Ground Breaking

    After years of fundraising, community forums, and careful planning, The Center breaks ground on its new facility in the Gordon Square Arts District.

  11. 2019

    Our New Home

    In June of 2019, The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland opens the doors to its new home, a state of the art 15,000 sq ft space for the community to continue advocating, supporting, educating and celebrating our rich diverse past, present and future.

  1. 1975

    Foundation of GEAR

    The Gay Educational and Awareness (GEAR) Foundation was created to research human sexuality and sexual orientation, educate the public, provide mental & physical health, and social services to the homophile community. GEAR operated out of the home of Art MacDonald and published the High Gear newspaper, sponsored a gay hotline and speaker’s bureau, provided limited services in spaces at St. John’s Episcopal Church and the Free Clinic

  2. 1977

    Our First Location

    GEAR signs a lease to rent space for a community center in University Circle, but University Circle then reneges on the lease. Following this setback, GEAR opens the GEAR Gay Community Center of Cleveland in a three-room suite on the third floor of the Coventry Yard Mall Building. Less than a year later, this space and all of its content are destroyed in a devastating fire and it is decided that the community center will be moved into downtown.

  3. 1983

    First Executive Director

    Increased support from memberships and foundations allow the organization to hire its first executive director, Vincent Bluett. Increased funding also allows a wide variety of new programs to support the community.

  4. 1988

    The Lesbian/Gay Community Center of Greater Cleveland

    GEAR renamed itself the Lesbian/Gay Community Service Center of Greater Cleveland additionally, The Living Room and Presence and Respect for Youth in Sexual Minority (PRYSM) programs opened. The Living Room supported people with HIV/AIDS at the height of the epidemic. It had its own entrance so people seeking support were not stigmatized. PRYSM provides innovative social supports for LGBTQ+ youth.

  5. 1989

    First Cleveland Pride

    Pride 89: An Out of the Closet Experience is the first full-scale Pride in Cleveland in many years. This was the first grassroots Pride to pull together the entire community outside of the W 29th Street location of The Center. In 1990, Pride added a parade/march. Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE trace their roots back to this celebration.

  6. 2000

    Move to Gordon Square

    In 2000, The Center moved into its current location in the basement of the Gordon Square Arcade. This more than tripled office and program space.

  7. 2005

    New Name

    In 2005, our current name, The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland, was officially adopted.

  8. 2015

    Angel Donor

    An anonymous angel donor made a dream come true with a $1.8 million gift—the largest donation in The Center’s history. The purpose of the donation is for the Center to construct a new facility and increase staffing and program capacity. To date, this generous donor has given $4.9 million so the LGBTQ+ community could come together in a new, visible, modern and adaptable facility.

  9. 2016

    First “Pride in the CLE”

    Less than three weeks before Cleveland Pride in 2016, it was announced that organizers were canceling Pride due to a ‘changing social climate.’ The Center heard the outrage of the community and came together with elected officials, community organizations, and volunteers to hold the first Pride in the CLE, a true grassroots Pride march and festival in Cleveland’s Public Square. This became an annual event and in 2018, Cleveland Pride and Pride in the CLE consolidated into one event managed by The Center.

  10. 2017

    Ground Breaking

    After years of fundraising, community forums, and careful planning, The Center breaks ground on its new facility in the Gordon Square Arts District.

  11. 2019

    Our New Home

    In June of 2019, The LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland opens the doors to its new home, a state of the art 15,000 sq ft space for the community to continue advocating, supporting, educating and celebrating our rich diverse past, present and future.

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Phyllis Harris

Executive Director (She/Her)

A Cleveland native, Phyllis "Seven" Harris has nearly two decades of leadership experience in local nonprofits, includes program management and development, fundraising, and senior-level executive positions. For many years, she also has played a strong role as an advocate in Cleveland’s LGBT community.

Previously Ms. Harris worked at Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio, where she oversaw youth engagement programming. She has served as director of education and advocacy with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, was vice president of programs and interim CEO with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Cleveland, and capital campaign director at the Cleveland Sight Center. Her involvement with Cleveland nonprofit leadership includes roles on the governing boards of the LGBT Center, SPACES, and Community Shares of Greater Cleveland.

Ms. Harris holds a master’s degree in non-profit management from Case Western Reserve University and a Bachelor of Arts from Baldwin Wallace College. She lives in Shaker Heights and is the proud mother of two children.

Center Staff

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Denise Astorino

Community Engagement Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 243-7488
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Mary Beth Bartholomew

Rainbow Pioneers Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 273-6651
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Wendy Bridges

Guest Relations (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 202-7054
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Christian Contessa

Office Coordinator (They/He)
[email protected]
(216) 750-4831
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Gulnar Feerasta

Senior Director of Programs (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 273-6639
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Matthew Graves

Director of Development & Communication (He/Him)
[email protected]
(216) 202-7080
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Andrew Guzzetta

Development Associate (He/Him)
[email protected]
(216) 202-6856
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Daniel Hamilton

Director of Operations (They/Them)
[email protected]
(216) 273-6617
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Tamika "Devinity" Jones

HIV Prevention & Trans Wellness Program Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
​(216) 273-6619
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Dawn Kotalik

Facilities Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 202-7047
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Bridgette Lewis

QYou Program Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 353-6543
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John Licatatiso

Training Coordinator (He/Him)
[email protected]
(216) 273-6646
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Carmen Recchia

QYou Lorain Coordinator
[email protected]
(216) 202-7385
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Alyssa Roberts

Program Coordinator (She/Her)
[email protected]
(216) 353-6272

Board of Directors

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Justin Gould

President
U.S. Department of Justice Pronouns: He/Him
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Kenyon Farrow

First Vice-President
Co-Executive Director, Partners for Dignity and Rights
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Laura Chalker

Treasurer
Principal Consultant, Momenta Consulting LLC & Executive Director, Bond Accountability Commission
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Rachel Polak

Secretary
Corporate & Securities Paralegal
JOANN Fabrics, Inc.
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Dr. Swagata Banik

Professor
Baldwin Wallace University
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Braveheart Gillani

PhD Student, MSASS, CWRU
Ginger Mlakar

Ginger Mlakar

The Cleveland Foundation Pronouns: She/Her
CBIZ staff portrait and CBIZ rooms and areas

Elizabeth Newman

Chief of Staff, CBIZ Inc.
1575173614120

Dr. Henry Ng

Cleveland Clinic
Pronouns: He/They
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Eliana Turan

Author, Community Activist
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Terri Williams

Miss Gay Black Ohio & Student at Cleveland State University

GET CONNECTED. STAY CONNECTED.

LOCATION

6705 Detroit Ave.

Cleveland, Ohio 44102


216-651-5428

Location Map >

BUILDING HOURS

Sunday: Closed

Monday: 10am - 8pm

Tuesday: 10am - 6pm

Wednesday: 10am - 8pm

Thursday: 10am - 8pm

Friday: 10am - 8pm

Saturday: Closed

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