The Grand Rapids Pride Center chose a new leader to replace Thomas Pierce, who stepped down last fall.
The Grand Rapids Pride Center (GRPC) said in a Facebook post that the organization is “thrilled to announce the hiring of Jazz McKinney as our executive director.”
GRPC said in a blog post last fall that Pierce was leaving the nonprofit. He started his new role in the Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at Metro Health in October.
The Grand Rapids Pride Center (GRPC) is thrilled to announce the hiring of Jazz McKinney as our Executive Director….
“During Thomas’s tenure at GRPC, he was instrumental in growing our support groups, increasing our capacity to serve and producing one of the most successful Pride Celebrations we’ve ever had in Grand Rapids,” GRPC said in the post last fall. “We are truly grateful for the tremendous amount of work Thomas has done for Grand Rapids Pride Center and our LGBTQ+ community in West Michigan.”
McKinney — who identifies as a Black and Indigenous two-spirit individual and a transmasculine nonbinary person whose pronouns are they/them — has been an active member of GRPC as a volunteer and board member and was appointed interim center director in October after Pierce stepped down.
Starting their volunteering close to a decade ago, McKinney is intimately connected to the region’s 2S-LGBTQ+ community. A native of Detroit, McKinney came to West Michigan for college, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Grand Valley State University and a Master of Arts in counseling from Western Michigan University.
“They bring a unique perspective on how complex West Michigan can be for a BIPOC person to navigate,” GRPC said in the Facebook announcement. “A natural connector, Jazz is well known in the GRPC, GVSU and greater Grand Rapids community as an advocate for all, personally identifying most with the Black, Indigenous, trans and disabled community members we serve.”
Most recently at GRPC, McKinney was chair of the Transgender and Gender-Non-Conforming committee and was its representative on the board of directors. With a decade of mental health experience at YWCA West Central Michigan and D.A. Blodgett-St. John’s, GRPC said McKinney is well positioned to continue the Pride Center’s community health and advocacy efforts.
“Jazz is not afraid of change and eager to listen to multiple perspectives while staying true to advocating for those most oppressed,” GRPC said. “The GRPC community is excited to begin a new decade with Jazz McKinney at the helm. We are prepared to bring a hunger for change, intentional leadership and the practiced inclusivity required to build a community center where all of us feel like we belong.”
People can connect with McKinney by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (616) 458-3511, ext. 101.