News Briefs

Grace House hires new director

A former Pride Institute director has been named as the new head of Grace House, a Minneapolis-based hospice for people living with HIV/AIDS. John Whalen, a veteran nonprofit manager, started work as the hospice's executive director in early August.

"I've always been interested in the whole issue of providing assisted living for people with a disability or illness," says Whalen, who recently completed five years as the executive director of the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Minnesota, a St. Paul nonprofit. In the late 1980s, Whalen briefly served as the top administrator at Pride Institute, a chemical-dependency treatment center for gay men and lesbians in Eden Prairie.

Whalen replaces former executive director Polly Carl, who was dismissed by the nonprofit's executive board in April, shortly after the opening of Grace House II, a second care facility located adjacent the original four-bed facility. At the time, Grace House spokesman and board member Ray Thul declined to comment on Carl's departure.

The three-person administrative staff and 15 caregivers have their hands full with the addition of the second facility, Whalen says. "Grace House II has meant the doubling of everything," he explains. "We need twice as many volunteers and caregivers, because we have twice the number of people to serve."

Grace House has an annual operating budget of $440,000 and an average of 7.5 full-time residents per year.

Activist Mandy Carter to speak at U of M Coming Out banquet

Seasoned activist Mandy Carter, a consultant with the National Black Lesbian and Gay Leadership Forum and a former lobbyist with the Human Rights Campaign, will be the featured speaker at a celebration of National Coming Out Week at the University of Minnesota on Monday, Oct. 12. Carter will address students, staff, faculty, and community members at a 7 p.m. banquet held in the Campus Club of Coffman Memorial Union.

The banquet, one of a series of events planned for Coming Out Week at the U, also will serve to honor the recipients of the Breaking the Silence Awards, a pair of awards given to two individuals who have worked to improve the climate for GLBT students at the U of M.

Carter will also speak at a convocation in Edson Auditorium at the University of Minnesota-Morris on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at 7:30 p.m.

For further details, call the U of M GLBT Programs Office at 612-626-2324.

OutFront awarded $5,000 for HRC field work, named to cabinet

In an effort to strengthen its ties outside the Washington beltway, the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay and lesbian political lobbying organization, has tapped OutFront Minnesota for advice. HRC has named OutFront Minnesota executive director Ann DeGroot to its newly created field cabinet and awarded the Minneapolis-based nonprofit a $5,000 grant for political organizing.

The six-member field cabinet also includes leaders from gay and lesbian organizations in Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, North Carolina, and Oregon, according to Donna Red Wing, HRC's national field director. "The field department is very aware that 'All politics is local,'" Red Wing says. "And even though HRC has great lobbyists in Washington, unless we have the grass-roots support back home, we won't have much political muscle."

A $5,000 grant was presented to each cabinet members in September, during the annual, HRC-sponsored OutVote conference. DeGroot attended the conference in Washington, D.C, as well as the national HRC fundraising dinner, held Sept. 19.

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