By Crystal Proxmire
Kalamazoo Gay and Lesbian Resource Center Executive Director Zach Bauer is passing the torch after three years of managing the community center. Bauer has accepted a position on the Community Investment team of the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, where he will be able to help multiple organizations thrive in the area.
“Serving as the KGLRC Executive Director has been a blast, I’ve got to serve with some of the most outstanding individuals – staff, board and volunteers – the work we’ve done together has made the organization stronger. Now, it is time for me to move on to my next adventure,” Bauer said on his Facebook page. Bauer will officially depart from KGLRC on March 6.
KGLRC experienced tremendous growth with Bauer at the helm. His work with Kalamazoo Pride and the Winter Gala fundraiser brought interest and investment to the center, and he also helped expand programming and doubled the size of the staff.
KGLRC Board President Carol Anderson said “I would like to thank Zach wholeheartedly for all that he has done for the KGLRC – and for Kalamazoo. He has brought the [KGLRC] to where we are today, which is a vibrant and exciting place to be.”
Bauer fell in love with Kalamazoo over a dozen years ago when he came to study political science and economics at Western Michigan University. While there he tasted activism, working with the school’s LGBT club, OUTspoken. His passion for politics and activism grew as he worked on a campaign to elect Mayor Bobby Hopewell, who became a friend and mentor.
Though his job with a large bank took him back and forth between Michigan and Pennsylvania, Bauer remained active as a volunteer in political campaigns, and providing his expertise for the 2011 pride festival. When the previous executive director, Dave Garcia, left to work with Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale, Bauer was a natural successor to step in.
Programming at KGLRC includes outreach to youth, transgender community members and those working to build bridges with communities of faith. The center also offers various support groups and healthy activities like yoga and a running/walking group. Politically, Bauer helped KGLRC join forces with the Community Center Network for statewide cooperation on initiatives. He’s reached out to local businesses for fundraising and awareness partnerships, like working with Bell’s Brewery to create a diversity-themed logo for t-shirts to raise money during Pride. His staff and KGLRC volunteers have worked with Unity Michigan to get human rights ordinances passed in the area.
“The board of directors, together with the KGLRC staff, will implement a smooth transition that will ensure the organization’s operations and vital programming continue to be delivered at the same quality the community has come to expect from the KGLRC,” reads the KGLRC press release about Bauer’s departure.
“It is my firm belief that the brightest days lie ahead for the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center.” Bauer said.
By Crystal Proxmire