Courtesy of New Haven Pride Center

After losing its 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit status, the New Haven Pride Center has replaced its executive director and taken action to reinstate its nonprofit status as soon as possible

The revocation was a result of the Pride Center failing to file IRS Form 990 for three consecutive years. In response, the Pride Center has made a change in leadership by removing former executive director Patrick Dunn and appointing Juancarlos Soto as the acting executive director via unanimous vote by the board of directors.

“The revocation of the status was just based on 990 tax returns not being filed in a timely manner,” said Board President Dolores Hopkins. “If you go over three consecutive years, you automatically are put on a hold status. And that’s what had occurred.”

On Oct. 31, the Pride Center released an official announcement on its Facebook page stating that the board had been conducting a thorough investigation of the situation. The Pride Center said they are working with an outside professional service to determine the exact nature of the situation and seek retroactive reinstatement of the Center’s 501(c)(3) status.

“Part of us releasing that statement is practicing our commitment of transparency to the community,” said Board Member Hope Chávez. “As soon as we became aware of the egregiousness of this situation, it was important to say, ‘Oh, my goodness, community, this is where we are.’”

The Pride Center has been working with BryteBridge Nonprofit Solutions to regain their 501(c)(3) status. According to Hopkins, the Pride Center has been able to move forward in the nonprofit reinstatement process quickly. She said BryteBridge is prioritizing completing the tax forms, which is a necessary step for the Pride Center to be reinstated as a tax-exempt nonprofit.

Filing the required tax returns is explicitly mentioned as part of the executive director’s responsibilities. According to Chávez, the Board had previously directed Dunn to hire an accountant to support him in his capacity management. The Pride Center’s relationship with BryteBridge had started earlier this year — before the Pride Center’s nonprofit status was revoked — to provide support with ongoing tax filings. 

“[BryteBridge] was retained and paid for — part of what led to the removal of the executive director was our awareness that they had not actually been engaged,” Chávez said. “And nor had an accountant really been engaged in the way that we understood they would be.”

Dunn did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In light of this incident, programming at the Pride Center was suspended from Oct. 30 to Nov. 5, and the Pride Center’s staff took the week off. The only event held during this period was the “Chocolate and Cheesecake” fundraiser to support Connecticut’s LGBTQ+ Youth Conference.

Both Hopkins and Chávez believe that the Pride Center’s loss of nonprofit status will not cause donations to dwindle. They noted that they received support from the community for their youth programming fundraiser.

“There just wasn’t a concern [about a lack of donations],” Hopkins said. “The people donated from their heart for what we were doing and to support.”

Hopkins and Chávez also emphasized that when the Center’s 501(c)(3) status is reinstated, it will retroactively cover the period of time that the Pride Center has not been able to issue tax deduction letters. They said there is a high probability that donors will eventually be able to receive tax deductions on their current contributions to the Center.

Looking forward, the Pride Center’s goal is to keep functioning as planned. Upcoming events at the Pride Center include the TDOR — short for Transgender Day of Remembrance — Art Exhibition on Nov. 14 and a TDOR Panel on “Trans and Non-binary Joy” on Nov. 19.

“The New Haven Pride Center has served this community for over 25 years,” wrote Samuel Byrd, the director of Yale’s Office of LGBTQ Resources.  “We look forward to continuing our partnerships here in New Haven and nationally to advance access, equity and inclusion, both on and off campus.” 

The New Haven Pride Center is located at 84 Orange Street.

Kinnia Cheuk is a Managing Editor for the Yale Daily News Magazine. Originally from Hong Kong, she is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight majoring in English.