David Mariner, executive director of The DC Center for the LGBT Community, has announced he will step down from his position on Sept. 30 after 11 years with the organization.
Mariner made the announcement in a “Dear Friends” letter sent to supporters of The DC Center, and posted a copy of the letter on his personal website.
In the letter, he noted that he would be leaving just a little over two weeks after The DC Center’s Fall Reception, on Friday, Sept. 13, and encouraged people to attend the event, in part, to bid him farewell.
“As we celebrate our 15th Anniversary this year, I hope we all take time to celebrate the many visionary board members, staff, volunteers, and community partners who have brought us to this point, including our past board chairs Michael Sessa and Michael Fowler, and our current board co-chairs Rehana Mohammed and Jonathan Gilad,” Mariner wrote.
“2019 also marks my 11th and final year at the DC Center. September 30th will be my last day serving as Executive Director of this remarkable organization,” he added. “While I look forward to the opportunities in my future, the DC Center will always hold a very special place in my heart.”
Mariner promised to help ensure a smooth transition, which will be orchestrated by The DC Center’s board of directors.
“I am grateful to be able to leave the DC Center in the hands of very capable board members and staff,” Mariner wrote. “It is the right time to make way for new leadership, ideas, and vision. I look forward to seeing where we go from here.”
In a follow-up interview with Metro Weekly, Mariner confirmed that he is leaving Washington, D.C. to take a position as the new executive director of Camp Rehoboth, the local LGBTQ community center for Rehoboth Beach, Del.
“I’m very much looking forward to it,” he said. “Rehoboth is a special place for the LGBTQ community. It has a lot of connections to D.C., so it feels like a natural fit.”
A press release from Camp Rehoboth praised Mariner’s accomplishments in D.C., saying the LGBTQ community center is “well prepared to continue the important work that has allowed us to live up to our vision of building safe and inclusive communities for all.”
Asked about his achievements as executive director, Mariner cited the founding of the OutWrite literary festival, the establishment of the Center Global program to help support LGBTQ asylum seekers, and his advocacy on behalf of LGBTQ seniors.
Mariner says he’ll miss the connections, relationships, and friends he’s made within D.C.’s LGBTQ community the most.
“Leaving is definitely more emotional than I expected it to be,” he said. “However, a lot of the goals I set out to accomplish, we have accomplished together. So I think this is an opportunity for a new person to help write that next chapter for The DC Center. There is plenty of work to do and lots of room to grow.”
Jonathan Gilad, co-chair of The DC Center’s board of directors, praised Mariner’s longstanding contributions to the community center in an interview with Metro Weekly.
“There’s not a single brick in The DC Center that doesn’t speak to David’s contributions to the community,” Gilad said. “His contributions are incalculable.
“Just in the last year, David helped move the needle with the D.C. Council in terms of securing funding for LBGT senior adults,” Gilad added, referring to Mariner’s success in convincing the DC Department of Aging and Community Living to give its first-ever grant to an LGBTQ organization.
“David was also instrumental in helping us find a home in the Reeves Center,” he said. “For many years, we didn’t have a permanent space, and filling that space with amazing programs, pretty much all week round, is a testament to the work he did. He doubled the amount of D.C. Council grants for health care, for mental health, for anti-violence programs, which is particularly important in light of recent hate crimes…. The sheer number of things he’s done for us will be felt for years after he leaves.”
Regarding a successor, Gilad said the board would be discussing plans for a search for a new executive director at a meeting on Monday evening, as well as plans to name an interim director should the search for Mariner’s replacement go past Sept. 30.
“Those decisions haven’t been made yet, because we wanted to announced David was leaving and that we’re honoring him at our Fall Reception,” Gilad said.
He also noted that an ideal executive director would be someone with strong leadership skills, a proven ability to bring together people of diverse backgrounds, and someone with strong ties to the local D.C. community.
Gilad added that while he’s sad to see Mariner go, he wishes him the best.
“[David] was looking for the next opportunity, because he’s done so much work here, and I think he wanted to grow as a professional, and also to help Camp Rehoboth,” Gilad said. “It’s such a great fit. I’m really excited for him.”
The DC Center’s Fall Reception, marking its 15th anniversary, is on Friday, Sept. 13, at the Warner Building, 1299 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. For tickets and more information, visit www.thedccenter.org/events/fifteen.