Community members grill GLCCB director candidate on experience, vision

Tinsley-Hall is Baltimore native, Army veteran

  • The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, located in the Waxter Center, is searching for a new executive director.
The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center… (Photo by Monica Lopossay )
September 24, 2014|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

The pent-up frustration in Baltimore's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community with the center founded decades ago to serve their needs was on full display Tuesday night, when several local activists grilled a candidate for the center's open executive director position.

Joel Tinsley-Hall, 39, a black Baltimore native and Army veteran with a husband and children, an active church life and a history working with mentally ill adults and youth, at times found himself on the defensive during the more than one-hour interview session on the second floor of the Waxter Center in Mount Vernon, where the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore, or GLCCB, is located.

At one point in the middle of the session, Tinsley-Hall got out of his seat and started sparring verbally with a leading advocate of Baltimore's transgender community, Monica Yorkman of Sistas of the T, after she told him he had "pretty rhetoric" but lacked the vision and passion needed for the job.

"I haven't heard anything that you are passionate about," she said.

Those in the room also never heard that Tinsley-Hall's husband, Scott Tinsley-Hall, director of strategy at the University of Maryland Medical Center, is a member of the GLCCB board of directors. Before the event, all questions that could infringe on protections barring employment decisions based on family dynamics, race and other factors were discouraged.

Mike McCarthy, the president of the board, said Scott Tinsley-Hall has not participated at all in the selection process, due to the conflict, and would resign from the board if Joel Tinsley-Hall is selected as executive director.

The session, which Yorkman eventually stormed out of, was organized by the GLCCB's board as an opportunity for prominent community members to add their voice to the executive director selection process. It followed news earlier this week that the center's acting executive director, Kelly Neel, has bowed out of the selection process despite being a leading contender and will be stepping down from her acting role effective Oct. 3.

So far, no other community interview sessions with additional candidates have been scheduled. Chris Adkins, GLCCB board vice president, said input on Tinsley-Hall provided in written form by the attendees of the Tuesday session will be sent to the full board "to kind of chew it over."

The board will review the input and decide if they want to offer Tinsley-Hall the job, Adkins said. If so, they'd then enter into salary negotiations. If not, they would look to hold another interview session with another candidate, he said.

McCarthy said a decision could come very soon.

Based on an initial review of the feedback, some in the group found Tinsley-Hall -- a graduate student in social work at Morgan State University and a former supervisor of Harbor City Unlimited residential rehabilitation program at the University of Maryland -- to be a viable candidate, Adkins said.

But others raised questions, including about his temperament. "People didn't care for him matching her tone," Adkins said of Tinsley-Hall's loud exchange with Yorkman.

"We all have a fairly strong sense that he could implement all of the goals and plans the board has set forward," Adkins said. "The question is going to be whether he can help us with our integrity problem."

McCarthy said in an email that he was pleased overall with how the interview process went, and thought Tinsley-Hall performed "admirably when it came to questions about managing an organization and implementing priorities.

"Even though there was some heated discussion, that is something the Executive Director at the GLCCB is going to encounter from time to time when dealing with a multi-faceted community and a limit of capacity to address what various groups believe is the priority," McCarthy said. "It was nice to see how Joel reacted to the situation as presented."

Prior to his grilling Tuesday night, Tinsley-Hall said he was nervous but excited, and "ready to sort of dig in and mend some bridges."

For several months now, the GLCCB has been working to address voiced frustrations from the community that the center has become unresponsive to community needs and unwelcoming to certain segments of the LGBT population, in part because of a lack of transparency, consistency and diversity at the top.

It's also been criticized for not taking community input into consideration when making decisions about programming, branding, the annual Baltimore Pride celebration and other events.

On Tuesday night, Tinsley-Hall said one of his first priorities if given the job would be to do a full assessment of the center's finances. He also repeatedly stressed that much of his decision-making would come only after gauging the desires of the community.

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