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Political Conflict and Financial Troubles Sink Q Center

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


Former board members continue to lay blame on each other for the collapse of the Q Center, following the Dec. 18 resignation of its board of directors.

Development Director Karen Petersen and Executive Director Barbara McCullough-Jones resigned earlier this month amid widespread talk of financial mismanagement. 

In a move announced Friday, LGBT political advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) stepped in and provided $50,000 for the organization to meet short term cash flow needs, and an interim board of directors was put into place. 

Mounting trouble at the organization was documented as early as April 2013. In a Performance Improvement Plan, the board of directors outlined several areas in which McCullough-Jones needed to improve -- with donor relations at the top of the list. Other areas noted for improvement were community relations, staff management, and public appearances. 

Ousted Q Center board chair Aaron Hall said political infighting impeded fundraising efforts. Hall claimed a cadre of insiders worked to remove then-executive director Barbara McCullough-Jones.  According to Hall, intrigue against McCullough-Jones affected the organization’s ability to fundraise. Hall resisted the 90-day performance improvement plan. 

Former board members reached for comment denied allegations of trying to undermine McCullough-Jones, but refused to go on the record with comment.

However, one former Q Center board member, speaking on condition of anonymity, said some members of the board, although disappointed in McCullough-Jones' performance, wanted to see her succeed. 

The former board member said that donor relations had indeed come apart.  He said he gave $1,000 donation to the Q Center during a fundraising gala during and was never thanked.

The improvement plan listed that Nike, Basic Rights Oregon, and Pride NW among organizations where relationships needed repair.  

"We saw people (donors) being ignored," he said. But he maintained that many board members tried to assist McCullough-Jones and offered to accompany her on visits to potential donors. 

Financial Issues 

McCullough-Jones was brought in to lead the organization in 2011 because of her experience fundraising and with running a community center and political action group.

The organization is roughly $125,000 in the red, compared with a $63,438 surplus it had in 2013, according to former treasurer and financial consultant to the Q Center Jim Johnson. 

Johnson agreed to resign from the Q Center Board Dec. 18 as a condition of the Basic Rights Oregon bailout agreement. "I was one of four white guys who left the board," Johnson said. 

An examination of IRS 990 filings from 2010-2014 show the organization operated at losses of $33,063, $49,641, and $29,410 in 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively. Yet total spending on salaries grew between 2011 and 2013. However, Johnson said these numbers are not unusual for a young non-profit in the years following a global recession.

A 2013 audit of Q Center came back clean, notably making no mention of the organization’s financial situation. Contributions increased steadily from $199,493 in 2011, to $492,085 in 2012, to $737,853 in 2013. The rise in contributions coincided with a run up to the purchasing the center's building at 4115 N. Mississippi Ave, for over $1 million.

However, cash flow slowed in 2014.  Despite solid financials the previous year, by the fall of 2014, prospects of having enough income to meet payroll came into question, according to Johnson. He said records show Petersen and McCullough-Jones did not raise adequate funds for the center.   

Moving forward

The Q Center will navigate the remainder of the year with $50,000 from BRO. BRO Executive Director Jeana Frazzini said Friday she does not foresee the closure of the center, and the interim board will work toward that, with the support of a BRO-appointed advisory committee. 

She emphasized the outlook was positive. “This is an opportunity, coming out of crisis.” 


Related Slideshow: The Top 12 Gay Clubs in Portland

Here is a list of the Top Ten…er…make that Top 12 Gay Bars in Portland. We ranked them in order of outrageousness.

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12. Starky's

Starky’s is for those who remember that brunch is best served on Sunday with a Bloody Mary. This true original is more restaurant than bar but that doesn’t stop people from coming here for some of the stiffest drinks in town. (2913 SE Stark St., www.starkys.com)

photo credits: facebook

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11. The Fox & Hound

This little charmer is a good pre- or post-function gathering spot where people come to sit down and carry on actual conversation.  It’s not much, but it has an incredibly loyal group of regulars. Think of it as a queer Cheers. (217 NW 2nd Ave., https://www.foxandhound.com/)

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10. Hobo's

Thomas Lauderdale once tickled the ivories at this Old Town piano bar. This restaurant and lounge is a must-see for those who like their martinis and men on the neat side. (
120 NW 3rd Ave., www.hobospdx.com/)

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9. Casey's

This recently relocated men’s bar used to have everyone scratching their heads over how the stayed open in Old Town. Now that it’s more centrally located in the meat of the city, there’s a good chance this will be the one bar that actually might stay open in this seemingly cursed space. (412 SW 4th Ave., http://caseyspdx.net/)

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8. Embers Avenue

This old-school nightclub is where many of the cities top drag queens first got their footing in six-inch heels. Embers attracts a lot more straight than it did in the 80’s and 90’s but it still has one of the biggest dance floors in town. It recently went up for sale, so it’s hard to say how long this place will be around before we have to say goodbye. (110 NW Broadway, www.theembersavenue.com)

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7. Joq's Tavern

This Northeast neighborhood joint is just your average blue-collar tavern. Nothing special. And people wouldn’t want it any other way. (2512 NE Broadway, Google Plus site)


photo credits: Queer PDX 365

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6. Local Lounge

Although it says it’s not just for the gay community (and what really isn’t anymore?) the Local makes sure to attract a diverse crowd who mix it up on both the smallish dance floor and at the bar. (3536 NE MLK Blvd., http://local-lounge.com/)

photo credits: Local's facebook 

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5. Crush

Woody and his gang pour stiff drinks and throw outrageous dance parties for the boys, the girls, the bis - the just about anybodies - at this Southeast queer-centric space that hosts just as many political fundraisers as it does disco-tied dance nights. Think of it as the Studio 54 that you actually can get into on a Saturday night. (1400 SE Morrison St., crushbar.weebly.com/)

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4. Scandal’s

This always evolving entertainment hub features First Thursday art shows, block parties, trivia nights, karaoke and so much more. Think of it as your one-stop shop for all things gay and fabulous. (1125 SW Stark St., scandalspdx.com)

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3. C.C. Slaughter's

Old school disco with an adjacent lounge. Every Sunday Bolivia Carmichael and a parade of drag-istas lip synch for their lives – ok, maybe just for smallish crowds - at Superstar Divas. (219 NW Davis St., ccslaughterspdx.com/)

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2. Silverado

Strippers in a sinfully dark room. How much more gay can it get? Well, it does. And everybody pays the four-dollar cover to come into this den of decadence. (
318 SW 3rd Ave., http://www.silveradopdx.com/)

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1. Eagle Portland

The one. The only. The Eagle Portland. Where every night seems to be “naked pool night” even the clothing-optional billiards night is scheduled for Thursdays. You are just as like to see grannies hitting the slots in here as you are a trucker in leather chaps and not much else. Bear-friendly porn is on nearly every screen so watching the big game here might not be a good option. Big game hunting? Well, that can be arranged. (
835 N Lombard St., http://www.eagleportland.com/)


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