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Facing Division At Pride Center Of Vermont, Interim Director Calls For 'Restorative Work'

Rex Butt is the interim executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont.
Pride Center of Vermont, courtesy
Rex Butt is the interim executive director of the Pride Center of Vermont.

After just five months on the jobat the Pride Center of Vermont, executive director Susan Hartman abruptly stepped down in early October.

Volunteer and board member Rex Butt has stepped in to lead the organization in the interim, and he said turmoil within the local LGBTQ community contributed to Hartman's swift departure.

In his interim role, Butt said he aims to unify what he calls a divided organization. That division, he said, can be traced back toa controversial Winooski bar called “Mister Sister,” a name many in the transgender community called a slur.

Discussion of the name frayed relationships and ultimately two Pride Center board members resigned. Butt said that sowed a sense of division.

"This community has been in turmoil for at least the last six months. ... It would be foolish for me to say that this turmoil has not affected the [Pride] Center; it clearly has," he said.

Butt added the Pride Center is now focused on what he calls "restorative work" internally, which the organization plans to extend to the public this winter.

"We need to find a way to come together, find a common voice, find our common values and move forward together," he said.

Butt said the Pride Center will conduct a nationwide search for a new leader, but says he will not seek the job himself. He plans to step down from his interim position in June.

Listen to the full interview above.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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