February 23′ Leadership Transition

February 1, 2023

Leadership transition at the Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center

A message from Board of Directors President, David Merrill


Dear Friends:

On behalf of the Board of Directors and Staff of the Hudson Valley LGBTQ+ Community Center (The Community Center), I am announcing that Executive Director Peter Criswell will leave his leadership role at The Community Center effective March 17, 2023. Peter’s decision supports The Community Center’s goal of creating more space and opportunity for diverse leadership – an important step in our ongoing work of becoming an organization that fully reflects the LGBTQ+ community we serve.

Peter said, “It’s been an honor to lead this organization during challenging times. We’ve taken time to reflect deeply on who we are, why we’re here, and how we can better serve the LGBTQ+ community. I’m proud of the work we’ve done to listen to feedback, make tangible systemic changes within our organization, and create a stronger infrastructure for growth. I’m excited to welcome and support new leadership.”

While of course we all support Peter’s decision and wish him much future success in new entrepreneurial endeavors and in his work as an Ulster County Legislator, his absence will be felt by the Board, Staff, and all Center constituencies. Peter has contributed enormously to the growth of The Community Center during his tenure. The Community Center has benefited greatly because Peter:

  • Stabilized The Community Center during the height of the global pandemic, and has worked tirelessly to revitalize existing and to grow new Center offerings, programs, and events for all in the community we serve;
  • Led the organization through a deeply reflective period and a journey of accountability – work that is ongoing; and
  • Spearheaded a community-needs assessment which has informed a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility, and Anti-Racism Plan for the organization, as well as an overall organizational Strategic Plan for the next several years.

All of these achievements will inform the future direction of The Community Center beyond Peter’s time with us.

Assuring continuity: introducing Shanna Nigro-Gonzalez

To ensure no interruption in leadership, I am pleased to announce that current Board Member Shanna Nigro-Gonzalez will become the Interim Executive Director of The Community Center in mid-March, while the search for a permanent Executive Director is in process. With Board and Staff assistance, Peter and Shanna are already at work on a transition plan – including knowledge sharing, defining transition activities, and handing off duties and relationships – so that Shanna can step seamlessly into the interim role in two months.

Shanna now serves as the Development Officer at Sullivan 180, where she is responsible for seeking and managing funds for a range of health improvement projects. She previously worked as Director at the Arc Mid-Hudson Foundation and as Program Manager for Ellenville Regional Rural Health Network. Further information about Shanna is available on The Community Center’s website.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to serve the community in a meaningful way, ensuring a smooth transition for all as we search for the right next Executive Director for The Community Center,” Shanna said. “I look forward to using my skills, knowledge, and established partnerships to continue and expand on Peter’s success, and to help bring additional resources and support to the broad community we serve.”

Our commitment to a comprehensive search

Over the next few months, the Board will be conducting an extensive search to find The Community Center’s next Executive Director. It is our priority to find a dynamic leader with passion and commitment to lead the organization and to best fulfill our mission to serve all of our

LGBTQ+ community – as well as a leader who knows and is representative of our community. Our search process will begin in earnest soon, and we will share the job announcement and position description when they are available.

As we begin the search, we are very interested in the community’s input. If you have a point of view or specific ideas about the experiences and qualities and attributes that the next Executive Director should have to make the impact the community needs most – both internally as we strive to improve our organization, and externally as we work to meet ever greater needs – we want to hear from you. Please contact The Community Center with your thoughts at info@lgbtqcenter.org. We appreciate your support as we search for The Community Center’s next leader.

Communication will continue regularly

The leadership transition will likely last months. To ensure transparency, The Community Center Board and Staff commit to regular communications with the community about key action steps and our progress. The Community Center remains well prepared to continue its mission: our work has and always will be interwoven with change, and we will continue to tackle new challenges and improve our services every day.

As always, we are interested in thoughts, suggestions, and questions from all community members. I personally would be very happy to speak with anyone; please don’t hesitate to reach out at the email address above.

In closing, please join the Board of Directors, the Staff, and me, in thanking Peter for his contributions to The Community Center and the community that we serve.

I look forward to being in touch again soon.