News Column

Santa Cruz Diversity Center Hires New Director

Nov. 6, 2012

J.M. Brown

Santa Cruz County's largest gay and lesbian advocacy group has named Sharon Papo, a UC Santa Cruz graduate and director of a San Francisco social services agency, as its new leader.

Papo, 33, has served four years as executive director of the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic, which provides medical and behavioral health services to children in the Bayview Hunters Point area.

During her tenure, she doubled the center's budget and ran a capital campaign to relocate to a larger site, according to the Diversity Center.

"I am thrilled to be coming back to Santa Cruz to the community that I love so much," she said in a statement. "It will be wonderful to partner with the dedicated board, staff and volunteers of the Diversity Center. Together we will make Santa Cruz County an even more welcoming and equitable place."

Papo earned her bachelor's degree in feminist studies at UCSC and once ran the Santa Cruz Community Counseling Center's STRANGE program that provides support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.

Papo left Friday on vacation with wife Amber Weiss and their toddler son Skyler, but is expected to phase into her new job soon and assume full-time status in January.

The couple was married in San Francisco in June 2008 on the first day same-sex marriage was legal in California. The passage of Proposition

8 five months later halted such unions statewide, though the U.S. Supreme

Court may take up an appeal of a federal judge's 2010 decision to strike down the measure as unconstitutional.

Marile Robinson, chair of the Diversity Center's transition committee, said Papo was the ideal candidate.

"This is one of the most important decisions our board of directors has made, and we are so pleased with the result," she said in a statement. "Ms. Papo is absolutely the right person to lead the Diversity Center in its new adopted mission: to enhance lives and promote fairness for LGBTQ people in Santa Cruz County."

Papo replaces Jim Brown, who stepped down in August after six years, though he has still been working at the center part time while a new leader was sought. Brown now works as the grants and technical assistance manager at the Santa Cruz Cultural Council.

With the new director, the center will now embark on a year-long strategic planning process. The board also recently took on new members, including Robinson, Leslie Steiner, Claudio Schnier and Pat Dellin.

Papo will get the chance to meet many of the organization's supporters Nov. 10 at its annual Casino Night fundraiser at the Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St. The event, from 7-11 p.m., will feature games of chance, a silent auction, Texas Hold 'Em tournament, live entertainment and dinner by Whole Foods.

Tickets are $55-$100, and $25 for Texas Hold 'Em, and available at www.diversitycenter.org.

Follow Sentinel reporter J.M. Brown on Twitter at Twitter.com/jmbrownreports

SHARON PAPO

AGE: 33 OCCUPATION: New executive director of Diversity Center, previous job was executive director of the 3rd Street Youth Center and Clinic EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in feminist studies, UC Santa Cruz; master's degree in social welfare, UC Berkeley FAMILY: Wife Amber Weiss, son Skyler



Source: (c)2012 the Santa Cruz Sentinel (Scotts Valley, Calif.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.