About Us

With more than 10 years of success serving Southwest Michigan’s LGBT community, we are 1 of only 7 such nonprofit organizations in Michigan.

History

Founded in 2003 by local community members, the OutCenter began as a local YWCA program to serve the local LGBT community.

In 2009 the OutCenter moved to its current home in the Arts District of Benton Harbor, Michigan.

In 2010, with the help of funding from the Arcus Foundation, we became an independent non-profit organization.

The OutCenter continues as an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by a Board of community members. We are expanding our efforts to serve Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties in Southwest Michigan. Our intent is to set new precedents in serving the LGBT community while also working to establish safe and whole communities for everyone.

Our mission is to provide LGBT people and their families support and advocacy. We work to establish respect, understanding and nondiscrimination of LGBT people in Southwest Michigan. We fulfill that mission through direct services, as well as change-oriented initiatives.

The OutCenter envisions Southwest Michigan as a fully integrated community in which lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons and their families are welcome, respected, valued, understood, and afforded the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else.

 


Highlight of Impacts

2003 Out Film Festival received Mayoral proclamation in Benton Harbor

2004 Whole Lives, Healthy Lives Adult Support Group is launched

2006 Youth program is launched

2007 Sponsored first LGBT float in 109 year-old Blossomtime Festival

2007 Recipient of Triangle Foundation Catalyst Award for leadership and civic engagement at Blossomtime Festival

2009 Convened faith communities and leaders as Affirming Clergy

2010 Organized “Out of the Closet, Into the Light” conference on faith and sexuality

2010 Received designation as 501(c)(3) organization from IRS and Michigan

2011 Launched first major golf fund raising event, securing over $50,000 net

2013 Celebrate 10 year anniversary and received funds from Frederick S. Upton and Berrien Community Foundations

2014 First ever Teen Pride Prom; LGBT Cultural Competency Training provided to largest employer in Berrien County; three additional agencies and organizations also received training.


Board of Directors

Todd Dockerty - Chair

Paul Lane - Vice Chair

Francie Porter-Snyder - Treasurer

Marci Weber - Secretary

Tracy Braman

Ronda Collier

Beth Haire-Lewis

Elizabeth McCree

Tami Miller

Margo Runkle

Brian Savage

Oliver Songlingco

Marian Tripplett

Staff

Mary Jo Schnell - Executive Director

 

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