A Harrisburg-based LGBT center named its new executive director Tuesday.
Amanda Arbour has taken on the role vacated by former director Louie Marven at the LGBT Center of Central PA.
“I’m really excited about what [Arbour] brings — her training skills, her facilitation skills, her presentation skills,” said board President Shaashawn Dial-Snowden. “I think she’s going to hit the ground running in all of those areas. I think she’s a coalition-builder and that was proven in her work.”
Arbour, a Philadelphia native, was previously the racial-justice program coordinator at the YWCA Greater Harrisburg. She also worked as the legislative liaison for the Pennsylvania Department of Aging and as interim coordinator of local community service at Messiah College’s Agape Center for Service and Learning.
“Bringing all of those different aspects of my experience, I think, will help me in my new role in training and education around LGBTQ issues, how those intersect with other forms of oppression and other social-justice issues,” Arbour said.
Dial-Snowden previously co-facilitated discussions with Arbour during YWCA’s Let’s Talk program. The six-week discussion series explores how racism manifests itself on individual and broader levels. Each week, a person of color and a white person facilitate the discussion. Dial-Snowden represented the former and Arbour the latter.
“Every time I co-facilitate with her, there is something that she says that not only heals me as a self-identified queer woman of color, Army brat and all of those different identities that I claim, [but it also] resonates with people who are the participants and audience that we’re with,” Dial-Snowden said. “I think she is going to bring that work, which is extremely important to our LGBTQ+ movement.”
Arbour, who identifies as gay, noted the advantages she has.
“I certainly recognize that I, as a white person, carry those privileges of someone who was born in the U.S., someone who is a U.S. citizen, someone who is cisgender, someone who identifies as Christian,” Arbour said.
“I come into this role being very conscious of that and really wanting to listen to the experiences of our LGBTQ communities who experience multiple layers of oppression and are marginalized in many different ways,” she added. “I’m really seeking to listen to the various experiences within our community and work to center those voices.”
Arbour said she wants to make sure the most marginalized voices in the LGBT community drive the work they do in an “authentic way,” rather than a “tokenistic way.” Additionally, she said she plans to raise visibility of the center through social-media and community-engagement efforts.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the staff, the board [and] our partners coming into this role,” Arbour said. “I’m very familiar with many of the folks in those roles and I’m looking forward to developing closer relationships, working with them around the goals of the center, getting to know new folks and establishing new partnerships as we move forward.”
The center will welcome Amanda Arbour with an open house 4-7 p.m. Sept. 22 at the LGBT Center of Central PA, 1306 N. Third St., Harrisburg. For more information on the center’s programming, visit www.centralpalgbtcenter.org.