LaKesha Davis, a native Baltimorian, is a student at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore pursuing a PhD in organizational leadership. She holds a master’s degree in human services administration and associate’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice. In addition to being a lifelong learner, LaKesha is a full-time mother, employee, and part-time radio personality and entrepreneur. She gives back to her community by serving underprivileged youth, providing training and mentorship. Checkout her many ventures by going to her website Wonanddoneprograms.org.
Richard Finger: How long have you been the Pride coordinator?
LaKesha Davis: This is my second year as the coordinator. In 2017, I was chair of the Entertainment Committee. I was able to secure all of the entertainment within 60 days. That year, I was able to secure Big Freedia and Jessica Sutta. It was super exciting. It was the first time that I had ever participated in a large-scale event such as Pride. In fact, before that time, I’d never patronized the Pride festival. I selected the GLCCB as an internship for my master’s program, because I wanted to get more involved in the community. I have been here ever since. I thank Mimi, the executive director for having faith in my abilities and giving me this opportunity.
How are things progressing with Pride this year?
Things are coming into place. We are a lot further along in the process than we were this time last year. I feel we can get better each year. So we learn from the things we didn’t do well and strive to do things better the next year. I love the team of volunteers. Without them none of this would be possible. They give selflessly to the cause and I couldn’t ask for more. We have made vital connections in the community, forging new relationships in an attempt to find balance and unification in the community.
What are some of the challenges?
I like to work behind the scenes. I have to expose myself to many criticisms to be in this position. I have accepted that challenge because I would like to see a more cohesive community. While I know that I will not be able to please everyone, I would like to know that I did the best that I could to be a part of the solution. I would also like to increase the outreach efforts. We have to find a way to reach people outside of social media. Although we are living in the land of technology, I feel like we are missing a large group of people. I am looking into a marketing strategy to increase the reach.
What are some of the lessons learned from last year’s Pride?
The biggest lesson for me is to worry about those things that are in my control. I put a suggestion box on the Baltimore Pride website. People thought I was crazy and a glutton for punishment. It is important for me to know the concerns of the community so that we can strategize on finding the best path. I may not be able to grant every wish or fix every problem. Hopefully I can make people feel that their voices have been heard. We’ve taken measures to improve communication and security making Pride a safe, fun, and memorable experience for all patrons.
What excites you most about 2019 Baltimore Pride?
Unfortunately, I don’t get to partake in all of the fun that happens at Pride. I have the goal of coordinating a safe and successful event. However, on the Monday morning following, I get to digest it all and relish in the compliments and photos of a success festival.
The Pride Center is on a quest to raise $100,000 for 2020 Pride. What are some of the events that are planned, and what are some other ideas the Center has in mind?
In addition to the following events, we are planning a bowling party, a Spirit Cruise, the Ultimate Pride2k Experience, and a Winter Gala. I feel that our community and Pride should be celebrated all year long. I know the goal seems crazy and far-fetched, however, to accomplish it, I am being introduced to and reaching out to managers and owners of queer-friendly spaces to partner on LGBT events. The funds from these events will allow us to make Pride bigger and better! I believe the goal is attainable and will have lots of fun in attempts to achieve it. Keep an eye out for the flyers and social media postings. We have to increase the attendance in order for the fundraisers to be successful. I am always open for suggestions.
- Richard Finger has worked in Human Resources for over 20 years and has worked with small, private organizations, global corporations, and most currently, a healthcare organization. Richard has worked abroad a number of years in England as well as The Netherlands, where he acquired a great appreciation for cultural awareness. He currently holds three Human Resource Certifications (SHRM-SCP, SPHR, SPHRi), and is also teaching the SHRM-CP/SHRM-SCP preparation course at Howard County Community College. Richard earned his Bachelor Degree in Psychology at University of Central Florida, and Master Degree in Human Resources Management & Labor Relations at New York Institute of Technology. Richard has been writing for Baltimore Outloud for a number of years, contributing articles about his Human Resources experiences, as well as moonlighting as the author of Finger's Food restaurant reviews. Richard has enjoyed writing for the paper, and looks forward to many more opportunities to do so.