Louisville Pride Foundation appoints interim executive director

The Louisville Pride Foundation hired an interim Executive Director who aims to make the Louisville Pride Center more accessible for people of all ages, folks in recovery, and the entire community. 

In December, the Louisville Pride Foundation’s founding executive director, Mike Slaton, stepped down from his position to take a job with the Louisville Orchestra. 

Ebony Cross, a black and masculine-presenting woman, took on the new role of interim executive director entering 2024. Despite the temporary nature of the title, Cross intends to lead the organization for the foreseeable future. In that time, Cross aims to prioritize representation through staff, events and programing at the foundation and the Louisville Pride Center.

“Being a black masculine or aggressive presenting woman in my new role is something I take great pride in and is an enormous opportunity. I don’t take my role and responsibility lightly,” Cross said.

Originally from Akron Ohio, Ebony Cross followed love to Louisville more than a decade ago. Like most people in the 2010s, Cross was online dating and hoping to find someone special. It didn’t take long; after back-and-forth messages, a first phone call and then a year of dating, Cross moved to Louisville’s west end to live with their soon-to-be wife.

That love manifested and grew from one person to an entire community. Cross recalled a fascination with the people and places that make Louisville home, from Muhammad Ali to its thriving queer community. 

In September of 2022, Slaton successfully recruited Cross to join the Louisville Pride Foundation as an administrative coordinator. “What he did was absolutely wonderful, because none of this would have happened without him,” Cross said, reflecting on Slaton’s initial and continued support. “He knew that leaving the foundation and the center in my hands – just in terms of growth and my vision and where I want to take it – he knew that was a great move.”

In this new role, Cross is looking to change things.

Accessibility and representation are key themes in Cross’s plan for the Louisville Pride Foundation and Pride Center. 

“Currently, we are open just two days out of the week… I would like to change that to be open to Monday through Friday,” Cross said. “So, we can kind of just keep that rotating foot traffic, you get the resources, you get the education, you can attend the events, you can book a space.”

Cross also plans to build on existing programming, opening the door for youth and adults. The foundation currently runs a harm reduction program to educate and empower members of the LGBTQ+ community on issues relating to drug use. Cross said they are also in the process of establishing new resources for community members who are food insecure, as well as an immunity in the community program promoting vaccination in urban and rural communities.

Cross takes on this new role at a difficult time for queer and trans people in the state of Kentucky. With new anti-trans laws banning gender-affirming care and a slew of newly introduced bills targeting Diversity, Equity and inclusion, the leader of a pride foundation in the Commonwealth’s largest city bears the responsibility of not only supporting their immediate community but also queer and trans people across the state. 

“As long as we exist, and we are here, there’s always going to be a message of hope,” Cross said. 

To learn more about the Louisville Pride Foundation and upcoming events at the Louisville Pride Center, you can visit their website here.