(Updated 6/1/15 2:21 p.m.)
In a press release and conference call today with LGBT media in Missouri, PROMO, Missouri’s statewide advocacy organization for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, announced that the PROMO Fund and SAGE Metro St Louis will formally merge with PROMO Fund, effective July 1, 2015.
SAGE Metro St. Louis will become SAGE of PROMO Fund. SAGE of PROMO Fund will remain affiliated with Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), a national organization based out of New York.
“At the heart of the SAGE vision is maximizing the positive impact we can have on behalf of LGBT older adults,” said Michael Adams, national Executive Director of SAGE. “By joining forces, SAGE Metro St. Louis and PROMO Fund will ensure that they have the greatest possible impact for LGBT older people across the State of Missouri,” Adams added.
PROMO reports, “PROMO Fund believes this partnership will better equip both organizations for the evolving landscape of LGBT equality. The LGBT older adult population in the U.S. is growing from an estimated 3 million today and will double by 2030. These adults have often been seen as one of the most invisible and marginalized segments within the LGBT community.”
“We are excited for what this means for both the organization and the community. As we see change happen rapidly, it is important we plan for how that change impacts our organizations. This merger will allow us to better meet the changing needs,” stated A.J. Bockelman, who will remain as Executive Director.
“This merger provides for SAGE’s core programs of information and referral, advocacy, and community education to expand on a statewide basis,” added SAGE Metro St. Louis Executive Director Sherrill Wayland. “We are leading the way as the first SAGE to merge with a statewide organization such as PROMO Fund.”
Wayland has said SAGE increasingly saw a need for their expanded services throughout Missouri. Bockelman added this will also mean that Kansas City will now have more access to the work of SAGE with an expected new job position based in Kansas City.
Kurt Krieger, M.Div, LGBT Older Adult Task Force Coordinator in the Kansas City region said, "I am excited by the announcement today from PROMO Fund and SAGE Saint Louis. It is my belief that the potentials identified of a statewide organization will more effectively address the needs and rights of Seniors who are Gay, Lesbian, Bi-Sexual and Transgender in Kansas City and Missouri. I expect that this means that Kansas City will have SAGE programming and advocacy by late fall this year as a result of this merger."
Bockelman said that this is the first merger of SAGE with a state-wide LGBT equality group. “This has never been done anywhere,” he said. In terms of the role that PROMO has played in Missouri’s fight for marriage equality and the expected June U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality in the U.S., Bockelman added,“Marriage will be done here hopefully within the next month.” The group is still focused on MONA (the Missouri Nondiscrimination Act) that will come up in the next legislative session which has failed to pass in previous sessions but Bockelman stated that this year, “We’re relatively close.” “I’ve been concerned with what PROMO looks like in the future. The constant question we always ask ourselves is how can we improve the lives of the LGBT community on a state-wide basis. That is the lens we always put things through.”
“It definitely is going to change our reach,” said Wayland. “At SAGE Metro St. Louis we pretty much just defined ourselves as the St. Louis region. We were starting to get more and more calls for help on a state-wide basis.”
"I look forward to supporting the merged organization and hope that PROMO Fund connects with Kansas City groups that are working to meet the needs of older adults in our community," said Krieger. "I pledge that the original work by the LGBT Older Adult Task Force and my current networking will serve to help PROMO launch new programs and support in Kansas City. My confidence in the leadership of PROMO and SAGE Saint Louis provides much confidence in this new phase of work by PROMO. I cheer them on in their new work."
Since 2009, SAGE has partnered with PROMO Fund to do education and training concerning health policy. This project to date has produced tremendous gains with this past year alone training over 1,900 employees, resulting in 114 different LGBT-specific policy changes reflected among 48 different hospitals in Missouri.
Sherrill Wayland will become the Deputy Director of PROMO Fund, and Eugene Potchen-Webb will remain as the Program Manager of SAGE of PROMO Fund. Stephanie Perkins will remain Deputy Director of PROMO, and Andrew Shaughnessy, PROMO Fund Policy Manager, will continue to manage the LGBT Health Policy work. Future plans include extending SAGE programming to other regions of the state.
PROMO has said they will be making more announcements in the upcoming months about the implementation of the merger and any new staff announcements in Kansas City and Missouri.
(Updated 6/1/15 2:21 p.m.)