Meet Our New Executive Director
Olivia Nuamah is a community builder, mother and artist.
As Pride Toronto’s new Executive Director, she also brings with her almost 25 years of experience working in both the non-profit and government sectors. Her experience as a DJ in the Toronto and England club scenes has given her a unique understanding of the representation of trans and queer artists in cultural spaces and is driving her goals as she looks to the future of Pride.
We sat down with Olivia to learn more about her.
You’ve worked at the Atkinson Charitable Foundation, the Inner City Family Health Team, and with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to reduce child poverty. How does all of this experience help you take on your new role with Pride Toronto?
It helps me bring a facilitative approach to community development. In the past Pride Toronto has focused on delivering a festival that reflects the needs of its communities, and one of my main skills is community facilitation and finding collaborative ways to develop the right kind of language to describe problems and work together to define solutions.
One of the things I want to bring to Pride Toronto is that focus on community development and collaboration in addition to trying to increase year-long engagement activities that promote dialogue and understanding.
You’ve been volunteering with Pride for the past few years – what’s your favourite Pride memory?
For me volunteering is a way to honour all of those people that fought and sacrificed for the rights we enjoy today. Without volunteers the festival could not happen and I am proud to count myself as a volunteer and member of the community that is passionate about the political and social roots of the festival.
I’m a huge fan and I was also a DJ in the past, so seeing Frankie Knuckles perform at Pride was special. Especially because he passed away just a year later.
What are your thoughts about last year’s Pride Month and what we’re seeing now as we get ready for this year’s festival?
The festival was successful in so many ways. There were tense moments, but sometimes we need to see tension as an opportunity. My hope is the difference between last year and this year is there will be greater levels of engagement with our membership and community in order to ensure that the festival reflects everybody’s experiences.
What’s your overall goal for Pride this year?
To be reflective of the communities it serves. What I would like to do is put processes in place that promote greater dialogue about the objectives of the festival and what the community wants — in order to create greater alignment between the reason Pride exists and people’s expectations of it.
What part of Pride are you most excited about?
It’s always exciting to curate a lineup that inspires people and that gives opportunities to local artists and musicians. I am committed to promoting new artists and creating programming that everybody will enjoy and can see themselves reflected in.
What message would you send to people who are concerned about Pride’s future?
We are all Pride’s future – if you have something to contribute, something to offer, something you think needs to be said, please get involved: become a member, volunteer, engage in respectful dialogue with others in the community – do so generously and from a place that can imagine that perhaps not all of us see things or experience things the same way. Organizations are only the collection of voices that embody them. We should all be concerned about Pride’s future – as we should be concerned about what is going on around the world. We have a lot of work to do.