Farewell, adieu, so long….

Later this week, nominations for Board positions will close at the Mardi Gras office. At 5pm on Friday, when the envelopes are opened, there will not be a nomination from me in the bunch.

Last year, around this time, I made a commitment to myself that I would dedicate one last year to the organisation. I have done that with all my energy and best intentions and I continue to work until August 6th in my elected role. Despite the request of my co-chair to re-stand and many months of careful consideration, I plan to honour the commitment I made to myself a year ago.

I returned to the organisation late in 2008 where the AGM was postponed due to lack of quorum and where only 5 people nominated for the board. The organisation had very little community engagement at this stage. We were also to embark on one of New Mardi Gras hardest periods with the parade party split of 2010.

The AGM in 2009 was a humbling experience for me. Facing the members with a mistake opened the door to engaging the members and community more in the affairs of the organisation. Although some headway has been made in this area, there is still more work to be done to achieve an effective and engaging framework for consultation.

I accepted the position of Co-Chair in 2009 against the advice of my counsel. I did so because I believe in the organisation and the community, and in the ethos of what the organisation stood for. The 2010 season was the most difficult season of the 6 seasons I have been on a Mardi Gras Board.

The AGM of 2010 put our organisation at significant risk following a season where protecting the brand was paramount. I agreed to stand for another term to begin the process of turning the financial result around, re-engaging a lost community and paying particular emphasis to women in the organisation.

2011 saw the Mardi Gras parade become a civil rights movement once again, which saw a huge focus on relationship equality. I was very proud to stand on Oxford street that night.

Of personal note for me, the Women Say Something event sold out during season. It was the first time in three years that I have seen women from such diverse generations and backgrounds come together and talk about their lives, opinions and values, and wanting to be part of a greater community. I was honored to be a part of this wonderful event and be amongst such inspiring women.

Mardi Gras is on the pinnacle of great change and transformation. What it requires now is fresh energy and passion to ensure the plans the current board have put in place and the progress we have made in U-turning the organisation, are seen through and indeed added to by people who are strategic, skilled and professional.

I hope that the individuals in our community who are quick to criticise do not provide a repeat of the election of last year over the coming month. The damage that occurs to the organisation by individuals has the potential to impact at the highest levels of our government relationships and our sponsors.

For members reading this, I firstly encourage you to vote, and then vote for those candidates that are skilled, professional, and strategic and are known to abide by our codes of conduct. You will see if individuals have signed the Candidate code of conduct shortly.

Whilst I am sad to leave the board, I will not leave the organisation entirely. I am excited to be able to step away from the overall big picture and focus in on areas that excite me. Area’s such as the women’s sub-committee and associated diversity programmes. I can now provide more energy to continue building these specific parts of the organisation and ensuring that women and minorities in our community continue to have a voice within Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras will always hold a special place in my heart and like any difficult intense relationship, I have laughed and cried in equal measures. Leaving is always hard, but it’s time. It’s time for me, and it’s time for the organisation to receive some fresh blood, passion and ideas to take it to the next level of its lifetime towards better years. I’m pleased that I could have been there to see it through some of its worst, and be able to hand it over knowing that it is on its way back to greatness.

See you at the AGM.


About mgsteph

Mardi Gras Blog
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Farewell, adieu, so long….

  1. As a young lesbian, Mardi Gras was the highlight of the calendar for me. My young friends and I would hire a hotel room on the Gay Golden Mile, and take in the parade and party, as well as many festival events. As I grew into my queerness, I found increasingly that The Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras didn’t represent me, my fetishes or my sexuality… so I gradually stopped attending more and more events each year.

    Fast forward to 2011 where, under your steering, I spoke at Women Say Something, and felt ashamed I had abandoned my community for so many years. I had forgetten how priceless moments such as that can be.

    So thank you Steph Sands for reminding me what Mardi Gras is about, and showing me that to get the most out of it, it’s necessary to invest, contribute and engage to make it diverse, and representative of all sorts of queers. I wish you every success with your future endeavours.

  2. Margaret Sands says:

    Tonight, as I read this “Farewell”, Steph’s words have been somewhat of a surprise to me.
    Steph has gained so much in life just dedicating her complete ‘being’ to the success of Mardi Gras
    and been fulfilled with the challenge, but most of all, her greatest reward was that of the many true and loyal friendships, for which I too, am so thankful.
    At times, I wondered how she coped with her personal life, her job and her role in Mardi Gras – at times she seemed so busy I dare not even phone her!! But being her mother, I also understood the personal satisfaction of ‘being able to contribute to something one is passionate about’. I also understand the void she will face and how long it will take to readjust.
    May I say, although Steph’s Mum, how very proud I am of her.
    This Woman has most certainly “SAID SOMETHING”.

  3. Rose Smith says:

    Congratulations Steph on your excellent work and what big shoes you leave for your successor to fill. You have indeed made a huge effort to engage women and minorities and we will watch with interest to see if subsequent leaders give time and thought to the other half of our community. Thankyou for your largely unsung and unthanked efforts, may you enjoy your well deserved retirement knowing you did more than most to bring Mardi Gras back to the community. Thankyou from all of us x

  4. Janine Tennille says:

    An amazing woman who has achieved so much and will continue to do so. Thank you so much for giving me and many other volunteers so many opportunities. We are lucky to have someone so passionate about the community and who will continue to drive for change and community engagement. I am looking forward to the next chapter of Steph Sands. A very special friend too. xxx

  5. Damon says:

    Congratulations on giving yourself a new life after such an enormous commitment of time and energy. The very best wishes Steph.

  6. shauna jensen says:

    Congratulations on all the work and courage and strength you’ve shown over the past couple of years. everyone who knows you personally knows what great personal sacrifice you gave to do the work you did for NMG.
    I’m so happy you’re going to stay within the organisation and focus on the things that mean so much to you.
    congratulations !

  7. Nicky says:

    Well done!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s