Meet Cece Cox, CEO of Resource Center, which operates the largest LGBT community center in Texas providing health services and programs to individuals with HIV. Since Cox, took over the helm at RC in 2010 she has expanded programs and strenthened the impact in the community, while continuing to oversee a staff of 50 employees and 1,100 volunteers.
For nearly 30 years, Cox has been known as an effective leader in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights movement. In 2014, Dallas Voice named her Best Local LGBT Community Leader. In 2010 and 2012, Dallas Voice named her Best Local LGBT Role Model, and she was awarded the Profiles in Leadership Award from Southern Methodist University’s Women’s Symposium. Cox has been crucial in helping to pass nondiscrimination policy inclusive of sexual orientation for the City of Dallas, the first anti-harassment policy adopted by Dallas Independent School District and its subsequent anti-bullying policy. She has also personally conducted LGBT cultural competency training for employees of Dallas Area Rapid Transit, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, and faculty and staff of Southern Methodist University and Richland College. She has helped thousands of public employees and students secure expanded LGBT nondiscrimination protections.
Cox and her partner live in Dallas with their teenage son. We wanted to know more about Cox and Resource Center, and she was kind enough to answer a few questions:
Dawn Tongish: Please begin by telling us about Resource Center.
Cece Cox: Resource Center provides programs and services for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community and all persons affected by HIV. The agency has served North Texas for 31 years. Our programs include those for youth, seniors, women, transgender individuals, people who need mental health counseling and persons living with HIV. We also have several programs aimed at preventing HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases.
DT: What are your duties at Resource Center?
CC: I view it as two jobs simultaneously: always looking to the future to set the vision for the agency, and also ensuring that the agency is financially sound and offering relevant programs in the here and now.
DT: How did you become involved with Rescource Center, and why are you so passionate about the work being done at the center?
CC: I started working here seven years ago, but I had spent quite a bit of time here back in the ‘80s and ‘90s as a young(er) activist and someone getting involved in the community. Since Resource Center operates a community center, so many other organizations have met and continue to meet here; I attended a lot of meetings as a member or volunteer with other groups. I’m passionate because I feel I have skills and talents that can help Resource Center continue to serve the community and be one of the pillars that make it such a vibrant community in the overall fabric of Dallas life.
DT: Resource Center serves youth. What do you see as the biggest issues facing teens/youth today?
CC: Acceptance. Acceptance of self and acceptance from others. LGBT youth are often bullied or kicked out of their homes by the very families who should care for them. By providing a safe space that is accepting and nurturing, youth can feel like they belong to a bigger community, and can develop skills they will need not only to survive, but to thrive.
DT: It can be difficult for any nonprofit to pay the bills. How do you stay afloat?
CC: Through the support of many generous donors. We have broad community support from individual donors, foundations, corporations, people who attend our special events such as 5 Factor and Toast to Life, and state and federal funding. We also benefit from more than 1,000 volunteers who help at the agency every year.
DT: How can the people of North Texas and beyond help meet your needs for 2014? What are your biggest needs?
CC: Funds are always needed for current needs, and to help with program expansion. The agency added or expanded with youth and senior programs recently. Because those two programs are not funded by government grants, they are our biggest need today for the general operating budget. Also, we are in a capital campaign to fund a new building, since we are out of room in our current facilities. We are scheduled to break ground early in 2015, and will continue fundraising during construction.
DT: What is the most memorable moment in your experiences at Resource Center?
CC: There have been many. We host a lot of dignitaries and have opportunities to participate in all kinds of events. But, my first day is forever stamped on my brain. I walked into the building and said hello to a gentleman in an electric wheelchair. I noticed he had plugged his power cord into our wall outlet. As I walked to my office, I thought, “Well, it doesn’t get any more basic than that – people need help in many ways, shaped and forms, and we are here for him.”
If you'd like to nominate a local resident for a BubbleLife community profile, contact Dawn Tongish at email@example.com or find her on Twitter at @DawnTongish.