Calumn returns to Dallas to raise money for three ASOs including one he once worked for
DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS announced this week that Jerry Calumn has been hired as the new LSR event manager. He replaces Dave Minehart, event manager since 2007, who resigned to move closer to family in Iowa.
Calumn worked for the Resource Center Dallas from 1990 to 1998. He was hired as one of the first employees at the center’s current location on Reagan Street where he headed the education department and served as clinic manager.
Since then, he has lived in Los Angeles and New York where he had a varied career.
He helped create the American Academy of HIV Medicine in Los Angeles, which turned that area of medicine into a recognized specialty. The organization has since moved to Washington, D.C.
Calumn has also worked in marketing and communications and done consultation work for both private and non-profit industry.
In addition, he began a comedy career in L.A.
“I built a show around a word-of-mouth campaign,” he said, adding that he performed in a coffee shop. His show combined improv and stand-up. He said one day Margaret Cho showed up and they developed the first gay and lesbian comedy festival, which was filmed for Logo.
He left comedy for several reasons.
“The entertainment industry is the hardest, meanest industry,” he said. “Touring is hard. It’s a difficult lifestyle.”
Before leaving the Resource Center, Calumn rode in the first Tanqueray Texas AIDS Ride in 1998 that lasted seven days. That ride began in Austin and traveled through Houston before ending in Dallas.
“It made me an avid rider,” he said.
Calumn was living in New York doing consulting work and saw an ad for the event manager position with Lone Star Ride. He said he knew then it was time to come home.
“I was looking for an interesting opportunity,” Calumn said, adding that he knew he wanted to return to non-profit work.
“I love the energy and the focus of people who work in non-profit,” he said. “It’s about the connection and altruism.”
When he was in Dallas to interview for the position, Calumn had an opportunity to connect with a number of people he had worked with in the past. He said that under the leadership of Cece Cox, he saw vitality at the Resource Center that he hadn’t seen since John Thomas led the organization.
For his first year as event manager, Calumn said he plans to concentrate on the riders. He would like to give riders the tools they need to raise money and to enlist more people to participate in the ride.
“There’s lots of room for growth,” he said.
To accomplish that goal, he has already spoken to more than a dozen riders.
Last year, much of the fundraising was done using tools associated with new media.
“Having worked in so many different kinds of media,” Calumn said, “I bring that skill set to the table.”
Not only has Calumn been a vocal advocate for people with HIV for more than 20 years, he has lived with the disease himself for the past 17 years. It is that background and personal experience that LSR board members believe make him especially well-suited for the job.
“We’re sure Jerry will bring a renewed passion and focus to fighting the stigma HIV positive men and women face in all communities,” Ride Co-Chair John Tripp said.
Tripp said that Positive Peddlers, HIV positive Ride participants, had grown over the past two years and that he expected the group to have an even stronger presence under Calumn’s leadership.
Tripp complimented Minehart and everyone who worked on the 2010 ride. He said that non-profit agencies considered it a successful year if their fundraising broke even with the year before. Lone Star Ride has a 50 percent increase in the amount distributed last year.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.
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