RCD opens new dental suite

United Way provided funding for construction, staffing of new suite being named in honor of Bret Camp

Camp,Bret7

Bret Camp

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor
nash@dallasvoice.com

Resource Center Dallas was set to dedicate a complete new suite in its dental clinic on Friday, Dec. 16, and RCD Executive Director and CEO Cece Cox said the new suite is being named in honor of Bret Camp, former RCD associate director in charge of the agency’s health services.

“We wanted to honor Bret’s 16 years with this agency, and his knowledge and service to our community,” Cox said. “We felt naming this dental suite after him was an appropriate way to do that.”

Camp left Resource Center Dallas last summer due to health issues.
The dental clinic is housed within the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic, located on Cedar Springs Road near the intersection with Throckmorton Street.

Cox also noted that the costs of construction for the new dental suite and the cost of staffing it for one year came to $125,000, and was fully funded by United Way of Dallas. Those funds were part of the $225,000 total RCD received from United Way.

“Dental care is one of the highest priority needs” for people with HIV/AIDS who access health care assistance in Dallas County, Cox said, adding that facilities to meet the growing need were lacking.

“With this new dental suite, we can serve more clients and we can get them in for care faster,” Cox said. With the new suite in place, she said, RCD’s dental clinic will be serving about 1,000 clients a year.

As federal funding priorities shift and funding for HIV/AIDS-related services decline, Cox said last month that RCD is among those agencies looking for ways to expand its clinical services beyond just the HIV/AIDS community. But, she added this week, doing so will be a long and complex process.

“When you have a program funded with federal money, you have to keep that segregated, completely separate from your other services,” Cox said. “You can just lump it all together.”

Cox also said that RCD officials are considering whether some services now housed at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic on Cedar Springs Road will remain at that location after the center moves into planned new facilities at Cedar Springs and Inwood Road. Construction on the new facility, designed by architect James Langford who was trained by I.M. Pei, is set to begin in 2014.

Cox said that a lot of the work of the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic revolves around HIV/AIDS testing and prevention efforts, and that the clinic’s current location in the center of the area traditionally considered Dallas’ LGBT neighborhood is most advantageous to that work.

“Right now, the clinic is located right in the heart of the neighborhood. It is a good location for those services, and that is a historically important site,” Cox said. “We do see some big advantages to continuing to maintain a presence there even after our new facilities are built.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 16, 2011.

—  Kevin Thomas

Taft joins RCD as associate director

Longtime activist says he is excited, scared by the opportunities he has as head of center’s LGBT programs

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

Lee Taft
Lee Taft

Resource Center Dallas has hired Lee Taft as associate executive director of GLBT programs and strategic partnerships.

William Waybourn, one of the founders of Resource Center Dallas, called the hiring of Taft genius.

“Talk about a power couple at the right time for the right organization — [Executive Director] Cece [Cox] and Lee are it,” Waybourn said.

Taft was hired to replace Cox who became executive director of the organization after former director Mike McKay left last spring.

“This place has a regional and community history,” Taft said. “But it also is deeply personal. I worked with John [Thomas]. I worked with Bill [Nelson] and Terry [Tebedo].”

Thomas was the first executive director of Resource Center Dallas. Nelson and Tebedo were founding board members and created the food pantry at their store, Crossroads Market. The Nelson-Tebedo clinic on Cedar Springs Road is named for them.

Taft was an attorney for 20 years. As a board member of the Texas Human Rights Foundation, he was involved in the Don Baker case.

Baker, a Dallas school teacher, challenged the Texas sodomy law. In that 1982 lawsuit, Judge Jerry Buchmeyer declared the Texas statute unconstitutional.

“For me, it was a time when I could have been fired on the spot from my law firm,” Taft said about his own involvement in the case. “Jerry wrote a phenomenal decision.”

An en banc hearing by the full court later reversed the ruling.

Taft left Dallas to attend Harvard Divinity School in 1996. In 1999, he became the school’s dean.

But through his affiliation with THRF, Taft had worked with Lambda Legal since its founding. In 2001, Lambda Legal opened its South Central region and tapped Taft to open the Dallas office.

He became the regional spokesperson for the Lawrence v. Texas case that originated in his Dallas office was the case that led to the U.S. Supreme Court overturning the Texas sodomy law. It has been cited in every case that has advanced LGBT rights since.

Taft called the wording of Lawrence an apology for Hardwick and an exoneration for Baker.

Taft left Lambda Legal later that year to found his own consulting practice as an ethicist.

Among the many clients he helped was the city of Dallas that hired him to steer it through the fake drug scandal in which police planted fake drugs and charged dozens of people on narcotics violations.

“Madeleine Johnson hired me in guiding the response,” Taft said, and based on his recommendations, “The city council passed a five-point resolution.” Johnson was Dallas city attorney at the time.

Among Taft’s recommendations were expressions of remorse, directions to settle the case and changes of policies and procedures. He said the settlement was financially efficient, avoided a racial fracture in the city and has been cited as a model of how a city should respond.

Including expressions of remorse rather than just issuing an apology is something that Taft said was confirmed for him during a discussion he had in Dallas with Bishop Desmond Tutu.

He said reconciliation in South Africa was failing because all that was required was an admission of deeds without an expression of regret.

He said he would bring that lesson to some of his work at the Resource Center, specifically citing the center’s domestic violence program.

Taft said he doesn’t believe an apology is all that’s necessary from batterers: There also needs to be an expression of remorse.

Cox said she was excited about the rich background Taft brings to his new position.

“He has an understanding of this organization and how we fit into the overall GLBT movement and HIV communities we serve,” she said.

She said she planned to keep him quite busy.

“I expect him to be able to do a number of things — position our programs to be more sustainable and relevant in the future; integrate our health and GLBT programs to promote wellness.”

Although Taft wasn’t looking for a job when he applied this summer, he said he couldn’t pass up the opportunity.

“When Mike McKay became director and described Cece’s position, I thought it was the coolest position in the community,” he said.

Taft said his new job will allow him to be innovative and creative and do something important.

Taft calls his resume eclectic. His list of community activities is as long and varied as his professional career. In addition to THRF, he was a founding board member of AIDS Interfaith Network. He worked with Gay Line, a help line that was later folded into Oak Lawn Community Services. Today, Resource Center Dallas receives many of those types of calls.

Earlier this week, Taft was in California speaking on ethics at Pepperdine University School of Law. After he assumes his new role at the Resource Center, he plans to continue doing some speaking, which he hopes will help develop strategic partnerships for the agency.

Cox added “strategic partnerships” to the job title and said she considers developing new relationships for the agency to be a major goal for Taft.

He said his new position would give him an opportunity to grow.

“There’s something about this,” he said. “It’s on-the-ground community activism that excites me and scares me.”

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens