Staff and supporters of Affinity Community Services sent off departing Executive Director Imani Rupert-Gordon with a celebration at its South Loop headquarters on Feb. 13.
Rupert-Gordon had led the agency, which primarily serves LGBT persons of color, with a focus on Black women, for about four years. She was recently named as head of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights.
She described the moment as "bittersweet" in a brief speech.
"One of the things I've learned at Affinity is the importance of being [both] honest and authentic," she said. "Leaving here feels like leaving home."
A number of friends and colleagues offered testimonials to Rupert-Gordon's legacy at the organization. Affinity's Ann Rowell jokingly called her "Black royalty," praising her for being "high-class but not classist. … We're [now] going to let other people enjoy her."
Activist Kelly Saulsberry recalled that she was "overjoyed" upon hearing that Rupert-Gordon had been named as Affinity's head, adding, "You inspire us to expand ourselves and elevate ourselves."
Incoming Interim Executive Directorand Affinity co-founderChris Smith noted, "I appreciate your leadership and your acumen on behalf of the community."
Affinity Board President Anna DeShawn said of Rupert-Gordon's new employers: "They have no idea of the fierceness that's coming their way."