SAVE announced in a press release this week that the organization has named Damian Pardo its interim executive irector while it searches for a permanent one.
Tony Lima, the former executive director, was removed from his position after some controversial remarks he made on stage at the organization’s annual Champions of Equality gala on June 14.
While on stage Lima introduced four men, who are suspects in an anti-gay hate crime case, saying they were “wrongfully accused.” SFGN first reported the comments and they were later confirmed by a video from the event.
The comments created a firestorm surrounding Lima and SAVE. Less than a week later Lima was terminated in a unanimous vote.
“As the founding chair of SAVE and one of the LGBTQ community’s most respected and accomplished advocates and leaders, we are thrilled about having Damian take the helm of the organization during this transition period,” SAVE Chair of the Board Elizabeth Regalado said in a prepared statement. “Damian not only understands the South Florida LGBTQ population intrinsically, his deep involvement with the organization and understanding of its work over the years will serve as the driving force for SAVE’s continued success as we move forward.”
The announcement did not mention Lima or the controversy.
According to the press release Pardo’s qualifications and accomplishments include being the founding chair of SAVE in 1993. In 2015, together with Joe Cardona, he co-founded Little Havana’s Gay8 Festival. He currently sits on the boards for 4Ward Miami, the Stonewall National Museum and Archives, and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, among others. In 2016, he received Equality Florida’s Voice for Equality Award.