When Ilene Berliner moved to Fort Lauderdale in 2004, she first started visiting the Pride Center in order to be among fellow members of the LGBT community but soon knew she wanted to do more. She would start a long, fruitful relationship with the organization, one that has evolved and led into her current position as Board Chair. In total, she has been a board member for nine years and was instrumental in moving the Pride Center from Andrews Avenue to its current home at Equality Park.
We named Berliner one of our Top Movers and Shakers of 2015, and we recently had an opportunity to speak to her about her good work in the community.
Berkley: What makes the Pride Center such a special place?
Berliner: First off, it’s huge. We are on a five-and-a-half-acres complex. It’s the hub of our community. We perform many, many services, including over sixty groups that meet on a weekly basis. We are one of the largest HIV counseling services in Broward County. Every Tuesday morning, we have free coffee and conversations for the seniors, and it’s packed! You can’t even get in the parking lot.
What are some upcoming events that the Pride Center is planning?
We had our Diversity Honors event with close to 500 people attending on May 13th. We are working on putting up the Harvey Milk Conference Center on our property—an exciting venture that will allow us to do theatre, shows, and all types of stuff. We are in the process of being approved for affordable housing and it’s starting to look good. We will know by June if we will be approved for our financing.
What types of challenges does the Pride Center face?
About eight years ago, when we were trying to move from the Andrews Avenue location, I would say that there were many challenges, but now it’s like an oiled wheel—everything runs smoothly. The staff is phenomenal. The CEO Robert Boo is amazing. There are thirteen people on our Board of Directors, and everyone does amazing work.
How is your future with the Pride Center shaping up?
Our rules state that no one can be Board Chair for more than three years, so I will be circling off. I’m going to stay very much involved with every aspect of the Center, though, because I have such a strong passion for it.
You are married to another successful Fort Lauderdale businesswoman: Maura Lane, the Agenda publisher. What does that relationship mean to you?
In October we will be celebrating our twentieth anniversary, although it’s only been legal since December 30th, 2013 when we married on the gorgeous island of Maui. When you’ve been with someone for that many years, you can’t think of being without them. She’s my rock. We also have three rescue dogs: Garland, named after Judy; Minnelli, named after Liza; and Happy, named after the Pharrell Williams’ song.