Hotspots Exclusive Interview
Dave Cook has been selected as the newest executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride, succeeding the outgoing executive director, ivan Cano, who will be spending more time on the World OutGames Miami as their CEO. Everyone is excited about Cook’s elevation to the post of executive director, including Pride organizing committee chairman Mark Fernandes, who said of Cook, “To ensure next year’s Pride is the best event ever for the community, we’ve brought in Dave Cook who is not only well connected and respected in the community, but also possesses a wealth of experience producing special events.”
Cook will be in charge of the entire production of the three-day Miami Beach Gay Pride event, which will be held next year from April 8-10. A native of Erie, Pennsylvania, Cook has lived in South Florida since 1991. He is perhaps best-known for his sixteen-year commitment to the National LGBTQ Task Force in Miami, rising from Winter Party Festival volunteer to volunteer director, sponsorship chair, co-chair of the festival, and finally the Miami development coordinator. He has also been involved with organizing other events such as the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Galas; the National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Conferences, Miami Recognition Dinners, Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festivals, and many more.
I interviewed Dave Cook about his new job and what he hopes to accomplish in his new role as Miami Beach Gay Pride executive director in this exclusive Hotspots interview.
How excited are you to be named executive director of Miami Beach Gay Pride?
It’s great; it’s such a big honor. I had the chance to look back through all my years of non-profit volunteer work recently, and all that work really has led me straight to this position.
How will this job be different from the one you had for so long at the National LGBTQ Task Force?
The two events I specialized in at the National LGBTQ Task Force were the Miami Recognition Dinner and the Winter Party Festival, and that’s where I honed a lot of my skills. Now I get to bring all of those skills to my new job, and this will be different because I’ll be in charge of the entire Miami Beach Gay Pride festivities. I’m building my team right now, getting to know the board better, and my goal is to take Pride to the next level.
What does Miami Beach Gay Pride mean to you on a personal level?
Considering the successes we’ve had on a political scale these past few years, it’s given our community something to celebrate. We’ve seen that now; everyone comes out and celebrates Pride for a weekend each year in beautiful Miami Beach. I visited Toronto Pride sixteen years ago and I loved the feeling of mainstream acceptance there. We’re finally getting that now in Miami Beach, and it warms my heart to know people can be accepted for who they are with no discussion whatsoever.
You want to bring Pride to the next level; what do you bring to the table that will accomplish this?
Have I mentioned my twenty-plus years of event planning? [laughs] I’ve been in South Florida since 1991 and I’m very familiar with all the key players who are well-respected in the community. I’ve already reached out to people and they can’t wait to come on board. Ivan Cano still shares office space with me so he is helping me with this transition. I plan to bring all my experience to the table and channel it into making Pride the best it can be.
Are there any things that you’ve seen showcased in other events that you’d like to see at Miami Beach Gay Pride?
When I worked at the National LGBTQ Task Force, there was something we organized called the Creating Change Conference. I was able to work on that conference, and Laverne Cox was one of the keynote speakers we invited a couple of years ago. I’d love to get a well-known grand marshal who will work together with us to create workshops and chair discussions, so there’s more to the event than just the parade and the festival. It’ll be a great way to continue to market Miami Beach as a worldwide tourist destination.
For more information on Miami Beach Gay Pride, visit miamibeachgaypride.com.