From left, Michael Connolly, MLA for Calgary-Hawkwood; Status of Women Minister Shannon Phillips, Estefania Cortes-Vargas, MLA for Strathcona-Sherwood Park; and Ricardo Miranda, MLA for Calgary-Cross, prepare to raise the Transgender Pride flag at the Alberta legislature on Nov. 20, 2015.
Greg Southam / Postmedia
Former NDP MLA Estefania Cortes-Vargas has been appointed executive director of the Pride Centre of Edmonton.The former Strathcona-Sherwood Park MLA, who also served as government caucus whip, is taking on the new role after the centre responded to allegations of racism and transphobia.“Over the last several weeks, we have put forward meaningful, proactive and reparative steps to address the harm caused by the centre to racialized members of the community,” said a Wednesday news release posted on the centre’s website.The centre, which described Cortes-Vargas as a trailblazer, said she and new board members embody the intersectionality to “fuel the progress of our collective movement for safety and equality.”In April, the centre responded to allegations of discrimination after an employee was fired. The employee is now one of the 15 board members. Eleven of the board members are new.Cortes-Vargas, who is Latin-American Canadian and was one of three openly LGBTQ+ MLAs, didn’t seek re-election in the spring election.She was named the government caucus whip in March 2016. Before being elected in 2015, she worked as an educational assistant for Edmonton Public Schools and was enrolled in the social work program at MacEwan University.On Wednesday, she tweeted a staff meeting photo and said she is “honoured and humbled” by the new firstname.lastname@example.org/clareclancy