Connect with us

District of Columbia

Judge dismisses lawsuit against Casa Ruby board members

Blade catches up with Ruby Corado in El Salvador

Published

on

Ruby Corado in El Salvador (Photo via Facebook)

The latest hearing in the civil case against Ruby Corado and Casa Ruby took place in D.C. Superior Court on July 21.

Corado did not attend the hearing in person, but called in from El Salvador where she currently lives.

The latest hearing focused on the three limited liability companies that Corado created and controlled: Casa Ruby LLC that did business as Moxie Health, Pneuma Behavioral Health LLC and Tigloballogistics LLC that operated as Casa Ruby Pharmacy. 

The Office of the D.C. Attorney General has sued the three entities. Corado on July 21 wanted to testify on their behalf, but D.C. Superior Court Judge Danya A. Dayson told her she could not because legal rules prevent her from doing so. Corado has also not provided a lawyer to represent the companies.

Dayson on July 21 approved a motion filed by the Office of the D.C. Attorney General calling for her to issue a default judgement against the three LLC companies that requires them to pay a sum of money they allegedly improperly received from the original Casa Ruby at Corado’s direction and allegedly sent to Corado’s personal bank account.

Ruby Corado in D.C. before the D.C. government withdrew its funding of Casa Ruby. (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Corado in December 2022 told the Washington Blade during an interview in San Salvador, the Salvadoran capital, the case against her and Casa Ruby amounts to “persecution.” Corado once again spoke with the Blade on July 28 in El Salvador.

Corado said the allegations against her are the “result of many movements that have been made against her activism.”

“Many haters began to criticize me because a trans Latina woman had so much privilege in Washington, D.C.,” said Corado.

Corado left El Salvador in the 1980s during the country’s civil war.

She said the only thing she did once she arrived in the U.S. was to work on behalf of those who needed help. Corado told the Blade she wanted to work for the ideals of the LGBTQ rights movement, and not for herself.

Corado said she began to see what she described as the D.C. government sabotaging social change six years ago, and she reinterated her previous claims that political persecution stemmed from it.

“I did things that had to be done,” said Corado. 

Corado referenced the three allegations against her — Casa Ruby did not have a board, the board never held meetings over 10 years and she gave herself a salary without the board’s authorization — and reiterated her belief that she is the victim. Corado told the Blade the D.C. government’s decision to no longer fund Casa Ruby did not impact her, but the LGBTQ people who benefitted from what she described as this “historic project.”

The Office of the D.C. Attorney General has also accused Corado of withdrawing more than $400,000 of Casa Ruby funds to work in El Salvador. Corado maintains it was a personal loan that she made to the board and it was approved. 

“This was to look for self-sustainable projects and at the same time to provide sustainability to Casa Ruby in Washington, D.C.,” Corado told the Blade. 

She also said she has the necessary evidence that proves she owes the bank money because it transferred the funds to her as a personal credit. Corado told the Blade this evidence has not been presented in the case because it has yet to be discussed.

Corado said she justified the efforts to make Casa Ruby self-sufficient because she had seen other organizations in the U.S. do car washes, enter into partnerships with large businesses that sold products, open pharmacies and launch other projects that helped them become financially independent.

“The idea was born back in the year 2018 when I visited El Salvador with the mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, to talk about projects to mitigate migration,” she said.

Corado said she decided to support projects that would benefit LGBTQ Salvadorans in order to stop migration from the country. She also told the Blade she wanted to implement initiatives that would have employed LGBTQ people and provided support to older adults in the community.

Ruby Corado in El Salvador (Photo via Facebook)

Consuella López, who was the board’s president, and Meredith Zoltick, who was the board’s secretary, both testified during the July 21 hearing.

Corado told the Blade that López and Zoltick both testified there was a board during the time it was alleged that one didn’t exist.

“They mentioned there had been board meetings, but they didn’t always take notes,” said Corado. “They also said that they had indeed approved my salary.”

Corado told the Blade that López and Zoltick in their testimony denied all of the allegations against her. Corado added statements that Holly Goldmann, who was a Casa Ruby staffer, has also supported her.

The Blade couldn’t immediately reach Zoltick and Lopez to confirm Corado’s assertion that they gave statements to the court disputing the allegations against Corrado. Goldmann also couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.    

The Wanda Alston Foundation, which Dayson has named as Casa Ruby receiver, has sued the former board members on grounds that they failed to adequately oversee the Casa Ruby operations and Corado’s role as executive director.

Dayson on May 1 dismissed the complaint against all but one of the former board members, Consuella Lopez. The judge states in her ruling that Lopez was an exception because the complaint presents evidence that Corado issued Lopez a Casa Ruby credit card to use for her personal expenses and doing that provided legal grounds for the complaint against her to continue. The Wanda Alston Foundation has appealed the decision to dismiss the complaint against the other board members.

The civil case against Corado and Casa Ruby will continue. 

It remains unclear whether Corado has retained a lawyer, but she said the attorney who continues to advise her has said he must follow the legal process. Corado, for her part, told the Blade she will remain in El Salvador to continue with what she describes as the process of “self care” for her physical and mental health.

Lou Chibbaro, Jr., and Michael K. Lavers contributed to this story.

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

District of Columbia

Anacostia group honors LGBTQ advocate Pannell for 30 years of service

Oct. 5 celebration set for Ward 8 Sycamore & Oak retail village

Published

on

Phillip Pannell (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

The Anacostia Coordinating Council (ACC), an advocacy organization for D.C.’s Anacostia neighborhood and surrounding areas east of the Anacostia River, is holding a celebration honoring LGBTQ rights and Anacostia community activist Phillip Pannell for his 30 years of service with the ACC.

The event was scheduled to take place from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the recently opened Sycamore & Oak retail village mall on the St. Elizabeth’s East Campus in Southeast D.C.

Pannell, 73, serves as the ACC executive director, a position he has held since 1995. He has been a member of the Anacostia-based nonprofit organization’s staff since 1993.
A longtime advocate for LGBTQ rights, Pannell has been credited with persuading many of D.C.’s LGBTQ organizations to reach out to LGBTQ residents who live in Wards 7 and 8 east of the Anacostia River.

He has also been credited with persuading African-American organizations, including organizers of the annual Martin Luther King Jr. memorial celebrations, to include and welcome LGBTQ people to their events.

“Join us for an evening of food, fun, and surprises,” an announcement of the event released by the ACC says.

ACC spokesperson Lamont Mitchell told the Washington Blade several community leaders and public officials who have known Pannell during his many years of D.C. community involvement were expected to speak at the Oct. 5 celebration. Among the expected speakers, Mitchell said, was former D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt.

According to the announcement, the event is free and open to the public, but organizers requested that people register in advance at tinyurl.com/Pannell35.

The ACC event honoring Pannell was to take place about a month after the D.C. newspaper Washington Informer published a detailed article profiling Pannell’s career as a community activist and advocate for several important local causes and issues, including D.C. statehood.

“D.C. statehood is not just a political issue, it is also a civil and human rights issue because if D.C. were a state, we would be a state with the highest percentage of African Americans, basically a majority, minority state,” the Informer quoted Pannell as saying. “That’s one of the reasons a lot of right-wing Republicans don’t want to see D.C. become a state because we are going to elect progressive, Black Democratic senators,” Pannell told the Informer.

A statement on the ACC’s website says Pannell has received more than 100 awards during his nearly four decades of work in D.C., including the 2011 U.S. President’s Call to Service Award and the 2012 D.C. Federation of Civil Associations award for Outstanding President of a Member Association.

Continue Reading

District of Columbia

Pepco, Exelon announce $2.7 million in funding for four minority-owned businesses

‘It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table’

Published

on

Pepco and Exelon held a press conference Friday to announce four recipients of $2.7 million in investments. (Photo courtesy Exelon)

Pepco and Exelon announced a $2.7 million investment in four minority-owned businesses on Friday.

“Today’s been a long time coming,” said Pepco Vice President of Governmental and External Affairs Valencia McClure.

Pepco’s parent company, Exelon, launched the Racial Equity Capital Fund (RECF) in 2022 to expand capital access to diverse businesses. This latest $2.7 million investment is just a portion of RECF’s $36 million in funding.

At the announcement, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser spoke about the other ways Pepco and Exelon have “put their money where their mouth is” through their partnership with the D.C. Infrastructure Academy. She reported that all 22 of the residents that graduated from the program last week have a job offer from Pepco.

“We know that is not just a job, but a career,” she said to the crowd’s applause. “We know that working together, we can invest in D.C. residents, provide opportunity, and ensure that our D.C. businesses are a part of D.C.’s growing prosperity.”

The four minority businesses that received funding were Gemini Energy Solutions, Public Sector Solutions Group, CJR Development Partners, and Escalate.

“It’s good business sense to bring more people to the table,” said fund recipient Nicole Cober, CJR Development’s Principle Managing Partner.

Gemini Energy Solutions, which is Black owned, received $1 million, the most of the four companies. Its mission is to equitably scale energy efficiency to marginalized communities. For the founder and CEO Anthony Kinslow II, this investment means that he is able to get paid and advance the work of his organization.

“We are now able to accelerate the work in our software and technology development,” he said. “What we were going to do in two years, we are now going to do in six months.”

For Escalate, a workforce development platform focused on frontline worker retention, the funding means that it will be able to double the pay for frontline workers.

Public Sector Solutions Group CEO Darryl Wiggins emphasized that this investment was not just ‘charity’ work, but mission-driven work.

“The principle and the intent is greater than the money we receive,” he said. Public Sector Solutions is Black owned.

Public Sector Solutions Group received a $600,000 debt investment; CJR Development, a minority and woman-owned small business, received a $600,000 debt investment; and Escalate, a majority Black and woman-owned company, received a $500,000 equity investment.

Exelon launched the RECF in partnership with RockCreek, one of the world’s largest diverse-owned global investment firms, in 2022. The RECF expands capital access to diverse businesses so they can create more jobs, grow their companies and reinvest in their neighborhoods and communities, according to a statement from Exelon.

New RECF applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Interested businesses may apply online or contact RockCreek at [email protected] for more information.

(Photo courtesy Exelon)
Continue Reading

District of Columbia

AIDS Healthcare Foundation celebrates opening of new D.C. healthcare center

Ribbon-cutting marks launch of state-of-the-art facility on Capitol Hill

Published

on

AHF’s new healthcare center is located at 650 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E. (Washington Blade photo by Lou Chibbaro, Jr.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS healthcare organization with its headquarters in Los Angeles, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 27 to mark the official opening of its Capitol Hill Healthcare Center.

The new center, which AHF describes as a state-of-the-art facility for the holistic care and treatment of people with HIV as well as a site for HIV prevention and primary care services, is located at 650 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.  a half block away from the Eastern Market Metro station.

A statement released by AHF says the Capitol Hill Healthcare Center will continue AHF’s ongoing delivery of “cutting-edge medical care and services to patients regardless of insurance status or ability to pay.” The statement adds, “The site also features a full-service AHF Pharmacy and will host Wellness Center services on Saturdays to offer STI testing and treatment.”

The statement was referring to the testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. The D.C. Department of Health has said the highest number of STIs in the city have been reported for men who have sex with men.

Mike McVicker, AHF’s Regional Director for its D.C., Maryland, and Virginia facilities, said the Capitol Hill center began taking patients in October of 2021 as AHF transferred its operations from its facility on Benning Road, N.E. about two miles from the Capitol Hill site. McVicker said the Benning Road site has now been closed.

AHF’s second D.C. medical center is located downtown at 2141 K St., N.W. AHF operates three other extended D.C.-area health care centers in Falls Church, Va., Temple Hills, Md. and Baltimore.

“Our Capitol Hill Healthcare Center has no waiting room, so patients immediately are escorted to treatment rooms and serviced from a centrally located provider workstation,” McVicker said. “The goal is to maximize efficiency using this patient-centered model to improve health outcomes and increase retention in care.”

McVicker told the Blade the AHF Capitol Hill center is currently serving 585 patients and has a staff of 10, including Dr. Conor Grey, who serves as medical director. He said a separate team of five staffers operates the Saturday walk-in center that provides STI services as well as services related to the HIV prevention medication known as PrEP.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this team,” Dr. Grey said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, which was held in a courtyard outside the Capitol Hill office building where the AHF center is located. About 50 people, including D.C. government officials, attended the event.

“This is a beautiful thing to celebrate,” Grey said. “So, I’m very happy to enjoy the day with all of you, and looking forward to a bright, productive future working together and fighting a common enemy that has unfortunately been with us.”

Others who spoke at the event included Tom Myers, AHF’s Chief of Public Affairs and General Counsel; Toni Flemming, Supervisory Public Health Analyst and Field Operations Manager for the D.C. Department of Health’s HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis, STD, and Tuberculosis Administration (HAHSTA), and Dr. Christie Olejeme, Public Health Analyst for HAHSTA’s Care and Treatment Division.

Also speaking at the event was Japer Bowles, director of D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs.

Bowles called the AHF Capitol Hill center “another pivotal resource” for the LGBTQ community as well as for the city.

“We know, as has been previously stated, a low-barrier HIV prevention support is pivotal to the mayor’s mission of eliminating HIV infections in the District of Columbia and the region,” Bowles told the gathering.

“So, I’m very excited to see more services specifically provided to those in the Southeast and Northeast quadrants of our District,” he said, referring to the AHF Capitol Hill center. “This is a great moment for our community, but also for D.C. as a whole.”

In its statement released this week announcing the official opening of the Capitol Hill Center AHF notes that currently, 11,904 D.C. residents, or 1.8 percent of the population, are living with HIV. It points out that HIV disproportionately impacts Black residents, who make up about 44 percent of the population but comprise nearly three-quarters of the city’s HIV cases.

AHF official Myers said the Capitol Hill center will join its other D.C.-area facilities in addressing the issue of racial disparities related to HIV.

“Our treatment model helps eliminate barriers for those already in care, those who may not know their HIV status, and those living with HIV who may not currently be in care,” he said.

AHF says in its statement that it currently operates more than 900 healthcare centers around the world in 45 countries including 17 U.S. states. It has more than 1.7 million people in care, according to the statement. Founded in 1987, the organization has also taken on the role of public advocacy for federal and local government programs in the U.S. to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic, including efforts to lower the costs of HIV drugs.

During its work in the late 1980s and early 1990s AHF emerged as a strong advocate for addressing the special needs of gay and bisexual men who were hit hardest by HIV/AIDS at the start of the epidemic.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular