In a conversation with The Advocate on Tuesday, Candis Cox, the board chairperson for North Carolina-based Campus Pride, opened up about the organization’s response to a financial misappropriation scandal involving its former CEO, Shane Windmeyer. The interview follows developments first reported byQnotesCarolinas, revealing Windmeyer’s alleged misuse of funds and subsequent termination.
Campus Pride, a national nonprofit organization based in Charlotte, has a mission to assist and uplift LGBTQ+ and allied student leaders and campus groups by offering leadership development and advocating for more inclusive environments in higher education.
“I can confirm that Shane is no longer employed with Campus Pride,” Cox told The Advocate. However, she refrained from delving into specific details about the situation or any law enforcement involvement, citing the need to maintain confidentiality on internal employment matters. “I can’t speculate on if a crime has been committed as I’m not a member of law enforcement,” Cox said.
Windmeyer authored a book associated with The Advocate in 2006 called The Advocate College Guide for LGBT Students. He is also widely recognized in Charlotte and across the southeast for his performances as the drag artist Buff Faye.
The scandal emerged when an envelope with confidential documents was anonymously dropped at an adult bookstore, White Rabbit Books, which shares a location with the Qnotes office — the documents, including emails and financial records, alleged improper financial practices on Windmeyer’s part.
Windmeyer admitted to a series of bookkeeping errors and inappropriate use of funds, including personal expenses charged to Campus Pride’s accounts, according to Qnotes. Per the documents, a settlement agreement required Windmeyer to repay $100,000 to Campus Pride.
In her conversation with The Advocate, Cox acknowledged the existence of a settlement agreement. However, she would not confirm the accuracy of the Qnotes story.
“I can’t say whether or not the entirety of the story is true,” she said.
Cox emphasized the need for Campus Pride to rebuild trust with donors and the LGBTQ+ community.
“Right now, we are working on taking a deeper dive into the historical data for the organization because we want to build up a more transparent infrastructure,” Cox explained. The six-member board of the organization includes four entirely new members who are trying to deal with the complexities of the scandal, she said.
Cox also addressed the more significant implications of the situation for the LGBTQ+ equality movement. While Windmeyer was one of three founders of Campus Pride in 2001, Cox said that the organization is bigger than one person.
“We have an opportunity now to redefine things and to actually allow people to see that there are a lot of forces of good and change within this overall fight for LGBTQIA+ equality,” she said.
Expanding on the plans for rebuilding trust, Cox emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability after the scandal.
“I think that’s the easiest way for us to demonstrate that trust is going to be for us to show what we are doing and that there is a cost to it. And that way, people know that their trust that they’re placing in us is going towards something,” she said. “I wish we had answers right now.”
Cox further discussed the importance of community involvement and support in overcoming these challenges.
“We encourage people to come in and to take ownership over this and to see this as their organization because that’s how we view this,” she urged. “Myself, along with the rest of our board, we all joined this board because we wanted to be a part of something that was a part of our community, and we wanted to help give back to our community.”
The Advocate contacted Windmeyer to ask about the allegations and his departure but did not hear back.