Just as gay Atlanta settled into a certain level of stability at the helm of Atlanta Pride, Buck Cooke announced his resignation as its executive director on Friday, seven months before the annual festival.

After a stint as interim manager that notched one successful Pride under his belt, Cooke (top photo) got the permanent gig as executive director in 2012. He leaves his post officially on July 9 to marry his partner and join him in London. A national search for his replacement begins next week.

The Pride board used Friday’s announcement to wish Cooke well and to assure that the committee and the 2015 Atlanta Pride festival won’t miss a beat. Cooke agrees, but he is also just glad that the cat is out of the bag on his departure, he tells Project Q Atlanta.

“I’m beyond thrilled about today’s announcement, because it’s been tough to keep all of this quiet while plans have moved forward for my move to London,” Cooke says.

After an uneasy couple of years for Atlanta Pride, Cooke took over just as Atlanta was settling into a new take on Pride that placed the annual festival and parade in October. The Pride Committee notes Cooke’s accomplishments while holding the job.

During Cooke’s tenure, the APC saw unprecedented growth in their organization, including the expansion of Stonewall Week to Stonewall Month; an increase in their year-round programming; a surge in media coverage and partnerships; as well as an escalation of talent and performances at the annual festival, among other notable accomplishments.

In 2014, Atlanta Pride was also named one of the Top 5 Prides in the U.S.

The full announcement from Atlanta Pride:

2015 ATLANTA PRIDE COMMITTEE ANNOUNCES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RESIGNATION

Atlanta, Georgia. –The Atlanta Pride Committee (APC) announced today that their Executive Director, Buck Cooke, has announced his resignation.

Cooke’s last day with the organization will be July 9.  APC plans to post the open position in a search for his replacement on/about March 24.  There is a solid plan in place with APC leadership to ensure seamless movement forward during this time of transition.  Additional details will be updated in the coming weeks, but the APC is confident that with Cooke’s exit plan, everything from their strategic planning process and ongoing community engagement, to logistics and permits for the 2015 festival, marches, and parade will be handled efficiently and effectively.

During Cooke’s tenure, the APC saw unprecedented growth in their organization, including the expansion of Stonewall Week to Stonewall Month; an increase in their year-round programming; a surge in media coverage and partnerships; as well as an escalation of talent and performances at the annual festival, among other notable accomplishments.

Atlanta Pride Committee Executive Director, Buck Cooke, said of the development,  “Atlanta has been my home for over 15 years and Atlanta Pride has played a huge role in my time here as a festival attendee and community member, as a volunteer, and on staff. Serving as the Executive Director of the Atlanta Pride Committee has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, but there comes a time when one must follow a new path. For me, my new path leads me to London to build a new life with my fiancé, Mark McCabe. I am thrilled to be married in August and begin a new adventure and will always look back fondly on my time with Atlanta Pride.”

Cooke continued, “In the coming months, I will work with our talented volunteers, staff, board of directors, contractors, and community partners to ensure Atlanta Pride's service to the community remains our priority through our programming, community outreach, and the festival.”

APC Board Chair, Trisha Clymore stated, “On behalf of the board of directors we are very sad to see Buck leave, but wish him all the happiness in the world with his move to London and his upcoming wedding.”  

Clymore added, “The board is moving forward with a search/personnel committee and has the utmost confidence that things will move along smoothly.”