9 posts categorized "CEO Notes"

September 27, 2016

NICOA’s 40th Anniversary and the Resilience of AI/AN Elders


In September, the National Indian Council on Aging, Inc. (NICOA) held its biennial conference in celebration of its 40th anniversary. At the conference, SAGE’s Michael Adams touched on various aspects of aging, including policies that impact the lives of LGBT AI/AN elders. DEC's Jenna McDavid reports. Image: Cynthia LaCounte (ACL) and Michael Adams.

September 23, 2016

SAGE and ASA Co-Host #LGBTGenerations Panel


When the American Society on Aging (ASA) decided to focus the Summer 2016 issue of Generations on LGBT aging, it marked a milestone in the march toward visibility and respect for LGBT elders.

On September 21, SAGE CEO Michael Adams joined other authors in the issue for a special panel discussion co-hosted by SAGE and ASA in New York. Adams' article "An Intersectional Approach to Services and Care for LGBT Elders" considers the unique strengths and challenges of LGBT elders.

Connect with Michael Adams on Twitter and see the event recap on Storify to learn more about why he believes practitioners and policymakers must bring an intersectional analysis to their work. Do you have thoughts on the subject? Join the conversation on social media with #LGBTGenerations!

July 13, 2016

SAGE and Partners Launching LGBT Elder Housing in NYC

This post originally appeared on The Huffington Post Blog on July 11, 2016. Read the original post here.

By Michael Adams

5783cfdd1a00002400dd0aa2Crotona (left) and Ingersoll (right) Senior Residences

Recently, SAGE closed out New York City’s Pride month with the historic announcement that, after many years of effort, we have sealed deals for the Big Apple’s first two LGBT-friendly senior housing developments.  The news, which culminates decades of effort by LGBT elder advocates, was rolled out at a June 30 press conference where SAGE was joined by our partner developers, elected officials and a passionate crowd of elders from Brooklyn and the Bronx, where the two new housing communities will be built.     

The two newly-announced LGBT-welcoming housing developments – Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn and Crotona Senior Residences in the Bronx ― are a first for New York City.  But they build on similar affordable LGBT elder housing models in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago and Minneapolis. In each of these projects (and others in development across the country), LGBT communities and our allies are responding to the fact that LGBT older people often face unique challenges in finding welcoming and affordable housing. A 2014 report by the Equal Rights Center, with support from SAGE, found that 48% of LGBT older people applying for senior housing as part of a national test were subjected to discrimination.   This high level of discrimination is outrageous and unacceptable; moreover, it makes it extremely difficult for LGBT older people to find appropriate housing as they age.  

As SAGE pointed out when we rolled out our National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative last year, we can’t just build our way out of this crisis.  Because we will never be able to build enough developments like Ingersoll and Crotona, SAGE is also focused on policy reform and training to ensure that every senior housing community in the country is LGBT-friendly.  Nonetheless, building model LGBT-friendly senior housing can play an important role.  Collectively, the two new housing developments will provide 227 affordable apartments and will offer comprehensive, LGBT-culturally competent services to building residents and elders in the surrounding community.

5783d1ba1b00001a00f6d3a6I stand with NYC Councilmember Ritchie Torres and SAGE participants as we announce the new NYC housing developments. Image courtesy NYCHA.

Located in Ft. Greene, Brooklyn, the 145-unit Ingersoll Senior Residences will be the nation’s largest LGBT-welcoming elder housing community to date. Ingersoll is a collaboration of SAGE and BFC Partners, one of New York City’s leading affordable housing developers. BFC, which has developed affordable and market-rate housing in New York City for more than 30 years, will own and manage the property; SAGE is working with BFC on designing an LGBT-friendly environment and will operate a full-fledged LGBT-welcoming senior center on the ground floor.

Crotona Senior Residences is a collaboration of SAGE and HELP USA, a national leader in developing housing and services for vulnerable populations.  The 82-unit Crotona development, which will be jointly owned by HELP USA and SAGE, will feature a unique array of services and opportunities for residents, including roof-top gardening.  The new development is located directly across the street from Crotona Park, a beautiful 127 acre public park that is a vibrant local gathering spot and is known for its multi-faceted senior programming.   

Onsite SAGE Centers at both locations will be modeled after SAGE’s highly successful Innovative Senior Centers located in Chelsea, Harlem, the Bronx, Staten Island (in partnership with the Pride Center of Staten Island), and Brooklyn (in partnership with GRIOT Circle). The SAGE Centers at Ingersoll and Crotona will feature a cyber-café, hot meals program, and a weekly calendar of arts & culture and health & wellness activities that reflect the interests of building residents and community members. 

The Ingersoll and Crotona Senior Residences are being built at a time of growing recognition that the acute housing needs of LGBT elders must be addressed.  In his Pride Month Proclamation last month, President Obama declared that “my Administration is striving to better understand the needs of LGBT adults and to provide affordable, welcoming, and supportive housing to aging LGBT Americans.”  In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-Year Housing Plan specifically calls on developers to work with service providers to build LGBT-friendly senior housing.

The Ingersoll and Crotona developments are reflective of SAGE’s broader commitment to advance our work on behalf of LGBT elders through intersectional strategies that recognize that social justice problems are interconnected and that build solutions by connecting the dots.  Thus, we are excited that Ingersoll and Crotona isn’t just providing LGBT-friendly elder housing, but also is intentionally integrated into efforts to address New York City’s larger affordable housing crisis.  The Ingersoll and Crotona residences are part and parcel of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious initiative to create and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units.  The Ingersoll development is making an additional contribution – proceeds from the project will be used to upgrade existing public housing managed by the New York City Housing Authority.

Projects like these – which simultaneously address the acute housing needs of LGBT older people while helping to advance equity for all city residents struggling to find decent housing – can only come about through strong community partnerships.  As New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chair and CEO Shola Olatoye has pointed out, “The partnership between the City, BFC, and SAGE to expand affordable housing opportunities and services at Ingersoll is a powerful example of how we’re creating more connected communities through NextGeneration NYCHA.” In a similar vein, GRIOT Circle Executive Director Jose Albino has declared that “[w]e stand shoulder to shoulder with [SAGE] in ensuring that these groundbreaking LGBTQ affirmative housing opportunities are inclusive and representative of the individuals who live in the communities where they will be located.”

At a time when the social ills plaguing our country are so vividly on display, local community change and development efforts like Ingersoll and Crotona – through their emphasis on collaboration, connected communities, and cross-cutting strategies – offer powerful rays of hope for social progress.  Recognizing that our LGBT elder pioneers have paved the way for so much progress toward justice and equality in recent decades, it seems only appropriate that pioneering LGBT-friendly senior housing might offer some lessons on how to re-connect the dots.

Note: If you’re interested in learning more about these developments and SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative, we invite you to subscribe for regular updates at sageusa.org/nychousing.

June 13, 2016

#WeAreOrlando: Together We Are Stronger than Bigotry and Hate

Michael AdamsDear Friends,

I know that all of us have been struggling today to grapple with our outrage and our grief over the senseless and vicious attack on LGBT people and our friends at Pulse in Orlando. To know that an LGBT club was targeted for the latest and worst mass shooting in this gun-infested country is horrible beyond words.

To suspect that some will use this tragedy to advance their own agenda of hatred and bigotry is also cause for deep concern. It reminds us of the responsibility that we – as communities of people who are committed to justice and equity for all – have to one another.

At SAGE, our hearts go out to all who have suffered, and will suffer, as a result of the tragedy in Orlando. We stand strong with every community and every person who is committed to building a society that is far more just, equitable and safe than the one in which we currently live.

Our elders remind us that the attack on Pulse is only the latest, and the worst, attack on LGBT clubs. Prior attacks targeted, to name just a few, the Upstairs Lounge in New Orleans, where 32 lives were lost to arson in 1973; the Otherwise Lounge, a lesbian club in Atlanta that was bombed in 1997; the Backstreet Café in Roanoke, which was sprayed with gunfire in 2000, and Neighbors in Seattle, which was set ablaze in 2013.

These and many other acts of senseless violence have been perpetrated against our communities by attackers from many different backgrounds and traditions. Their only common denominator was hatred and bigotry. It is that hatred and bigotry – in any form and targeted against any community –  against which we once again stand strong.

In grief and struggle,

Michael Signature

Michael Adams

There is a 7 PM vigil tonight, Monday, June 13, at the Stonewall Inn in NYC.  Details are available on the SAGE Facebook page for those who would like to attend. Information on similar events being organized in communities all across the country can be found here. If you are attending or know of a vigil taking place in your local community, please share in the comments.

In light of the Orlando tragedy, SAGE and the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) released a joint statement that illustrates how all groups dedicated to peace and justice must come together against bigotry and violence: "Many constituents of SAGE are Latino and many constituents of NHCOA are LGBT. Our diversity is a source of strength, and must not be used to create division."

June 3, 2016

SAGE CEO Michael Adams Receives Burton Grebin Award for Innovation

Michael AdamsToday, SAGE CEO Michael Adams received The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation from the Continuing Care Leadership Coalition (CCLC), for his personal commitment to the important issue of LGBT long term care.

The Burton Grebin, MD Award for Innovation was established in 2010 following the passing of Dr. Burton Grebin, a leader and innovator in pediatric long term care. In his honor, CCLC established this aware to be given to an individual who has been innovative in the field of long term care, and who embodies the dedication that Grebin brought to the long term care field.

SAGE is committed to innovative solutions to help LGBT elders age successfully. In May, SAGE launched SAGECare, its new cultural competence training program for care providers nationwide. Through SAGECare, providers across the country are trained to offer cutting-edge senior care to LGBT clients.

With its comprehensive set of educational offerings and credentials, SAGECare has established a new set of benchmarks in LGBT elder care, and has trained 11,477 providers to date. For more information, visit sageusa.care.

From the award ceremony:

"We are proud as members of CCLC to care for some of the most vulnerable and diverse populations in New York and the nation. We recognize Mr. Adams today as we continue to work to improve as skilled and culturally competent providers of care for all who see long term care from our organizations."


May 18, 2016

Annual Report: SAGE Seized Every Opportunity in 2015

SAGEAnnual20152015 was a remarkable year for SAGE and LGBT older people because it presented unique opportunities to advance our agenda—and we seized every last one of them. Indeed, over the past twelve months we have repeatedly demonstrated the remarkable difference we can make for older members of our community when we work together and energetically deploy the full range of tools at our disposal.

A few things made 2015 very special. In June, the Supreme Court decreed that marriage equality for LGBT people was a constitutional right. Then in July, there was the White House Conference on Aging, which takes place once a decade. Ten years ago at the 2005 White House Conference, SAGE made history by becoming the first and only official LGBT delegate to the Conference.

Last year, we took it to a whole new level by blanketing the Conference with the testimony of hundreds of LGBT elders from across the country and forging an overwhelming presence at the big event. Our efforts paid off big time, with the announcement by the U.S. Administration on Aging of an important new commitment to make its work more LGBT-inclusive.

SAGE also flexed our policy advocacy muscle in 2015, convincing the U.S. Department for Housing & Urban Development (HUD) to issue a bold new directive to federally supported senior housing providers across the country to eliminate discrimination against LGBT older people. Of course, putting the right rules in place is only half the battle—bringing those rules to life is where the rubber hits the road. That’s why the powerful advances SAGE engineered last year in its LGBT cultural competency training for aging service providers is so important.

Much of the important progress we made last year was thanks to SAGE’s relentless commitment to collaborate with key partners who can make an important difference for LGBT elders. Of the many partners we worked with in 2015, AARP stands out thanks to a successful pilot program joining SAGE affiliates and AARP local offices in key states across the country. The results far exceeded our expectations, including when we convinced AARP to issue a powerful public statement in support of Houston’s HERO ordinance and in opposition to transphobic fear-mongering. Expect more to come as we keep building on this exciting foundation.

And finally, 2015 was a breakthrough year in SAGE’s efforts to leverage our headquarters and long history in New York City to forge uniquely ambitious LGBT elder services that can inspire similar progress across the nation. SAGE took a huge step in that direction last year when we expanded out of the Chelsea neighborhood to establish full-fledged LGBT senior centers in four new locations, including three of the Big Apple’s most prominent people of color neighborhoods.

There is much more we could talk about, given all of the exciting progress we packed into 2015. Since we can’t cover everything, I hope this annual report shares enough of our highlights so it’s clear why your support for SAGE’s work is so important and why we should be so proud of what we are accomplishing—together—to ensure that every LGBT older person can age with dignity, support and boundless opportunity.


Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 2.55.48 PM

Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer


SAGE's 2015 Annual Report has more on how the organization expanded its programs, enlisted a wide array of new partners, and flexed its advocacy muscle to affect positive change for LGBT elders across the country. View and download SAGE's 2015 Annual Report today.

April 4, 2016

SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices


SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

SAGE is proud to lead the charge on behalf of LGBT older people, whose stories are most powerful when LGBT elders themselves tell them. In this issue you'll hear an extraordinary array of voices.

The cover features Bishop Tonyia Rawls—a religious leader whose Charlotte congregation is part of Unity Fellowship Church, which was born from a need to minister primarily to LGBT African Americans during the height of the AIDS crisis. For the third year in a row, Bishop Rawls enlisted members of Charlotte's faith community to participate in the SAGE storytelling Summit, which harnesses the power of stories to advance anti-discrimination efforts in North Carolina. In this issue, Bishop Rawls talks about working with clergy in North Carolina and leveraging those relationships to build a system of mutual respect and hope for LGBT communities.

You'll also hear from several participants in SAGEWorks, a national employment initiative for LGBT people 40 and above. This initiative ignites the potential within members of our community who have fallen out of the workforce late in their careers and hare having a hard time getting back in.

We're particularly proud to share a conversation with Ruth Berman and Connie Kurtz, who have transformed countless lives through their work as activists, certified counselors, and founders of chapters of Parents, Friends and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) in Florida and New York. Ruth and Connie were recently honored with the SAGE Pioneer Award, which recognizes LGBT older people who pave the way for LGBT equality.

And lastly, we're honored to share an essay by Tim Maher, who reflects on his late mother's final days on Fire Island, the LGBT summer community where his family eventually came to accept him as a gay man. SAGE's cart service made Fire Island accessible to his mother during that time, just as it does for other older people, including those who need assistance moving around the car-free community. Tim's essay is the first in a series of stories about caregiving within our communities.

I hope you're as moved and inspired by these voices as I am. They are the sources of strength, resilience and warmth that enrich our communities, year after year.



Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the triannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the Spring 2016 issue here.

November 5, 2015

SAGEMatters Fall 2015: Blazing New Trails

The LGBT movement has had countless heroes. From activists who have graced magazine covers, to individuals who have shaped their world more quietly—simply by living authentically and visibly—each has propelled our movement forward in their own way. Many have been LGBT older people upon whom we proudly bestow the title: elder.

In this issue, you will read about activists like Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in the historic Supreme Court ruling that ended our fight for marriage equality and began a new chapter in U.S. history. Obergefell’s courage and persistence led the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm that his love for John Arthur was no less than that of heterosexual spouses. It also gave fuller respect for LGBT caregivers and surviving partners. We also share a conversation with Jay Kallio, whose battle against breast cancer as a trans man highlights the healthcare struggles of so many in our community. Jay’s inspiring story also illuminates the ways in which our community members support each other across generational lines in times of need.

This past July 13, I proudly joined three elders who championed our collective cause at the White House Conference on Aging. In this issue, you can also learn about their experiences as part of the intensive campaign that SAGE successfully led, in partnership with our affiliates throughout the country, to ensure that LGBT older people were at the top of the agenda at this historically important meeting.

These are just a few of the exciting stories in our latest issue of SAGEMatters. It’s your steadfast support that makes this work possible.



Michael Adams
Chief Executive Officer

SAGEMatters is the triannual magazine of Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE). View and download the Fall 2015 issue here.

July 14, 2015

Positive Momentum: Reflecting on Yesterday’s White House Conference on Aging

I’m excited to report that yesterday’s White House Conference on Aging included some major breakthroughs for SAGE and LGBT older people across the country. In recent months, SAGE has prepared diligently to ensure that LGBT voices would be heard at this influential conference, held every ten years. As I listened to an inspiring and impassioned statement to conference leaders from iconic LGBT aging activist Sandy Warshaw, who called for anti-discrimination protections and voiced her refusal to be closeted in old age, I knew that we had succeeded on that score.   

Highlights from the day included a critically important announcement from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)  that the federal government will take decisive steps to end discrimination against LGBT elders in all government-assisted housing.  Given that housing discrimination against LGBT elders is rampant in senior housing, the HUD announcement was a huge advance.  A second important announcement came from the Administration on Aging (Ao), which announced a new partnership with SAGE to convene key service providers in the aging sector, collect data on how LGBT elders are being served, and identify action steps AoA can take during the last year of the Obama Administration to make aging services more LGBT-friendly.    

Thinking back on the last White House Conference on Aging, held in 2005, I’m truly amazed by how far we’ve come in ten years. We’ve moved LGBT issues from fringes of the larger conversation on aging to its very center. As one example, the needs and experiences of LGBT elders were specifically referenced at the conference by Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, and Ai-Jen Poo of Caring Across Generations. It’s inspiring to see that LGBT older people have truly been granted a seat at the table.

Sandy Warshaw, SAGE Delegate at The White House Conference on Aging
SAGE Delegate, Sandy Warshaw, raises her concern about facing discrimination as she ages as a lesbian at The White House Conference on Aging

In the weeks to come, we’ll be talking more about what was accomplished at today’s White House Conference on Aging, and what SAGE’s federal advocacy game plan is moving forward.  We did a lot at the White House yesterday.  Looking ahead, there is so much more that we need to do!  

-- Posted by Michael Adams, Executive Director of SAGE