16 posts categorized "SAGEWorks"

May 12, 2016

Older and Bolder: Starting a second or third chapter? Think big!

The 2016 theme of Older Americans Month is "Blaze a Trail" and we can't imagine a better way to celebrate then honoring the achievements of our LGBT elders. Stay tuned for a series of blog posts on SAGE's trailblazers throughout the month and follow the conversation at #OAM.

We’re taught that most people spend their retirement years baking cookies, tinkering in the garage, and playing dominoes. But a new generation of LGBT older people is thinking bigger and bolder. Fueled by increasing life expectancy many are now calling a “longevity bonus,” they are creating new narratives about what it means to be “SAGE age.” 


BrendaCullaneBRENDA CULHANE
is passionate about her pursuits. She’s a 75-year-old lesbian activist and SAGE constituent living in Portland, Oregon. Brenda plays a powerful role on a local housing committee in Portland and advocates for LGBT needs in assisted and independent living communities. She notes that “We’ve all had friends who have had to go into [these facilities] and do not feel safe coming out in that environment. It’s so sad.”

Brenda’s work doesn’t stop there, though—she also speaks about LGBT issues at civic events and local colleges. Students often want to know how and when Brenda came out, and what her parents thought. She responds with patience and honesty, and values the chance to turn her own life experience into a teachable moment.

 

 

Bruce_067sAdvocacy has also defined 68-year-old BRUCE WILLIAMS’ second chapter. His life changed dramatically in 2006 when he was fired from his longtime role as the executive director of a retirement community in Texas. Looking back, Bruce believes he was terminated because of his sexuality. It was a terrible blow, but he still remembers the work fondly. “I had the luxury of watching people go through the last third of their lives,” he recalls. “I saw commonalities and individualities, and the choices they made. Some were good, some were bad, some were frighteningly ugly.”

When Bruce relocated with his partner to South Florida in 2013, he began volunteering at the Pride Center at Equality Park. Given his background, he gravitated toward the issue of long-term care and reached out to local providers to find out which ones were LGBT friendly. After a rocky start and a lot of rejection, he hosted a small LGBT community health fair. Fast forward to 2015, and Bruce is now preparing for his sixth event as the Pride Center’s Senior Services Coordinator. He remarks that the Pride Center “wanted me to come to work as a gay man—that was the first time in 65 years that had happened!” He’s thrilled to be making an impact with his work, and has plans to do more. “No one’s written a guidebook for getting old—I think I’ll do that!”

DorrellClarkRetirement has put the spotlight on DORRELL CLARK’S creative side—literally! This 63-year old lesbian retired from a job as a subway train operator in 2011 and began volunteering at the Bronx Academy of Arts & Dance. “I am not an artist,” Dorrell says, “I’m a technical person. So to be in the same space as these creative souls was awesome!” She dove into new artistic pursuits, first taking the stage in a gender- bending role as a young gay man struggling to make peace with a homophobic brother. Later, some of her life stories were transformed into a dance performance by local artist Jessica Danser. What’s it like for Dorrell to fulfill a lifelong dream of creativity? “There are no words,” she says. “Seeing my work onstage, I had tears in my eyes.”

Connect with SAGE on social media with #OAM16 and follow the SAGE blog this and every month for inspiring stories of our LGBT elders. 

April 4, 2016

SAGEMatters Spring 2016: Our Stories, Our Voices

Sagematters_spring2016_800

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.

 

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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.

March 17, 2016

SAGEWorks: Helping Women Rejoin the Workforce

By Vera Lukacs

As part of a larger effort to support and benefit LGBT older adults, SAGE held a special SAGEWorks event on March 16th to help those looking to rejoin the workforce. Panelists included Jason Rosenbaum (Thomson Reuters), Jens Audenaert (ADP), JoAnne D'Aleo (The Transition Network), Angela Lee (Callen-Lorde), Addie Rimmer (Workforce Opportunity Services) and Tawanna Huguley (Good Shepherd Services).

Participant Wanda Lawrence found the event highly informative. “I’m feeling more confident now as opposed to when I walked in the door. This has been a challenge for me but I feel very supported in this space.”

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-03-17/c3f59f4c19cf4d92949f611587285b53.pngPanelists at SAGE Center Midtown: Photo by Michele D'Amato

In the article, Older Women Are Being Forced Out of the Workforce, Harvard Business Review highlights a study by economists at the University of California at Irvine and Tulane University that uncovers “robust evidence of age discrimination in hiring against older women.” One example of gender and age disparities in the workforce is the lower callback rate for middle-aged female applicants, as compared to their younger counterparts. The rate comparison between middle-aged and young male applicants was similar.

It’s no surprise that women and men experience the workplace differently. For instance, a woman makes 79 cents to every dollar a man makes. It’s a cold, hard fact that women have a harder time getting jobs, keeping them, and growing within their positions over time — and it’s especially challenging for older women in the LGBT community.

SAGEWorks, a national employment initiative for LGBT adults 40 years and older, connects LGBT job seekers with the skills and support to land a job in their desired field. Programs include 2-week boot camps, individual coaching, work readiness exercises, and more.

To commemorate Women’s History Month, SAGE is sharing the unique perspectives of aging LGBT women. Do you have a workplace story to share? Tell us in the comments!  

June 22, 2015

"I'm Worthy of Any Job I Want"

SAGEWorks employment boot camps are two weeks long, a time commitment some people have trouble making because they don’t completely understand what they are signing up for.

Problem solved. Here are three employment boot camp graduates who quickly explain exactly what you can expect and what they got out of the boot camps.

Delyn starts dropping truth bombs right away: “I don’t like change but I’ve had to deal with change because I’m getting older, I wanted a job … I didn’t have a job.” Preach!

David was totally planning to bail on boot camp, you can see it in his twinkling eyes: “Well, you’re not exactly sure you’re really going to do two weeks.”

As for Sharon likening the loss of a job to a death of a loved one, we are going to chalk that up to her training in the dramatic arts.

All three videos can be found on SAGE USA’s YouTube channel.

-- Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks

June 15, 2015

The easiest questions are the hardest, when you’re not prepared

 

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Hey Mary! Minneapolis worked for her, not for me.

The easiest questions are the hardest, when you’re not prepared.

 

When I was looking for work recently, I was thrilled to secure an interview with an organization I really respected. Dream job type stuff: Great brand, helping the world, and loads of free tickets to shows and events.

To prepare, I created a quantitative analysis of past projects, perfected my story of my proudest career moments and memorized all the obstacles I have faced plus the solutions. However, I was not prepared for the first interview question: “Tell me what we do and how?”

Of course I knew what they did but I had not practiced it in my mind so I could articulate it perfectly. My first thought was to say, “What do you do? Well, I don’t have to tell YOU that! Am I right?”

My actual answer was factually correct and fine but, had I been prepared, I could have done it in a way that showed my storytelling skills and connected their mission with my experience. Very bad, especially for someone who wanted to be their communications expert. Spoiler alert: I did not get the job.

I was so intent on selling myself, I neglected to study the organization more closely. Interviewers don’t want to know about you, they want to know about you as it relates to helping them achieve goals.

At another job interview a few weeks earlier, an easy question that threw me through a loop was, “Tell me what we expect to be accomplished by the person we eventually hire?”

You’d think I’d know about the job I was going for but it was quite a complex communications job working for several business lines and functions in a mega-conglomerate. Every person involved with the hiring wrote down all their wishes and dreams or what I call, all the things they no longer want to do. In my mind, the answer was simple, “It would be shorter if I just list the things you don’t expect.”

No excuses! I could have taken their ridiculous wish list and focused on the areas that jumped out as priorities and how those align with my skills. I don’t remember what I said exactly but I was no longer interested in the position at that point. It was February and they flew me out to where the job would be based, the corporate offices in an old drafty building in an industrial complex thirty miles south of Minneapolis. I asked myself, “Can I live here?” and answered quickly, “Live here? Girl, I don’t even want to die here!”

What I learned is this: study just as much about the company and the position as you study your successes. Then connect those three things and you will be able to show exactly how and where you will bring value. Or, you might learn the job or the company is not a great fit. Most importantly, I learned not to go to Minneapolis in February.

-- Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks
The thoughts and opinions above are those of the writer and not Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

June 5, 2015

Pride! Work can suck it out of you…or fill you with it!

LH
Not every boss will be as nice!

Flashback to springtime, 2009: I’m standing in a conference room in downtown Chicago, stupid from Vicodin while my boss hurls wadded up paper at my head, over and over again. That was a huge "how did I get here?" moment. I mean, I knew I arrived at O’Hare that afternoon on Delta after an early morning root canal in New York and I was participating in a team building exercise designed to turn my boss into a human (her 360 degree review was so negative it was renamed the 666 degree review).

There are plenty of bad bosses out there (and there’s no guarantee the next one won’t be worse) so I stuck it out for eight years. Everybody else was great, lots of fun, really smart, and completely supportive and nurturing of LGBT employees. It’s a shame that everybody else was not my boss. Even my bad boss  (I don’t want to use her real name so I’ll just call her The Worst), The Worst, was an ardent LGBT ally. As a side note, however, The Worst was decidedly not a supporter of working women with children. “They think they deserve more time off than people without children!”

The point is, I was not proud of myself, my work or my company because everything was so tainted by The Worst. It was not enough that the organization was extremely progressive in terms of LGBT policies. I left.

That’s when I began my search for pride of work and pride of self. I drove around the USA for the better part of 2013, blogging, camping, hitting every gay bar in all 48-contiguous states. I was proud of what I was doing but I was essentially accelerating the process of becoming homeless, since no one was paying me to be a nomad with a WordPress site.

The obvious solution for finding an income-generating workplace that could fill me with pride was a car dealership. A little background: I’m a car fanatic. The dealer network is owned by a man who is both gay and Jewish, who supports many wonderful charities, so I thought his progressive ideas would trickle down to the rest of the staff.

Wrong. I heard plenty of cheap Jew jokes, within earshot of an enormous poster of a golden retriever hopping out of a Subaru Hybrid with his two mommies. I didn’t think an environmentally conscious inter-racial lesbian couple would appreciate this hate talk any more than I did. This time I didn’t wait eight years to leave.

The good news is, great work environments that will fill you with pride do exist. I’ve recently found such a place. I’m proud to work for SAGE because they’re serving the LGBT community, but mostly I’m proud to work for SAGE because everyone I have encountered has been professional, kind and supportive. Of course I was suspicious of being treated with respect at first but you do get used to it!

So where can you find a workplace to be proud of? The answer is: anywhere you are treated with dignity and as a valued human being, at all times, in all circumstances. You shouldn’t allow people to mistreat you because they also do things that are not horrible. Pride must extend beyond June--we each deserve it all year long, in all facets of our lives.

-- Jeff Stein, communications consultant, SAGEWorks

The thoughts and opinions above are those of the writer and not Services & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE).

May 29, 2015

Nothing Good Ever Comes From Speaking in Elevators

From banking to caregiving, it’s better to listen in order to get the job.

In the elevator last week on my way to a SAGEWorks workshop, How to Seek Employment within the Banking & Financial Industry, I noticed an elegant, mature, white gentleman with close cropped silver hair in a beautifully tailored dark blue suit and an expensive silk tie. I asked him if he will be teaching us how to get a job in banking. He replied, “Oh, no, I’m here to learn about that.”

A minute later I met the person who led the workshop, a Latino woman from JP Morgan Chase, Angelique Y. Pabon. My assumptions taught me I’m not immune to sexist and racist assumptions (so I guess I have something new to add to my LinkedIn profile).

Agelique_Bruce
Two typical stodgy bankers, Angelique Y. Pabon and Bruce Vecchio

Angelique and her colleague Bruce Vecchio were fun and wonderful…but of course you knew they would be when I mentioned banking and finance. Angelique mapped out where certain transferable skills will be of value, even if you’ve never been in finance before. Have you managed a construction project? You probably have what it takes to be a project manager in a bank’s facilities department. Were you an executive assistant to the head of a record label? Great, become the executive assistant to the head of collateralized debt obligations. I’m sure there’s a case to be made that music is a lot like repackaged debt

I worked in banking and financial services for 20 years and my colleagues, from the CEO down, were all much more supportive of LGBT-people than my colleagues at a New York City car dealership where I did a short stint. Despite the fact that the owner of the dealership is gay! Plus, they sell Subarus!

Beyond the industry-specific workshops, SAGEWorks also recently. brought together six panelists for a very special episode of Get Tips and Advice Directly from Employers Who Hire. Things got real.

Natasha Leath, Director of Business Development at The Good Kind Group, a recruitment firm, explained how the job interview begins in the elevator. After a workout one day, Natasha went back to her office to change so she was not wearing her usual business attire. The woman sharing the elevator with Natasha was cursing like a sailor at her babysitter, in full voice. Guess who was going to an interview at The Good Kind Group? Fortunately, Natasha is a good person and gave the woman another chance after she explained why it’s not valuable to act like the worst person in the world in public.

Panelists_Greet
It’s not often you get access to hiring managers so the employer panel was swarmed.


Another fascinating takeaway from the employer panel is how companies are forming to support unaddressed needs of the LGBT-community. Joe Fisher, co-founder and director of Renewal Care Partners, started his business to provide culturally competent care givers. Older LGBT-folks, who were out, are retreating back into the closet during their final days for fear of what less-than-progressive caregivers would think or do. Joe makes sure all of his company’s caregivers are there to care, not to judge. Imagine the alternative--you’re trying to watch Wheel of Fortune and your nurse starts throwing holy water at you!

For those of us looking for jobs, make sure you check out all the new services popping up to support LGBT-folks. And remember to mind your manners in the elevator.

-Jeff Stein, communications consultant, SAGEWorks

May 21, 2015

The High Cost of Not Being Authentic

Lying about who you are at work costs both money and happiness. It's true.

Arianna
Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, spoke at the conference about the importance of sleep and reducing stress at work. 

Earlier this month I attended Sodexo’s Quality of Life Conference in New York. Why would Sodexo, a company known in the U.S. mostly for cafeteria food, put on such a show? “Get with the program! You should know Sodexo is about more than cafeteria food," said Laura Schalk, Sodexo's head of press relations. "In this company we are evangelical about quality of life, and ensuring a great work environment so that employees feel motivated and valued – which links to issues like equality and work-life balance.”

Motivated and valued employees are nice but I went looking for gay stuff. The panel discussion “Gender Balance: How Can Women’s Success Benefit All” caught my eye. I went to find out if women are going to pull me along for the ride as they smash through the glass ceiling.

And that’s when I saw him, sitting at the dais, wearing a fitted gray suit with legs crossed, his muscular thighs straining against the delicate fabric. Kenji Yoshino, the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. He had the type of biography that makes you feel like a loser who sleeps too much: “He was educated at Harvard, Oxford, and Yale Law School. He teaches in the areas of constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and law and literature. He has published three books.”

Then Professor Yoshino mentioned having a husband and two children so I stopped fantasizing about our wedding and began to listen.

According to Professor Yoshino, women, LGBT-people, and all minority groups, are likely to “cover” at work in order to get along, conform and move ahead. Covering means changing behavior to mimic leadership, which is mostly straight white males. Women are urged by leadership to be more masculine. Then women are urged to re-cover when they act too masculine. And they say women are fickle.

Yoshino said he covered as a young professor at Harvard Law School after a seemingly well-meaning colleague told him he would do better there if he acted like a homosexual professional rather than a professional homosexual. I’m an amateur gay right now but hoping to go pro after Nationals.

So what’s the problem with making straight white men more comfortable besides the fact it’s 2015? Yoshino says covering costs cold hard cash. In a survey, 53 percent of employees said they felt pressured by leadership to cover. Of that 53 percent, 50 percent said it undermined their dedication to the organization. “Covering, or being inauthentic, has a high cost for an individual’s well-being and organizational performance.”

At the conference dinner later, several women who were not able to attend the gender balance panel asked me if there is a solution to covering. I flippantly suggested sending all straight white men to the moon (What's that old joke? If we can send one there...) Once I realized this was impossible, I apologized for my bad joke and told them I had not eaten and drank two martinis. Then I told them I’m going to leave it to the guy who went to Harvard, Oxford and Yale to fix the problem. He has some good ideas that you can read here.

For more about Sodexo’s Quality of Life Conference, go here.

-- Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks

May 13, 2015

Employment Boot Camp Gets Emotional

May_boot_campThe SAGEWorks May Boot Camp Team

Towards the end of the ten-day SAGEWorks employment boot camp, I joined the 20 participants so I could hear and share their stories. I was expecting everyone to tell me how they will now use LinkedIn or create a more strategic social media profile and personal brand. What I was surprised to hear was how angry one woman was with her former employer and colleagues—and the way that this group of boot campers created their own support system outside the classroom.

When Rosie O’Donnell (not her real name…maybe) told me how she was let go after more than 30 years with the same company, I suggested she reach out to her ex-colleagues for support and networking. Rosie wasn’t having it.

“They called me but I didn’t want to see them. I was let go. Who wants to sit around with a bunch of people who still have jobs at the place from where you were downsized?”

Rosie has a point. I was angry with my last employer--and I left on the best of terms. I think there are two main reasons for this. One, when we leave an organization, for whatever reason, it’s normal to rationalize the move by exaggerating all the negatives. The second reason, for me, is I love to create unnecessary drama.

Eventually, Rosie and I each got over our anger and realized many of our former colleagues are friends who want to help. Also, some of them are horrible people who should never again darken our doorsteps--but such is life.

Being unemployed is extremely difficult, not just financially but also emotionally, so it’s incredibly reassuring to be around others in a similar circumstance. Employment boot camp is not therapy; it’s a chance to learn proven methods for finding jobs but there is an unexpected and welcomed therapeutic quality.

Right now I am working for SAGEWorks but for most of 2014 I was unemployed, gay and over 40-years old, the SAGEWorks dream (spoiler alert: I’m still gay and over 40). Now I regret not taking a friend’s advice to attend the employment boot camp last year. Not only would I have had more emotional support, I’m confident I would have been offered a job much sooner. I simply was not putting into play all the job search and interview best practices taught at boot camp. My thinking was, I don’t need to go to a class for free, which is taught by experts, I’ll somehow figure it out on my own.

That thinking led to me living with my mother and drinking the same cup of tea for two months. Boot camp for two weeks or living with your mother for two months? I will say this if you choose not to take advantage of SAGEWorks programs, there are a lot of exciting story lines on The Young and the Restless right now.

-Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks

May 6, 2015

Can a Job Search be Gay?

Rainbowsearch

No. It can only be effective or ineffective.

Before attending a SAGEWorks workshop on April 8, The Soul Search before the Job Search, I was curious how career advice in a LGBT-welcoming and inclusive environment would be different. It’s not.

What is different is the feeling of support and understanding. This is the same reason I go to a gay doctor. Straight doctors are probably qualified but I’m less likely to go to one because of my fear of being judged. (The last time I went to a straight doctor, I needed to explain the Black Party so my allergic reaction to a rubber mask could be put into context.)

There were only a few reminders that the SAGE workshop was geared toward LGBT-folk: for example, Dr. Howard Leifman, a nationally renowned career coach, likened the necessity to evolve and reinvent yourself to Madonna’s many incarnations. Vogue!

To help attendees decide what the heck we’re going to do with the rest of our lives, we were asked to complete the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) before the workshop. This tool helps you discover what kind of work is best suited for your personality traits. My MBTI® is an ESFP (Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Perceiving), which means I’m ideally suited to be Auntie Mame. Wish me luck.

Being nosey, I scanned the attendees. All genders, sexual orientations and ages were represented with people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and even 80s. While we came from diverse backgrounds and experiences, we were universally disappointed to discover our job hunting skills were very 2004. Sending resumes blindly is out, building a network is in. After all, 80 percent of job placements are the result of a personal or professional connection--so learning how to “work your network” is critical. SAGEWorks can show you exactly how to do that in any of its upcoming workshops or in its two-week employment boot camp this June.

Being only 45-years and 22-days old, and pretty tech savvy, I was surprised to find out how out of touch I was with effective job searching. In 1992, when I last pounded the pavement in earnest, I printed 50 resumes on heavy-stock light-grey stone-textured paper I selected lovingly at The Paper Warehouse. Dr. Leifman will explain how you can stand-out in a sea of job applicants (hint, it’s not by selecting  heavy-stock light-grey stone-textured paper from The Paper Warehouse). With so much that’s new to know, I was especially as grateful for Leifman’s expertise as I was for his Madonna references.

-- Jeff Stein, Communications Consultant, SAGEWorks