By Kevin Bradley, Associate Director of Online Learning, LeadingAge
When I joined LeadingAge’s Knowledge and Learning team in 2007, it was one of the first times I can think of in my career when I felt safe to “come out” during the interview process and be open about the life I was building with my now-husband, Matt. The response from my future colleagues was acceptance and enthusiasm, which told me LeadingAge was the right place for me to learn and grow.
The LGBTQ+ movement was sparked by the 1969 Stonewall Riots and prior to that, the 1966 Compton Cafeteria Riots. Both events were turning points in the LGBTQ+ struggle for acceptance and were led by Black and Brown persons who decided enough was enough. Recognized each June, LGBTQ+ Pride month celebrates how far we have come and honors the brave individuals who confronted systemic hostility, violence, oppression, and discrimination — putting their lives on the line and demanding to belong.
For LeadingAge, understanding LGBTQ+ history and placing it within the broader context of our board-approved, diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy is key.
FOUR DRIVERS OF AN INCLUSIVE ORGANIZATION
LeadingAge has galvanized the field to continue to grow and evolve. We see four drivers that can help an organization foster a culture of inclusion:
1. Shifting from the institutional model of service delivery to a person-centered/directed perspective (centering the person in everything);
2. Building a community where the elder, their ideas, and the staff ’s ideas are shared;
3. An intersectional perspective, where a person’s race, ability, social-economic class, gender, where they live or lived, what they are doing, and how they are and have been treated, are all recognized;
4. The leader and leadership team embracing, modeling, and reinforcing inclusive policies, practices, and procedures that build and sustain an inclusive culture for the whole organization. When these elements are in place, it is to every person’s benefit — from your front line to the bottom line.
HOW CAN YOU CONNECT AND ENGAGE WITH KNOWLEDGE, EXPERTISE, AND MEMBERS FROM ACROSS THE COUNTRY?
LeadingAge has been offering LGBTQ+ education since 2000 through our Annual Meeting, held each fall in different cities across the U.S. At our 2006 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, a diverse group of stakeholders came together to raise members’ awareness of LGBTQ+ aging by creating the first Inclusion Night, held at the city’s historic GLBT Historical Society Museum. Inclusion Night has become a yearly tradition and grown to be a must-attend part of each year’s conference.
At the same time, our conference education program has expanded. We have seen increasing numbers of session proposals submitted to us on the topic of LGBTQ+ aging through our Call for Sessions; we created the first LGBTQ+ Campground for members to engage in LGBTQ+ conversations; and this year we are offering the first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion track at our Annual Meeting. We have also launched our online learning program and developed a unique site for members to network and connect.
Here is a bit more information about each:
Our 2021 Annual Meeting & EXPO (Oct. 24-27) will feature rich education sessions, engaging networking opportunities (including the LGBTQ+ Network that meets during the conference), compelling keynotes, a live EXPO, and our 15th Annual Inclusion Night. Additionally, our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion track includes sessions on ageism, diversity, best practices for welcoming LGBTQ+ older adults, HIV & Aging, racial equity, providing culturally sensitive care, and creating brave spaces for conversations around diversity. For more information visit: https://www.leadingageannualmeeting.org/attendees.
LeadingAge is proud to have launched the LeadingAge Learning Hub in 2018. This online learning platform provides the very best expert-led education that keeps you and your team current on a wide range of topics, including compliance, dementia, leadership, governance, diversity, equity and inclusion, and more.
We also have launched the LeadingAge LGBTQ+ Member Community. This network has its roots in the group of members that came together to form the first Inclusion Night in 2006. It provides a forum for engaging and sharing with peers about LGBTQ+ inclusive programs, services, and practices. I am the administrator of the group and each month I post articles, resources, and opportunities for members to learn, share, connect, and broaden their own LGBTQ+ journey.
HAVE A QUESTION, SUGGESTION, SEED OF AN IDEA, OR JUST WANT TO CONNECT?
I would love the opportunity to speak with you and learn more about you and your organization. It might lead to ways we can work together and ultimately help move our field forward! Please email me at: KBradley@LeadingAge.org
Kevin Bradley is Associate Director of Online Learning at LeadingAge in Washington D.C. Kevin also serves as the liaison with the LGBTQ+ Member Community and many outside community organizations that serve LGBTQ+ people.