Reaching Out had the pleasure of spending last weekend in the City by the Bay with 22 of our incredible LGBT MBA Fellows, each of whom is a business student in this scholarship & leadership development program.
Representing 17 top MBA programs from across the United States and Canada, these Fellows brought their enthusiasm for business and LGBTQ leadership to San Francisco for a weekend retreat filled with learning, professional development, and bonding.
Kate Kendell, Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), spoke about her 20-year career working for equal civil rights for LGBT people. In conversation with ROMBA’s Executive Director Matt Kidd, Kate spoke frankly about the triumphs and setbacks she’s seen from the passage of California’s Proposition 8 to nationwide marriage equality and more. “Be more ferocious than you think you are,” Kate challenged the group. From her, the Fellows got the chance to think about the kind of leaders they can become.
After Kate, the Fellows learned about “Leading Out Loud” from Stanford Graduate School of Business Lecturer J.D. Schramm. J.D. spoke to the Fellows and encouraged them to find an authentic communication platform to share their their LGBTQ identities. As J.D. instructed them to engage levers, explore actions, and embrace their communication tools, each Fellow got strategic guidance on how they share stories. From Kate and J.D.’s lessons, our Fellows came together as a cohort, learning from and with each other.
But the weekend wasn’t all work, no play. In the afternoon, we set out to the Castro to learn about San Francisco’s storied LGBTQ history from Kathy Amendola at Cruisin’ the Castro Walking Tours. As we trekked through Harvey Milk’s old stomping grounds under a 20’ x 30’ rainbow flag, we listened to tales of triumph and sorrow that deepened our understanding of what it meant to be LGBTQ in the past, and how our community’s past can inform its future. From Pink Triangle Park to Twin Peaks — the first gay bar in the country to have windows after homosexuality was decriminalized — we learned about the Castro’s legacy.
People describe San Francisco as a foodie’s paradise, and our Fellows got to experience this first-hand. We ate at the Tonga Room & Hurricane Bar on Friday, a truly one-of-a-kind tiki restaurant serving Asian cuisine and tropical drinks. On Saturday, we went to the movies…for dinner at Foreign Cinema. We feasted on food surrounded by the sights and sounds of film — a particularly fitting dinner the night before the Academy Awards. All in all, the Fellows came to San Francisco as individuals, but left as peers, colleagues, and friends. Reaching Out MBA’s Class of 2017 Fellows are an impressive cohort. We know that we’ll see more great things from them soon.