Guest Blog by Reaching Out’s Executive Director, Matt Kidd.
This past weekend Reaching Out held it’s 9th annual LGBTQ MBA Club Leadership Summit. It’s no secret that this event is one of our staff’s favorite each year, as its an opportunity to bring together the rising on-campus lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender MBA and business graduate club leaders from our 50+ LGBTQ affiliate clubs to hear what is going on for student on-campus, share best practices, help create new clubs for schools that don’t have them. For Reaching Out as an organization it’s also an opportunity to get feedback & ideas from our most important audience…lesbian, gay, bisexual, & trans MBA students!
This year we had attendees registered from over 30 schools. Each club had the opportunity to present highlight, obstacles, and history (if a club exists) of their organization. The group then had structured conversations about on-campus LGBT demographics, straight allies (both the pros of involving them in programming and some of the challenges), working with other on-campus diversity groups, and passing the torch among club leaders.
The students also heard from several outsiders: Kellogg professor Julie Hennessey, who ran a workshop on club branding and raising awareness and gave clubs ideas they could use on their own campus. I had the opportunity to have sit-down interview with Gabrielle Novacek, who leads the Boston Consulting Group’s LGBT group, to hear about transferable practices that clubs can use. Then to make sure we kept greater issues the LGBTQ community is facing in focus, we heard from Brad Sears who heads The Williams Institute, the national think tank dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.
The attendees capped off the event with a group dinner, where they were able to continue the conversations from earlier in the day. While the event is over, we reminded attendees that Reaching Out connects LGBTQ on-campus clubs throughout the year with monthly club calls, email updates and events beyond the annual ROMBA Conference.
I want to make sure to publicly thank the student volunteers from Kellogg (also our hosts for the weekend) and NYU Stern who help put together the content ideas for this weekend – we can’t do this event without student involvement.
We’d also like to make sure to recognize that this event is made possible every year by a generous donation from Shorenstein properties in memory of Richard Chicotel. Rich unexpectedly on January 10, 2012 at the age of 52. Mr. Chicotel was an active fundraiser and advocate for causes in the LGBT community and was particularly moved by the passion and energy of students involved with Reaching Out.