Monthly Archives: February 2017

Alumnus Spotlight – Kaitlin Porter 08PH

(Neil Vasudeva, ‘16B, Member at Large on the Executive Committee of GALA, recently spoke with Kaitlin Porter, 08PH, an outstanding alumna of Rollins School of Public Health, and currently a Manager at Deloitte Consulting in their Federal Healthcare Practice. Thanks, Kaitlin, for sharing your Rollins/LGBT+ experience with us.)

Neil:  Could you start by telling me a little bit about your background and how you ended up at Rollins for your graduate degree?

Kaitlin:  Absolutely.  I went to a school in Virginia for my undergraduate degree, James Madison University, and came to Emory straight out from undergrad. I graduated with a degree in international relations/political science and I always had an interest in the health space and global health. So I thought there was no better place to be a public health student than Emory with its proximity to the CDC.

Neil:  How was your Rollins experience from an LGBT+ perspective?

Kaitlin:  I came out while I was studying in Atlanta. During my first year of graduate school, I came out and knew that I was seeking something different. To me, Atlanta is a liberal environment in a very red state. When I came out, I had the support of the Emory community, and it felt like a very wonderful, loving, and supported experience. I felt quite liberated.

Neil:  What challenges do you think LGBT+ students faced during your times at Rollins?

Kaitlin:  I graduated 10 years ago, so things were quite different. We did not get much face time with alumni – especially LGBTQ alumni. Coming in to graduate school is similar to coming in to this part of “adulthood,” and it would have been nice to have had a community of LGBTQ alums. It would have provided a better support structure for LGBTQ students. Another challenge I noticed at Rollins was with student turnover in relation to programming. Given that we all attend Rollins for mostly two-year programs, it can be challenging to create long-term, sustainable programming.

Neil:  How was your experience leading/being a part of the LGBT+ student organization at Rollins? What hurdles did you face as an organization (i.e. challenging administration, regulations/rules, etc.)?

Kaitlin:  I was involved with the LGBT student group at Rollins. Again I found that the main issue was with student turnover. Given the turnover, I hope – and I don’t know if things have changed now – that the school invests in resources and faculty/staff in order to maintain sustainable programming. However this is a pretty similar struggle to most other campus organizations. We did not experience any greater hurdles.

Neil:  What do you believe that Rollins could do to improve the LGBT+ student experience?

Kaitlin:  I think the school should gather data on the Emory LGBTQ community. It would be great to use this database to connect current students with alumni from an LGBTQ perspective. Rollins should try to create that experience in order to create a community for LGBTQ students in the professional world.

Neil:  Is there advice you have to share with current Rollins students who identify as LGBT+ on being out in the workplace?

Kaitlin:  I would say it starts in your job search. Make sure to do your homework in order to see if you would be comfortable in the work environment of a specific company. Company culture is often overlooked, and I believe it’s important to research and understand what policies a company has to support its LGBTQ community. In addition, look at what a company does to support the community. There are a lot of different areas/statistics to look at, from the HRC index to the employee resource groups. If you’re even comfortable coming out in your interview, maybe consider bringing up questions you have around this topic in an interview.

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Letter From Co-Chair

At Emory we were all taught to seek truth.  No matter the degree or year received, or where we spent our time in the vast Emory community, we researched and studied to improve our own lives and for those around us.

2017 has thus far been filled with misinformation, and not always with the best intent.  But as I look below national and international politics, I am reminded of the consistent truths that surround me every day:  the start of Spring Semester and Emory students preparing to make their mark on this world, the upcoming Pride Awards where we celebrate the accomplishments of many of them, and even the recent Valentine’s Day Holiday where we are reminded to Measure our Lives in Love.

At the foundation of these annual events is the culture of the Emory community.  GALA’s commitment to inclusion is unyielding.  It inspires my interaction with colleagues, family, friends, and most recently strangers I meet while traveling; LGBT+, allies, or even not so much allies, inclusion requires compassion and a desire to understand where others are coming from.

I hope that each of us can rely on the culture of our communities in our own search for truth.  Together we will live 2017 to the fullest.

Markbradley Kitay

Co-Chair

GALA:  Emory LGBT Alumni

Update from GALA NY

GALA NY hosted a Winter Happy Hour this past January.  We were thrilled to have several first-time GALA event attendees as well as recent graduates from the class of 2016.  The event was held at 230 Fifth Bar in Manhattan, which provided an awesome view of the city skyline during the event.  GALA NY plans to hold the next event later in the spring or early summer.

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A Glamorous GALA Holiday Social

Ascending the dramatic double staircase at the Four Seasons Hotel, you might have thought yourself on a Hollywood set as you looked up two stories to the elaborate ceiling,  and finally you reach the beautiful Bar Margot, where 50 GALA alums and guests gathered for our annual Holiday Social.

The waiter was there to take your order.  The hors d’oeuvres were excellent.  But it was the crowd of revelers who were so ready to party which made the event so special.  Attending were our usual mix of young and older, and no one seemed to want to leave.  It was the perfect way to celebrate another successful year for GALA.

Coming up is another outstanding year of social events.  It begins with our annual Spring Theater Outing on Sunday, March 26th at Actor’s Express.  The chosen feature this year is “The Legend of Georgia McBride.”  Written by Matthew Lopez, the side-splitting comedy introduces us to a failing Elvis impersonator, who is straight, and who with the encouragement of his wife very reluctantly finds prosperity and fame doing fantastic drag.

So plan on joining GALA for the 2:00 PM Sunday matinee.  We will gather for wine & cheese before the curtain goes up.  And we will announce plans for our Summer Social in our next Newsletter.

Update from Office of LGBT Life

It may only be February, but 2017 has already proven to be a busy year for Emory’s Office of LGBT Life!

Emory OUTLaw hosted their “State of the Union” Conference on January 14, and the Office of LGBT Life played a large role in its success. Danielle Bruce Steele— Director of the Office of LGBT Life— spoke on a conference panel considering discrimination policy under a Trump administration. The conference ended with closing remarks made by Michael Shutt, former Director of the Office. Student Victoria Alarcon also tabled for the Office throughout the event.

The next weekend in January included another queer conference, as 10 Emory students and 5 Emory staff members flew to Philadelphia for the National LGBTQ Task Force “Creating Change” Conference. Our group attended sessions on campus activism, participated in the Philadelphia Women’s March, and ate Big Gay Ice Cream.

On January 25, the Office of LGBT Life joined forces with the Office of Multicultural Programs & Services, Emory Study Abroad, and the Black Student Alliance to produce a panel titled, “Broadening Horizons: Underrepresented Student Experiences Studying Abroad.” Diverse students came together to learn about navigating their gender, sexual orientation, race, religion, and much more while studying abroad.

Looking forward, we would like to invite all alumni to come together once more in celebration of everybody’s favorite event: Emory’s 2017 Pride Awards! The Office of LGBT Life’s Annual Pride Awards will take place on Thursday, March 2, 2017, at 6:30 PM in the Miller-Ward Alumni House. Join us as we showcase the great work students, staff, faculty, and alums do behind the scenes for LGBT equality on Emory’s campus and on behalf of the Emory community, and commemorate the campus-wide protest that took place on March 2, 1992. Student leaders are awarded scholarships to acknowledge the work they do and to enable them to continue working toward equity, while graduating students are honored for their contributions in the Lavender Graduation. RSVP at tinyurl.com/annualprideawards. To learn more about The Annual Pride Awards visit the Office of LGBT Life in DUC E232 or here.

As always, Director Danielle Bruce Steele and Emory’s Office of LGBT Life would like to extend their thanks to GALA for continuing to support the work we do within the community. We would never be able to have such successful programming without your help! Please contact Danielle Bruce Steele at dmsteel@emory.edu if you are interested in being more involved with the Office of LGBT Life. You can also keep up-to-date with our activities through our Facebook page.

Emory OUTLaw Hosts “State of the Union” Conference

Following the 2016 election, many people in the LGBT community felt particularly anxious about the effects of a Trump administration on queer life in the U.S. Emory OUTLaw decided to respond to that sense of collective fear by discussing the current state of LGBT rights at the first annual Emory OUTLaw “State of the Union” Conference.

The conference took place on Saturday, January 14, from 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the law school. Tara Borelli— an attorney at Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office— kicked off the conference with her “State of the Union Address.” Tara recounted the legal progress we have made as a community and the challenges that remain on our horizon.

The conference then featured two panels, one titled “Protecting the LGBT Vote” and another titled “Considering Discrimination Policy under a Trump Administration.” The first panel included thoughts from Emory Law’s Michael Kang, Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Stephanie Cho, Georgia House of Representatives’ Park Cannon, and Georgia Equality’s Chanel Haley. The second panel featured our own Danielle Steele in the Office of LGBT Life, Greg Nevins from Lambda Legal, and Dr. Vin Tangpricha with Emory Healthcare.

Sam Park, the first openly gay man elected to Georgia’s House of Representatives, presented the conference’s keynote address. Sam talked about his upbringing, the recent election cycle, and his plans for effecting positive change in Georgia moving forward. Michael Shutt provided closing remarks following Sam’s address.

Another key feature of the conference related to connecting Emory students to LGBT organizations in the larger Atlanta community. To that end, we provided opportunities to table for organizations like Georgia Equality, Lambda Legal, Emory’s Office of LGBT Life, Lost-N-Found, AID Atlanta, Trans Housing Atlanta Program, Stonewall Bar, and Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce. Many students, faculty, staff, alumni, and community members attended the conference.

Emory OUTLaw looks forward to making the conference an annual tradition. Please let Nicole Schladt (nicole.jean.schladt@emory.edu) know if you are interested in being involved with the conference next year.

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