Tell us about I’m From Driftwood. Why did you become a Board Member and what were you able to help accomplish?
Driftwood is a first-person, LGBT storytelling archive. We want to provide a platform focused on authenticity, which is why the first-person aspect is so important. I served as a board member for two years. In a small non-profit, it’s all hands on deck! I did everything from fundraising and representing the organization at conferences, to tying balloons to a display for our annual barbecue. The activity I’m most proud of as a board member was to recruit storytellers to share their experience with us. I really wanted storytellers from different backgrounds and perspectives to share their experiences with us. As a Board Member-Emeritus, I continue to recruit storytellers. This is, to me, the most meaningful part of my work with I’m from Driftwood.
Do you feel that the LGBTQ community has more to show for their efforts than ever before in the history of this country or less? What are some of the biggest contributing factors?
Progress doesn’t happen in a straight line. In recent years we’ve seen advances in LGBT rights I could have never imagined when I was growing up in the Bronx in the 80s and 90s. From gay marriage to an increased understanding and acceptance of people of trans experience, to PrEP, we have made great strides. Challenges still remain, though. It’s still legal to fire LGBT people in over half of the country, and people of trans experience, especially trans women of color are murdered at disproportionate rates. We have a long way to go, but I’m hopeful we can continue the momentum.
What are the most pressing concerns and biggest challenges you face as Senior Outreach and Selection Officer at the Institute of International Education?
I love the work I do. I have been with the Institute of International Education for 13 years. For a decade, I worked to bring International students and scholars to the US. My career pivoted a few years ago, and now I focus on sending students and faculty from the U.S. abroad on a variety of funded programs. The biggest challenge I face is juggling priorities while on the road. As an outreach officer I travel quite a bit. The way I deal with this is focusing on great communication and coordination with my teams. I am very lucky to work with such committed and dynamic colleagues.
How do you feel your Marxe MPA has contributed to your career thus far?
I had worked in non-profit for a good five years before starting my MPA at the Marxe School. Taking time off to go to graduate school really wasn’t a financial reality for me, but I was grateful to be able to attend Baruch part-time and still be able to work full-time. This, in and of itself, taught me how to juggle priorities! I also feel my career leveled-up from stepping away from my desk and critically analyzing the work I did, using the coursework I covered at Baruch as a lens. I took classes in budgeting, leadership, and management that weren’t in my responsibilities at work. Baruch prepared me to take more on, and grow my career. I actually love public speaking, but the communications classes I took at Baruch really helped me refine my presenting style. My favorite tip: take your keys out of your pocket so they don’t make noise while you’re presenting! Lastly, I have friends from Baruch who I still talk to all the time. These folks work in a variety of industries, and are colleagues I can bounce ideas off of, and be inspired by. From the faculty to the administrators and certainly my classmates, my favorite part of my time at the Marxe School is the people. Sometimes the term “network” has a negative or transactional aspect to it, but I really experienced a community of support at Baruch that enriches me professionally, academically, and personally to this day.