Gay MBAs meet in Dallas

Corporations meet with LGBT MBA candidates to recruit, offer internships and present workshops on career development

MBA CANDIDATES | Organizers of the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA conference at the Fairmont Hotel put together welcome bags on Wednesday, Oct. 12, before participants arrive. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

More than 75 corporations stepped forward to sponsor the 14th annual Reaching Out LGBT MBA Conference taking place at the Fairmont Hotel in Dallas this weekend, according to the students who organized the event.

The entirely student-run event each year brings 500 LGBT MBA candidates and 500 professionals together for career development workshops and consulting projects as well as recruiting for careers and internships.

Organizer Billy Hwan, an MBA student at UC Berkeley, said that the first day of the conference is devoted to career sessions and the second day will focus more on lifestyle issues.

On Saturday, Oct. 15, teams of five will be tasked with coming up with innovations for 10 local non-profits, according to convention organizer Oron Stenesh, a second-year MBA student at University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management.

Organizer Anthony Esposito, a MBA student at Baruch College in New York, said he was most excited about a project that teams LGBT students with a local Baptist Church.

“It’s a sharing of values that benefits everyone,” he said.

Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas will work with another team. The Dallas Holocaust Museum, which began a relationship with the LGBT community this year when it brought an exhibit on the Nazi treatment of gay men from the U.S. Holocaust Museum, is turning to the group for ideas on continuing the relationship and developing membership in the LGBT community.

Organizer Rebecca Price, an MBA candidate at Babson College in Boston, said that entrepreneurship is another component of the conference. Three teams have been selected to make a pitch to a panel of venture capitalists. The winner will receive a $1,500 prize.

Among the speakers for the event are Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns and Human Right Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

Public relations expert Howard Bragman, best known from his appearances on ABC’s Good Morning America and on HNL, will speak on Friday evening. Elyse Cherry is the Saturday speaker at noon. She is CEO of Boston Community Capital and President of Boston Community Venture Fund.

Also as part of the weekend, Target, one of the conference’s platinum sponsors, will host a charity event that benefits the Point Foundation National LGBT Scholarship Fund.

Among the local companies recruiting are AT&T, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

And since most of the students will be back in school in two weeks when Out & Equal Workplace Summit convenes in Dallas at the Hilton Anatole, representatives of the conference and some employee resource groups will be at Reaching Out.

“We encourage our attendees to join employee resource groups,” Esposito said.

The students all said that organizing this conference was one of the most important parts of their graduate education.

“This is one of the most formative experiences of our MBA career,” Price said.

“We get to share with 1,000 people,” Stenesh said. “This is my gay MBA family.”

Reaching Out continues through Saturday and walk-up registration is available. $400. ReachingOutMBA.org.

—  Michael Stephens

GLFD’S NEW FORMAT

WELCOMING MEMBERS  |  Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas kicked off its membership drive Tuesday, Sept. 13, with a party in the Owners’ Lounge at The House in Victory Park, hosted by Ferrell Drum. Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller made the pitch to supporters to join as members. During the past 10 years, the organization raised more than $1 million for a number of non-profits committed to equality and diversity. Pictured at the event are, from left, Paul Polanco, Keith Nix, Noel Santini and Mark Niermann.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 30, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Local briefs

Miller to speak at GLFD event

Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller will speak at the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas membership kickoff event at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the Fifth Floor Owners’ Lounge at The House at Victory Park, 2200 Victory Park Ave.

GLFD raises money to support local organizations outside the LGBT community to raise the visibility of and awareness of philanthropy in the LGBT community. Among previous GLFD beneficiaries are The Women’s Museum, Parkland Hospital, the Latino Cultural Center, the Dallas Symphony and Southern Methodist University.

Until now, money was raised through donations and events. Now, GLFD is soliciting memberships. A basic annual membership fee is $50. For $200, the “Advocate” level also includes two invitations to an annual member appreciation event. The $500 “Philanthropic Partner” level also includes optional website recognition.

Anyone who would like to attend should email Keith Nix at knix@keithnix.com.

UUCOC offers grief workshop

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Oak Cliff, 3839 West Kiest Blvd., will begin a grief workshop series and a speakers forum next week.The workshop series is for those coping with loss, whether from the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship or termination from a job.

Hosted by the Rev. Mark Walz, the workshops will be lead by the Rev. Xolani Kecala, chaplain and affiliated minister of UUCOC.

Interested parties should call 214-337-2429 to reserve a space. The workshops take place Sept. 15 and Oct. 13.

The Second Wednesday Speaker’s Forum kicks off on Sept. 14 with Garrett Mize, Texas Freedom Network’s youth advocacy coordinator.

Mize’s efforts focus on engaging young people to become leaders in advocating for evidence-based, comprehensive sex education.

Light refreshments and discussion begin at 6:30 p.m. Mize’s presentation begins at 7 p.m. followed by a service from 8 p.m. to8:30 p.m. focusing on the evening’s topic.

Austin Pride to help wildfire victims

Austin Pride events scheduled for Saturday will continue as planned, despite wildfires that have ravaged surrounding counties this week. But in response to the fire, Pride organizers said they are organizing a clothing and non-perishable food drive with GoingUpDay.org to help those displaced by the fires, which have destroyed more than 1,300 homes, many in Bastrop County, just east of Austin.

Austin Pride takes place Saturday, Sept. 10 in downtown Austin at Riverside Drive and South 1st Street at 8 a.m. For more information, visit AustinPride.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 9, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

GLFD marking 10th anniversary of giving

Organization that channels LGBT donations to mainstream charities returns to Latino Cultural Center to celebrate milestone year

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Keith Nix and Dick Peeples
PHILANTHROPY OF TIME AND MONEY | Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas President Keith Nix, left, and Board Co-Chair Dick Peeples say their organization earns visibility and respect for the LGBT community by turning charitable donations “pink.” (Tammye Nash/Dallas Voice)

It was 10 years ago that a new group called the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas donated enough money to the fund to build the city’s Latino Cultural City that the group earned naming rights to the center’s outdoor sculpture garden.

Next Wednesday, Nov. 10, 10 years and more than $1 million later, the GLFD returns to the Latino Cultural Center to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Founded by partners Enrique McGregor and Mark Niermann, GLFD’s purpose is to collect charitable donations from the LGBT community and then give those donations en masse to specific projects and organizations — all to increase the impact and visibility of the LGBT community.

“We are all about visibility and bridge building,” said Dick Peeples, GLFD’s board chair, of the organization’s mission. “The LGBT community is part of the community as a whole. We want the whole body to be healthy, and we believe it will be healthier when all its parts are recognized and given respect.”

Peeples said GLFD has three requirements that an organization or project must meet to be eligible for GLFD funds: It must be a nonprofit in Dallas; it must publicly recognize GLFD as the donor of the funds, and it must have a hiring nondiscrimination policy that includes LGBT people.

It was that last requirement that almost derailed GLFD’s plans to donate to the Parkland Foundation to help fund the Ambulatory Care Clinic at Parkland hospital. And Peeples said he is proud that it was GLFD’s insistence that requirement be met before funding the project that provided impetus for getting the hiring policy at Parkland changed.

“A new policy that would include LGBT people had been sitting on [Parkland CEO Ron Anderson’s] desk for awhile, and they just hadn’t gotten around to putting it in place. Our donation was the impetus for them to go ahead and get it done,” he said.

GLFD President Keith Nix stressed that the fund is about “philanthropy of money and time,” adding that over the course of the past 10 years, “We have been very careful to touch all areas of the nonprofit community — medical, the high arts, art, women, children, education. We really have run the gamut of all areas of need.”

GLFD raises and donates money in different ways. Often the organization mounts a campaign for a specific project — like Parkland’s Ambulatory Care Clinic or the Dallas Women’s Museum or the Latino Cultural Center. And about every other year, the organization holds large-scale special events to raise money for a specific organization or project.

But the fund also has ongoing bundling programs for the Dallas Museum of Art and KERA 90.1 FM, the local public radio station.

Peeples explained that those who participate in the bundling programs would likely have contributed anyway to the museum or the public radio station, “but those dollars wouldn’t have been colored pink. The power of bundling is that the museum or the radio station still get the money, but now they know that money came from LGBT people. And that kind of visibility helps break down stereotypes.”

Nix described it as a win-win-win situation: The institution gets the donations it needs; the individual donor gets the benefit of donating, i.e. membership in the museum or KERA, at the level of their specific donation, and the LGBT community, through GLFD, gets positive visibility.

“Every few months, when the KERA pledge drives roll around, KERA is very upfront about announcing the donations we give and using the name Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas,” Nix said. “And every time we have a meeting with KERA, I ask them if they have gotten any negative comments about our donations. And they always say no. I think the fact that they have never gotten one negative comment speaks volumes about the progress we are making.”

Peeples said he believes that progress is due in part to Dallas’ reputation as a business-oriented city.

“This city is business-focused. People have a business-like attitude, and this [GLFD’s donation model] is very businesslike. We want acknowledgement and respect for what we do for the city, and this helps us get that,” Peeples said.

GLFD’s current campaign is to raise money to fund the Dean’s Reception Room in Southern Methodist University’s new Simmons School of Education and Human Development. David Chard, an openly gay man, is dean of the new school.

Partners Enrique McGregor and Mark Niermann
FOUNDING PARTNERS | Partners Enrique McGregor, right, and Mark Niermann founded Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas 10 years ago.

Although GLFD initially sent out letters to the nonprofits in Dallas that qualified for GLFD donations, Nix said the group no longer has to go out looking for places to give.

“We haven’t had to contact an organization in four or five years now,” Nix said. “Now, they contact us.”

Peeples acknowledged that the economic recession of the past two years has made itself felt, saying that “we’re soliciting people to give, and the economy has made giving more difficult for a lot of people.”

But, Nix said, GLFD has continued to be successful in its efforts.

“We haven’t really seen any decline in our bundled giving programs with the Dallas Museum of Art and KERA. When KERA had shortfalls, they called us. And we came up with some matching funds programs that wound up being incredibly successful.

“And when we held our event at the Wyly Theater, we filled the house,” Nix continued. “We may not have filled the glass as well as we might have before. But we did fill the glass.”

One difficulty the fund has had, both men said, has been in finding the LGBT community and identifying the segments of the community that would be likely to give to specific programs and projects.

“The Dean’s Reception Room at SMU is a good example,” Nix said. “We want to find LGBT people who graduated from SMU or have some real connection to the school because they are the ones more likely to give to that project. But there’s no LGBT alumni group at SMU.”

Peeples added, “It used to be that our community was concentrated in the Crossroads area in Oak Lawn. But now, we are scattered out all over the Metroplex. And there is no database of gay people we can use to find them.”

But the two men hope that GLFD’s new membership initiative might help solve that problem.

“We don’t have a real membership, per se,” Nix said. “But with our anniversary event at the Latino Cultural Center, we will be launching a membership organization within the fund. You don’t have to be a member to give or to participate in our events. But just like with the museum and KERA, you can join, and you get benefits for being a member.”

There will be, he added, different levels of membership offering different levels of benefits.

“Just like with KERA, no matter how much you give, you’re a member. But if you can give more, you get more benefits. Still, whatever level you give at, you benefit. Everyone benefits,” Nix said.

GLFD’s 10th anniversary party begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10, at the Latino Cultural Center. State Rep. Rafael Anchia will be the keynote speaker, and the event will include the premier of a short video on the history — and the future — of GLFD.

Tickets are $50, and are available online at GLFD.org.

Organizations and projects that have benefited from donations by GLFD include AT&T Performing Arts Center, Dallas CASA, Dallas Latino Cultural Center, Dallas Public Library, Dallas Women’s Museum, KERA 90.1 Public Radio, Parkland Health and Hospital System, Twelve Hills Nature Center, Bark Park Central, Dallas Children’s Theater, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas Theater Center, Friends of the Katy Trail, Oak Lawn Triangle, The Stewpot, The Wilkinson Center and the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 5, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

SMU’s first gay dean may not lead the parade, but he sure isn’t in the closet

David Chard heads up SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education, started 3 years ago

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer taffet@dallasvoice.com

David Chard
David Chard

David Chard wanted to make sure before taking the job as dean of Southern Methodist University’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education three years ago that he wouldn’t be closing himself back into a closet. That’s why he was upfront with administrators about being gay when he applied.

Before even coming to Dallas to interview, Chard asked an SMU faculty member he knew if he should reveal his sexual orientation. She told him SMU administrators all knew he was gay, but that they probably weren’t looking for someone who would be grand marshal of the gay Pride parade.

“So now,” Chard said recently, “I want to be grand marshal of the Pride parade.”

But, he added, he’ll probably take a pass on performing in drag at S4’s Rose Room with Joe Hoselton, the graduate admissions coordinator at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts who performs regularly under the stage name Jenna Skyye.

Although Chard was named the first permanent dean of the Simmons School three years ago, the school just became consolidated under one roof with the dedication of the new Simmons School building on Sept. 24. Before then, Simmons’ education, dispute resolution and counseling, and physiology departments were part of other SMU schools.

Among the various named areas of the new building is the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas Reception Area outside the dean’s office.

“About six to eight months ago, I met with the [GLFD] board and asked if they’d sponsor a fundraising event,” Chard said, explaining how the reception area got its name.

At the time Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas was involved in another project, but GLFD members made plans to raise funds with an event later, nothing their intent on the fund’s website.

Chard said GLFD received an immediate response that included donations from many alumni and faculty, which funded the reception area in time for the building’s dedication.

Chard came to Dallas from the University of Oregon. While Oregon has a reputation for being gay-friendly, he said that part of the country has more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

Chard said SMU has a more welcoming environment, with many more gays and lesbians on its faculty and staff.

SMU made Princeton Review’s list of most homophobic colleges in the country again this year. But Chard doesn’t believe the school deserves that position on the Princeton Review list, calling SMU’s administration very respectful of him and his relationship.

As an example, he said, “My partner is invited to every major event and he receives the spousal gift.”

Chard said the listing is based on student responses, and “Student responses don’t match [SMU’s] policies,” he said.

Chard did acknowledge that the ranking was helpful in demonstrating where community relationships need to be built. He said he has used the school’s rating to encourage participation by other deans in LGBT community events such as the Black Tie Dinner.

He also said that his being a member of the LGBT community has presented opportunities for SMU. The Simmons School’s counseling department provides counseling through Resource Center Dallas. And Chard said that there is a waiting list to participate in that internship program. Once Resource Center has more room in its planned new building, he’ll provide more students for the program, he said.

Resource Center Executive Director Cece Cox said SMU has made “a huge commitment” to RCD, and that the school’s connection to the Resource Center goes further than its counseling program.  Chard hired Resource Center to do diversity training for students training to be teachers and counselors.

He said that all SMU student teaching is done in Dallas. Because Dallas Independent School District has non-discrimination policies in place, it was important for his students to understand diversity issues.

Cox said the relationship with Simmons has expanded to the business school. Resource Center provides training for MBA students to understand LGBT diversity policies at most Fortune 500 companies, including most of the top Dallas-based corporations.

Chard named Cox to the Simmons School’s executive board, he said, because she represents an important group of potential donors.

“She represents gay alumni,” he said. “It’s a community we need to build a relationship with.”

“He’s incredibly innovative,” Cox said. “He’s helped SMU get involved in the community.”

Cox said that community extends far beyond just the LGBT community and that Chard has made important contributions in many areas around Dallas.

The department of dispute resolution based on the Legacy campus in Plano works with local companies such as American Airlines and J.C. Penney. The department of applied physiology works with the area’s professional sports teams and the education department is currently working with Southwest Airlines.

“We’re helping them think about the format they use for pilot training,” he said.

Simmons faculty members serve on planning committee of the upcoming Perot Science Museum that will be built in Victory Park and advised on the Children’s Adventure Garden at Dallas Arboretum.

Chard said that Simmons was never intended to be just another education school.  “We’re here to build community relationships,” he said.

Now that Simmons School is established and settling into its own home, Chard has plans to expand the school’s mission of research and beginning new programs, including a special education program.

He said special education attracts a large number of gays and lesbians to the field and thinks it’s because of the connection to helping those needing the most help.

Chard earned his own Ph.D. in special education. He began his career as a high school math and chemistry teacher. Then he joined the Peace Corps and taught in Lesotho for four years where he met his wife.

Chard joined the faculty of University of Texas, and he and his wife had three children.

After coming out, Chard accepted a position at the University of Oregon. A motivation to move back to Texas was that his children were still here.

Comparing SMU with UT, he said, “SMU is a face-to-face campus. UT is a city.”

His partner of two years recently moved from Boston to Dallas, and Chard said they are just getting settled.

Chard said Dallas pleasantly surprised him. He called the city nice, giving and gracious.

“I found Dallas to be a lot more interesting than Austin,” he said. “Great neighborhoods. The gay community is more active.”

Chard brought one of his daughters to last week’s Pride parade. He said seven students marched in an SMU entry. His daughter suggested they march with them next year.

He said he’s thinking about it — unless he’s the grand marshal.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 01, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Local briefs • 08.06.10

RCD names new board members

Chuck MarLett and Linda Moore were elected by current board members to join the Resource Center Dallas board of directors during the board’s monthly meeting on Monday, Aug. 2.

MarLett is a former vice president and associate general counsel for AMR Corporation, the parent company of Fort Worth-based American Airlines. He was one of the founders of the airline’s LGBT resource group, GLEAM, and served as its senior officer advisor.

MarLett is also a former co-chair of the board for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, was a founding member and director of the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Dallas and served on the boards Dallas Summer Musicals and Dallas Theater Center. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh, an MBA from Wharton and a law degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

Moore is a former board member of the center who served on the center’s finance committee for five years and was board president from October 2005 to March 2008. She is also the co-chair of the center’s capital campaign.

Moore is a commercial litigation attorney with K&L Gates in Dallas and also served as a board member for Elder Power. Her passion for cocker spaniels led her to serve in several board positions for the American Spaniel Club and American Spaniel Club Foundation, and a black cocker spaniel she owns is currently one of the top 10 dogs in the country.

Gramick to speak in Dallas

Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministries, and Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministries executive director, will be the featured guest speakers about the movement for equality for LGBT people in society and the Catholic Church on Wednesday, Aug. 11, from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m., at Resource Center Dallas, 2701 Reagan St.

Gramick, who joined the School Sisters of Notre Dame in the 1960s, obtained her masters degree from the Catholic school in 1969 and later earned her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania. While there, Gramick became friends with a gay man, and that friendship led her to begin ministries within the church for lesbians and gays.

Gramick eventually helped create three organizations for lesbian and gay Catholics, including, with Fr. Robert Nugent, New Ways Ministries.

However, in 2000 after more than 20 years of working with the LGBT community, Gramick was ordered by the School Sisters of Notre Dame — under orders from the Vatican’s Congregation For the Doctrine of Faith, which accused Gramick of having made grave doctrinal errors — to end her work and not speak publicly on LGBT issues.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 6, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens