Alliance attends conference

Six Alliance members traveled more than 13 hours to Washington, D.C., for a briefing on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals who have careers in the federal government.

LGBT college students nationwide were invited to a White House briefing on federal government career opportunities featuring remarks by John Berry, director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and staff and senior leaders in the Obama administration.

Berry spoke to approximately 100 college students about how they should not let their sexual identity hinder them from pursuing a career in government.

The event showed career opportunities including civil, foreign and military service, agency internships, and opportunities to work for the White House.

Participants had the opportunity to develop relationships with the LGBT agency staff and learn more about President Obama’s proposed commitment to equal rights for LGBT people.

Berry also named several websites such as stopbullying.gov and healthcare.gov for the students to take with them to their colleges and share with their student groups.

Shamike Stiles, freshman from Chicago, Ill., said she learned the government wanted her to continue her activism.

“Every speaker made one thing certain – that our skills and abilities were of value, Stiles said. “Some of the statements John Berry said encouraged me to be the best I can be and to never let my diversities hold me back.”

Stiles will take on the roll as Alliance’s new president over the course of the next three weeks.

“I am definitely confident walking into my presidency knowing that the federal government is on board with LGBT activism much like the activism Alliance is doing on a local level,” Stiles said. “I am able to give Alliance not only my experience from the career pathways briefing but also the information that was provided at the conferences, such as the internships available for college students and graduates.”

She said it was nice to see LGBT people working in the government and trying to make a difference.

“More importantly I can share the inspiration the conference gave me; which was to keep fighting,” Stiles said. “‘John Berry stated ‘change is hard, but notice summits have been reached,’ and they will continue to be reached as long as organizations like Alliance is trying to change this world for the better.”

Along with the lecture from Berry, the Alliance members also attended a panel discussion featuring several department represenatives.

These spokespersons were David Soo, Department of Education, AJ Pearlman, Department of Health and Human Services, Dylan Orr, Department of Labor, Stacy Vasquez, Department of Veteran Affairs and Ken Kero-Mentz, Department of State. They each spoke about their struggles to obtain their government jobs as openly gay people. Each with their own personal struggles to face.

The Alliance members also met with Christina Baumgardner, Congressional Staffer for Senator Robert Casey and received a tour of the Russell Senate Office Building.