Dear Convening Attendees and Supporters,
It is with heartfelt gratitude I express THANKS to everyone for your presence, for your participation both during and after, for the beginning of a national movement/network, however you choose to define it, that will address issues pertaining to POC LGBT aging. The First National Convening on POC LGBT Aging was a phenomenal gathering, please applaud yourselves for a job well done!!
To all the staff of GRIOT Circle…Bonnie Harrison, Anthony McPhatter, Victor Pond and Daniella Noel who went beyond the call of duty and put their brightest foot forward to create an outstanding Convening.
To Brian de Vries for always being informative and supportive, a man of truth and clarity. To Kyaien O. Conner for your brilliance and impressive level of research that opened so many people’s eyes to the disparate needs of LGBT POC aging. Your presentation was amazing! Thank you.
Chezia Carraway, my Elder Mentor Sister Friend, lots of love! Thanks! And to Helena Bushong for being the voice of our Trans-elder community that is far too often invisible at these important gatherings. You rock!
Aisha Young for continuing to be the leader that you are! Laurens Van Sluytman for always being in GRIOT’s–and my–corner, a guy you can count on! Much Love! Jay Blackwell you know how I feel about you and your support! Louis Colbert for your kind words, as you know, we got work to do!!!!
Carmelita Tursi for always being so very understanding and supportive, and for being available and open to the new kids on the block! Talk soon!? Hutson Inniss for coming in and doing the work necessary, thanks man! Jewelle Gomez for being a great elder and movement leader. Nancy Bereano, your mentorship and love is felt! Brendalynn Goodall, my SISTA friend, for always having my back and just being a great supporter friend!
To Michelle Alcedo, my SFAM, for your continued energy and support! Hope Barrett great seeing you as always, thanks for your words of encouragement. Rev. Jaynce Jackson thanks for your words and for keeping everyone focused on why we were there. To Sharon Day for bringing our native brothers’ and sisters’ voices to the table! Don’t forget to say hi to Jackie for me!
Pauline Park thank you, it’s always good to have your voice in the room! Tony Sarmiento what can I say, let’s make some noise, your brother in the struggle! Mr. Bryan Epps from the moment I reached out to you, you were on board and have remained consistent in the process. Thank you. Let’s have lunch soon!
Mario Tapia we have got to do some more work together, let’s present our own initiative to the City Council and get it funded. Call me! Carmen Vazquez thanks. That’s all I can say, thank you!! Dion Wong you brought a new clarity to the meaning of working in POC communities, I am humbled.
Dr. Rawha Haile, who was scheduled to be at the convening, was unable to attend because her father passed away. I want to take this time to send out special thoughts of comfort, and a blessing to you and your family in celebration of your father’s amazing life!
Cheryl Reese thank you for being that voice in the room! We got your information. Imam Daayiee Abdullah thanks for lending your expertise to this conversation! Tracy Cooper you hit this one out the ballpark! I knew you would! To Edwin L. Walker, Senator Benjamin Cruz, the ASA/LAIN and all the participants I met … WE THANK YOU ALL.
GRIOT Circle is committed to working within and with the systems/committees to develop structure and support for the network. We are also here to help with whatever else we can to move this project forward. As I said during the closing plenary, it was not designed for GRIOT to be in charge of the network, that power is yours, it has to be organic and coming from the members, much like how we run GRIOT Circle. We were the vehicle to bring us all together, now let us all build a network we can all be proud of.
With warm regards,
GRIOT Circle, Inc.
Today was the first day of sessions for the National Convening of POC LGBT Aging Professionals, as someone said, “is a very historic day, an idea that was a dream, today was realized.” From around 8am guests and panelists began arriving at Brickfield Convention Center, AARP’s hi-tech conference facility in the heart of the nation’s capital. Carmelita Tursi, Senior Diversity Advisor HR Group at AARP, provided the opening greetings, while Clarence Fluker, Program Manager, Office of GLBT Affairs, District of Columbia Mayor’s Office, delivered a warm welcome to Washington, D.C. In the absence of Cathy Greenley, Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services at AOA, Edwin L. Walker, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Dept. of Health and Human Services, AOA delivered a message form the Assistant Secretary.
The opening panel, facilitated by Chezia Carraway, LCSW, PHE Center for Disease Control and Prevention, was comprised of Jay Blackwell, Director, Capacity Building Division OMH-RC, Sharon M. Day, E.D., Indigenous People Task Force, Mandy Carter, Co-Founder, NBJC and Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, Tony Sarmiento, E.D., Senior Services America, Inc., Jewelle Gomez, Grants and Community Initiatives, Horizons Foundation and Christopher Bates, CEO, PACHA.
This lively panel drew from the history of struggles to address core issues and philosophy including strategy for the creation of a network that truly defines and represents the POC LGBT aging community. While Bryan Epps, Senior Policy Analyst, NYC Mayor’s Office laid out the fundamentals of policy creation and the benefits in support of issue advocacy. Chair Elect, ASA, Louis Colbert was the Keynote Speaker who spoke on the importance of this convening on the national landscape of aging.
The workshop component was structured into six discussion groups that allowed for an intimate and comprehensive discourse. Each group tackled a subject area: Elder abuse, Mental Health, Immigration, Housing, Health Care and Spirituality. Facilitator Victor Pond, Director of Policy, Research and Community Health, GRIOT Circle, coordinated the questions and group feedback. The first day of the Convening closed with a dialogue facilitated by Carmen Vazquez, coordinator NYS LGBT Health and Human Services Unit of the AIDS Institute, on the challenges and opportunities for the creation of a professional network.
Oct. 11, 2011, Washington, D.C. — Professionals on aging in the people of color LGBT community arrived in the nation’s capital today for the First National POC LGBT Convening on Aging. The two-day convening intends to build a network that strengthens alliances and fosters ongoing collaborations and broader discourse on issues, challenges and policies that effect the elder POC LGBT community. The conference is a collaboration of the American Society on Aging‘s LGBT Aging Issues Network (LAIN) and GRIOT Circle, and is hosted at Brickfield Center with generous support from AARP and funding from The Atlantic Philanthropies.
The networking and opening reception allowed colleagues to meet and greet, some for the first time, and break bread together, before tackling the itinerary of workshops, small group sessions and facilitated panel dialogues on Wednesday and Thursday. The evening closed with attendees screening three short film projects that document the trials and triumphs of some members of the elder POC LGBT community. Michelle Alcedo of Openhouse in San Francisco showed her work-in-progress, GRIOT Circle shared the first installment of its Elders Speak series, and Hope Barrett of Center on Halsted in Chicago showed a portion of their documentary on LGBT elders living with HIV.