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.
In effort to provide insights, address questions and foster clarity around the function, expectations and importance of the upcoming National Convening of Aging Professionals, GRIOT Circle provides post #2 in this Q&A series.
Please use the comment tab at the bottom of this post to expand the discussion on this topic and present your questions.
HOW DOES THIS EVENT DIRECTLY EFFECT MY LIFE?
LGBT people of color elders remain on the fringes of society, marginalized, stigmatized and invisible. This Convening is a public statement alerting the general public and health care officials of the urgency to allocate funding and resources to address the specific needs of LGBT POC elders. This Convening also serves as a launch pad for a national network of people of color-led agencies that will more effectively advocate and rally for funding, write new policies and actively promote culturally competent practices as they relate to health care provision to the LGBT POC elder population. This means you will have people championing for your needs. You won’t have to wander aimlessly in search of safe, welcoming and affirming spaces.
Since this is not a town hall meeting, we are relying on the professionals and elders that are scheduled to attend the Convening to articulate the needs and issues of LGBT POC elders in this country.
In addition, the richness of the information that will be shared and discussed is due primarily to the ethnic, racial, gender, sexuality and diversity of both lay and professional participants.
HOW ARE THE ISSUES ADDRESSED AT THE CONVENING PRIORITIZED?
The issues addressed at the convening are directly rooted in the morbidity/mortality reality of the POC aging population. They also directly coincide with federal health care priorities that have been identified by a cross section of public health care agencies (i.e., Office of Minority Health, Administration on Aging, Department of Health and Human Services, American Society on Aging, etc.).
IS THIS AN INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE OR DO I HAVE TO BE IN WASHINGTON, DC TO PARTICIPATE?
The Convening is a two-day event that will be held in Washington, D.C. with the active participation of those invited to attend.
We continue this dialogue next week, please check back for more insights on the National Convening of Aging Professionals, or simply put your email address in the GET GRIOT BLOG UPDATES slot in the left column to receive alerts of new posts on the GRIOT Circle Blog.