Thursday, February 4, 2016

NGLCCNY Welcomes Penn Mutual / Empire Wealth Strategies as Newest Corporate Partner

A common theme among NGLCCNY’s treasured and dedicated corporate partners is a commitment to service. That commitment manifests itself in the services offered to the business community—as well as a desire to give back to those who make New York the epicenter of innovation and success. NGLCCNY is thrilled to welcome Empire Wealth Strategies—an agency of the Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company -- to our ever-growing collection of partners who exemplify service in ways that will benefit every member of our chamber family.

As their name suggests, Empire Wealth Strategies is deeply connected to the city and its surrounding communities, providing financial solutions to a wide range of clients for more than 40 years. They actively support many civic organizations and charities, and are dedicated to helping individuals, families, and businesses plan for a secure financial future so they can fully realize all of life’s possibilities.

Empire Wealth Strategies wants to be more than your financial professional. They want to be your trusted financial partner and assist you in carefully planning for all life’s stages. As business owners and professionals, you know your needs for financial services, investments, and insurance will change over time. The one constant you can count on is a team of experienced advisors to make adjustments as needed and keep your plan on track.

The team at Empire Wealth Strategies is dedicated to helping people make conscious decisions about important issues using the tools, training, case design, and advanced planning support to provide the "right" - solutions - all of the time - for clients' financial service needs. For our LGBT and allied business owners, we encourage you to learn more about their capabilities and offerings to ensure a bright future for you and your business by clicking here.

Many in our network have found tremendous success down career paths with our corporate partners, as well. Empire Wealth Strategies is committed to providing their professional, planning-oriented producers with the tools and support they need to advance their career. Interested in learning more about the many opportunities to grow with Penn Mutual? Click here to apply.

Susan Cooper
CEO, Empire Wealth Strategies

As our NGLCC partners have demonstrated time and again, the commitment to service and community engagement comes directly from the top. With over 30 years of experience in the financial services industry, Susan Cooper has developed a passion for helping advisors and clients achieve their goals and dreams. As CEO of Empire Wealth Strategies, Penn Mutual’s career agency in New York City, Susan has created a professional, collaborative team environment where advisors can learn, develop and grow their practices.

Susan joined Penn Mutual in 2009 as co-managing partner of the NYC agency, and quickly achieved success, winning the prestigious Penn Mutual Chairman’s Award in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, Susan received the coveted Penn Mutual President’s Award. Both awards recognize individuals who have attained the highest levels of performance and leadership. The New York City Agency has lead the country year over year in Wealth Management, Life Insurance and Annuity Business. Most recently Susan won both the 2015 GAMA International Master Agency Award and the 2015 GAMA International Frontline Leader Award! 

As an active member of the industry, Susan has served on The Board of Trustees for the American College since 2008, and is a member of LIMRA’s Research Agencies Group (RAG). Additionally, she has qualified for GAMA’s Master Agency Award and International Management Award at the Diamond Level for five consecutive years. As an individual producer, Susan has been a qualifying and Life Member of The Million Dollar Round Table since 1985. 

As an ongoing contributor to her community, Susan has also supported many charitable and industry organizations, including (WIFS) Women in financial Services, GAMA, AALU, The United Way, UJA Federation of New York, The American Cancer Society, United Service Organizations (USO) and The Wounded Warrior Project. 

Please join us in welcoming Susan and her team to the NGLCCNY family. We are starting 2016 with the kind of energy and momentum guaranteed to make this our most successful year of business and community engagement yet. As you continue growing your business, remember that a trusted partner makes all the difference in feeling secure and confident about your future. We hope you’ll explore collaborating with our friends at Empire Wealth Strategies.

Written by 
Jonathan Lovitz

Director, NGLCCNY
VP of External Affairs, NGLCC

Questions about the chamber and our initiatives? Contact me at

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Orchid Evening at NYBG

Join the New York Botanical Garden for NGLCCNY’s M3. A private reception will take place from 6-7 pm. Afterwards, members are welcome to attend NYBG's Orchid Evening LGBT night until 9:30 p.m. The 14th annual Orchid Show transports visitors on a journey through orchid collecting history, each moment playing out against a stunning backdrop of thousands of orchids. Stroll through The Orchid Show: Orchidelirium with a cocktail in hand while music and unmatched beauty create one of New York City's most romantic date destinations. Capacity is limited for the M3, please rsvp by March 21.

Orchid Evening at NYBG
March 24 (LGBT Night)
NGLCCNY M3 Reception: 6-7 p.m.

To Register for the M3 & Orchid Show please click here

General Orchid Evening promotion

Orchid Evenings:
Saturdays, March 5, 12, 19, 26, and April 2, 9, 16;
Friday, April 15; Thursday, March 24 (LGBT Night);
6:30–9:30 p.m. (entry times at 6:30, 7, & 7:30 p.m.)

Stroll through The Orchid Show: Orchidelirium with a cocktail in hand while music and unmatched beauty create one of New York City's most romantic date destinations. On March 12, 19, April 2, and 9, upgrade your experience with the Young Garden Circle Orchid Lounge for skip-the-line access; an open bar featuring beer, wine, and specialty cocktails; and light bites for an unforgettable night.

Special Offer: NGLCCNY Members Save $5 on tickets using code 9208 at

Non-Member $35/Member $25 (Adults 21 and over)
Advance tickets recommended; includes one complimentary featured cocktail.

Posted by Sean Franklin,
Senior Associate, Media Communications Committee, NGLCCNY
Experience Producer, Socio Experiences

Interested in being featured? Please contact me at

Non-Profit Spotlight: I'm From Driftwood

“Where are you from?” Such a simple question. One that is asked all of the time. However, one we don’t really consider beyond the place from which we are from. Nathan Manske, Founder and Executive Director of I’m From Driftwood (IFD) was generous enough to sit with me and discuss what inspired him to weigh that question and start his archiving project. 
“We envision a world where every lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer person feels understood and accepted, and every straight and cisgender person is an ally.” - IDF
Nathan Manske, found inspiration after seeing “Milk” the film depicting the political life of Harvey Milk and being struck by a photograph in which Harvey is holding a sign that states “I’m From Woodmere, NY”. Nathan considered the distance Harvey had traveled to attend the San Francisco Gay Pride march as well how far other must have travelled to be part of the event. Nathan recounted how isolated he felt growing up in rural Texas and wondered what it might have been like to be gay prior to the internet, in Harvey’s time, how isolated one might have felt.
“The stories on I'm From Driftwood send a simple yet powerful message to LGBTQ people everywhere: You are not alone”. - IDF
Shortly after seeing the film Nathan found himself at one of life’s many cross-roads. While visiting with his family in Driftwood, TX, he contemplated living in NY, his career and what he wanted to do with his future. With many thoughts scrolling through his mind the one thing that found its way to the forefront was the image of Harvey Milk holding that sign. During that visit many things came to Nathan, the stars aligned and guided him to the trail he has been blazing since 2009 as he boldly decided to begin archiving the lives of the LGBT community across the country.

Nathan Manske
Founder & Executive Director, I'm From Driftwood

Since its inception IFD has worked to combat the isolation LGBT people experience. I’m From Driftwood, offers the community a voice in different ways. IFD empowers members of the LGBT community to document their existence and experience as members of a very vibrant and diverse community. It offers a community to those experiencing isolation, a place to learn for those interested in understanding the community and acts as history lesson for the community itself.
“I’m From Driftwood aims to help LGBTQ people learn more about their community, straight and cisgender people learn more about their neighbors and everyone learn more about themselves through the power of storytelling and story sharing” - IDF
What prompted you to start this type of non-profit?
After seeing the film “Milk” starring Sean Penn, I thought about a photograph of Harvey Milk. He’s in the San Francisco Pride March holding a big sign that reads, “I’m From Woodmere, N.Y.” I felt that even though everyone associates Harvey Milk with what could be considered the gayest city in the world--San Francisco-- he’s not actually from there. He’s from a town on Long Island that most people have never heard of. And even though I live in NYC, I’m not from here. I’m from a tiny town called Driftwood, smack dab in the middle of Texas. What that meant to me was the powerful message of “You are not alone.” No matter where you are, who you are, or what you’re going through, you’re not alone. Hearing a message like that would have meant a lot to me growing up gay in rural Texas.

What has been the biggest challenge of starting a non-profit such as this?
Easy but predictable answer: fundraising. The reality of all nonprofits--small ones in particular--is that there’s never enough money. We have some fantastic ideas for programs for literally the next 20 years--some local, some national, some international--that help different communities in different ways, all 100% accomplished through storytelling, but the fundraising just never gets easy. If you’ve ever been inspired by a story--from a book, a news item, a blog post, a film, a podcast, or any other form of media--you understand the power of storytelling, and I’m From Driftwood is focused exclusively on collecting and sharing LGBTQ stories that matter. So please donate and keep us going.

How can people interested in telling their story get involved?
Fill out the Share Your Story Form. I’ll review the form and then be in touch with you personally to help you craft your story. We’ll then figure out a time and place to meet to film your story. My biggest pet peeve is when people tell me they don’t have a story, or it’s a boring story. You never know who needs to hear your story, but they’re out there. I’d even go as far to say that you have a responsibility to share your story.

What are some special initiatives or projects on which you are currently working?
The program that is closest to the core of what I’m From Driftwood is our Weekly Video Story program. Every Wednesday we publish a new Video Story on our website (via our YouTube channel). We also have Storytelling Toolkits, one which is complete and others that are being produced. The completed Storytelling Toolkit is for Family Counselors and Therapists. It’s a collection of Video Stories for Family Counselors to use in helping their LGBTQ clients. It allows counselors to use the stories as tools.

Another really exciting program we’re working on is I’m From Driftwood TV. We’re working with YouTube to produce a 13-episode TV series. We have two amazing hosts who watch existing Video Stories and then discuss the topics and themes in the Video Stories. It’s a little bit like The View, in that they discuss current events and news items, except all the conversations focus on topics within I’m From Driftwood Video Stories, from love, race, and gender identity, to family, coming out, and aging.

But the biggest program we’re working on, and that we’ve ever done, will focus on LGBTQ Elders. Current elders in the community have witnessed more change in our community than anyone ever has or will. They have gone from being arrested simply for being gay, to being able to marry their same-sex partner. Their generation took a catastrophic hit from the AIDS crisis and now that many are going into nursing homes and quietly going back into the closet, their stories will be lost forever. We’re creating a national network of production teams to collect and preserve--and equally as important, share--the stories and histories of our Elders, who we have so much to learn from.

Do you have plans to grow your board and if so, what is the best way for interested individuals to learn about IFD Board?
We just doubled the size of our board, but with the Elders Program we’re working on and plans we have for the next 20 years, we’re always looking for people to join the board who are willing to help us grow. Contact me and we’ll chat about ways you can help I’m From Driftwood.

How can the nglccNY membership best help to support IFD?
Corporate Partnerships, plain and simple. Make an introduction between me and your ERG and let’s figure out a way for the company you work for to become involved with I’m From Driftwood. We have so many great opportunities, from volunteer opportunities to logo placement to actually collecting stories from your employees.

What message do you want readers to take with them about IFD?
“Storytelling is important.” I have pages and pages of feedback from people all over the world, from all ages and backgrounds letting me know what the stories on I’m From Driftwood mean to them. They have saved lives, empowered individuals to live better lives, and even helped pass laws. Storytelling is crucial to the LGBTQ community, whether it’s by increasing empathy or simply helping a queer kid in the middle of nowhere realize they’re not alone.

What has been your biggest take away about LGBT people, communities and the country and where we are on the acceptance of LGBTQ?
It’s often mentioned how diverse the LGBTQ community is, that every section of the human population has LGBTQ people in it, of all cultures, religions, races, backgrounds, countries, etc. But that’s so factual and analytical. What never ceases to amaze me is how unique our stories are. The only prompt I give to people when they share a story is “Tell me a story from your life that’s meaningful to you involving you being LGBTQ.” We’ve shared over 1,000 stories so far and they’re all so different. There are similar themes and stories that cover similar topics, but I’m always amazed at how being LGBTQ gives you perspectives and stories that some people just will never have. LGBTQ people are different, and that’s a good thing.

Learn more about I'm From Driftwood 

Also learn earn more about NGLCCNY member Florin Helf and his personal LGBTQ story on I"m From Driftwood.

Written by Ingrid Galvez,
Chair, Diversity & Inclusion, NGLCCNY
Organizational Development Consultant, Strategic Remedy Group

Interested in being featured? Please contact me at

Suppliers Come Together: Understanding Mainstream Influentials

David Ricciardi has 25 years of experience in the technology field, 18 of which have been as the co-founder and President of the Jersey City-based information services company, Proximo. “Proximo has been fortunate to work with some great companies, such as L'Oreal, Toyota Financial Services, Time Warner, Financial Times, and AARP,” he said.

While strategizing over the need for better metrics to support LGBT marketing and diversity and inclusion with Scott Seitz, the head of SPI Marketing, David realized the need for a new service in the marketplace. SPI Marketing specializes in LGBT marketing and has 20 years of experience marketing for clients like Absolut, Pepsi, LOGO, IBM and MillerCoors. From this union of data and LGBT marketing experience, UMI was born.

David Ricciardi
Co-Founder & President, Proximo
Partner, UMI

UMI, short for 'Understanding Mainstream Influencers,' is a panel of LGBT influential consumers. UMI can tell a company how its brand is being considered by the LGBT community, broken down by demographics, and how it compares to the competition. This way, you can see if your marketing program is working in a way that delivers return and is sustainable,” David stated.

“UMI gives our community an opportunity to influence products and services we buy. If we support companies producing these products with better insights and metrics on our affinities, they can have a better relationship with us.”

Both Proximo and SPI Marketing are two LGBTBEs and members of NGLCCNY. David said UMI is a perfect example of the types of positive relationships and ideas born from the Chamber. Proximo has been an NGLCCNY member since the Chamber began, and David has held positions on the Executive Committee for NGLCCNY the past six years - first as Supplier Diversity Chair, and currently as Chair of Corporate Engagement. UMI also sourced strategic partner Socio, another LGBTBE, to create, align and design the brand, for who UMI is today.

“NGLCCNY has always provided a wonderful experience to meet and get to know prospective clients in a way that really let's us understand what they need.” David urges every LGBT-owned business to join the chamber, or at least come out to a networking event to see the value in joining firsthand.

David was born in Brooklyn, where he currently resides with his family. “I am a family man at heart," David says. "I've been with my fabulous husband Derek for nine years now (officially married two!) and our daughter Sofia is 11 and is amazing.” In what little spare time they have, he says he and Derek enjoy cooking and brewing their own beer: “What more does a person need?”

To sign up for UMI, visit here.
To inquire about UMI, contact:
To learn more about Proximo, go here.
To learn more about SPI Marketing, click here.

Written by Ashley Bellman,
Corporate Journalist, Media Communications Committee.

If you'd like to be featured in one of our upcoming communications, please contact me at

Monday, January 11, 2016

Pink Banana Media: Unifying All Elements of LGBT Online Marketing

“We’ve had an excellent opportunity to take a front row seat to the myriad of developments in the online world, starting with sites that began as print magazines and migrated to the online world… along with the development of membership and personals into these sites, thereby creating a sense of community,” stated New York City based Pink Banana President Matt Skallerud; who celebrated 20 years in the LGBT marketplace this past year.

Pink Banana Media specializes in LGBT online marketing via content marketing and social media:

We’ve been a part of the e-commerce and advertising advances in the online world, developing some of the first online retailing experiences for LGBT consumers, as well as working with clients large and small in targeting the LGBT community online in those early years with stories and content, e-mail campaigns and those new ad units we called banner ads,” Matt said.

Matt Skallerud, President
Pink Banana Media

Matt and the Pink Banana team recently launched LGBT Brand Voice: “a name to this concept of unifying all of the elements of an LGBT online marketing campaign under one umbrella… one unified strategy and one cohesive campaign,” Matt stated. In addition to integrating social media into clients’ campaigns and optimizing their SEO efforts, Pink Banana Media has worked to help clients align their message with their e-mail campaigns and targeted banner advertising as well.

Since its inception, Pink Banana has worked with clients from the entertainment industry, such as HBO and Universal Music, to the financial world, with patrons like Wells Fargo and Prudential. They have also helped travel clients like Visit Sweden and Spain Tourism, along with American Airlines target their LGBT demographic online.

Speaking of travel, Matt and his husband of two years, Richard, are avid jet setters: “Our motto seems to be ‘Eat Well… Travel More,’ which is a sign Richard found recently and posted front and center on our living room wall!  That pretty well sums up our personal life together.” The two visited Shanghai this past fall, and spent the holidays in Dublin and London. The two met in 2007 through the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, and moved to New York City in 2013. When they aren’t abroad, the couple enjoys exploring new restaurants and just enjoying life in the city.

Matt has been involved with the NGLCC since its start, and joined the NGLCCNY when he and Richard moved to New York. This year is Pink Banana Media’s 9th year hosting the LGBT Marketing & Advertising conference in NYC: an event that started as a one day conference about the latest in LGBT marketing & advertising techniques: 
“We ran into that wonderful problem of having more companies able and willing to present on LGBT marketing & advertising topics, as well as more companies wanting to attend than what we could accommodate in a one-day conference.  So we grew the conference to a 2-day event, and added LGBT business, marketing & advertising workshops, symposia and panels to the rest of the week, working with various partners to produce and put these programs together under the umbrella of the newly formed LGBT Week NYC, now entering its 2nd year”.

In 2015, Pink Banana partnered with the NGLCCNY, StartOut and NYC & Company to host additional educational events for the LGBT business community at locations like Google and Microsoft. “Next year, we anticipate an even stronger program with additional partners, including the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association,” Matt said.
Matt possesses a degree in Aerospace Engineering, and worked in an R&D lab developing high-powered lasers in the late 80’s. From there he went into high-tech sales:

“It was this combination of understanding and enjoying technology, along with my love of working with clients to explore ways of applying that technology, that allowed me to grow with my own business on the Internet when it first made its public debut at the end of 1994”

In 1995, Matt started in LA: one of the first websites dedicated to the LBGT community: “We thought it would be a small, fun business to start… little did we know that it would grow into one of the largest LGBT websites online,” Matt said.  That same year, and were born. By 1998, the three websites were featured in the Wall Street Journal as the top LGBT websites to watch. In 2006, the company was sold to Here Media, who also acquired and “A lot of what we created has been rolled into these sites today,” he stated.

“We look back fondly at what we did in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but as technology has advanced, so have we… working more as a consultancy/agency and striving to stay relevant with our clients, keeping them and us ahead of the curve in today’s ever-developing world.”

To learn more about Matt and Pink Banana media, check out their website and follow them on social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus).

Written by Ashley Bellman,
Corporate Journalist, Media Communications Committee.

If you'd like to be featured in one of our upcoming communications, please contact me at

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Non-Profit Spotlight: Live Out Loud

Many of us are inspired by the stories we read about the bravery of those who blazed the trails to create a movement of equality. Many organizations have risen out of the needs to help the community due to crisis on demand. However, very few organizations have been created with the express goal to be strategic about a way forward for the next generation at the high school level while engaging multi-generations of the LGBT community. This year’s first feature is an organization doing just that.

Live Out Loud is the product of a desire to help students. Leo Preziosi, Jr. founded the organization after learning of young people committing suicide due to a hostile school environment. His vision was “to create a world where Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender youth live PROUD, live OUT and live FREE”.

Leo Preziosi, Jr.
Founder and Executive Director
Live Out Loud

Since starting Live Out Loud, Leo has demonstrated that there are many ways in which to reach students. In his case, he gathered LGBT professionals to speak at High Schools and Universities about their careers and being LGBT in their respective industries. His organization has also helped many in the LGBT community reconcile their own ‘growing up gay’ by empowering many LGBT constituents to go back to their own high schools and share their stories.

For the last 15 years Live Out Loud has worked to develop programs and services to assist students to learn about themselves and each other as well as how they may collaborate to make their environments inclusive, respectful and enriching. In doing so LOL has designed programming content to facilitate conversations with the next generation about the issues that they face today at home and school. The content has become essential to educators dedicated to assisting the LGBTQ population in the public school system as they establish and develop gay straight alliances (GSAs) in their respective High Schools.

As the LGBT community moves forward there is daily evidence that the LGBT civil rights movement still has a long way to go. Based on the daily reporting of the hostility and bodily harm with which LGBTQ face. Live Out Loud provides a respite as well as resources to youth needing support. Leo took time out to share his story of starting Live Out Loud and what we can expect as it expands in 2016.

What was the catalyst that inspired you to start Live Out Loud?
I read an article in Metro Source magazine titled “The gun in the closet” by Emily Travinsky. It talked about two young men who were bullied and subsequently took their lives. It really had a great impact on me. The article discussed what interested the young men. One young man was passionate about music, theater and play writing. It got me to thinking about what would have happened if he had gone on to live his life. What would have been the impact? Would he have been the next Neil Patrick Harris? The other young man was into magic and activism and I wondered if he would have been the next Bayard Rustin or Harvey Milk? That’s when it really hit me. The idea that these young men’s dreams never got fulfilled. I thought, if only we can just connect the younger generation to great people in the community. People who’ve been through what they’ve been through and be able to go through their journey and create a wonderful life for themselves, show what can happen.

That became the focus of our mission; connecting LGBTQ youth to great people, role models, mentors, leaders in the LGBT community through a variety of programs. We have been bringing generations together to learn from one another. We as the elders have a lot to share and we also have a lot to learn from the next generation. It’s a mutually beneficial arrangement sharing our stories and inspiring the next generation to Live Out Loud. I think a conversation we are not having is what are we doing for the next generation on a consistent basis that will impact the lives of the younger generation and not to wait for tragedy to happen. We need to be proactive.

What would you say were some of the challenges of starting this type of non-profit?
The first step was to create these programs. Deciding what it was going to look like and connecting to the different schools, colleges to make it happen was the first big challenge. At the beginning, it was panel discussions of professionals from different industries, sharing their journey and also their careers trajectory and that morphed into creating different education lesson plans on a variety of topics that are of interest to today’s younger generation. It was really about getting things in order. Getting people on board to helping you create the actual programming, connecting with the schools, fundraising to make these programs happen, creating a board to help make these things happen.

You have this great idea; how did you bring it to market? How did you get schools to agree to do this or were schools hungry for this content and to connect with an organization like yours?
Originally, we started by offering these programs to colleges, like Fashion Institute of Technology, New York University, The New School and Columbia University. The program made its way to private schools and later we found the biggest need was in public schools. Once we connected in certain schools, teachers heard about us and started connecting us by making recommendations and referrals to counselors. Quite a bit of networking. They welcome us because we go in with a focused topic of interest to LGBT youth. We handle it, we are there to support teachers or advisors of GSAs

What was your biggest driver?
The most import thing for us is to be present on school grounds, in the classrooms, to be in conversation with the younger generation and to present different ideas and topics, to expand their perspectives and giving them new possibilities. Giving them a new mindset and we knew it would take boots on the ground to make that happen.

How do you go about delivering the content?
Our High School program is our core program. We work with 15 High schools on a monthly basis. We bring structure to discussing issues.  We offer lesson plans, topics of issues that are important to younger generations. This facilitates conversations so that students can learn from others as well as share their point of view. Through sharing they learn that they are not the only ones going through issues or experiencing challenges.

On alternating months, we bring in speakers to talk with students about different topics and share their point of view and what they have been through, speakers share their journey. Often times, this helps students open up to the fact that it is a journey and that it can’t happen in a text message moment. One thing we really want them to start thinking about is, what their strategy for dealing with problems look like for them.

What has been powerful for us is helping to expand their thinking about the resources at their disposal. Listening to them and helping them manage what they are going through. To be able to have conversations about the types of supportive community that they are building. Being able to ask them “who are you talking to? Are you connecting with your peers, are you connecting with your teachers, guidance counselors or your siblings?” Who are the people you can talk to, that can help you when you are in crisis or challenged? Getting them to think about where to turn when something comes up.

What can we expect for the year ahead?
2016 is our 15th anniversary, and there is a lot of work ahead of us.
In 2016 we will be giving out three $10k scholarships at the annual LOL GALA
The Deustch advertising agency has been working with us for the last 8 years and they are creating new marketing campaign to further expand exposure for our organization.
Our goal next year is to increase our outreach by 30%. We would love to get a dozen new speakers to participate in the new year. 

Speaking of the your 15th Anniversary, how do you select scholarship winners for the Annual Young Trailblazer Gala?
The most important thing we look for is what are students initiating in their communities or at their high schools that is having an impact on their community. We are looking for students who are initiating projects that are moving the community forward, students that are helping the community. These students are doing amazing things. It’s really important these students get to share their journey and what they have done and/or created. I think that it is good for the community to see what the younger generation is creating and that is the heart of our Gala.

What can we, the membership, at nglccNY do to help to support your programs?
Learn more about us through our website. Volunteer through Live Out Loud as a speaker at a local high schools in the city, participate in the homecoming project and go back to your High school, become a cornerstone donor, sponsor the Annual Young Trailblazer Gala.

We also do a program called Live Out Loud Behind the Scenes, where we take students to companies to meet “out” employees. We have been hosted by corporates like NBC and NY Times. We want to bring students into companies and spaces where they get to meet people from our community and learn from them. This is about giving students access. If your company is interested in hosting us to learn more about your industry or what it is like to work at your company email me or call me to schedule a date.

Google hosted a “Role Model Social”, could you tell me more about that event?
Google hosted us to walk through the process of volunteering at a Live Out Loud High School Program or the Homecoming Project. We are actively looking for 3 or 4 companies to host a Role Model Social at their place of business to learn more about getting involved with the Live Out Loud Programs. 

Is there a message that you would like to put out to the universe?
My message is that we as a community need to step forward, we need to play an active role in the lives of this younger generation, our stories can change the trajectory of a young person’s life. I think we should be part of a young person’s life, mentor a young person.

What inspires you?
I have always admired people who have the courage and freedom to stand in front of a group, share and facilitate conversations and tell their stories. People who inspire me to step outside of my comfort zone, work to overcome my fears.

Leo left me with one of his favorite quotes, “Leap and the net will appear."

Leo and his team may be reached at the following or you may chat with him at the January 2016 M3.

For sponsorship inquiries, please contact:
Leo Preziosi, Jr.
Founder, Executive Director

For information about high school programs, please contact:
JD Valladares-Williams
Manager of Youth Programming

For information about Homecoming Project program, please contact:
Erika Astarita
Homecoming Project Program Manager

To learn more about Live Out Loud go to
Like them on Facebook
Follow them on Twitter
Subscribe to them on YouTube

Written by Ingrid Galvez,
Chair, Diversity & Inclusion, NGLCCNY
Organizational Development Consultant, Strategic Remedy Group

Interested in being featured? Please contact me at