Rayden Sorock is the first Initiative for Transgender Leadership (ITL) fellow, currently placed at Coro Pittsburgh. He shares with us about the ITL, his experience working with Coro over the past several months, and considers what could be next.
So what is the Initiative for Transgender Leadership all about?
Often transgender people are held back from actively pursuing challenging professional experiences, or they are actively turned away from these positions due to discrimination. Two years ago, three friends—R T Peck, Jen Saffron and Madeleine Hershey—decided they would do something to bridge the professional gap for young transgender people. The first project of the Initiative for Transgender Leadership (ITL) was a 10-month paid fellowship position for one transgender youth. That fellow would be placed with a sponsoring non-profit organization in Pittsburgh and would receive mentorship from the ITL team throughout the term.
The primary goals of the Initiative for Transgender Leadership fellowship are: to provide a professional and leadership development opportunity to one trans-identified youth; to serve the sponsoring organization’s mission of diversity, as well as expand its service capacity; and to “change the world”!
How did Coro Pittsburgh and the Regional Internship Center get involved?
Regina Anderson, the former Director of the Regional Internship Center (RIC), requested that Coro Center for Civic Leadership, being the parent organization to the RIC, sign on to be a sponsoring organization. The RIC pledged to provide a welcoming and supportive place to work; to offer direct supervision; and for staff to attend a transgender cultural competency training led by a member of the Initiative for Transgender Leadership team.
I decided to work with Coro because of it’s extensive network in a variety of non-profit and service areas, and because I saw similarities between the opportunity I was given and the internship opportunities I would be working to create and improve as a member of the RIC team. Since January, the RIC and Coro have provided to me direct human resources support, access to trainings, events and resources, as well as enabled my integration into the Coro experience and network.
What are some of the things you have been working on?
For the majority of my fellowship, I have been working with the Regional Internship Center (RIC) and learning all about social media, the creation of successful internship programs, and how to outreach effectively. I went from just taking notes at the RIC’s signature “Creating a Successful Internship Program” workshop to preparing to lead my own. I can see how the process for creating successful internships can be used as model to improve efficiency and sustainability for an organization as a whole.
More recently, I have been working with Misti McKeehen, Director of Operations & Outreach at Coro, on a series of recommendations to improve LGBT inclusion in the part-time Coro program, Women in Leadership (WIL). Also, I am working on a resource for Coro to share with partner organizations and businesses interested in learning more about LGBT workplace inclusion.
What’s next for you? What’s next for the Initiative for Transgender Leadership?
My fellowship culminates Friday November 18th with my final presentation at the Union Project. This event will be free and open to the public. For more information visit: www.transyouthleaders.blogspot.com.
Being the ITL fellow and working with Coro Pittsburgh has helped me build a strong network of people doing great work throughout this region. I feel confident that my experiences in this fellowship put me at a professional advantage and I am excited for what’s next.
For the ITL, we are exploring a few different ideas including continuing the fellowship program and developing a “mentoring the mentors” program to promote peer-to-peer mentorship between transgender youth. I intend to stay involved with the ITL in the future and I know we will continue to do great things. Please stay in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.