by Charlie Ferrusi, incoming Chair of LGBT HealthLink’s Steering Committee
Charlie is a public health activist working on the Ending the Epidemic (ETE) initiative at the New York State Department of Health, AIDS Institute.
The LGBT HealthLink Steering Committee just convened our annual meeting in Fort Lauderdale. I am home reflecting on my new role as Chair, and the future of the Steering Committee. Thinking not only about the work ahead, but everything that we have already accomplished. Our meeting was indeed short, but our yearly in-person gathering was long overdue. The relationships we build and strengthen during our meeting is the key to our year-round success.
In Florida, with big smiles, we caught up with each other and welcomed two new members to our LGBT HealthLink family. At dinner, Jamie-Lou led an old-fashioned icebreaker. It reminded me, that our 13-person Steering Committee is diverse in age, full of young scholars, public health professionals, and seasoned activists. We all bring our own unique story and diverse experiences to the table. The LGBT HealthLink staff is equally impressive. Everyone knows Scout, but it was the first time the group got to meet Donna and Ana. They are such gems! We also spent the weekend saying farewell to Juan Carlos, who is onto his next important journey.
Our weekend was not complete without a beach wellness walk, Donna’s birthday celebration, and some hard work! On Saturday, we discussed the strategic plan and the role of our Steering Committee moving forward. Our Steering Committee Members all hold a unique skillset, and we are able to highlight those skills as we move forward with various subcommittees (i.e. social media, membership, Steering Committee recruitment, annual summit planning). These subcommittees take a village to come to life! I am really looking forward to our new membership program, but we will need everyone’s help to implement it. Our small workgroups are a testament as to what we can accomplish together as a team (even if there was a wedding happening outside during the meeting).
On Sunday, we listened to Steering Committee members, as they highlighted something that they have been working on back at home. We are a talented bunch! Unfortunately, we had to say goodbye to some folks who are rotating off our Steering Committee. Over the years, Corey, Bill, and Jamie Lou have contributed to the success of the LGBT HealthLink, and we can’t thank them enough for their time and efforts. We can only hope that their spaces are filled with equally incredible individuals. The purpose of the Steering Committee is to have influence over the LGBT HealthLink for up to four years, and then the torch is passed to a new set of LGBT health leaders.
I’m looking forward to the addition of the new Steering Committee members, and to having a full 13-person committee! We have a lot of work to do. I am confident that we will continue this important work year-round, to build our network of LGBT health leaders and provide resources and expertise to reduce LGBTQ health disparities across the nation. Our committee is ever changing, but will remain a unique group of influential LGBT leaders, and I am honored to lead our efforts during the upcoming year.
If you are interested in joining our Steering Committee, please fill out our application here: https://goo.gl/OiXWis