A new employee network for LGBTQIA faculty, staff and graduate students has been created at CSU.
A network dedicated to supporting LGBTQIA faculty, staff and graduate students has been established at Colorado State University through the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.
The LGBTQIA Employee Network was recently formed as a way to foster community and provide resources and advocacy for LGBTQIA members of CSU. The network is one of several Network for Employee Affinity Resource (NEAR) Groups, a centralized employee support and retention effort by the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion.
Tanara Landor, inclusion and multicultural engagement advisor for the CSU Alumni Association, and Maggie Hendrickson, assistant director of the Pride Resource Center, launched the network in May with the help of Assistant Vice President for Community, Culture, and Belonging Cori Wong.
“We wanted to give LGBTQIA faculty, staff and grad students an opportunity to find each other and be in the same room or virtual room,” Hendrickson said. “Community is a huge factor in employee happiness and retention.”
The LGBTQIA Employee Network features a growing Microsoft Teams group with more than 75 members and channels dedicated to different discussion topics as well as digital resources. For Pride Month, the network also hosted an in-person community event at New Belgium Brewery on June 5 that attracted more than 30 attendees.
“We want to create a space for our CSU employees who are in the queer community,” Landor said. “We want people to be able to hop on Teams, and they can say, ‘Hey, I’m going for a hike this weekend. Does anyone want to join me?’ It’s just really a friendly and welcoming, inclusive community for the queer community.”
Hendrickson added that the network also provides important resources and information. As an example, members might provide advice to those who might be new to Northern Colorado and are looking for housing and doctors.
Additionally, the network is designed to be an advocacy hub, where LGBTQIA faculty, staff and graduate students can come together to discuss policies and benefits at CSU.
How it started
Hendrickson found it hard to connect with community and resources as a new CSU employee two years ago.
“As a trans person, even finding a dentist who is inclusive is pretty hard to do,” Hendrickson said. “I was scrambling to try and find people and resources when I first moved here.”
Landor had similar experiences when she moved to Fort Collins four years ago.
“When I came to Fort Collins, I fell in love with my job and CSU, but I felt isolated,” Landor said. “I didn’t have an LGBTQ community. I didn’t have a Black community. I really struggled with that.”
Because of this, both Landor and Hendrickson set about building community.
Hendrickson launched Queer Coffee, a casual monthly gathering in the Pride Resource Center, as a way to better connect members of the LGBTQIA community; and Landor did some research and learned about a NEAR group that had been in the works from the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion Office.
Tanara Landor, inclusion and multicultural engagement advisor for the CSU Alumni Association, and Maggie Hendrickson, assistant director of the Pride Resource Center, helped launch the network in May.
Wong connected Landor with Hendrickson, and the two set about establishing the LGBTQIA Employee Network.
Hendrickson said the support from the Office of the Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion has been tremendous. “VPD stepping in to support us has been really big,” they said.
With more people joining and a successful first in-person event, Landor and Hendrickson are excited for the network’s future.
LGBTQIA Employee Network “is here to stay,” Landor said. “Maggie and I are committed to keeping this network going. We really want CSU employees who identify with the community to feel like this is a safe place. This is a welcoming and inclusive space for us by us.”
LGBTQIA Employee Network event
The LGBTQIA Employee Network will be hosting an in-person event at The R Bar and Lounge on Laurel Street on July 23 at 5 p.m. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.