Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and its Board of Directors would like to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Selisse Berry in December, the 15th anniversary of her pioneering work to create Out & Equal:
Fifteen years ago Selisse Berry had a vision: that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people everywhere would be treated as equals in the workplace, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or characteristics. An out lesbian, Selisse was hired to direct the Building Bridges Training Program. She shared her vision of ending employment discrimination with the then-CEO of United Way of the Bay Area in San Francisco, who saw the merit of the idea. He provided Selisse with a desk, a phone and a small grant and essentially told her to “go for it.”
With the help of other LGBT pioneers, Selisse organized the merger of Building Bridges with two other LGBT workplace organizations. Together, they formed The Pride Collaborative, which eventually merged with COLLEAGUES to create Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, with Selisse as its executive director and sole employee.
Selisse’s clear and unwavering vision resulted in the development of Out & Equal into an internationally recognized nonprofit organization with 20 full-time staff, whose philosophies reflect the importance of treating all colleagues in the workplace with respect and dignity. Through her leadership, Out & Equal now provides educational resources and networking opportunities for hundreds of corporations and organizations resulting in policies and practices that positively impact millions of employees around the world. In her role as the organization’s executive director, Selisse regularly meets with corporate executives, HR and diversity professionals and LGBT employees to expand LGBT equality.
Selisse’s fight for workplace equality and social justice has defined her career. Her vision and the impact of her contributions over the years can be measured in the many workplaces across the country where LGBT employees can be more comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work.
Thank you, Selisse, for all of your contributions.