by Brianna Nelson | Teddy Witherington joined the Out & Equal Workplace Advocates team at the end of June, 2012 with an impressive background in events. The team is thrilled to have Teddy with us.
Teddy was born and raised in London, England. After graduating from college, he spent ten years working in private client and non-profit law. In 1991, Teddy joined the London Lesbian and Gay Pride Committee as its Executive Director until 1997. Since then he has worked as the first-ever Executive Director for the San Francisco Pride Committee as well as the Executive Director of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. In an attempt to tap into his infinite events planning wisdom, we have let him settle in and find the tea stash, but now we’re following up with the BIG questions.
Why do you feel the work of Out & Equal is important, and why did you chose to work here?
‘When thinking about what I might do after school, I was living in a suburban, conservative town, and most of the people there had jobs that required they commute into the city—an hour on the train in the morning, the day at work, an hour on the train back, an evening hour at home, and then to bed to do it again the next day… I remember my mother’s friend Kay, who was very eccentric and exotic for our town, said to me: “Whatever you’re going to do for work, you’re going to spend most of your waking life doing it. So, make sure it’s what you enjoy.”’
‘One of the most devastating things you can do—something I did at the conservative law firm I worked at; something many of us still do—is not be your full self, without apologies and without distractions in the workplace. For too many years, I would have to leave a part of myself at home, not bringing it to the workplace. The train ride eventually got shorter, but not that distance between myself at home and myself at work.’
‘I can’t imagine having had that experience of being out at work—and the joy of that experience—and not wanting to help others find that same experience. Serving our community at Out & Equal not only allows me to do that in the abstract, but at an event like the Out & Equal Annual Workplace Summit, I get to see it happen in front of my eyes and touch it.’
You’ve been working in the U.S. for some time now, but spent a number of years working in London. What would you say is the biggest difference between the workplace here and the workplace there?
‘Everyone here drinks coffee; I miss the rattle of the good old British tea trolley.’
Have you ever attended the Out & Equal Workplace Summit before?
‘I attended the Global Summit this past July.’
What was the most powerful part of the Out & Equal Global Summit experience for you?
‘Listening to Vladi Luxuria and Martina Navratilova was particularly powerful. Observing the magic of one on one conversation around the tables, where kindred spirits came together, and seeing people pay rapt attention to speakers, to each other, was most powerful. I also met someone from the law firm I used to work for. To think that I couldn’t be out there and here he was attending the Out & Equal Global Summit, reminded me of how much progress has been made—for the firm, for me, for everyone. It was the circle being completed.’
What are you most excited about for the 2012 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Baltimore?
‘The buzz of conversation after the opening plenary; seeing everyone turn to their co-workers with their schedules and program books, deciding which workshops to attend, which panels to go to—if they haven’t already.’
Seeing as you’ll miss Halloween in the Bay, what’s your costume for Summit?
‘Oh, that’s a secret – even to me! I think Summit will be a busy work week, so rather than put on my glad-rags (and I have plenty) for the Night Out, I think I’ll participate in the Summit’s official Night In: a special screening of Codebreaker, the amazing new film all about my countryman, Alan Turing, who was the father of modern computing, broke the Nazi codes and was then disgraced in the early 1950s because of his homosexuality. ’
Click here for 2012 Summit Night Out and Night In information.
You can read Teddy’s full bio on the Out & Equal Staff webpage. And, be sure to join Teddy for the 2012 Out & Equal Workplace Summit in Baltimore, October 29 through November 1, by registering here.
Update: In October of 2012, Teddy Witherington joined the Out & Equal Executive team, taking on the role of Chief Marketing Officer.