Second LGBT Executive Forum Highlights Corporate Leadership and Commitment to Workplace Equality

Executive Forum Participants - 2009

SAN FRANCISCO – The second annual Out & Equal LGBT Executive Forum drew about 30 high-ranking corporate leaders from across the country and Europe to discuss a wide range of topics, including expanding their executive leadership capacities and corporate equality.

Over the course of the two-day forum, held March 19-20 at the Hilton San Francisco Financial District, participants focused on building their strengths as executives and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders. They also dedicated themselves to taking the skills they gained back into their companies and continuing to be role models.

Additionally, participants discussed the unique challenges of being openly LGBT in high-level positions, the barriers to more equitable LGBT representation at the senior executive level, the demands on businesses in the present economy, the business case for equality, and being examples for future generations of LGBT leaders.

"Our goal is for all executives to be able to be themselves in their workplaces without fear,” said Out & Equal Executive Director Selisse Berry. "We have created a foundation that will allow more and more LGBT executives to be open about who they are – taking their whole selves to work, and becoming examples for millions of people around the world on how to be successful while being true to oneself."

Event Co-chairman Steve Sears, who also attended the inaugural forum in 2008, said the event helped reaffirm LGBT executive leaders’ commitment to “creating workplaces where everyone can be themselves.”

“With so much attention on our community in the last year – Proposition 8, the Employment Non- Discrimination Act and President Obama’s support for the United Nation’s human rights, gender identity and sexual orientation statement - there’s no better time to dedicate ourselves to service as passionate leaders in our various spheres of influence,” Sears said.

Keynote speaker Lisa Sherman, executive vice president and general manager at LOGO/MTV Networks, believes that for the first time in LGBT history we are teetering “on the precipice of a tidal wave of legal equality like we’ve never seen before.”

“In the new reality of this unifying force for equality, we deserve job protection, we deserve to be safe from hate crimes, we can serve in the military – even if we ask and tell – and we can have a family or marry the person we love most on this earth,” Sherman said. “As out (LGBT) executives, I believe we have an important role to play in creating this reality.  It is an obligation of our leadership and as important as making our CEOs or shareholders happy.”

Keynote speakers also included: Cindy Solomon, president of Solomon and Associates; Megan Wallent, general manager at Microsoft; and Kenji Yoshino, professor of constitutional law at New York University. Christie Hardwick, of Spirited Contribution, served as event facilitator.

Participants included:

Selisse Berry, Executive Director, Out & Equal Workplace Advocates (San Francisco, CA)

Daniel Brennan, Legal Director, Dell Inc. (Round Rock, TX)

Tara Bunch, Vice President, HP (Fort Collins, CO)

Thomas Christofferson, Managing Director, Client Management Executive, JPMorgan Worldwide Securities Services (New York, NY)

Michael Feldman, Vice President and General Manager, HP (Los Angeles, CA)

Donna M. Griffin, Chief Diversity Officer, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies (Warren, NJ)

Janine Guillot, Managing Director, Global Fixed Income COO, Barclays Global Investors (San Francisco, CA)

Melinda S. Haag, Executive, Crowe Horwath LLP (Chicago, IL)

Cathy Halligan, Chief Marketing Officer, (Brisbane, CA)

Thomas D.  Johnson, Vice President, Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer, The Clorox Company (Oakland, CA)

George A. Kalogridis, Chief Operating Officer, Disneyland Resort Paris (Paris, France)

Rich Lang, Vice President, Human Resources, Sun Microsystems (Santa Clara, CA)

Judy Lively, MD, Physician-in-Chief, Kaiser Permanente (Walnut Creek, CA)

Cynthia Martin, Former Blue Shield Executive (San Francisco, CA)

Lisa Mazzola, Vice President, Wachovia Bank/Wells Fargo (Los Angeles, CA)

Tom Moore, Partner, Ernst & Young LLP (San Francisco, CA)

Stephanie Peel, Managing Director, Systems & Process Assurance, PricewaterhouseCoopers (Irvine, CA)

Steve Sears, Marketing Director, NOVA, WGBH (Boston, MA)

Rayona Sharpnack, CEO, Institute for Women's Leadership (Redwood City, CA)

Kayla Shell, Legal Director, Dell Inc.  (Round Rock, TX)

Lisa Sherman, Executive Vice President & General Manager, LOGO/MTV Networks (New York, NY)

Christie Smith, Principal, Deloitte (New York, NY)

Kyle Spainhour, Corporate Vice President - Finance, Motorola (Schaumburg, IL)

Atticus Tysen, Vice President Product Development, Intuit Inc. (Mountain View, CA)

Michael Vowles, Senior Manager, Deloitte (San Francisco, CA)

Megan Wallent, General Manager, Microsoft (Seattle, WA)

Lora Yates, Director, Therakos Integration, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics, Inc. (Raritan, NJ)


Donna Griffin
Chubb Insurance
Steve Sears
WGBH Public Television


Ed Baklor
Adventures by Disney
Selisse Berry
Out & Equal
Scott Beth
Tara Bunch
James Freeman
Michael Garrison
Dell, Inc.
Janine Guillot
Barclays Global
Melinda Haag
Crowe Chizek & Company
Cathy Halligan
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Jane Harper
Julie Hogan
Xerox Corporation
Michael Jungen
Walt Disney Parks & Resorts
George Kalogridis
Disneyland Resort Paris
Judy Lively
Permanente Medical Group
Uxio Malvido
Merck & Co
Pat Martel
City of Daly City
Cynthia Martin
Marketing Executive
Kenneth McNeely
Tom Moore
Ernst & Young
Kayla Shell
Dell, Inc.
Margaret Stump
Michael Welch
Stephan Pyles Concepts
Gary Wright


Mayor Gavin Newsom
City of San Francisco


Christie Hardwick
Christie has over 25 years of experience with Fortune 500 companies, non-profit organizations and grass root-organizing efforts. She holds a Masters degree in Organizational Development, is an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow and an executive member of the Women's Leadership Board for the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Christie is the immediate past president of the National Board of Directors for GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network). Christie has held executive positions in Change Management, Human Resources and Organizational Efficiency for technology companies. She is a speaker in a variety of forums and provides strategic thinking and personal guidance services to several clients across the United States.

Press Contact: Erik Olvera, 415-694-6512,

In addition to the Executive Forum, Out & Equal offers a wide range of programs and services to promote LGBT workplace equality. Upcoming activities from Out & Equal include the second annual National Celebration on June 11; and the 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Summit-the world's premier conference on LGBT workplace equality-Oct. 6-9, Disney's Coronado Springs Resort Florida.

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Out & Equal Workplace Advocates™ is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization. Out & Equal champions safe and equitable workplaces for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The organization advocates building and strengthening successful organizations that value all employees, customers, and communities. See our website,, for more details.