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We pulled it off: The Inaugural LGBTQ Conference at Harvard

A week ago, we launched the first-ever pan-Harvard LGBTQ Conference!

Organized by 30+ students from various LGBTQ groups across campus, thlgbtq 1is inaugural two-day conference brought together over 450 students, scholars, alumni, practitioners, and special guests to learn, share and ideate around critical issues facing the LGBTQ community.

Saturday, the opening day of the conference, was held at the Harvard Law School and featured a full day of speakers on topics ranging from transgender employment rights to Russia’s treatment of its LGBTQ population. We also held an authentic leadership workshop facilitated by the Harvard Graduate School Leadership Institute, as well as an optional queer yoga session. Saturday’s programming culminated with a fundraising dinner benefiting BAGLY and HBGC, and featured keynote speeches from Ash Beckham, and Brian Rolfes (Head of Global Recruiting lgbtq3at McKinsey & Co as well as Head of Gays and Lesbians at McKinsey). Following the dinner, MIA’s drummer, Kiran Gandhi , and her band performed some tunes, and then we celebrated a successful first day of the conference in downtown Boston with The Welcoming Committee.

Sunday activities were held at the Harvard Business School and at the Batten Hall Hives. The morning featured a series of conversations on topics including being LGBTQ in the military and being a queer athlete. We also had speakers talk about their experiences in areas such as entrepreneurship, health, policy, and law. Over lunch, Kenji Yoshino and Christie Smith presented their ground-breaking research on “covering” in the workplace. We then moved to the Hives for a highly interactive ideation session led by Altitude Inc. around some of the most hard-pressing issues facing the LGBTQ community including bullying, homelessness, and transgender inclusion, among others. We are especially thankful to have been given the opportunity to be the first student conference to use the Hives! The conference ended with an interview with Ken Mehlman, and inspiring words from Professor Frances Frei.lgbtq2

If you’re interested in getting a sense of what the conference was like, check out the live Twitter-feed from the weekend here . You can also check out these news articles for more info on how the conference came to be, and participants’ reactions.

We are deeply thankful to everyone who made this inaugural conference possible: the 450+ participants who joined us from all around the world, the many sponsors who believed and shared in our vision, our incredibly inspiring speakers and panelists, the team from Altitude Inc. who designed and led our ideation sessions, and the wonderful events staff who made sure everything went smoothly.

Given the phenomenal feedback we’ve received on the conference, we are already working on turning inaugural into annual. If you’re interested in helping to plan the 2015 Conference, let us know!

See you next year!

AJ Lee (HKS ’14), Ana Mendy (HBS ’14), and Ma’ayan Anafi (HLS ’15)

Conference Co-Chairs


Follow Student Journeys During FIELD 2 Global Immersions



900 first-year students took off last week for their FIELD 2 Global Immersions.  Learn about the field-based applied management projects students are tackling in China, India, Ghana, Peru, South Africa, Argentina, and more by following #HBSField on twitter and Instagram.

Here are a few of our favorite updates from abroad:


“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Minh-FallIn the blink of an eye the tree leaves have turned from green to vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow and finally to various hues of brown as the wind blows through and sweeps them away.  Just like that, three months have gone by since HBS started.  In the first month, I was wondering what I would do with my free time.  By the second month, I found myself wondering where my free time went.  In between my roles in the Entrepreneurship Club, TechMedia Club, Harbus Foundation, and Volunteers Club, I fortunately still have time to catch up with newfound friends over coffee in Spangler, on a hike in Blue Hills, or an outing into Beantown.

During other times, I’ve found myself more and more frequently reflecting on my experiences at HBS and whether I am meeting the challenge I had set for myself.  Throughout all of this, I was constantly reminded of HBS’ Portrait Project, which asks graduating students to answer a question posed by Mary Oliver’s poem, The Summer Day – “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  While I don’t yet have an answer to that question, I do know that I want to be happy.  Therefore, after much internal deliberation I decided to dip my toes into the startup world – be that my own or that of another.

Not too long after that decision, an onslaught of “traditional” career related events started popping up in my inbox and on my calendar. Company Presentation Day, LinkedIn makeovers, resume reviews, coaching sessions, EC lunches, and recruiting emails all came in on one giant wave.  I resisted the instinct to respond to the recruiting emails and the temptation to attend the corporate presentations.  Instead, I channeled my time towards helping to organize the Entrepreneurship Conference, attending the Cyberposium conference, and other events more suited to what I was looking for.

In the background, I started brainstorming with a fellow classmate on startup ideas.  Our first idea was dead on arrival.  Our second idea had a longer lifetime, but was soon discarded after a subsequent brainstorming session with an HBS faculty member.  Then, in the middle of preparing for an FRC case, another idea, one which reflects my passion for food, popped into my head.  Only time will tell where that idea will go; but until then, onward!

-Minh Chau, MBA 2015