Morgan Stanley has increased its support of The New York LGBT Community Center, the longtime cornerstone of NYC’s LGBT+ community—at a time that has proven to be critical.
Residents and visitors seek out the New York LGBT Community Center (The Center) for a host of reasons. The local outreach provider housed in a red brick former schoolhouse on a leafy block in Greenwich Village offers advocacy, health, and wellness programs; arts, entertainment, and cultural events; recovery, parenthood and family support services. In addition to offering a community for anyone hoping to find a kindred spirit or someone to connect with, The Center offers support networks, cultural events, substance use assistance, and legal advice.
Since 1983, Center has provided the LGBTQ+ community of New Yorkwith a home that fosters an inclusive environment where everyone is celebrated “This is a place that’s really meant to be stable, secure, warm, welcoming and available,” says Glennda Testone, Executive Director of The Center. “We seek to provide the space for people to come and get what they need.”
The Center hosts more than 12,000 meetings and events each year with over 300,000 visitors to its four-floor facility, offering everything from free HIV testing to holding space for independent community groups. It’s a place to connect and engage, find camaraderie and support, and celebrate the vibrancy and growth of the LGBTQ+ community.
Morgan Stanley has been supporting that mission since 2003, sponsoring and participating in career fairs and various events, including Cycle for the Cause, an annual 275-mile fun-filled three-day bike ride that helps fund the fight to end AIDS, and the annual Women’s Event, a fundraiser that celebrates the contributions of LBTQ women to the New York City community.
More recently, Morgan Stanley has strengthened its commitment to The Center, providing additional support that has proven to be crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic. As stay-at-home orders were issued, The Center’s leadership prepared for a dramatic uptick in demand for its resources. “Many of our community members already feel a high level of isolation and lack of support,” says Testone. “We knew we were going to have to be ready to spring into action.”
With fundraising opportunities suddenly challenged, The Center came to rely more than ever on partners to help meet that need, including Morgan Stanley. “We were gratified to see that the significant increase in our support for Center had such an impact, given the important work they do and how the pandemic limited their fundraising activities,” says Chuck Burke, a Managing Director and Head of Global Marketing for Investment Management and the Co-Chair of Morgan Stanley’s Pride and Ally Employee Network, a group dedicated to helping create and foster an environment of inclusiveness and respect for LGBTQ+ employees. He knows firsthand how valuable The Center can be. “When I was coming out 25 years ago, TCenter was the first place I went to meet other LGBTQ+ people,” he recalls. “It was an important step in my coming-out journey and is a resource to many others on their own journey.”
“Having this additional financial support helped us meet the demand we faced, while continuing to promote what The Center has to offer,” says Testone.
This past year, Morgan Stanley became one of two premier corporate sponsors of The Center. And at The Center’s recent annual Women’s Event, the firm was honored with the Corporate Impact Award for its ongoing work to empower LGBT+ women and the LGBT+ community overall.
Susan Reid, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion for Morgan Stanley, accepted the award on behalf of firm, along with several LGBT+ colleagues: Jackie LiCalzi, Chuck Burke, Jen Ng, and Nathan Stein. She spoke about the firm being a longtime supporter of The Center for more than 20 years as champions for gender equality and the LGBT+ community. “We are proud of the progress we’ve made but know there is still much to do. With partners like The Center, I know we will continue to make an impact” said Reid.
In addition to Morgan Stanley’s support, representatives from The Center have also delivered programming at a number of firm events, sharing insights with, and helping to educate, employees on LGBTQ+ issues. Testone herself has proudly contributed to the firm’s Pride Month programming as an expert panelist for the past three years. “We love working with an institution that believes in intersectional inclusivity and allyship, and it’s been clear to me that that has been foundational at Morgan Stanley,” she says.
It all ties in with The Center’s mission to boost awareness, provide much-needed resources to those who lack them and build bridges within the greater community. The poet Audre Lorde was an early visitor to The Center, a featured guest at a Second Tuesdayreading series event in 1985, and the words she wrote in Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches a year earlier still reflect that mission: “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept and celebrate those differences.”