Forged in Fire: LGBTQ+ Leadership

Forged In Fire

Meet LGBTQ+ superheroes! Explore the nexus of LGBTQ+ identity and leadership development through interviews with leaders in business, government, academia, advocacy, entertainment and more! We'll dive into crucible moments in LGBTQ+ lives, such as stigmatization, coming out, or transition. Understand how leaders transformed what we often view as negative experiences into moments that accelerated their growth into leadership superheroes. read less
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Episodes

Leading at the Edge with Jennifer Brown
May 30 2023
Leading at the Edge with Jennifer Brown
In our most wide-ranging interview yet, we speak with Jennifer Brown, a DEI thought leader, author, and entrepreneur who explores the boundaries of where we can go to ensure everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Classically trained in performance, she harnessed the courage it took to perform on stage and dance in the fire of the spotlight and cultivated that into standing for others and creating cultures of inclusion. She's spent years finding ways to elevate voices that need to be heard, shine a light on those that need to be seen, and create institutions that pull people to success. For more, visit https://jenniferbrownconsulting.com/ and https://jenniferbrownspeaks.com/ Guest Biography Jennifer Brown (she/her) is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, author, and diversity, equity, and inclusion expert who is deeply passionate about building more inclusive workplaces where all of us can thrive. As the Founder and CEO of Jennifer Brown Consulting (JBC), a 20-year-old certified woman- and LGBT-owned firm, Jennifer and her team design and execute inclusion strategies that have been implemented by some of the biggest companies and nonprofits in the world. She is also the bestselling author of four books on inclusive leadership, including her most recent, a second edition of How to Be an Inclusive Leader, which addresses some of the most pressing challenges of our times and how identity, privilege and equity can drive opportunity for all. Her keynoting has taken her from everywhere from Google to IBM to the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center to leading business schools around the world, and her podcast, The Will to Change, is in its fifth year, and recognized as one of the top DEI podcasts ever.
Honor, Courage, Commitment with Blake Dremann
May 17 2023
Honor, Courage, Commitment with Blake Dremann
US Navy Commander Blake Dremann epitomizes the Navy core values. His career has had so many shocking turns that it deserves a full length feature film. Brought up in a faith environment and attending bible school, Blake found the military. He was in the first group of (perceived) women to integrate submarines and then became instrumental in opening up the military to transgender service. He led SPARTA, a non-profit advocacy organization, when President Trump attempted to fire all trans service members via tweet. Through it all, Blake won performance awards, changed perceptions, and fought to be the best version of himself. His journey is an inspiration. This is Blake's Official Navy Biography - COMMANDER BLAKE M. DREMANN SUPPLY CORPS UNITED STATES NAVY Commander Blake Dremann is assigned as the Ammunition Supply Chain Strategy Deputy and the Ordnance Audit Program Manager, NAVSUP Ammunition Logistics Center at Navy Supply Systems Command Headquarters, Mechanicsburg, PA. Commander Dremann is a native of St. Louis, MO and is a 2003 graduate of Ozark Christian College, earning his Bachelor of Biblical Literature. He received his commission through Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, FL in 2006 and after commissioning attended Navy Supply Corps School in Athens, GA. He earned his Master of Business Administration from Norwich University in 2019. Dremann’s operational assignments include: division officer afloat as Food Service Officer, Disbursing Officer and Assistant Supply Officer, USS DENVER (LPD 9); and Supply Officer, USS MAINE (SSBN 741), earning MAINE’s second Logistics Excellence Award and recipient of the 2015 Vice Admiral Robert F. Batchelder Award.  His most recent shore assignment was as Readiness Officer, Nuclear Enterprise Support Office at Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters in Fort Belvoir, VA.  Previously he was a Navy Intern, Joint Staff, Logistics Directorate, Washington, DC; where he became the Deputy Branch Chief for Capabilities, was co-lead for the biennial logistics war game and Combatant Command Integrated Priority Lists and Issue Nominations; served an Individual Augmentation tour as Assistant Coordinator, Commander’s Emergency Response Program; Combined Joint Task Force - 101, Bagram, Afghanistan; and division officer ashore as Food Service Officer, Billeting Officer, and Sales Officer for Navy Support Facility, Diego Garcia. Dremann’s personal decorations include two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals. He is qualified as a Submarine Warfare Supply officer, a Surface Warfare Supply officer and is a member of the Acquisition Corps.  Commander Dremann has also received the 2018 Department of Defense Pride Military Leadership Award, Modern Military Association of America’s “Outstanding Advocate” Honoree for their 25th Anniversary, named a 2019 Out in National Security Next Generation Leader in National Security.
Building a Nation of Inclusion with Melissa Gumbs
Apr 18 2023
Building a Nation of Inclusion with Melissa Gumbs
What do you do when you see a void in an organization, a community, or a nation? If you're Melissa Gumbs, you find a way to fill that gap with ideas and programs that can benefit everyone. In Sint Maarten, she saw an opportunity to build a community for LGBTQ+ folks and a political party for everyone. Now, as a Member of Parliament, her ideas about inclusion seek to reduce the brain drain caused by some Sint Maarteners not feeling welcome. Her authenticity and visibility provide hope to people who thought they might not have a place on the island.   Melissa Gumbs is a member of Parliament in Sint Maarten, a constituent country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, winning her seat in 2020 as part of a new political party. Born and raised on Sint Maarten she moved to Miami to attend St. Thomas University earneing a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in International Business. She spent seven years in The Hague, The Netherlands, where she worked as a Market Research Analyst at TMF Netherlands B.V, providing her a front-row seat to understand the impact mergers of global corporations have on small economies. In 2011, she co-founded Unified Sint Maarten Connection with Cyriel Pfennings, which kicked off a long tenure of serving as board member or volunteer for various non-profits related to affecting social change. She served as board member of Foresee Foundation, as advisory board member for SAFE SXM, the island’s primary LGBT-focused foundation. In 2016, Melissa returned home to St. Maarten where she joined United Telecommunication Services as a Section Manager. She was instrumental in returning communication to the island after the devastating Hurricane Irma in 2017. Outside of her work at UTS, Melissa continued her volunteer work and established a new political party. In January 2020, along with seven other candidates, Melissa contested the 2020 St. Maarten Parliamentary elections on the Party for Progress slate, which won two seats. Outside of her work, Melissa enjoys video games, movies, reading, writing short stories, and travel.
Heart and Heat in Leadership with Becky Burke
Apr 4 2023
Heart and Heat in Leadership with Becky Burke
There's a fire burning deep within Becky Burke, head coach of the University at Buffalo women's basketball team. From an appearance in the NCAA final four as a player, through a wild rise up the coaching ranks, and now as an authentic leader, you can feel the heat within her. But this is no out of control blaze, Burke channels that fire into developing her players, creating positive environments, and using her platform to inform and inspire. Join our conversation and find some sparks to ignite your inner passion for leadership, be it on the hard court or wherever your journey takes you. Guest Biography Becky Burke is the head women’s basketball coach of the University at Buffalo. Prior to that, Burke was head coach at USC Upstate and was the 2022 Big South Coach of the Year, In just her second year, Burke engineered one of the best turnarounds in the country, leading an Upstate team picked 10th in the preseason to the No. 3 overall seed and a first-round bye in the 2022 Big South Championship. In 2019, Burke earned a spot on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association 30-Under-30 list as the only head coach to appear on the exclusive list. She was also the head coach at the University of Charleston in West Virginia for two seasons and started the women’s basketball program at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, AZ. Burke had a standout playing career at the University of Louisville where she graduated with a degree in sports management in 2012. In four years as a Cardinal, she helped lead her team to three NCAA Tournament appearances including the championship game in 2009 and the Sweet Sixteen in 2011. A native of Clarks Summit, PA, Burke starred at her hometown high school, Abington Heights. She was named the Pennsylvania Class 4A Player of the Year her senior year by the Associated Press and scored over 2,100 points in her four-year high school career.