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Meet Our Team: Ellevation’s PRIDE ERG

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June marks Pride Month, a time to celebrate the vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ community and recognize their invaluable contributions to our society and culture. At Ellevation, we understand the importance of fostering an inclusive and supportive environment for all our team members.

We're excited to introduce the co-leads of Ellevation’s PRIDE ERG: Edgar Jimenez-Cruz (he/him/his), Campus Engagement Manager; Vanessa Betancur-Cadavid (she/they), Senior Product Support Specialist; and Arielle Sanchez (she/her/ella), Content Marketing Specialist. The PRIDE ERG is dedicated to promoting awareness, advocacy, and support for LGBTQ+ individuals within our organization, ensuring that everyone can bring their authentic selves to work and thrive.

We had the opportunity to chat with them about the ERG’s goals, ongoing initiatives, and their plans for celebrating Pride Month.

Can you share with us the mission and goals of Pride at ELL and how it has contributed to fostering a more inclusive and supportive environment within Ellevation?

Edgar Jimenez-Cruz: Our mission is to foster a safe space for LGBTQIA+ employees to share challenges, wins, and to learn and grow together. Our goal is to offer community, programs, events, and activities to inspire and promote the success of the LGBTQIA+ community at Ellevation and beyond. We strive to create opportunities to discuss intersectional issues that impact our community.

We believe in the power of our community to take up space and celebrate ourselves. By inspiring continuous learning through conversations, workshops, and other educational activities, we can promote both professional and personal development. We advocate for intersectionality by collaborating with other ERGs at Ellevation, recognizing the importance of diverse perspectives. Sharing our stories allows us to learn, build community, and support each other in our journeys. Together, we can create a more inclusive and empowering environment for all.

What are some of the biggest challenges the LGBTQIA+ community still faces in the workplace today, and how is the ERG working to address them?

Vanessa Betancur-Cadavid: Being LGBTQIA+ can be an isolating experience in the workplace. For a lot of us growing up, we were told that our queer identity is something that needs to be hidden. This and the lack of education generally seen for LGBTQIA+ topics makes it difficult to find community on your own.  

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How does the ERG celebrate Pride Month? What other important dates does the ERG bring attention to?

Edgar Jimenez-Cruz: We are inviting our group and allies to reflect on the history and progress of the LGBTQIA+ movement, highlighting the importance of unity, diversity, and advocacy. We want to emphasize the need to continue fighting for equality and celebrating the resilience and beauty of the LGBTQIA+ community. We encourage everyone, regardless of their identity, to use their voice and actions to create a more inclusive and equitable future. Pride Month is seen as a time to reflect on past challenges and push for positive change, while also celebrating the accomplishments and strength of us as LGBTQIA+ individuals, standing up for our rights and showing pride in who we are.

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By acknowledging and uplifting individual groups within the community, such as Trans Visibility Day, Lesbian Visibility Day, International Asexuality Day, Pansexual and Panromantic Awareness Day, Non-Binary People’s Day, International Drag Day, Bisexuality Day, Pronouns Day, and more, we are able to celebrate the unique identities and experiences that make up our collective whole. Through this ongoing recognition and celebration, we aim to bring awareness and visibility to all members of the LGBTQIA+ community, ensuring that everyone feels seen, heard, and valued.

How does Pride at ELL collaborate with other diversity and inclusion initiatives within the organization?

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Arielle Sanchez: We also make it a priority to collaborate with other Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to thoughtfully make space for employees with intersectional identities and dedicated allies. Recently, we teamed up with Somos ELL, Ellevation's Latinx ERG, as part of their company-wide internal event series called Latinidad in Education. In this series, Somos ELL hosts Latinx school district leaders to share their insights, experiences, and the positive impact that their identity has on their community and the education sector. We are thrilled to partner with them to bring an incredible EL Admin with lived experience from both of our ERGs to celebrate our cultures and educate our non-LGBTQIA+ and non-Latinx peers on the importance of our communities within the K-12 space. 

Can you share any personal stories or experiences that highlight the importance of the Pride at ELL ERG within the workplace?

Vanessa Betancur-Cadavid: Last year we hosted a Gender Identity and Expression Lunch and Learn in honor of Trans Visibility Month. We focused on education and self-reflection, specifically on how gender and gender norms have affected us all. We showed the impact that anti-LGBTQIA+/anti-Trans legislation has on our students and our communities.  Finally, we facilitated discussions that prompted self reflection and solidarity for the Trans community.  

After the Lunch and Learn, many allies shared how they acquired a new understanding of gender. Additionally, community members shared how they felt seen and welcomed by the event. As a result of this event, community members and allies were brought together to create a welcoming  and safe space for all.

How can employees who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community get involved and support Pride at ELL’s initiatives?

Arielle Sanchez: Non-LGBTQIA+ can support LGBTQIA+ employees by educating themselves regularly with the open resources that we provide. They cover up-to-date topics such as key LGBTQIA+ identities, moments in history, celebrations, flags, respectful community guidelines, and other relevant topics.

They can also participate in the company wide events that Pride at ELL dedicates time to create and present live, such as our Lunch & Learn series. These events are safe spaces where all employees can hear community voices and hold unifying discussions. They are an opportunity for allies to learn about fundamentals like important terminology, current political state, and ways to make meaningful change from ERG leaders.