LBGT office launches mentoring program

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Photo of Linda Anderson.

Keynote speaker Linda Anderson

KALAMAZOO—Local professionals supportive of lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender students and their allies are encouraged to participate in a new career-related mentoring opportunity.

Western Michigan University launched the LBGTA Career Mentorship Program this month through its Office of Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Transgender Student Services.

The program matches LBGTA students with LBGTA professionals in the local area. Participating mentors will provide support and career-related resources to help the students better prepare for fulfilling their career aspirations once they graduate.

The program officially kicks off with a mandatory mentorship dinner from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, on WMU's main campus in Kalamazoo. During the event, those who have applied to the program as mentors and mentees will meet, network and be matched. In addition, keynote presentations will be made by two leaders in the LBGTA employee resource group at the Kellogg Co. in Battle Creek, Mich.

About the mentorship program

Photo of Cheryl Gilliam.

Keynote speaker Cheryl Gilliam

The program gives undergraduate students opportunities to connect with working professionals who are LBGTA identified and who can help them navigate the workplace successfully as LBGTA-identified individuals upon graduating. Invaluable interactive experiences mentors will be able to assist students with include job shadowing, resume building and networking.

Prospective mentors should be willing or able to:

  • be out in their place of employment as an LBGT person or an ally of LBGT people,
  • attend the Oct. 18 mentorship dinner,
  • participate in the mentoring program from October 2013 through April 2014,
  • participate in one, three-hour mentor training session, and
  • meet with their mentee one or two times per month.

The LBGTA Career Mentorship Program is the newest addition to the Ready to Work Series, an Office of LBGT Student Services initiative that seeks to address and mitigate the many legal and cultural challenges facing LBGT people in the work force.

"This is a great opportunity to help support an LBGTA student transition from campus life to the workplace, and we need your knowledge and insight to make this program a success," says Jennifer Hsu, WMU LBGT student services office coordinator says of the career mentoring program.

"During training, we'll provide you with tools and resources to be successful as a mentor. My office will also provide support and meeting ideas to you throughout the academic year."

Those interested in becoming a mentor are asked to complete an application form. For more information or to obtain the form, visit wmich.edu/diversityandinclusion/lbgt and click Career Mentorship. Direct questions to Jennifer Hsu at lbgt-coordinator@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2123.

About the Oct. 18 keynote speakers

Linda Anderson is operations manager of Kellogg's Battle Creek plant for Morning Foods Ready-To-Eat-Cereal. Anderson has served as the plant operations manager since January 2009. She began her career with the company in 1989 and subsequently received numerous promotions.

Anderson earned an associate degree in general technology from Southwest Tennessee Community College, a bachelor's degree in business management for Rowan University, and a master's degree in supply chain management from Ashford University. She is pursuing a doctoral degree in organizational development and leadership at the University of the Rockies.

Cheryl M. Gilliam is senior packaging engineer for Kellogg's packaging innovation and technology department. Gilliam has more than 30 years of professional experience in the medical and food industries, working for companies such as Johnson & Johnson, Heinz USA, Sara Lee Bakery and Kraft Foods. She has earned numerous awards for creating cutting-edge products and has seven registered patents.

Gilliam serves on many employee resource groups at Kellogg's, including those focusing on African American, Latino and multinational issues; champions various senior and youth programs; and volunteers with youth-related mentoring and antibullying programs. She was a standout member of the Michigan State University track and field team and finished seventh in the 200-meter dash finals at the 1980 U.S. Olympic Trials.

For more information about the program, contact Jennifer Hsu at lbgt-coordinator@wmich.edu or (269) 387-2123.