Dr. Gennifer (Genn) Herley, PhD is the founder and Executive Director of TransNewYork. TransNewYork provides educational and counseling services to the LGBTQ community and their family members, with a focus on the Transgender and Non Conforming community. Prior to founding TransNewYork, Gennifer ran A Better Life Counseling for 7 years. Gennifer is a proud transgender woman who recently transitioned.
Gennifer organized the first transgender Conference in New York City, New York Coming Out. This 3-day conference had over 100 workshops and hosted keynote speakers such as Sarah McBride from the Human Rights Campaign and Sam Britton from The Trevor Project, among others. For a first-time conference it had truly amazing support.
Gennifer believes in the transforming power of education, not only in her work at TransNewYork, but in her personal life as well. Gennifer is proud to have earned her doctorate degree in 2014.
Please check out TransNewYork and it’s amazing work. You can read more about Gennifer below.
Finish this sentence: I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for ________________.
The help of the LGBTQ community, in particular gay men. When I first came out I was extremely frightened I would lose everyone. Not only did I not lose too many people I knew before my transition, I gained another family and community within the LGBTQ Community. In addition, joining the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) gave me access to countless organizations. All of the introductions I received were mostly to Gay men who I am now friends with and very grateful to know. Lastly, my education. I returned to school at the age of 36 after dropping out of college at the age of 19. Only having a High School Diploma, I earned a PhD by the age of 52, doing this all while I was working full-time.
Resumes highlight professional and educational achievements. Which one of your life or personal experiences deserves to be on your resume?
I have been working on personal development since I was 28. I am 58 now. This truly has been my greatest achievement. This helps me live life to the fullest and feel all of the feelings that comes with life: the good, the bad, and the in between! I cannot say enough about Mental Health work (Personal Development) on myself and how it drove me from a really difficult childhood to building a life of fulfillment!!
What qualities do you look for when hiring someone on your team? What qualities do you avoid?
We want to hire individuals who align with our mission! When hiring, we look for individuals who are highly conscious. This is really a trait that cannot be taught. In addition we look to hire individuals who have empathy. After all, as a Non-Profit Organization we are in the business of serving our clients and the public at large. Flexibility as well as adaptability. There truly is “nothing more constant then change.” In our organization we want individuals to be able to work in multiple roles. At times this may be needed in the organization.
We try and avoid individuals who do not see a purpose in their work. In addition, individuals who do not see working in a non-profit as serving clients and the public. In other words, they must be giving of their self for someone else.
“Very few organizations have done any training regarding workplace inclusion of the Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming community.”
What’s one piece of career advice you wish you could give to your younger self?
Stay in school, become educated, and do understand that education is and should be a lifelong goal for everyone. We should never stop learning at any age!! Reach out for help and take care of the most important person which is you! Mental Health is not just Therapy, it is Personal Development.
Which three books, podcasts, or news sources do you think everyone should read? Why?
I listen to Bloomberg news most of the day. Economics is a second passion of mine. I speak with the transgender community all the time about Economic Empowerment!
I listen to many presentations and seminars by Out Leadership. They have a laser focus on Economic Empowerment!
Any book written regarding Sigmund Freud. My favorite was “Interpretations of Dreams.” I have been in and practice Modern Psychoanalysis.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is front and center right now. How do you express your commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in your personal and professional life?
In respect to diversity, equity, and inclusion in my personal life, transitioning from male to female and understanding truly for the first time the privileges that being a white male brought to me has been an eye opening experience! Professionally, working with organizations on Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming workplace inclusion has been eye opening as well.
Very few organizations have done any training regarding workplace inclusion of the Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming community. It is truly shocking, as well as sad at times, to see the lack of education within organizations, even in New York where GENDA (Transgender law protection) was recently passed in 2019. Organizations can be held accountable on issues regarding workplace inclusion of the Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming community. Yet there has been little action taken by organizations to start educating their workforce on workplace inclusion of the Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming community.
What’s one tangible step every employer should take to help build a more representative organization?
They need to start training their workforce on workplace inclusion of the Transgender/Non-Binary/Non-Conforming community. It all starts with education. Without education, we have stereotyping which inevitability leads to discrimination. This can, and will, lead to real trouble for an organization. If an organization wants to grow in the future, they will need a diverse workforce. Without organizational training, it will be much more difficult for an organization to be truly diverse!