Finding a Community, Supporting Others: LGBTQ+ Pride Month at Booz Allen
“Booz Allen is committed to using our ingenuity and creativity to build a future where everyone has access to the opportunities that help us thrive and prosper.”
-Michael Dumlao, director of brand and co-chair of the GLOBE+ business resource group
For 21 years, Booz Allen’s GLOBE+ Business Resource Group (BRG) has advanced the professional development, growth, and visibility of Booz Allen’s LGBTQ+ and ally employees. In celebration of Pride Month, two employees share how they found a LGBTQ+ community through GLOBE+ and throughout Booz Allen.
“Welcoming, supportive, and fully self-expressed”
“A queer, woman of color, data scientist,” is how Jamila Holt describes herself. She discovered her love of data science as a teacher and leader in the District of Columbia Public Schools. When she decided to align her career with that passion at Booz Allen, she found a community that embraced all aspects of her identity.
Her first introduction was a Booz Allen-sponsored Pride event. “Nearly everyone I met, literally too many to name, was welcoming, supportive, and fully self-expressed,” Holt said.
Then she attended a diversity hiring event at Booz Allen’s Innovation Center. “The event allowed me to talk with Booz Allen employees from all over the firm, ask them about their experiences and showcase my talents in a comfortable environment,” she said.
Events for GLOBE+, Out in Tech, and Pride, and a welcoming environment on the job and throughout the community, “made it clear that Booz Allen walks the walk,” Holt said. “I have been able to learn, continue the work I enjoy, influence systemic change, and utilize powerful machine learning tools as a team member at Booz Allen.”
“You matter. You belong here.”
Being accepted, celebrated, and seen–on and off the job—is essential to Staff Technologist Lianna Newman. “I’ve been out as nonbinary for about six years now, and it’s really important for me to be able to be out at work. I’m super queer and do a lot of volunteer work in the queer community, and I don’t want that part of me to only exist outside of the workplace.”
Shortly after joining Booz Allen, Newman asked a GLOBE+ member how being nonbinary worked, especially at a client site. The answer: “You matter. You belong here. We’re going to take care of you.”
Since then, Newman has spoken on panels and volunteered with GLOBE+ during Pride Month and beyond.
“Members of GLOBE continue to check-in with me just to see how I’m doing and how I’m liking my job,” Newman said. “Another GLOBE member was amazing and gave me my first internal project. That was really fun to work on and to work with them knowing I was not only accepted, but celebrated and feeling seen for who I am.”
“Solving tough problems” through analytics and advocacy
Both Newman and Holt share a commitment to making the world a better place for others, particularly underserved communities.
For Holt, this mission began when she worked in education. “From state to state, students in my classes had different faces, different names, and similar circumstances. They were plagued by poverty and all its ills, and systems that passed them without preparing them. I decided I wanted to continue to make a difference--systemically.”
As Holt returned to school to earn her PhD, she concurrently learned about data science, predictive analytics and python, “I realized the power artificial intelligence in the form of machine learning could have and wanted to be part of solving tough problems using these tools,” she said.
Newman focuses on mental health, as a certified safeTALK trainer and ASIST crisis interventionist, as well as the facilitator of a mental health support group for queer, trans, Black, Indigenous, people of color (QTBIPOC) in tech through Out in Tech.
“I'm a strong advocate for making mental health resources readily available for LGBTQIA+ people of color, especially for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged,” Newman said. “This issue needs to be discussed more, and mental health professionals who serve our community are obligated to educate themselves on our issues.”
Such advocacy is the heart of Pride, particularly this year: “It's time to focus on the underserved members of the LGBTQIA+ community who are the reason Pride exists and to return to our roots,” Newman said.