Leading the Next Generation of LGBT+ Advocates

Jul 9, 2021 10:00 AM ET
Blog

As the newest Co-Chair of the firm’s Pride and Ally Network, Jen Ng hopes to add to the group’s long list of accomplishments, while forging her own path forward.

Jen Ng clearly remembers her first day at Morgan Stanley. She was sitting with other new hires at an orientation session, reading through the glossy benefits brochure. And while her co-workers may have been looking for information on the 401(k) plan, Ng was excited to discover a different sort of perk: The firm’s Pride and Ally Network, a group dedicated to helping create and foster an environment of inclusiveness and respect for LGBT+ employees.

“I joined that day,” she says.

Six years later, Ng, who grew up in Pennsylvania as part of a large, blended, blue-collar family that included a father who immigrated from Hong Kong and a mother who grew up in Puerto Rico, has become its newest co-chair, working alongside fellow chair Chuck Burke on everything from advocacy to event-planning.

ASSUMING THE MANTLE

Ng follows in the footsteps of her mentor and long-time Co-Chair Jacqueline LiCalzi, who steered the firm in filing its amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of marriage equality in 2013, among other notable accomplishments. Indeed, the chance to work with LiCalzi and others on the leadership team was a big reason Ng moved from the firm’s Baltimore offices to its New York headquarters.

“It was such an honor when I met Jackie, who was instrumental in driving Morgan Stanley’s support of the amicus brief that contributed to my marriage being federally recognized. And now to be Co-Chair—my goal is to continue the legacy and push other systemic changes like that forward.”

And she’s just as impressed by the rest of the network. “Behind every initiative is a dedicated group of employees advocating tirelessly, and I plan to continue to amplify those voices with this opportunity.”

FINDING A NEW ROLE

After graduating from Arcadia University in Philadelphia with a degree in business administration, Ng spent a few years in financial reporting and analytics and in 2015, she joined Morgan Stanley’s Operations in Baltimore. She then switched roles and joined Prime Brokerage Risk Management within the Institutional Equities Division.

Before she moved from Baltimore, however, Ng wanted to know that her new community was as welcoming as she thought it would be. “When I interviewed for the position in New York, I made it a point to weave the words ‘my wife’ into the conversation,” she says. “I wanted to see if there would be any reaction. I wanted to know that I did not have to hide,” she says, adding: “Every single interviewer continued the conversation without hesitation. I felt safe.”

Helping others feel the same sense of support is one of her goals as Co-Chair of the Pride and Ally Network. Ng sees her role as threefold: Ensuring better representation, deepening connections between the network and both employees and the larger community, and leading the call to action on important issues. “Over the years, the network has evolved from a community space to a group that really drives change, and I want that to continue.”

Intersectionality is another area she plans to focus on by “supporting each other and tackling the overlapping issues we face,” as well as amplifying the voices of less visible members of the community, including trans and nonbinary members.

GIVING BACK TO THE COMMUNITY

Ng firmly believes in achieving success by building partnerships across communities and commits to giving back in other ways. In 2019, she joined the New York State Guard “about six months before the pandemic hit—talk about a calling!” and quickly found herself involved in the organization’s COVID-19 efforts, working full-time during a two-month leave from the firm as a personnel administrator to ensure that soldiers were prepared for their mission. Later, she managed medical supplies for various state-assisted sites across New York, and she's currently a Specialist.

It was hard but rewarding work, something she is used to in her role as network Co-Chair. And while she acknowledges that there’s more hard work ahead driving change on LGBT+ issues, both inside and outside the firm, she’s heartened by the support she sees among her colleagues.

One example she cites: At a recent event she attended sponsored by the firm’s Asian Employee Network. “Every single panelist had their pronouns listed,” Ng says. “I received multiple texts and emails from attendees expressing how that one small act impacted them positively. It may seem like a little thing, but it’s an example of the progress we are all making. Together.