For some members of the LGBTQIA+ community, being true to who they are felt like something that could hinder their career opportunities. Alex Ortiz, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business Evening MBA alum, had this thought when he entered the program in 2014. He wasn’t sure if he would have to go back in the closet to be successful in the business world.
He was pleasantly surprised to meet several LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff at Scheller. There was also active participation in the ROMBA Conference (Reaching Out MBA), the world’s largest conference for LBGTQIA+ business students and alumni. When Ortiz attended the conference, he noticed other schools had robust LGBTQIA+ student clubs.
“Seeing what other schools were doing highlighted a serious gap,” Ortiz said. “I approached MBA program administrators with the idea of starting a formal club and they were extremely supportive. With seed funding from former Dean Steve Salbu, we began Scheller Pride in 2016.”
As the founding president of Scheller Pride, Ortiz envisioned the club as a student-led and driven initiative with the goal to come together as a community and create meaningful programming for its members and allies. The club decided to host three events per semester, including a speaker series, networking event, and social event.
Ortiz recalls one of Scheller Pride's first events— a discussion on what it means to be “out” in the workplace led by Steve Salbu. “He was our first keynote speaker,” said Ortiz. “Steve is a successful gay man in a visible role, so it was neat to learn from his perspective on how his sexual orientation played into his career.”
While Ortiz doesn’t have any direct involvement with the club now, he is still a part of the Georgia Tech community. He is currently managing the Covid-testing center on campus as a part of his role as a strategy and operations consultant. He regularly participates in Scheller Pride alumni panels and information sessions to share his experiences. Ortiz has been honored to have the past two presidents of Scheller Pride reach out to him and learn more about his vision for the club.
"We left a robust playbook to reconnect them to the resources we put together for them to be successful,” he said.
Passing the Baton
As the newest president of Scheller Pride, Full-time MBA student Angel Daniels is fulfilling Ortiz’s original student-driven vision for the club. She has started to set goals and make plans for successfully leading the club post-Covid-19.
Daniels wants to ensure the club stays connected and does as much as it can to break boundaries. Among her plans is to connect Scheller Pride with the Atlanta business and LGBTQIA+ communities to strengthen the club’s connections and opportunities.
This Pride Month, Daniels notes that it’s been amazing to see so much support for the community from brands and companies. “It’s been a huge growth in support. I don’t remember all of this in the past,” she said. “I’ve seen several of my alma maters and company connections change their LinkedIn logos for Pride Month. I see so much support.”
As Scheller Pride continues to grow, one of its main focuses will continue to be creating community. Scheller Pride is a haven for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty, and staff, and Daniels sees the space as essential now and in the future.
“I needed a community where I felt I could connect with people and have a safe space to be myself as a LGBTQIA+ person,” she said. “I also think it’s important to have this type of organization for future Scheller students. It is a necessity to know that people care about you and the LGBTQIA+ community.”
In honor of Pride Month, Scheller Pride President Angel Daniels did an Instagram takeover on Friday, June 18, highlighting Scheller Pride.