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Building a Career in Advocacy to Strengthen the LGBTQ+ Community

Bianca Robinson, Endicott MBA graduate; photo by Terry Slater.
Van Loan School at Endicott College alumna, Bianca Robinson M’18, pursued her MBA so that she could build a career in an area she truly cares about, LGBTQ+ rights.
6/21/2019

After seeing a real need to empower individuals to believe in their true identities—something as a transgender woman she can closely relate to—Van Loan School at Endicott College alumna, Bianca Robinson M’18, saw an opportunity to build a career in an area she truly cared about, LGBTQ+ rights.

Robinson, who has spent the last decade dedicating her professional career toward leading change, providing vision, and advocacy to nonprofits and public education, knew that a Master of Business Administration (MBA) would help her achieve her goal of obtaining a nonprofit leadership position. So, she decided to enroll in Van Loan’s program.

“As a trans woman, I knew coming into this program that I would be a unique candidate. For trans people, the barriers in accessing education are well-documented in the LGBTQ+ research community; I sought to break that mold, venture into new spaces, and bring it all back to my community,” she says.

Break that mold she did. Robinson says that the program taught her valuable lessons in hard work and perseverance and allowed her to expand her understanding of both the inner workings of management, but also to look at the broader picture with strategy. “I think it’s important to develop leadership in minority populations, especially transgender women. The by-and-for nonprofit model can only truly reach its potential when members from that community are able to access positions of leadership; because they have the lived experience, it’s more likely they could lead a movement with the use of their personal conviction coupled with the know-how.” Robinson says that she feels that the greater understanding of administration that she received in the MBA program will translate to positive outcomes in the LGBTQ+ community, no matter where she brings this knowledge.

Robinson first began working with the LGBTQ+ community during her undergraduate career at the University of Puerto Rico where she enrolled in 2001. Since then, she has held jobs in different capacities such as a counselor, program manager, trainer, researcher, and in more recent years, a diversity lecturer. In fact, she recently gave a micro-talk on career mentorship in the trans community at Google for the Second Annual State of Trans People of Color organized by the Lesbians of Color Coalition Symposium (LOCS).

What’s next for Robinson now that she has her hard-earned MBA? “I think the next step is tying it all together; the years in education and advocacy work alongside my MBA put me in a unique position to lead an organization. I have my eyes set on original content creation as a viable option to grow awareness on LGBTQ+ issues.” While noting she is still in an ideation phase, she hopes to influence the direction of transgender rights at the local level and is currently applying for boards and committees to where she can promote LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance.

Read more about Robinson’s work in the LGBTQ+ community and how she plans to build and strengthen the trans and non-binary communities.

How has LGBTQ+ grown into a passion/profession for you?
I saw a need to empower individuals to believe in their true identities. Because this work is directly linked to my own identity, it became a knowledge-sharing experience, and an opportunity to create a career in something I truly cared about. My intersectionalities helped me succeed; as a multilingual college student who also had close ties to the community, I was able to facilitate conversations and create links to care.

What type of work are you doing to support LGBTQ+ rights? Can you tell me about specific projects you are involved with?
I’ve been a panelist/lecturer at Northeastern’s LGBTQ+ ReachOut Conference for the past four years. It’s an intergenerational knowledge-sharing space that brings together LGBTQ professionals from different industries with undergraduate students. I offer perspectives on navigating workplace environments as a Latinx trans woman of color. This past fall I had the honor of serving as the keynote speaker.

Most recently, I collaborated with the preparation of a National Institutes of Health grant application with former colleagues that are based at Brown University. We are seeking to create a health navigation program aimed at helping at-risk transgender women obtain and adhere to Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV prevention, commonly known as PreP.

In your words, why is diversity and inclusion on a college campus more important today than ever before?
I believe that developing youth means strengthening every aspect of their being. I came to this realization not only after working in advocacy but also my experience as a public school teacher. I’ve seen the positive impact we can make when youth can be seen and heard, and that translates directly to how they are able to develop into adulthood.

At the college level, students continue to benefit from experiencing community as part of their social determinants of health. Companies are understanding more and more how candidates seek out organizational culture as much as professional opportunity; this allows a closer view on how to attract and maintain talent. Additionally, I think that young adults are more aware of the political affiliations companies may have, and with this knowledge, they can choose to align their beliefs with companies that mirror that.

Diversity and inclusion are important because it allows for more viewpoints to be heard, ultimately with the goal of creating bridges beyond our differences, and the applications for this are endless. But this doesn’t end with our student body, we must employ these practices with faculty and staff, to create more inclusive working environments. The larger college community should also feel we are taking great care in understanding these issues because it ensures our growth and future.

How has your Van Loan MBA supported your personal and professional goals?
I came to Endicott to acquire the skills I needed to rise in nonprofit leadership. Van Loan’s MBA program allowed me to expand my understanding of both the inner workings of management, but also to look at the broader picture with strategy. Perspective, tools, and collaboration are at the core of the learning model.

What did you learn in the MBA program that will help you start your nonprofit?
The MBA program taught me valuable lessons in hard work and perseverance. Beyond technical applications, I found that I’m the type of learner that extracts larger picture skills. I’m more easily able to identify what I can and cannot do, how to communicate more effectively, and how to identify liabilities. I think all leaders need these skills in order to delegate, transfer information, and make decisions.

Was there a specific course/topic/project that you felt was extremely beneficial? Why?
My accounting courses helped me see the greater scope of operations and overhead costs that I would have otherwise not understood fully with an undergraduate degree in a different field of study. This is a good thing when we’re thinking of engaging students from different fields, and creating ways to translate the benefits of our program.

Managing Information Systems (BUA 581) gave me a greater appreciation of how we protect our user/client data. The most challenging course was Financial Reporting and Analysis (FNCE 521). The final project required skills from many courses, so it required us to pull from many skill sets. It was one of my favorite classes and it helped me learn a great deal about competitors in global markets. Shout out to professor Jim Kimball, he’s a legend.

To learn more about Van Loan’s MBA program and other offerings, visit vanloan.endicott.edu.

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