‘Meet the Board’ – Sue Rocha

Sue – our Westford, Massachusetts-based VP – is our guest this week, in one of the last ‘Meet the Board’ interviews.

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

I would have to say Portugal. My Dad’s is Portuguese and in 2001 my parents, my partner at the time and I were suppose to go to Portugal for 2 weeks. We had planned the trip for a year then 9/11 happened. We decided to cancel the trip and I have never had the chance to reschedule it.

What sport do you practice?

From a very young age I was involved in sports, I played Field hockey, basketball and softball from Junior High school through High School. In college I played Field Hockey and Softball and learned to play Racquetball. I continued to play Softball and Racquetball until I was 40 then my knees and my body could no longer take the wear and tear so I learned to play Golf. In the Northeast part of the US you are limited by weather as to how long the golf season is, but I take full advantage when the weather is good and play as much as I can. I enjoy being outside playing on different courses and meeting new people on the course. I really haven’t had a bad experience playing with anyone that I have met and I have played in a few different parts of the United States. Last summer I started Kayaking and love it. So I get the best of both worlds on land and sea.

What job or task do you believe you have had your greatest impact at ALU?

From 1998 through 2008 I worked at a manufacturing facility in Massachusetts. I had many different job functions there including Managing the Customer Service team and the Material Planning team. The one that I feel had the greatest impact at ALU was when I was the Manager of the Warehouse. We were responsible for getting product in the door so that the manufacturing shops could build the part to ship to customer. We were responsible for inventory, getting orders shipped to the customer on time, processing customer’s repairs through the system and providing support for different organizations throughout the building that needed help from our group. At the end of each day and especially at the end of each quarter we were responsible for making sure that the customer orders were delivered on time. At the end of each quarter we made sure that we did not leave until the last possible part that could ship left the building and we were able to capture revenue for the company. I guess knowing that my team help contribute to the bottom line of the company made that my greatest impact to ALU.

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

It was probably the summer of 1993, I was at a Diversity Training in Connecticut with my work group. It was the end of the first day of training. We were taking a break but the instructor explained that the next section everyone was going to line up in a line based on where you fit in the world as of that day. Example White men tended to be at the front of the line, Women possible in the middle, people of ethnicity after the women and LGBT people in my eyes and my heart fell toward end of the line. I went up to instructor and told him that I probably would not participate in that section because I was not ready to come out to everyone and did not want to lie about where I fit on the continuum. I left the class and went to call a close friend to ask for his opinion. I decided it was time to come out. So I went back into the class and my boss at the time somehow was role playing that she was a LGBT employee and starting explaining what it was like in the workplace. I decided I needed to step up and speak out. So I interrupted her and came out to everyone. It was an experience I never will forget. A lot of positive comments and hugs from my co-workers and a big weight was lifted off my shoulders. When I got back some months later I saw something about the EQUAL! Conference in Boston and decided that I wanted to get involved with the group. I was located in Boston at the time and the Massachusetts group was in North Andover so I became a member. It was not until my job changed and I was working in North Andover that I got really involved in EQUAL! And eventually was elected as one of the Massachusetts Leaders and then eventually became the Treasurer for EQUAL!. When I was close to losing my job as they were closing the manufacturing plant I decided to resign as treasurer. I then found a job within the company and decided to get back involved in EQUAL! and now I am one of the EQUAL! Female Vice Presidents.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

I am a sap when it comes to movies making me cry. I cry at Hallmark commercials but if I had to pick one movie I would say it would be Beaches. The friendship those two women shared and the ups and downs of their relationship was something I admired. It reminds me of the relationship with my best friend for over 30 years and the ups and downs we have had and the support we have given each other during our lives. As for movies that make me laugh, I have a couple of favorites. I loved League of their Own which was about the beginning of the Women’s professional baseball League during the war and the ups and downs of their first season. One of the best sayings in that movie that that I love the most is – Crying are you crying there is no crying in baseball. My other favorite is The Replacements about a group of guys who come in and play professional football while the real teams are on strike. I guess you can say I am a sports nut through and through.

Alcatel, Lucent, and Alcatel-Lucent retirees: you can now join us!

It took some time to iron out some technical issues, but we are now able to have our former members (whether retirees or not) ‘re-join’ our Chapters mailing lists!

To do so, do get in touch via the Contact form and we’ll get you started.


Photo credit: eMail by Esparta Palma, on Flickr (under Creative Commons license).

‘Meet the Board’ – Brian Cort

We stay in New Jersey this week with Brian, based in Murray Hill!

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

China. I have been studying Mandarin Chinese for three years, and I am to the point where I can hold simple conversations and even read and write a few hundred characters. I would love to visit China and improve my Mandarin even more. In fact, I would love to spend a few months or even a year there.

What sport do you practice?

My favorite sport is Skiing, and since I learned to ski at a young age and spent nearly every weekend doing it when I was young, I’m pretty good. One of my favorite things is to visit a new mountain and just go where my skis take me. I also love the peace and tranquility of cross-country skiiing.

What is your link to LGBT?

I am a gay man who came out to my family and friends when I was a sophomore at the University of New Mexico. I met my partner Jorge in 1991, and we have been together ever since, going on 21 years.

If you were CEO for a day – what would you try to accomplish?

If it were possible in one day, I would bring to our company a true spirit of service to others that breaks down the cultural and group identity barriers that sometimes separate us. Often we find ourselves faced with a problem or an issue that we think originated somewhere else, and we want to push it back where it came from. If we resist that urge and dig in to help, then we all benefit and the company benefits.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

I love the movie “The King of Masks” (变脸 or Biàn Lian), a Mandarin language film about an elderly street performer who is an expert in the art of Chinese Opera bian lian (quick mask change). He has no heir to pass along his art, and the story is about his journey to find an heir, and the life lessons of acceptance that he learns along the way. It is a beautiful movie, and it brings out my emotions in a wonderful, uplifting way.

‘Meet the Board’ – Dotti Evans

This week, meet Dotti – EQUAL!’s Secretary, based in Murray Hill, NJ.

What animal scares you the most?

Man scares me the most! We are the only animal that kills for no reason, that shows prejudice, and is greedy. We are the only animal which feels free to waste our natural resources and refuses to face the reality that the resources of this world are, in fact, limited – not limitless.

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

I’d love to visit England, Wales, and Ireland – but that may be because I feel like I wouldn’t get lost since we (almost) speak the same language!

And then there is France. When I was in high school – several decades ago – I went with my French class to France. We traveled to Paris, Normandy, Mont St. Michel, Versailles, and several other locations. We visited castles and saw the stained glass windows of Notre Dame de Chartres. I’ve never forgotten these places. My friend and I walked all over Paris and we had such a great time!

I’d love to return to France with my spouse, Teri. Teri’s interest in France began when she and I watched a TV show about Brittany – the Travel Channel show, “Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations”. Teri was so impressed by the landscape, the people, and the food, she has now joined me in my hope to return to France one day.

What job or task do you believe has had the greatest impact on ALU?

I would like to think that all my work for ALU has had a good impact on the corporation overall. However, I have to say that I think that my work as a Project Manager in LEOM (Lab Environment and Operations Management) supporting the Murray Hill Wireless labs has had the greatest impact.

My job is to learn about upcoming changes and/or additions to the MH labs, to work with my team to identify and schedule all the necessary tasks to complete the changes, and to monitor the tasks as they’re completed to ensure the work is correct and completed on schedule.

It is my job to help the various test teams meet their schedules and get the latest CDMA/EVDO and LTE releases out to our customers on time and with quality. It’s also my job to make my fellow LEOMers’ work as easy as possible by identifying upcoming lab changes as far in advance as possible, to set priorities, and to make sure all the proper tasks are identified and assigned to the correct LEOM team member. I also do what I can to reduce costs, by finding ways for teams to share equipment and/or reduce the amount of equipment within the labs.

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

Back in 1996/1997, I was working as an independent SAP software consultant. I was also quite involved in the LGBT community here in NJ, so I knew about League, AT&T’s LGBT group. At that time I was offered a position with Lucent in their SAP Center of Excellence. I was very torn about giving up my independence and taking a job with such a large company.

Also back then, Teri and I were planning our commitment ceremony. It was to take place in May, 1997, and we were immersed in looking for gay-friendly places for the ceremony, food suppliers, etc. I started thinking about how gay-friendly the company must be and how great it would be to work for a company with these values.

At that time, Lucent was actually advertising on TV; and while I was pondering whether or not to take the job with Lucent, I saw one of the Lucent commercials. I took it as a sign that I should “go for it!” I accepted the position. Once I joined Lucent, I immediately looked for, and joined EQUAL!. I’ve been involved with EQUAL! ever since.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

This is a hard question! I’ve seen so many movies over the years. One that recently brought me to tears (and to laughter) is “50/50” a movie about a young man who finds out he has cancer. It doesn’t sound like a movie that would make you laugh – but it did! I’d find myself with tears streaming down my face, and then laughing out loud. I highly recommend it!

And then there are the TV shows. “Modern Family” and “Up All Night” are two great shows. I love them! I am the proud Grand mama of Adrian Michele, the daughter of my step-daughter, Denise (Teri’s daughter), and Denise’s spouse (the birth-mother) Nicole. It’s wonderful to see my family reflected in the characters of “Modern Family”; and “Up All Night” shows me that everyone has the same hopes, dreams, and concerns about the children in their lives!

‘Meet the Board’ – Ryk Koscielski

We’re back this week with Ryk, our long-time board member and current Northern Illinois chapter representative – based in Naperville.

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

When I first heard about a LEAGUE at AT&T chapter forming at the Naperville/Lisle campus in 1990, I really wanted to join, but I was terrified about being identified as being gay and that it would lead to be harassed at work and losing friends. When my officemate, who was a straight ally of LEAGUE, started to explain to me in 1992 the significance of the Safe Space magnet that he had just received at a LEAGUE meeting, I knew it was time for me to be involved. I started attending meetings and helping without being visible. I then decided to march in the 1993 Gay Pride Parade in Chicago with LEAGUE and was seen by some high school friends who spread the word. I’ve been involved with LEAGUE and EQUAL! over the years in different leadership roles and I only have one regret and that is that I didn’t join sooner and that I can’t give more to the organization. One LEAGUE/EQUAL! leader once said that the work we were doing in the workplace was changing the world around us. I totally believe that since LEAGUE/EQUAL! was a pioneer LGBT corporate group which led the way for so many others and for positive changes in our workplace and in other companies.

What countries are on the top of your list to visit?

I’ve visited lots of countries, but the ones on the top of my list next are Australia, New Zealand and Greece. I’ve loved something about all the places that I’ve visited: Canada, Bahamas, Mexico, Panama, Costa Rico, Honduras, Belize, England, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, and China. I would visit some of them again after I finish going through my list of ones I haven’t seen and would like to see.

What is the craziest thing you’d do for the one you love?

I’ve always felt of myself as adventurist and as willing to try anything once, but two of the things that had always terrified me was being in water over my head and putting my face under water in a lake or ocean to see what was there. When my partner first suggested that we go snorkeling and scuba diving while on vacation in the Caribbean, I was at first terrified and then willing to do it for him. I first started snorkeling and found that I liked it. A couple years later I took scuba diving classes and we started scuba diving together. He still has to put up with my fear of sharks and with me running out of air in my tank first, since I breathe harder because of heightened anxiety, which forces him to come up with me sooner than he’d like.

What sport do you practice?

I used to compete as a runner and bicyclist, and I loved to play softball, racquetball, and volleyball. I now do recreational sports: snow skiing, scuba diving, bicycling, and yoga.

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

The movies that make me laugh the most are Mr.. Mom, 50 First Dates, Blast from the Past, and George of the Jungle. I watch each at least 3-4 times a year and they still make me laugh. The movies that have made me cry are Terms of Endearment and Brokeback Mountain.

‘Meet the Board’ – Billy Nickerson

This week, meet Billy – our At-Large chapter representative based in California.

What animal scares you the most?

Dogs scare me the most and this is because I suffered a dog mauling as a young kid of 10 years old – facial scars, arm, and leg. Medical technology in a small town in the 70s was such that the facial scars were still pretty noticeable, and kids that age can be cruel, so I had to build a strong exterior as a kid to work through it. Many years later, my partner recommended I talk to a plastic surgeon to see if scars could be reduced – and to my delight, they could and ultimately were! To this day, however, I still momentarily freeze when a dog approaches me.

What is the craziest thing you’d do for the one you love?

The craziest thing I’d do for the one I love? Haha – what a choice amongst many potentially crazy things. I think anything that involves free-falling in gravity, like sky diving and bungee jumping, for example. I’m terribly afraid of heights and easily get vertigo, so that’s why I’d consider it craziest. One other crazy idea: marriage. 🙂

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

I have a lot of movies I like, but my favorite has to be “Beautiful Thing” about young love being found and developing even in the face of adversity. Since I didn’t really come out to myself until I left university at the age of 23, and being gay was becoming more “accepted”, I’ve never had to face the kind of life these young men did. I watch it to remind myself how fortunate I really am – and because I love the dance at the end of the movie. 🙂 I really am a romantic at heart!

What sport do you practice?

I am not a member of any organized sport, but I regularly do two things: jog and bike ride. I usually jog on a treadmill because I like to catch up on all the podcasts that I never have time for during the day – going for a jog outside can be an obstacle course that takes my concentration away from my listening. 🙂 I’ve had to slow my jogging down lately because an old mountain climbing injury involving my knee joint has begun flaring up, and is the reason I took up biking. Biking has a lot less joint impact and allows me to go much farther than jogging. Fortunately, the Redding, California, area where I live has lots of great bike/pedestrian trails, and the mild weather (rarely below 0C/32F) allows me to do it virtually year-round.

What was you funniest experience at work?

Funniest experience at work was several years ago. Back then, my cubicle had an open wall that faced a balcony exit. One morning I had placed a big stack of résumés I had to review for later and a paper cup of water just above my keyboard tray. I left for a meeting and when I returned, I tried typing on my keyboard – and it didn’t work. I didn’t have time to fix it so I just went onto reviewing the résumés. As I read through them, I was puzzled because some had weird mixes of experience and didn’t seem like they went together. As it turns out, a lady across the hall – seeing my puzzled looks, guiltily admitted that when she had gone out to the balcony, a fierce wind had blown in, spilled the water on my keyboard, and blew my paper stack on the floor. She dried the keyboard, got more water, and thought the paper pile had been put together properly, so thought I wouldn’t notice a thing. Glad I did or it would have been an odd set of interviews later on given the résumés I had. 🙂 We have a great laugh about it even to this day.

‘Meet the Board’ – John Fredette

This week, meet John – our VP based in Raleigh, North Carolina.

What is your funniest experience at work?

I work virtually most of the time and usually from my home. Our 15-year-old cat Maynard has a touch of arthritis which slows him down. He likes to sleep on top of the heater grates to feel better. His favorite spot is on top of the grate right inside the door of the downstairs bathroom. He goes in, gets up on his hind legs to push the door shut and then settles down on the grate. It’s a small space and with the door closed it becomes a sauna which he seems to really like. He is in there for hours. When he wants to leave, he puts his paw under the door and pulls it open. The funny part is that when he is in there I can’t use the bathroom. He pushes back on the door and cries. I have to go upstairs. I find that amusing.

How do you spend free time?

Acquiring skills as a videographer is my current top avocation. I enjoyed making movies as a kid but film was expensive, projectors were hard to set up, editing was messy – it was hard. Now with a iMac for editing and using my iPhone camera I am having lots of fun and it’s easy. I am also gaining experience using more advanced cameras and I look forward to getting myself one that will allow me to do really interesting work.

What job or task do you believe you have had your greatest impact at ALU?

I like to think that all my jobs have had impact. Being in communications it is difficult to get hard, objective feedback but I know how important it is for people both inside and outside the company to know and understand what is going on with ALU. Currently I am a member of the corporate communications writing team. I have had a variety of responsibilities over time but writing is my passion and I am delighted to not have to use a hyphenated string of words to describe what I do but instead just say I am a “writer.”

What triggered your involvement in EQUAL?

I recall that I joined EQUAL soon after I joined Lucent eleven years ago. In my career I have never tried to hide my sexuality but having always worked in relatively small companies I had never had an opportunity to belong to an LGBT organization. When I learned of EQUAL I knew it was something in which I wanted to participate and I am very glad I did. It gives me an opportunity to interact closely with colleagues I would not meet with otherwise and enables me to support our community which I think is very important. I am sorry I never had the opportunity to belong to a local chapter but being part of the ‘At Large’ chapter gives me the chance to get to know people in locations far from Raleigh, North Carolina and that’s fun.

Which movies made you laugh/cry the most?

I am a sucker for the big cry fests of the 80s, especially E.T and Terms of Endearment. I am looking forward to seeing War Horse. My grandfather was a surgeon in the trenches during World War I and the scenes depicting what he experienced are very vivid according to my aunt who has seen the movie. I saw the play on Broadway and was very impressed. Just seeing the War Horse trailer I started to tear up so I expect the full experience will be enjoyably cathartic.

The original La Cages aux Folles still stands as one of the funniest movies I have seen. I remember a friend saying that it was good the movie was subtitled because the audience was laughing so loudly it was very hard to hear the dialogue. I’ve seen three Broadway productions of the show but the original movie is still the funniest.

‘Meet the Board’ – Kelley Neal

This week, meet Kelley – EQUAL!’s co-president and long-time board member.

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

Honestly – almost anywhere. What is most surprising to folks is that I’ve never been outside of the US except for a few side trips to Canada. I have never had to travel for work outside the US and my personal travels have only been to see the other great areas in the US. If I were to pick one place I’d want to see, I think it would be to go to Egypt to see the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an archeologist and find the next great Pharaoh’s Tomb. It’s still a fascinating topic to me. Science is taking us further and I expect more major discoveries in the years to come in places like Egypt.

What sport do you practice?

I’ve gotten to the age where I’ve stopped playing more competitive and active sports such as volleyball and softball and moved on to golf. I play in a league once a week during the spring and summer as well as casually on weekends. When I get to retirement, I’ll have to find a place where the weather is good for year round golf :-).

What was you funniest experience at work?

It’s hard to say what the funniest experience has been because there are just too many years too think back through. I will say though, that my linkage with EQUAL! and working with the other EBP groups has probably been the most fun part of my job. I’ve had opportunities to go to conferences, meet people from across the globe, and participate in community events and volunteer work. All of these types of activities open up doors to so much more which includes a lot of fun.

What job or task do you believe you have had your greatest impact at ALU?

I feel I have two responsibilities within the company – my day to day job and representing EQUAL! Both of these give me opportunities to contribute to the company. First with EQUAL! – I know that I have helped people understand many aspects of topic of being LGBT and why it’s an important topic in the workplace. Aside from teaching multiple classes over the years, I think the most impactful aspect has been one on one conversations with people. It’s amazing what impact you can make by putting a face on the topic, saying a few words or answering a few questions. You can easily help people’s understanding of something they really don’t know much about. People fear what they don’t understand.

It’s easy to talk about actions that have direct financial contributions to the company. I think though that my most impactful roles probably have had no clear link to finance. I’ve been with the company over 20 years and my very first job here (for about 6 years) was to do development on a signaling test tool called the 2STPE/NCPE. This was a critical piece of testing equipment used to test multiple releases on multiple products across the company and is in fact still used today – helping improve the quality of some of our products daily. 🙂

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

Being located on a campus that has always been very active with EQUAL! activities, I started out as an outsider looking in. At the time, I was not out at work and wasn’t ready to be. One of my good friends came to work for the company and started getting involved with EQUAL! As she was “brave” enough to come into a new company and be totally out, it made me think about my own comfort level. Being secure with my position in the company, I made the decision to talk to my closest peer and then my manager. I was supported much more than I gave anyone credit for. I was at an EQUAL! conference a few months later and president of our local chapter within two years. Needless to say, once I jumped in, I jumped in with both feet. I have never looked back.

‘Meet the Board’ – Jérôme Meyer

Jérôme is one of EQUAL!’s vice-presidents, based in Hong Kong, China. Get to know him, as part of our ‘Meet the Board’ series!

What country is on the top of your list to visit?

Japan has always been my all-time favorite. Although I’ve already traveled there a couple of times, its culture never fails to fascinate me every single time! Next year though my partner and I are going to try something a little different and spend a vacation in the US (hello, NYC!) – which is kind of exotic as we are so far away from it here. Oh, and I don’t mention China because that’s where we currently live – but there are so many things to do here, too!

What sport do you practice?

I’ve been playing badminton for a while (and since it’s very popular in Asia, it’s somewhat easy to find venues to play in) and recently I’ve started to enjoy squash, too (although I’m terrible at it!). But at least it’s fun – much more so to me than, say, being on a treadmill. I’m actually a specialist in taking gym subscriptions I never use; I’m proud to say I’m a bit stronger-willed now – I will simply refuse to sign any more of those contracts ;-).

What is the decisive factor that triggered your involvement in EQUAL!?

In 2010 my partner and I entered into a civil union (for those of you familiar with the French system – a ‘PACS‘) and I suddenly realized that I could not get the same benefits as my co-workers. This led me to discuss with my local HR team to try and harmonize those benefits, and shortly after to take a more active role in EQUAL’s Board.

The other interesting thing is that while we have a strong and active membership in the US and Europe, there aren’t that many EQUAL! members here in Asia-Pacific. So I thought I’d get the ball rolling and make our organization more visible in the region – which is sometimes a challenge as LGBT topics are often not openly discussed in the society at large. Thankfully my co-workers have shown nothing but support, so I’m very hopeful things can change for the better.

What is the craziest thing you’d do for the one you love?

Spending the Christmas/New Year break at my in-laws? 😉

Which movies made you cry/laugh the most?

Hmmm, tough one. I’m more of a TV series person though, so I’ll just say that one of the very few times I’ve actually cried in front of an episode, it was the ‘Six Feet Under’ series finale. Loved the series – one of HBO’s finest.

And in terms of laughing – no brainer for me – it’s any episode of 30 Rock. Tina Fey is just that good!

Meeting HomoSFèRe

Sylvie is President of HomoSFèRe, an NGO which gathers lesbian, gay, bi and trans employees of the SFR group and their friends. SFR is the second biggest telecom service provider in France, and its workforce includes more than 10,000 employees.


Sylvie has been working at SFR for 12 years; she was a victim of lesbophobia at work, which pushed her to change things in the company so that any employee could discuss freely about this topic and LGBT matters in general. Then, as SFR was working on its “Diversity” policy, she started thinking about creating an organization within the company; when she saw the float of Homoboulot at the Paris LGBT Pride – and in particular with signs of Mobilisnoo, the LGBT group within France Telecom Orange – she had made up her mind! With other employees of the group, Sylvie launched HomoSFèRe in October 2009 – just two years ago.

Very quickly, the Employee Resource Group gets visible by posting an article on the company-wide intranet which allows to get a snapshot of the perception of people, with some hostile reactions arguing the usual comments on splitting private/professional life or being cliquish, somewhat revealing that taboo was still very present for some employees.

Since then the NGO is regularly in contact with the executive team (although it is sometimes a challenge to be heard) in particular to set up visibility actions inside the company walls, e.g. for the international day against homophobia (IDAHO) on May 17 or for the World Aids Day on December 1st. These actions are key in developing awareness for employees and favor prevention instead of limiting the actions to punishing inappropriate actions.