About Gray Pride Parade’s author, Loree Cook-Daniels:

One of life’s sweetest experiences is a project that weaves together a whole lifetime’s many passions, experiences, and dreams.  That’s what Gray Pride Parade is for me.

Aging.  I’ve been interested in aging since I was 14 and began staffing the afternoon coffee and conversation activity at a retirement center.  About 40 years later, I’ve now got enough years under my belt to have personally crossed into being “old,” (at least by some people’s definitions).  More importantly, I’ve been thinking about our society’s limited views of aging for a very long time, and I’m ready to start challenging those views and posing some alternatives.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).  I’ve been interested in LGBT issues for almost as long as aging issues, having come out as a lesbian at age 16.  I’ve done LGBT advocacy and education work ever since, and am absolutely thrilled to now be in an environment, under President Obama, where policies and attitudes about LGBT people are progressing at an unprecedented rate.  There has never been a better time to articulate LGBT policy concerns.

Transgender.  Gray Pride Parade is about LGBT issues, but it has a very strong emphasis on the (often silent) “T”.  After nine years of blocking my late partner from transitioning female-to-male (FTM), I finally saw the light and moved out of his way.  He transitioned in 1995 after birthing our son.  It was during our coming-out period that I found out we knew four lesbian couples who were also dealing with transgender issues, and realized that if any of us had broken the silence sooner, all of our lives would have been different.  I’ve been talking about, studying, organizing around, and advocating for transgender issues ever since.

Public policy.  Here, too, my interest started when I was a teen and began campaigning for a candidate and took an internship with a city manager.  In 1982, I won a Congressional Women’s Caucus Fellowship and moved to D.C. to work with Rep. Geo. W. Crockett, Jr., of Detroit.  After President Obama took office, I became the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs’ representative to the National Policy Roundtable and the New Beginnings Initiative, both coalitions of national LGBT organizations working on federal LGBT policy improvements.

Writing.  I didn’t recognize my writing expertise until my work with Congressman Crockett kept earning praise.  That gave me the confidence to offer a column to the Washington Blade, then the nation’s leading LGBT newspaper, where I published monthly for about a decade.  I have since regularly written for a variety of publications and books, including Victimization of the Elderly and Disabled, Outword (a now-defunct publication of the LGBT Aging Issues Network of the American Society on Aging), and numerous books published by AARP and others.

Empowerment.  We are capable of so much more than we think we are.  What stands between our capacity and actual change is quite simple: a belief set that says we can’t do it.  Change that belief set – become empowered, or believe you can make changes – and you can transform the world.  May Gray Pride Parade help you do that.

More details:  Loree’s CV:  http://www.forge-forward.org/docs/LoreeCookDaniels_CV2011-01expertise.pdf

Interested in having Loree train, keynote, or write for you?  Send an email to LoreeCD [at] aol [dot] com or write her at the Transgender Aging Network, c/o FORGE, P.O. Box 1272, Milwaukee, WI  53201.

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