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November 10, 2023 34 mins
Sarah Kate Ellis chats with us about the GLAAD organization and recaps their Spirit Day. Karen Freeman-Wilson discusses the Chicago Urban League 62nd annual Golden Fellowship dinner. ComEd talks about carbon free assessments for Public Schools in Chicago.
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Episode Transcript

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Hello, and welcome to the weeklyshow here on iHeartRadio, A ninety three
nine Light FM, one All threefive Kiss FM, and Rock ninety five
to five. Every week, we'rehere to discuss a variety of topics that
matter to Chicago Land, from health, educations, to finances and so much
more. Today on the show,we're chatting with our friends at com Ed
and we're talking about public school's carbonfree assessments. And also I'll be talking

to the Chicago Urban League talking abouttheir sixty second annual Golden Fellowship Dinner happening
November fourth. And today Ryan Gormanchats with Sarah kidd ellis President and CEO
of GLAD GLAA D and they're talkingabout the recap of Spirit Day twenty twenty
three, the country's most visible antiLGBTQ bullying campaign, alongside with some of

the issues LGBTQ youth face and howthey are working to address those problems.
Here to kick off the show isRyan Gorman. This week, GLAD,
the world's largest lesbian, gay,bisexual, transgender and queer media advocacy organization,
hosted Spirit Day with part time spensall across the country going purple and
taking the pledge for Spirit Day inthe United stand against bullying and as a

show of support for LGBTQUTH. Sincethe first Spirit Day in twenty ten,
LADD has organized hundreds of celebrities,along with media outlets, brands, landmarks,
sports leagues, faith groups, schooldistricts, organizations, colleges, and
universities in what's become the most visibleanti LGBTQ bullying campaign. The Empire State

Building was lit up purple on Wednesday, the day before Spirit Day, and
numerous other events were held to markthe occasion, along with iHeartRadio stations nationwide
participating in Spirit Day by showing supportfor LGBTQUTH and joining me now to talk
more about Spirit Day along with thework GLAD does is Sarah Kate ellis President

and CEO of GLAD. You canlearn more and support the work they do
at glad dot org. That's glaad dot org. Sarah Kate, thanks
so much for taking a few minutesto come on the show. And while
your organization is certainly very well known, let's start with a little bit more
about the mission GLAD is on andhow your organization first came about. So

well, Hello, and thank youfor having me so GLAD it was founded
in nineteen eighty five. We werefounded actually during the AIDS crisis in New
York City, and the reason wasbecause all of the misinformation that was happening
misinformation is not a new thing,that was happening around the gay community,

specifically gay men during the AIDS crisis, and we were putting pressure on media
to cover it fairly and accurately andto stop demonizing and villainizing gay men.
And at the same time, ourfounders realized that the reason that we were
being demonized so much as a communitywas because nobody knew who we were.

So we started lobbying Hollywood to tellour stories, to exclude us in TV
shows and in movies. And GLADhas always been and continues to always be
at the center of media to tellthe stories of our community, to open
heartston minds. And so now wework across all media platforms, social media,

video games, film, news andjournalisms. Hollywood obviously, but even
CEOs they aren't media platforms, butthey have platforms or Congress and senators they
have huge platforms now and so wework with every influencer across the board to

help accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community. Are there some major moments in recent
history in the media that you thinkended up being particularly notable for the LGBTQ
community. I think there are watershedmoments throughout our movement over the past forty

years for the LGBTQ community, bothgood and bad. But I think one
of the biggest moments has really beenaround marriage equality. Right, the way
that we were able to introduce Americato LGBTQ folks through shows and people like

Ellen DeGeneres or that's what I wasthinking. Great, yeah, yeah,
so it's been and I think PresidentBiden said it best right. He said
he felt that Will and Grace didmore for marriage equality than anything else,
because all of a sudden, youwere meeting a gay couple in your own
living room, in your own home, who were funny and humble and all

the things that we all are aspeople, and we were humanized. How
did you first get involved with GLADYou've been president and CEO for nine years.
You were named to this year's Timeone hundred lists of congratulations for that.
Tell us your story, thank you. Well. So, I've always
worked in media, so for twodecades about I worked at publishing companies,

so I worked for in Style,Vogue, Real Simple magazines and digital properties.
So I always understood how important mediais as a cultural influence in our
country and the world at largest.Our largest cultural export from America is media,

so I think. And then mywife and I had twins, and
it felt like the right time forme to make a change, to give
back, to make the world abetter place. And I loved media,
so I ended up at GLAD.It turned out it could you know,
for me, it's a calling,it's not a job. I wake up

every day to make the world,I hope a better place, especially for
LGBTQ. Use we're joined here onIhear Radio Communities by Sarah Kate Ellis,
President and CEO of GLAD. Youcan learn more about the work they do
at GLAD dot org. That's gl a a d dot org. This

relationship that GLAD has with the mediaand the work you do with the media.
Can you explain a little bit moreabout that? Sure? I think
you know. I always say wework in the court of public opinions,
which tends to make sense to people. So the way that we work with

media is primarily to tell the storiesof LGBTQ people, because we know once
you know someone who's LGBTQ, onceyou know someone who's LGBTQ, you're less
likely to hate them or discriminate againstthem. And so one of the big
things that we have going on rightnow is you've seen attacked left, right

and center against the transgender community.And the thing that I know is only
thirty percent of Americans report knowing someonewho's transgender. More Americans say they've seen
a ghost than that they know someonewho's transgenders, So that seventy percent of
Americans are figuring out who transgender peopleare through media, and there's no real

great media out there that's fair andinclusive showcasing trans folks. And so that's
our job to fill this information gapand to connect people so that we all
understand our shared humanity and we lookat our our how we are this,
and how our differences can be celebratedand not weaponized. So I mentioned earlier

Spirit Day, which you hosted thisweek and which started back in twenty ten.
It's become the most visible anti LGBTQbullying campaign out there. Can you
tell us a little bit more abouthow Spirit Day was created? How it
grew into what it's become and thegoal behind the special day. Absolutely so.

Spirit Day is the largest and mostvisible anti bullying effort in the world,
and it's very simple idea. Theidea is where purple in a united
stand against bullying and thereby show yoursupport for LGBTQ youth. It's about creating

possibility models in the world for LGBTQyouth to see themselves represented and throw in
the world that we live in today. And so this past week we were
able to get companies and media companiesand political people to wear purple to signify

their support for LGBTQ youth. Andyou know, we need it more than
ever. Honestly, this year,specifically, nearly seven to ten LGBTQ students
say they feel unsafe at school,seven out of ten. And no one

should be bullied or called names simplyfor being who they are. So this
was a really really important Spirit Dayfor us. Can you expand a little
bit more on some of the issuesthat LGBTQ youth are facing these days,
because I've talked to a number ofdifferent organizations, I've gone over the statistics

on this show, but I alwaysthink it's important to bring them up yet
again because they are so stunning,especially when you get into the numbers involving
suicide attempts and things like that.It really is jaw dropping what we're seeing
across the country. It is Icompletely agree with you, So yeah,

I mean, it is a sadfact that we face, but LGBTQ use
A large majority of LGBTQ use havenot only contemplated, but attempted suicide.
And I think that we've seen thesenumbers, as opposed to get smaller,

we've seen them get larger over thepast several years. And we really think
that is tied to the culture thatwe live in now and how different things
have been over the past five plusyears. So we also conducted our first
ever Spirit Day Index, which foundthat everyday people are just as if not

more effective than celebrity voices when itcomes to supporting lgbt you use. So
that's a really important lesson. People'sstories matter, and that's how everyone can
get involved and make a change.And I always say pain starts at home.

Pain starts on your Facebook page,in your school board, at your
dinner table, because when you startto show support for people who are marginalized
or underrepresented. You start to liftthem up and you create a safe place
for them to exist and then tostart to thrive. So we take away

at that, you know, shame, So when you think about you know,
suicide attempts and suicide rates, especiallyfor you kids who come from accepting
families have a much much smaller percentageof attempts. For ideation, I'm Ryan

Gorman, joined by Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAD. You
can learn more about all the workthey do at GLAD dot org. That's
g la a d dot org.I want to ask you about the Social
Media Safety Index that you put togetherbecause social media, it's such a double
edged short At times, it cancertainly be an area where people who are

part of the LGBTQ community can cometogether and find support, but it could
also be a place for bullying anda lot of hate. Tell us about
this index, what it means,and how you came up with it.
So this is the third year thatwe've done the Social Media Safety Index,

and what we do is that welook at the five largest platforms and we
evaluate them on the safety for lgbttwo folks. Because it's just like what
you said, which is originally socialmedia was a great connector for our community.
It has since been weaponized and isactually quite a dangerous place, not

only for lgbt two youth, butfor youth in general. And so we
put this safety index together to startholding these major companies accountable because nobody is
holding them accountable. Our government definitelyisn't at this moment in time, and
so this race engrades them. Andas I say so, nobody has done

a phenomenal job. The best ofthe past used to be Twitter, but
they have They literally fell off aclip in the past, you know,
eighteen months, year and a halfand are now at the bottom of the
barrel in terms of safety for theLGBTQ community. And I think a lot

of times. So some of thebiggest learnings that I've found from this report
is that a lot of the socialmedia safety social media companies actually have policies
on safety and trust. The challengesis they don't enforce them, or they
enforce them willy nilly at their whimsas opposed to across the board, and

they let really dangerous, dangerous content, misinformation and bullying continue to happen on
their sites because they monetize it.So it's really like they do have the
policies, they choose not to doit because it's making them a lot of
money. Hate makes money, andso that so what I say about we've

seen incremental improvements on these companies,and we work with them year round to
hold them accountable. It's not justthat the report comes out and then we
talk to them. We are onthe phone with them every day trying to
hold them accountable, and they've madeincremental change. What I always say though,

is that if we didn't have thisreport, think about how far back
they would slide. So incremental changefor me is sadly a win. That's
how upside down this world has becomefor those who are listening, who are
part of the LGBTQ community, andmaybe they have faced sort of the bullying

the human raising awareness about through SpiritDay. In fact, how Spirit Day
was first started, the story behindit. If you don't mind sharing a
little bit about Brittany McMillan, itreally is another one of those eye opening
experiences that everyone should know about.But I also want to get to what
those listening can do. Maybe sometips that you have for them in order

to find the help that maybe theyneed so they can overcome whatever it is
they might be going through. Absolutely. So there was a time period about
a little over probably about twelve yearsnow, twelve thirteen years where there were,

you know, a couple of kidswho had these who ended up ending
their lives because of bullying. Brittanywho lived up in Canada, took the
purple out of the rainbow flags,which is about spirit and hope, and
started a just on Facebook. Andyou know, Facebook was much younger than

ask people to turn their profiles purple, to wear purple, and it really
started taking off in support of LGBTQyouth. And so she called us and
said, you know what, thisis getting bigger than I can manage.
Can you come in and help memanage this? And we've been managing it
for her ever since. But itreally is about standing up for LGBTQ youth

and doing it in a very simpleway just by wearing purple. And I
think for kids who feel bullied thatI want them to see a sea of
purple. I want people to stepout and stand up for our youth.

They are they need us more thanever and It makes such a huge difference
in their lives and gives them theencouragement. Encouragement even if they're in situations
that are untenable at this moment intime, if they see world in which
they can exist and be their true, authentic self and live their life,

that will keep them having hope,holding on and flourishing down the line.
And so I think you can alwaysdo small things. You can hang a
flag, you can wear purple.You can tell people about how you've supported
or how supportive you are of theLGBTQ community, especially you so use your

platforms, use your access, anduse your voice to support. And final
question for you, how can peopleget involved? How can they support the
work your organization does, and wherecan they learn more about some of the
research that you have, the information, the resources you have and everything else
GLAD is up to absolutely well,thank you for asking that. So everything

we do is based on data andwe look at how we can move sentiments,
right I said, we work inthe court of public opinion, and
so you can go to GLAD dlaa d dot org and you can see
all of our research that we havewhere we're tracking what sentiment is, how
we where it's where where it's mostchallenged, where we need to change things,

and then we build programs around that. So we have programs in the
South, we have programs in SiliconValley, we have programs in Hollywood,
we have programs throughout the country.We have programs against the election to make
sure that every LGBTQ person's voice ishers. Who's you know, who's old

enough to vote. So our programsare truly endless, because the work is
endless. So please go to gladdot org and support us. You can
donate, you can find out aboutwhat we're doing. We have a ton
of events that you can attend andparticipate, sign up for our newsletter,
and just become a part of thefamily. Again. That's Glad dot org

g LAA D dot org. SarahKate ellis President and CEO of GLAD with
us here. Sarah Kate, Iwant to thank you so much for the
work you're doing and for the time. Thanks for coming on the show.
We really appreciate it. Thank you. Hi. It's Paulina here with iHeartMedia
Chicago and I am here today witha friend of the show, of our

community affairs show and just an overallwonderful partner. Karen Freeman Wilson, the
President and CEO of Chicago Urban League. How are you. I'm doing great,
Paulina. It's great to talk toyou, So great to talk to
you. Love catching up with youin Chicago Urban League, of course right
here in our city first and foremost. Would you mind giving us just like
a brief background on those listeners whomay be new or who have you know

new joining the show. Can yougive us a little bit of a background
about the Chicago Urban League. Well, the Chicago Urban League was established in
nineteen sixteen to fight for equity andsocial justice for black families in Chicago.
It was originally founded out of themigration of blacks from the South to Chicago

to help them get settled, andthe focus at that time was on housing
and jobs, primarily in education.Now we still focus on housing, jobs
and education, but we have addedfinancial empowerment, leadership development, youth and
family services, and entrepreneurship to ourmission. Absolutely so definitely has grown over

the years. Even you and II think connected maybe a couple of years
ago, and I've just seen somuch, so much won of opportunity to
come out of Chicago Urban League.So I think that's truly something incredible.
So today we are talking about thesixty second Annual Golden Fellowship Dinner taking place
Saturday, and I've Ember fourth,and can we talk a little bit about

that as well. Tickets are onsale. It is a gala. It
is happening here. Give us somedetails and just a little bit of a
background too about the Annual Golden FellowshipDinner. Absolutely so, the Annual Golden
Fellowship is the ultimate party with apurpose. We anticipate welcoming about nineteen hundred

of our closest friends to the Sheratonon the River as we celebrate our awardees.
This year, we are honoring MarkMorial, our National Urban League CEO,
on the twentieth anniversary of his service. We are also honoring Liz and

Don Thompson from Cleveland Avenue for theirphilanthropy, for their entrepreneurship, and for
their work in education. And thenwe are honoring doctor Alita Clark, better
known as Inglewood Barbie, who isone of the foremost advocates for the unhoused

in the city of Chicago. Andwe're excited to be entertained this year by
the legendary Isley Brothers. So wewill certainly talk about the work of our
honorees, We'll talk about the workof the league, and we have a

lot to report on over the lastyear and a lot to talk about for
the future. But we're also goingto just have a good time, oh
absolutely, And it always is agood time. And I think that you
know that not only is this suchan important advance, right it's for those

just tuning in the sixty second annualGolden Fellowship Dinner on Saturday fourth, but
it's just it's just such always sucha historical and iconic kind of moment,
you know, here in the city. So I think that that is so
incredible and I love everyone that you'rehonoring as well. So for those who
would love to maybe attend, ifthey're still tickets available, and for those

who would like to support, wherecan we go and do that? Well,
tickets are going fast, but theycan go to our website at chiul
dot org shyul dot org and theywill immediately see a link to ticket Falcon
and they can then purchase tickets.Wonderful. And then one good question for

you as well, what is yourfavorite part or just your favorite thing about
the annual Golden Fellowship Dinner for youpersonally, well, my favorite part is
really giving people an opportunity to hearwhat we've been doing, to hear about
our work and workforce development and ourentrepreneurship and all of the areas that we

program in. But it's also theentertainment. I am a concert person and
to have that type of talent andan intermate environment like a ballroom is always
a great time. Oh absolutely,I agree. And then also Chicago Urban
LYAG there's so much more to youguys as well, just throughout the year,

right more events? Oh absolutely,So we do a back to school
event, we do a health farein February, we do a small business
summit. In September, we havea public safety or a public service reception
that we do in December. Thisyear we're honoring Congressman Danny Davis. So

just about in just about every monthof the year. In March, we'll
have our annual Youth Summit where wewill have about fifteen hundred kids at the
Tinley Park Convention Center. Every monthof the year there is something to do
with the Chicago Urban League. Sowhere can we kind of follow you other
It's on social media, a websitefor those who do want to keep in

touch and you know, want tosee what else is going on this year
too. Sure on you can followus on Facebook, LinkedIn Instagram at shi
Urban League. You can follow uson our website of course at shyul dot
org. And I would just welcomefolks to follow me on Twitter and on

Facebook at Karen about Gary. Thankyou so much for being here with us
today. Thank you, Paulina.It's great to talk to you always.
Hi. It's Paulina Row here withiHeartMedia Chicago, and I am chatting today
on our community Affairs show. I'llbe chatting with our friends at COMMED.
Elder Calderon, senior program manager atCOMED. How are you today, Hi?

Probably you know I'm doing very well. How about yourself? I'm doing
wonderful. Thank you for joining ustoday. We are talking about public schools,
carbon free assessments and all the goodstuff that you you know, you
guys have been doing for the community, for the public schools. But first
and foremost, do you mind tellingus about yourself and your role at Commed?
Yeah? Absolutely, As you mentioned, my name is Ela Calderon.

I'm a senior program manager at Commedwithin the Customer Solutions team here and I
managed the Public Schools Carbon Free Assessment. I've been with Commed coming on about
eight years and have a background inmechanical engineering and energy efficiency. Grew up
in Chicago originally from Juan Waller.Wow, very cool, super cool.

What part of Chicago did you like? Are you from or that you've lived
in? Northwest Side? The neighborhood'scalled it in Mota. Very cool?
Yep, that is awesome. SoCommed has been delivering electric the schools,
homes, businesses across northern Illinois formore than one hundred years. And I
definitely want to talk about the PublicSchools Carbon Free Assessment or you guys are

calling it PSCFA and sort of whatthat is and how it is helping our
public schools. Absolutely, yeah,I'd love to have that conversation perfect.
I love that. So what doesor what is the Public Schools Carbon Free
Assessment for those who may not know, Yeah, the Public Schools Carbon Free

Assessment is a no cost decarbonization assessmentoffered to public schools with any combat territory
that help schools really plan for theirdecarbonization journey, which is required by the
state by twenty fifty for all publicschools. Very nice to know. That's
awesome. And what what is ithelping school administrators with? Like? Is

it as far as as the buildingsitself? Like you know what I mean?
Like, what is this helping forthe schools? Yeah, it's mainly
focused on the facility itself, butalso around the health and safety around the
occupants of the facility as well.So we take a look at a number
of categories within the facility operation,including energy efficiency for reduction and energy use

and cost reduction on school operations,electrification of existing gas equipment, electrification of
existing gas powered vehicles, looking atefficiencies and improvements within the building envelope and
installation, as well as potential forsolar generation on site. And then a

wells certification assessment which really looks athealth and occupancy use when it comes to
the buildings, such as optimization oflight, air quality, water quality for
the facility and its occupants. Okay, right, absolutely, So then what
would an assessment report include, right, for the facility that gets inspected,

what would that what would you comeback with? Yeah, so the report,
you know, kind of running throughthe whole process that includes an on
side inspection of the building to determinehow it can electrify key parts of it
of its infrastructure to reduce the school'scarbon footprint, identifying criteria for achieving that
well health and safety certification that wetalked about earlier, where we look at

air quality, water quality, nourishment, light, fitness, and comfort of
the occupants. We also help theschool administrators understand their potential capacity for installing
on site solar generation and the stepsthat are involved to do so. We
review the school's potent potential to electrifyits transportation infrastructure, and this is for

both the cars and buses, includingthe installation of the charging stations and then
the infrastructure to support that as well. And then we identify improvements to the
building's envelope mechanical installation as I mentionedearlier, and that's all packages up in
a very nice comprehensive report that alsorelates these opportunities to an economic model for
how schools may it may help implementthese projects. On top of all that,

we include funding sources both local federalgrants that schools they can use and
take advantage of to implement these projects. So cool and also too I've read
that ps CFA takes this offer astep further by assessing the schools buildings and
opportunities for like solar energy, whichis a big conversation now, to electrification,

transportation, mechanical installation. So thereare a lot of other opportunities it
seems like for schools to receive,you know, on top of that as
well. Yeah, absolutely, youknow there's gonna be a number of opportunities,
both some that schools can take immediateadvantage of that will be really low,
no cost up to you know,higher capital opportunities that will take some

time to plan and additional funding sourcesto support. And what about other you
know, types of programs that Commatoffers to schools across Northern Illinois. I
was reading about a couple of them. What are those as well? Yeah,
there are several programs that Commat offersto schools in the Northern Illinois territory.
Just to kind of take us thatback there, you know, Commat

has been providing service energy efficiency servicesto the Commat territory since two thousand and
eight, and we've saved families,schools, businesses over eight billion dollars under
electric bills and There are a fewkey programs that COMMAT can offer to schools
in Northern Illinois, such as retrocommissioning, which consists of a fully funded

study of a facility's existing systems toidentify low and low cost operational improvements that
can optimize the energy performance of abuilding. I've done. During the summer,
schools can prepare for their facilities forthe upcoming heating season. Another great
program that COMBAT offers is incentives andtechnical assistance on tune up and replacement of

energy efficient equipment. This includes lighting, HVAC, and cafeteria appliances. This
helps improve school building efficiency, indoorair quality, thermal comfort for the occupants,
and more importantly, help school savemoney for other student related expenses.
And we all know those those canbe pricey. You know, it was

back to school time and just evenduring the year. You know, we
can never have enough resources in ourschools. So I love all of this
that Comet as doing. So let'sdo a little bit of a call to
action, right for those who wantmore information on how public schools are reducing
energy use and lowering their carbon footprint. Where can they go? What's the
website or phone number to call?Absolutely yeah. So for more information on

how public schools are reducing energy useand lowering their carbon footprint, you can
visit commad dot com backslash public Schools. You can also reach out to us
to schedule an assessment. School administratorscan reach out to Commat dot com backslash
PSCFA, or they can call eightFI five four three three twenty seven hundred

Monday through Friday from seven am toseven pm, and they can also email
us at business ee at commat dotcom. Wonderful. Thank you so much
for being here with us today,Elder. We appreciate it and we will
definitely talk to you all soon.Thank you very much, Paulina, Thank
you so much for tuning in.Thank you for listening to the weekly show
here on iHeartRadio. As always,we place this show on our podcast page.

You can just search for the weeklyshow on our free iheartapp. Thank
you for listening and we'll talk toyou again next weekend. Stay safe, Chicago,
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