Montclair Magazine May 2022 - Page 10

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8 THINGS YOUSHOULD KNOWABOUT Joan Garry

Former executive director of GLAAD helps smaller nonprofits thrive WRITTEN BY STEPHANIE NODA

While many people think of local leaders as being the mayor or amember of the town council , Joan Garry sees nonprofit organizers asunsung local heroes . “ It is the nonprofit sector that makes atown acommunity ,” she says .

She speaks from experience . AMontclair resident , Garry is a former executive director ofthe Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation ( GLAAD ) and creator of the Nonprofit Leadership Lab , an online program that aims to give small nonprofits what they need to make adifference in the areas where they ’ re based .
Together with her podcast , book , blog and online membership site , Garry is committed tohelping small nonprofits find ways to succeed . “ I ’ m in the business of helping the helpers ,” she says . Here are 8things to know about Joan Garry .
SHE GOT HER START IN THE TELEVISION WORLD , BUT WANTED MORE . Garry landed a job after college working on the management team that launched MTV in 1981 . She eventually worked at Showtime , building a pay-per-view joint venture with Don King Productions to broadcast boxing events .
While working at this new job , however , she started to believe that there was more she could do to have
JOAN GARRY
a “ bit more impact on the world .”
“ I came out of this world of startup , but then I was just really searching for a kind of connection to some sort of purpose ,” says Garry .
FIGHTING FOR HER RIGHTS TO ADOPT HER DAUGHTER CHANGED HER LIFE . While Garry was rethinking her career , she became involved in a situation that would change the trajectory of her life . Since there was no marriage equality in the 1980s and 1990s , she was considered a “ legal stranger ” to her and her wife ’ s daughter .
In 1993 , Joan and her wife , Eileen Opatut , pursued a New Jersey court
case that would allow them to become the first lesbian couple in the state to have second-parent adoption rights .“ It was a precedent-setting case in the state and garnered alot of press ,” says Garry . “ It was kind of an ‘ aha !’ moment for me , that one person can really make a difference since as aresult of our lengthy case , gay couples throughout the state were simply able to file paperwork to do what it took us years todo .”
HER NONPROFIT CAREER BEGAN WHEN SHE WORKED FOR LGBTQ RIGHTS . Her experience inspired her to run GLAAD , one of the largest LGBTQ organizations in the country . One of her goals as executive director was focusing on how media tells the story of LGBTQ people ’ s lives , she says .
“ Finding that you can actually have an impact in your personal life and feeling alack of purpose in my professional life , I saw those things intersecting with a career change into the nonprofit space ,” says Garry . At the time , she had no nonprofit or fundraising experience .
Garry loved the work the organization was able to do for the LGBTQ community , and stayed at GLAAD for 10 years . She loved the notion that you can get paid tomake a difference in the world . She felt it was important to do something that helped make the world a better place for kids , especially kids of lesbian moms .
COURTESY OF MARCO CATINI
8 MAY 2022 MONTCLAIR MAGAZINE