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Pennsylvania Hosts Inaugural Statewide LGBTQ Aging Summit

​​HARRISBURG, PA–The Wolf Administration, in partnership with LGBTQ aging advocates and stakeholders, hosted Pennsylvania’s inaugural LGBTQ Aging Summit.

“I am pleased that my administration hosted this important summit to highlight the obstacles and opportunities for Pennsylvania’s aging LGBTQ community,” Governor Wolf said. “The contributions of the distinguished speakers and the summit participants will help the commonwealth continue its commitment to supporting all of our communities with respect and pride.”

Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne kicked off the summit and introduced day one’s keynote speaker, The Honorable Kathy Greenlee, Vice President of Aging & Health Policy, Center for Practical Bioethics and former Assistant Secretary of Aging, U.S. Department of Human Health & Services. Greenlee traveled from Kansas to attend the inaugural summit, and shared experiences and obstacles regarding her sexuality from high school to present day, presented on the urgency for provider networks to be LGBTQ-friendly, and discussed the barriers that many LGBTQ elders face.

“The Wolf Administration’s commitment to LGBTQ Pennsylvanians was further demonstrated as Pennsylvania hosted this inaugural LGBTQ Aging Summit,” said Secretary Osborne. “With over 300 participants from across the state convening in Harrisburg for the sole purpose of connecting communities and inspiring change, we are confident that our efforts to better serve, support, enable, and empower LGBTQ seniors will continue to move forward due the foundation that was laid.”

Day one of the summit also featured a community panel discussion with LGBTQ older adults, moderated by Carol Harris of Dering Consulting Group, which allowed the panelists to share their lived experiences and highlight the various difficulties many experience as older LGBTQ individuals.

Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine opened day two and introduced the keynote speaker, Michael Adams, CEO of SAGE, who spoke to the audience regarding LGBTQ cultural competency and inclusion. After Adams’ remarks the summit hosted a provider panel on best practices for serving LGBTQ older adults and the importance of being culturally competent within provider networks, featuring:

  • Dr. Imani Woody, Founding Director & CEO, Mary’s House for Older Adults
  • Rabbi Erica Steelman, Director of LGBT+ Initiatives & Staff Chaplain, Abramson Center for Jewish Life
  • Doreen Hespell, Director, Montgomery County Area Agency on Aging
  • Linda Marucci, Social Worker, Southwest Senior Center
  • Arthur Breese, Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Geisinger

At the conclusion of the provider panel, the summit organized a regional planning session with a focus on tangible community action for the varying regions of summit attendees, specifically regarding how Pennsylvania can build better connections between the older LGBTQ community and providers. After lunch, which featured speaker Dr. Nii-Quartelai Quartey, National LGBT Liason for AARP, the regional planning groups reported out their recommendations and findings from the earlier planning session.

The summit concluded with a state panel, featuring:

  • Teresa Osborne, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Aging
  • Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Health
  • Todd Snovel, Executive Director, Pennsylvania’s Commission on LGBTQ Affairs

Panelists shared insight on the Wolf Administration’s efforts to improve LGBTQ inclusiveness, provided feedback on the suggestions from the regional planning session, and took questions from attendees.

“The inaugural statewide LGBTQ Aging Summit allowed us the opportunity to continue to provide resources and answer questions for the older LGBTQ population,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “This first summit is essential to providing information to people in these communities, and allowing them to share their stories. We are committed to ensuring that the health community understands and provides for the health needs of this population.”

To plan for the summit, the department partnered with numerous LGTBQ and aging stakeholders including, LGBT Elder InitiativeSAGEthe PA Association of Area Agencies on Agingthe PA Department of HealthAARP PennsylvaniaPERSAD CenterTrans Central PAPA Homecare AssociationAction WellnessAlzheimer’s AssociationHospice of Central PAWilliam Way LGBT Community CenterLGBT Center of Central PASEIU Healthcare PACARIE, and more.