100 Women We Love: Class Of 2018

Each one of these women, in her own unique way, is a role model who exemplifies the best of the LGBTQ community.

Eliza Byard

Photo by Courtesy of Eliza Bayard

“I was brought up to believe that our job on Earth is to do as much good as we can while we’re here. And part of our work is figuring out the right way to do that — what do we love to do? What are we good at? What is the most useful contribution we can make to some greater good? It took some exploration to get to the place where I am today, as a non-profit leader in a social justice movement,” says Dr. Eliza Byard, the Executive Director for GLSEN, which works to make schools a positive place for queer youth. Byard’s mother was a founding GLSEN chapter volunteer, and it was through her that Byard met GLSEN Founder Kevin Jennings, who eventually asked her to join the staff. Under Byard’s direction, GLSEN has received recognition from President Obama as a “Champion of Change” and was called a Top National Nonprofit by GuideStar. Byard, who lives in New York with her wife and children, says the students, educators, and chapter leaders keep her going. “In my work at GLSEN, I see students and teachers all across the country who stand up in the face of serious bias and even violence, and who remain committed to making things better. I also work with incredible GLSEN chapter leaders who are making things happen in their local communities — reaching out to schools, speaking at school board meetings, and running GLSEN programs. Our job here is to be there for them, to be their partners in creating change by providing top-notch materials, training, and programs; by establishing powerful partnerships throughout the education world; by building the reputation that will make the name ‘GLSEN’ a powerful asset for them. They are so brave and committed, and I never want to let them down.” —GH