Women We Love 2022: Marcia Bernard

Marcia Bernard

by Sal Migliaccio

“My vision is to always be kind and empathetic to everyone I interact with because they might be fighting a battle I know nothing about,” Marcia Bernard tells GO. Bernard knows better than most the battles the LGBTQ+ community faces. As Deputy Executive Director of Operations for The Ali Forney Center, the country’s largest agency dedicated to serving LGBTQ+ homeless youth, she sees the struggles that vulnerable youth face every day. Bernard’s introduction to The Ali Forney Center came 15 years ago in conversation with a friend who worked at the center. “We talked about the struggles Black and Brown young adults face because of their identity, the impact, and the lack of resources available to them,” she says. Eager to provide support, she began her career at the center working with and advocating for LGBTQ+ homeless youth as a Youth Counselor. “I was given the opportunity to interact with the LGBTQ population and it helped me better understand the different issues they are faced with and how to better serve them.” Bernard not only helps young people heal from family rejection and homelessness, she also helps prepare them for independent living. Bernard recognizes the gift that comes from working with an organization where her gender expression is welcome. Knowing that others aren’t afforded this privilege “makes me more committed to giving tools to the [center’s] residents as they go on in the workforce,” she explains. “I strive to create an inclusive environment for the staff and I hope, in their interactions with our residents, that they pass on the message that this should be a right, not a luxury.” –LC

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