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Creating Change co-founder Sue Hyde preps her last conference
by Sarah Toce
2018-01-17

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LGBTQ activist and community organizer Sue Hyde has been an esteemed co-founder of the Creating Change conference for the past 30 years. Her commitment to the political leadership conference, sponsored by the National LGBTQ Task Force, has never been taken to task. Well, except for that one time her daughter was born on Oct. 25, 1992.

"My girlfriend told me at the time, 'You are not going to Creating Change,'" Hyde laughed. "And I said, 'Okay sweetheart.' It was the one conference I didn't have a significant role in."

According to Hyde, the fundamental principles of the Creating Change conference were: "to build a stronger LGBTQ political movement; to break the isolation that organizers and activists said they felt often being the only or one of the few people in their own city or community doing the work, and to create a space where the movement could keep itself."

Hyde said, "That's why we founded it—and that's why it still exists."

The conference's relevance is incredibly intact. In fact, Hyde said she felt Creating Change had fulfilled its "foundational principles every single year we have done the conference."

One of the most gratifying aspects of managing, directing and producing the Creative Change conference for Hyde "is that for so many people—whether they are attending for the first time or the 29th time—nearly every person who's attended has described the conference as a 'life-changing,' 'life-evolving, 'mind-expanding' event."

The first Creating Change conference was held at the Hotel Washington in 1988, which was in close proximity to the Ronald Reagan White House. There were approximately 300 people in attendance. For comparison, there are an anticipated 4,300 registrants for Creating Change 2018, which will be held January 24-28 at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel—a short distance from the White House.

Some might argue that this conference has been never more relevant than right now during this time in our nation's history.

"No shit," Hyde said. "It's a nightmare."

In addition to 30 years at the helm of Creating Change, Hyde hit another milestone this past summer.

"I turned 65 and I'd actually already decided that Creating Change 2018 was going to be my last," she said. "But when I turned 65, I thought it was really someone else's turn to do this...and not because I'm exhausted or burnt out. I just feel that leadership is best when there's a good transition and there's a strong person who can come in."

At the time of this publication, the new right person for the job Hyde built had not yet been named.

"I really know I've done the right thing and that it's the right time to do this," Hyde said, speaking of retirement from the conference. "It was a relative simple decision in that way."

In addition to training thousands of LGBTQ activists during her tenure, she also served on the Boards of Directors of MassEquality from 2003 to 2013, becoming President of the MassEquality Education Foundation and playing key roles in the successful defense of same-sex marriage rights in Massachusetts.

In 2002, Hyde received the prestigious Stonewall Award for a lifetime of dedication and service to the social movement for LGBTQ freedom, justice and equality.

She is the author of Come Out and Win: Organizing Yourself, Your Community, and Your World ( Beacon Press, 2007 ).

Hyde will soon reinvent herself for a new role as Executive Director of a small family foundation in the Boston area called the Wild Geese Foundation. She begins her new employment on June 1, 2018.

"The Wild Geese Foundation is itself an activist and advocacy oriented foundation," Hyde said. "I do not expect to be engaged in anything of this magnitude again [Creating Change]. And that's okay. That is fine by me."

Hyde's hope is to give back.

"I'm very much looking forward to actually being on the other side of the foundation process," she said. "Over the years for many reasons, I've applied for many different kinds of grants and been on the receiving end, but this is putting me on the giving end—which I'm greatly looking forward to."

To Hyde's credit, she has given more to people over the past 30 years than she may ever realize.

Follow Hyde on her new adventure with the Wild Geese Foundation at wildgeesefdn.org . More information on Creating Change can be found at www.creatingchange.org .


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