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Lesbian finds job at think tank very rewarding
by Ross Forman, Windy City Times
2012-09-19

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Naomi Goldberg is all smiles talking about her job as an LGBT movement and policy researcher for the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), a think tank that works to speed equality for LGBT people.

Her work is both professionally rewarding and personally impactful said Goldberg, 29, who lives in Chicago's Logan Square neighborhood with her wife, Libby Hemphill. The two had a wedding ceremony in early May.

"I think [this job] has made me a better advocate in my own life."

Founded in 2006, the non-profit MAP provides research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for the LGBT community. Its three main areas are policy and issue analysis, LGBT movement overviews and effective messaging.

"I think of our work as very cutting-edge and adaptive to the needs of the movement," said Goldberg, who has worked at MAP for two years after previously working at The Williams Institute at UCLA, another LGBT academic think tank.

"The MAP job is wonderful; I think our work is really interesting, cutting-edge and needed."

Goldberg does not work with MAP's effective messaging area, which specializes in talking about LGBT issues that are compelling and that move people closer to supporting LGBT equality.

Her work, though, does hit on MAP's LGBT movement research, which included a recent report on LGBT community centers around the country. MAP surveyed all 200 centers, and about 80 participated. The MAP report discussed finances, the board of directors, staffing, programs offered and more.

Goldberg also works some on MAP's LGBT policy research, which hits close to her background in public policy.

MAP will issue a report on LGBT workers in the U.S. workplace next March.

"It's an amazing job," said Goldberg, one of four full-time staffers. She is the lone working in Chicago; others are based in San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver. "We're so efficient that it's remarkable how much we produce. The pace is so much fun, and everyone is so good at their job that it's sort of amazing to watch my colleagues do incredible work.

"This job has been more than I ever expected. It's really unique to be able to do policy research, which can be very dry, and yet do it in a context that is very cutting edge. It's exciting.

"I think of us in many ways as an aggregator and re-articulator. We aggregate all of the great research that is out there and then we frame it in a way that is compelling and interesting. I like the link between the research we do and action" stemming from MAP research and reports.

Take, for instance, the 2010 report on older LGBT individuals, which was done in conjunction with the Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders (SAGE). The report ultimately provided a policy platform for SAGE.

"We're not the ones knocking on doors in Congress, but [others] are able to do that with good material—and I think we provide that," Goldberg said. "As someone who is LGBT, my work is incredibly meaningful, to do work that feels like it makes a difference in my life and others' around me. It's often difficult to find a job that."

Goldberg—who enjoys playing soccer, reading, knitting and skiing in her free time—works three days a week at the Lambda Legal offices in the Loop. Otherwise, she's working from home.

"We always joke, 'Wouldn't it be nice to put ourselves out of business, to achieve equality and not need to do this work,'" said Goldberg, who was honored in June as a member of Windy City Times' annual 30 Under 30.

"In a way, I felt [that award ceremony] was a coming-out-of-the-shadows for me because, since I work remotely, I don't interact with many people within the LGBT community in Chicago very often. So it was very amazing for me to be around all of these cool people who do amazing work.

"It was a huge honor."


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