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Coffee Conversations - Let's Celebrate! Honoring Pride Month 2023 - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

June 6, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Spencer Jacobs, Jennifer Grove, Maureen Greeves and Megan Ellsworth. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Welcome everyone. I am so excited to have you all here today for this I am saying incredible Coffee Conversations. It's actually the last show of season four. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and this is Coffee Conversations on Roofers Coffee Shop. We are going to be celebrating Pride Month today. I am so honored and blessed to have this amazing panel to be having this conversation. And before we get started, I want to remind everybody this is being recorded and it will be on demand within the next 24 hours. So you'll be able to share this all your friends and family and really spread an amazing and wonderful message. So let's get started.

First of all, I would like to thank WTI. WTI is part of Tremco and they are an amazing, amazing company that does service work, production work all over the country. They restore, rebuild, and they have one of the most diverse and truly walk the talk companies that I've ever been had the honor to work with. So we are absolutely thrilled to have WTI and Tremco as our sponsors for today's Coffee Conversation. Thank you.

Okay. First of all, I would like to introduce our amazing panel. So first of all, Spencer, welcome to the show. We're so happy to have you here today. If you could, please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company.

Spencer Jacobs: Hey everyone, it's Spencer Jacobs. As the bio says, been in construction pretty much my whole life. Came on board with Ruff Roofers about six years ago. Currently a service manager over here, so that incorporates our residential as well. Work with a great team. Can't speak highly enough at the company, but yeah, just look into the diversity and keep everything rolling.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Spencer, we're so happy to have you. Thank you. And Ruff Roofing, what a great company. I've known him for a long time. So welcome to Coffee Conversations. Next I'd like to introduce Jennifer Grove, president of TORI Construction. Jennifer, welcome to Coffee Conversations.

Jennifer Grove: Thank you. Thank you. Good morning everybody. Like Heidi said, my name is Jennifer Grove. I am owner and president of TORI Construction. We are a small family female LGBTQ owned business in the City of Chicago. We started out as general contractors and jumped towards specializing in roofing about three and a half years ago. And I have been loving every bit of it. We do everything from flat to steep to repair to, I don't know, a little bit of everything. We'll figure it out. If we can't do it, we'll learn. That's how we do. I love being a part of the industry and I love being able to spread the values and ideals of diversity through everything we do, everything. So thanks for having me.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's great. Jennifer, we're so honored to have you. Thank you so much. And welcoming back to Coffee Conversations, one of my dear friends, Maureen Greeves with WTI and Tremco. Maureen, please introduce yourself.

Maureen Greeves: Oh, Heidi, thank you. I appreciate that I got invited back from last year, so I'm excited about that. Maureen Greeves, I live in Cleveland, Ohio and I've been in roofing since 2009, fell into it by accident and have been feel like so lucky to be in accepted and invited into this industry. It's full of amazing people who work hard and just are real committed, so committed to the industry. So looking forward to talking more with you today.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: This is going to be a great conversation. And last but certainly not least, the one who I'm very proud to introduce is Megan Ellsworth with Roofers Coffee Shop. Megan, please introduce yourself.

Megan Ellsworth: Good morning everyone. My name's Megan and I've been in roofing for about five or six years now and I fell into it also because of my mom, Heidi. I wasn't expecting to go into roofing or stay as long as I have, but I really love it and yeah, I'm just glad that we're having this conversation today. It's our third year having the Pride Month Coffee Conversations and I'm so happy that we do this and it's crazy to think that this is our fourth season. We started this during the pandemic in 2020 and here we are still.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It is amazing and it's most of you know because you hear Megan's name or see her throughout all the Coffee Conversations. She is our producer of the award-winning Coffee Conversations and we did actually win an award for Coffee Conversations. So that's pretty fun. And so I appreciate everything you do and also really bringing this to the forefront.

I have to put a shout-out to, we have some awesome people on the chat right now, Mandy and Ray and Brittany and all the ladies from National Women of Roofing who have also really helped to bring this to the forefront to bring diversity and to the celebration of Pride Month and all of the culture it's so important here at Roofers Coffee Shop. We just believe in it throughout our whole everything.

So we're going to get started and we're going to talk a little bit about, just give me everybody a little bit of history because I think sometimes we're all learning. I can tell you right now as Megan's mom, I have learned a lot and I continually always learn from my friends and everyone out there. So that is a big part of what we're doing today too in this conversation. So Megan, we would love to start with you on a brief history of Pride Month.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. So Pride Month started in 1969 or 1970 with the Stonewall riots, and they started in Greenwich Village, New York as a riot started by a Black transgender woman and then the next year they wanted to follow up on that spirit of resistance. And so they started adopting the theme of gay pride as a counterpoint to the attitude of shame at the time. And throughout the '70s more cities started adopting this theme of gay pride and it became a massive celebration that we know today.

On the one-year anniversary of the riots on June 28th, 1970 thousands of people marched from the Stonewall Inn where the Stonewall Riots started in 1969 to Central Park in what was called the Christopher Street Liberation Day. And that was America's first gay pride parade. The parade's official chant was, Say It Loud, Gay is Proud. And I did this last year as well as a part of our Pride Month Coffee Conversations. I think it's just really important to know the history and know that we wouldn't have Pride Month without our transgender community and without the Black community. And I just think that's crucial and everyone should know that and be proud of it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That is excellent. Thank you so much. Because I think we need to know the history. It's just like when you're thinking about all of our different cultures right now who are fighting for respect and for equity and equality and inclusion. So working together brings us all together and rises. In fact, Maureen, I would love it if you could share, you had looked up some of the statistics and of what's really happening out there today with the LGBTQIA+ community. I did it.

Maureen Greeves: Nice job. You did it, Heidi. You did it. You got through your first one. That's like the biggest hurdle, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I know. Without stumbling everybody. You heard it for the first time. Okay, here we go.

Maureen Greeves: All right. So it is a celebration. So June is celebration, it's all about celebrating pride. So I struggled with a little bit of the data. I'm a data girl, so I wanted to share some numbers and some statistics, and Heidi entertains those feelings that I have. So thank you. And so I didn't want to bog down our conversation with some of the negatives here, but I think it's important to just throw out a few numbers. I always like to talk in numbers first and get things generalized. I'll start with just the percentage of US adults that identify as LGBTQIA+, and that is about 7.2% of the United States population. And if you look at the world population, it's about nine, 9% identify as that. Hot topics today, kind of hot buttons really. The transgender community, the trans, about 0.5% of the US population identify as trans.

And if you start going into the 13 to 17 year olds, then you're moving that number up in the trans to about 1.4% of the US population. So that's just kind of our representation overall in terms of census data could be skewed either way, but that's just where the numbers fall right now. Since 2015 when we all earned the right to marry and gained access to some very important pieces to make sure that we are able to take care of our families and our communities. We've seen an uptick really in some anti LGBTQA legislation. So right now, current climate wise, it's not super friendly, just it is what it is. So I've got some numbers, some research that I've done points to anywhere between 390 and always almost up all the way to about 525 pieces of legislation that's currently active or being proposed in state houses across the country right now.

So that's really the current situation. I've got, I know Of six pieces of legislation just in Ohio where I live that is anti LGBTQA+. And I think that one of the... But there is positives, right? So if we are talking about celebrating, 13, there's a record number of representatives in Washington right now. We have 13 openly, the most ever, the ever we've had before, right? 13 openly, LGBT representatives, congresspeople representing right now. So I think that's really super important. As legislation gets brought up, I think people are starting to get a little bit more active and comfortable in that role. So those are some positive things that are happening too.

Megan Ellsworth: I would also like to add that the first Gen Z Senate member, I think Senate member, was just elected into the Senate, Gen Z. So that's exciting. Yeah.

Maureen Greeves: Very exciting. Yes.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It does feel like I'm hoping this is the break. I mean, sometimes there's a rise of negative before it breaks because of fear. People live by their fear. But it seems like the overall acceptance and the beauty of diversity is much larger, is much larger and will overtake a lot of this. At least maybe that's just my hopes because it does scare me too. It's just what's happening. Jennifer, I would love to go to you. I saw you nodding. What are some of the things that you are seeing and that you're experiencing in, not just in roofing, but overall?

Jennifer Grove: So I think with me it's kind of a unique situation. So I did not come out as a member of the LGBT community until I was 26 years old. I was in a heterosexual relationship. I had a child and then I found and fell in love with my now wife and happily ever after for 15 years now. I've seen things through both looking glasses, I think. Coming from a predominantly Italian Irish Catholic family, things that I am living now would've never crossed my mind back when I was in my teens. So to know that I've come that far, my family has come that far, I try not to look at the negatives as much because I know I'm living proof that you can grow past those, I don't think barricades is the word, but those predetermined steps that you're supposed to take.

So when I hear Maureen giving all those stats and things, it's very prominent, especially in Illinois right now and in Chicago, we have a lot of adversity across the board, be it racial, sexual, whatever. It's a mess over here right now. So to know that it's not just on the LGBT side of things, I guess I'm more comfortable with moving forward and not living in fear. I want to get above that fear. I want to continue to grow for my sake and for my small children. I have a 15-year-old and a six-year-old. I want them to know that the lives that their moms are leading are positive. You don't have to dwell on the negatives that get thrown at us.

I mean, they see it, they're aware of it, they know it. We live it every day. I'm not sheltering my children, I'm not throwing them in the fire when there's things on the news or riots downtown or whatever. I don't throw them into the center of that. But we have productive conversations and I think starting on one side of the world and growing and adjusting and living my life the way I do now, I wouldn't change it. And it's also helped me to teach my kids how to be accepting and loving and understanding of everybody, not just the ones who look at and talk like they do.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, that is so true. That is so true. And it feels to me a lot of times, I love what you're saying, Jennifer, because being Gen X, we raised our kids to love everyone. I really do believe that. There's a lot of us who are just like, it didn't matter, we just bring it on, man. Because we kind of came from the baby boomer hippie that Gen X. We just kind of came into it. And now when you watch the millennials and the Gen Zs, they're taking that and hopefully that's what they learned, but they're rising up and saying, "Hey, this is how we're going to have inclusiveness. We're going to believe we're going to be with everyone." So raising our kids that way I think is just so important.

Jennifer Grove: Absolutely. And that's the biggest thing, I mean, there's still people of my generation and my parents' generation that look at us like, "What are you doing? Knock it off. This is not the way the world is supposed to go right now," but I try to instill, especially in my kids that it's not about following the majority, it's about following your heart. And that's all I ask of them. And that it's just how we do it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. That's so cool. So true, so true. Spencer, I would love to hear your thoughts. What are you seeing in your role in the communities and your state? I know I want to get to the states here in a minute, but also in the industry. Tell us a little about.

Spencer Jacobs: So personally, I've had a pretty good experience so far in the roofing industry. My background, I've had a pretty rough patch. I know most people that are in the community have all different experiences. Personally, I don't have a great relationship with my family at this point. Coming into the industry, I'm at the point in my life where it is what it is. I'm going to live my life and blaze my own trail. You can't live in fear. So it's been great as far as just talking to people.

And I'm very open about my life and who I am as a person. And I think it's interesting because talking about kind of meeting people, I don't feel like a "trailblazer" really at this point, quote unquote, but I've had people, I bring my partner to industry events and I've had people come up to me after the event and go, "Oh my goodness, that's so amazing that you brought your partner. I would've never done that." Or just different personal experiences. And I'm like, yeah, I'm me. There's no question about that. And this is who I am. And again, so far it's been pretty good. Thankfully in Maryland at least there's not a lot of issues. There are a few bills that are on the negative side. I know that much, but nothing groundbreaking.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, we've had a couple comments. Thank you, Lisa. Heartbreaking on some of the statistics. So true. But Sarah Mueller's on here, and Sarah, thank you for being on here again. She says, there are still allies in Florida. Thank you for conversations like this. We need to keep them going. So Sarah, thank you so much. And Maureen, I'm going to kind of take that back to you a little bit because it is... I mean, I saw it just last night on the news, Missouri was just brought into legislation again last night or yesterday.

So on a state by state level, that does start to affect, I think beyond it just being wrong. Second of all, it's very much affecting how our business is, where people travel with some of the bans that we're seeing. People are like, I'm not going to go to Florida because of the... And Sarah, we're going to come see you, don't worry. But we're not going to travel to these states because of the laws against the LGBTQIA+ community. And so yeah, talk a little bit about that. You run crews across the whole country.

Maureen Greeves: Yes. Yes, we do. And I think-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, Maureen, we lost... Okay. There you go.

Maureen Greeves: You there? All right. Yeah, we run crews all across the country. It really hasn't come up. I think Spencer, Jennifer, I think my experience in roofing has been overall very positive. And I've had conversations internally with folks about traveling to different places and the climate, and I only can speak for myself when I say, if I don't go travel to Florida, then who wins? I don't win. If I don't go and represent in Florida or wherever it is, I don't want to single out Florida. But if there are, just because we face adversity doesn't mean we don't stop because that we would, who wins then? Nobody wins then. So that's kind of the way I look at things. It does make me a little bit sad. I think the climate, I'm older, I don't really care anymore what people think, but I think my kids worry.

My kids worry. My 17-year-old, my 16-year-old or 15-year-old, they're pretty tuned into stuff. And no one's more of a fierce ally than those two for the community and for protecting their moms. But I do think it probably weighs on them more than they say. And the more that language becomes... it is coming. We're going back a little bit. We're going back to, like you said, with some of the fear and predatory language, demoralizing language, demonstrative language, those kind of things. They eventually take a toll emotionally on our youth for sure, just because they're being formed and they're forming their opinions and finding their voice and their place. So I do worry about them a little bit more than I used to, but they're pretty strong girls. So I think they're going to be okay. I just wish it was a little different. That's all.

Heidi J. Ellsworth:

Well, I just looked back a year ago to where we were having this conversation last year, and this wasn't even in the top conversation, talking about legislation and what's going on. And I want to talk about some, but I am going to, we have some nice comments coming here that I want to share. So from Anna, she said, and Mississippi as well has had legislation. Gen Z here gives me a hope for a more inclusive and empathic future in this state. So rise up. There we go. John Kenny, John, recent Florida poll is that 68% of residents are not in favor of the recent laws, but put in place by a state legislator. These actions really crush our state in so many ways. So kind of what we were talking about before, sometimes maybe when these things happen, it brings everybody else up to say, wait a minute, that's 68%.

No, we're going to change the legislators who are in there. We're going to change the laws back. We're going to do the right things. And so having these conversations, I really do think we need to be very active in our state politics and our roofing day, our national politics, and also local communities just continuing to vote. So I do want to take one of the things someone, Lisa wants everybody to move to Florida and we'll all vote. So yes, I do love the keys. I just have to say, but I want to kind of go back.

So Maureen, you were talking about 7% of our population identifies LGBTQIA+. And I think that you have to then say, okay, at least 7% if not more, of the roofing industry is also of that community. Right? And so we need to look at that. So Jennifer, I want to start with you on hiring and diversity. You have a small business, you run and you own. I have, Roofers Coffee Shop is a small business. It is always on my mind. I want diversity. We want to find the best people to work, but I want a really diverse and rich culture for our company. How does that fit into your culture and your hiring?

Jennifer Grove: So actually, it's funny you should ask that. So not only am I a member of the LGBTQA+ community, my wife is also an employee of TORI Construction. So my wife is in the field in the trenches of all of this as a member of the community as well. So her perspective is a whole, she could give you a whole different version, I'm sure, than what I'm going to right now, she was actually, I told her, I'm like, "You should be actually giving this talk today, not me. You have more of this than I do, but..."

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We should have had both of you. We'll have to move that for next year. Yes.

Jennifer Grove: Good. Yeah, we could do for next year. So with us, when my sister and I talk about things and we look at our hiring and we, I guess try to come up with our game plan, we are very content staying small scale. I don't need to be 50 employees, 75 employees, 300 employees. It's not for us. That's not our goal. So we take a lot of time and care into each individual person that we put into our positions. Mainly right now it's family based. We have a lot of, if not direct bloodline, it is in-laws, sisters, cousins, nephews kind of deals how we've been doing it for right now. But we are very aware of what our options are in terms of inclusion and given the opportunity to do so, it would not be a question. We are actually one of the few, if not, I don't even think there's any other actually if, I don't want to misspeak.

But we're pretty close to the only LGBT certified business within the roofing industry in our area right now. So for us, taking that step that was getting out of our comfort zone and choosing our path of hiring that we want to engage the community, we want to make it full circle. We want to be open to everybody. Have we had many people that want to be a part of what we're doing? No. But I'm not saying that door is never going to open and we'll never have the opportunity. But for right now, our workforce is, it is diverse. We've got White, Black, brown, purple, we've got gay, straight, elephants. I don't know. We're a little bit of everything, we really do within our workforce in our office. And everybody brings a different piece of the puzzle to the table. And as long as you fit into that dynamic of we are all pieces of a bigger puzzle, you have a place with us. We're not picky. As long as you can fit in that little jigsaw that we do, we'll make it work for you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Find the right fit, find the job. You know, there are so many studies out there right now, and I've presented on a couple of them that talk about that. That really to have a strong company, you need to have such diversity because it brings so many different types of emotional intelligence, of intelligence, of personalities, everything together to create this beautiful thing with creativity, production, operations, financial success, profitability. I mean, it's been proven over and over and over again exactly what you're saying, Jennifer. So Spencer, on that, I'm going to flip it. So one of the questions we have is what are you looking for in an employer? Because you've had some really great things to say about Ruff Roofing, but what are you looking for in an employer for you?

Spencer Jacobs: So I mean, just looking for people that are inclusive, looking for people that aren't judgmental. And a lot of this is a conversation, right? In the industry, you're not finding most of these companies. I don't need a company to change their logo to a rainbow. I like to see it. It's not helping anybody unless you're backing it up. Right? So when I come in and I'm talking to people, it should just be a normal conversation. So a lot of times people, I'm not going out and telling them about my personal life, the first thing that I meet them, we're talking about work. That's what we're here to do. We're here to get the job done. We're here to build an awesome product. At the end of the day then you can track a beer open and talk about our personal lives and have a great time after that.

So we're looking for that full circle experience. But yeah, so just looking to have a great open opportunity. And I'll say within the industry itself even, I'm going all over the place. I've been to California, Texas, couple other different states, Virginia and I meet all these different roofers. Everyone's been super accepting. No one's questioning me or going into anything about it. So it's just normal. You just want to be treated like a normal person because at the end of the day, it is normal.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly. It is normal. That is so true. And Megan, I would love for your thoughts on this, and I realize I kind of, sorry, skipped you on what your experience has been in roofing, but maybe you could talk a little bit about your experience, but then also I think you bring a unique perspective as a Gen Z and a lesbian and really kind of being part of this whole roofing community for a long time. So maybe you can share your experience and where you think.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. So I identify as pansexual. You're close mom, but not on-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Sorry. Sorry everybody. I'm really trying. I've said it wrong.

Megan Ellsworth: That's okay. And I think my experience in the roofing industry has been totally normal because no one really, you don't walk, like Spencer said, you don't walk around with a pride flag covered in rainbow, dripping in sequins on the trade show floor. But I think the thing that I've liked the most about being queer in roofing is the moments where you realize someone else is queer and you're like, "Ooh, hi." And you just, there's an instant bond, especially, I went to the book club the day after National Women Roofing Day this year, and it was so fun to see these people that I know in the industry all gather around speaking on this book, that was this person's experience finding faith while being queer. And it was just really, really amazing to see all these people rally behind the idea of just being yourself and it doesn't matter.

So I think that's been my experience. And also I feel like if anything were bad to happen, I have a team behind me that would support me no matter what. And nothing has ever been said or anything. Also, my pronouns are she, they, so that I started putting that in my email signature and nothing's come of it, but I hope that that opens the door for someone else to feel comfortable to do that, even if it's a fricking just silly email signature kind of means nothing. But it's nice to have that door open. And then as for, what was the next question?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: What you look for in an employer?

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, yeah. I look for, I mean, really this is the job I've had for my adult life, so I look for working for my mom.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank goodness.

Megan Ellsworth: Just kidding. I would say I look for an employer that is willing to learn and willing to be taught by someone younger than them, different than them, whatever, that they are open and willing to be wrong in a situation and learn from that and be taught by someone under them. And I would say that Heidi is definitely that person. And-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: As you can tell, I'm still learning.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I am still learning all the time. And listen.

Megan Ellsworth: My favorite thing about doing these Coffee Conversations is I feel like every year I do push her boundaries a little bit more. Her comfort zone and the queer community has taken back the term queer, and it's been like this for a while, and I've always just been like, "Yep, queer, whoo-hoo. Love it." And I would say that actually when people ask, it's not, are you gay? What are you? It's I'm queer. You're queer. We're all queer when we're all here. And Heidi was like, "I don't know if we're allowed to say that" I was like, "It's okay. This is a learning moment. Here we go. We're all queer."

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes.

Megan Ellsworth: For just so you know.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: For Gen X and baby boomers, that is hard, right, Maureen? You're like going, yeah, it's not just me.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. And it is each person's preference, how they want to, I put a word to how they identify, but I would say that my generation has definitely brought that term back from the dead.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Spencer, the other day you said words are reclaimed. And I thought that was really, really good because I think we do get caught up in that we don't, and fear we don't understand.

Spencer Jacobs: Yeah. And I mean the big thing kind of piggybacking off the comment of what you're looking for, people wanting to learn and grow it's constantly changing, right? And that's everything. That's work, that's life. It's constantly changing. So all of this is just working with people that aren't afraid to have a conversation and grow from it. That's the biggest thing. Because if you can't sit down and just talk about these things and then move forward from there, you're just going to be stuck in the past and you're going to be hurting for talent. You're going to be hurting yourself as a person and you're going to be hurting your company.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, exactly.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's so true.

Jennifer Grove: And that's actually, that's a really good point, Spencer, that it's something that on the owner side of the industry right now, I feel like sometimes I see things differently than others do coming into a new company. And I have to remind myself that I'm still learning and evolving too, that I can't expect my employees to learn and evolve if I'm not continuing to do the same thing. So I feel like sometimes even, I'm only 40, I'm still on the younger end of things sometimes, right? 40 still kind of young some days?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's young.

Jennifer Grove: I still have to listen to my younger counterparts and I have to learn from nieces and nephews and friends, kids that are more in tune to the new terminology and the words and things that I kind of like you, Heidi and Maureen. I'm like, I don't think I would ever use that term. And that's referring to myself. You know what I mean? I just wouldn't. But if I'm not in tune to it and I'm not learning and growing and continuing to move forward, I can't expect others that are following me to do so. So for me, I know me personally, I have to look at it from both sides. I have to learn and grow. And I also have to teach others how to be accepting and willing to learn and grow. So I'm juggling lots of hats I feel like with diversity, inclusion sometimes.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: The thing that I think is so important is what you all just said, and being willing to let people make mistakes. And so Ray is on watching right now, and I have to just tell you, Ray has said this to me before, "Heidi, it's okay to say it wrong. It's okay, but learn as you're going through it." Because man, I say stuff wrong all the time, but I try to always be kind and respectful and to learn as you go. And so sometimes I think between the generational learning, one of the problems is a lot of people are afraid to make a mistake.

They're afraid they're going to be, and I'm probably going to say this wrong too, the cancel culture or some of the things that are going on in that if you say the wrong thing, you're going to be attacked. And what I have found is that's not true if you're just willing, like Spencer said, to have the conversation. So Maureen, I would love for you to, I'm sure you've kind of seen, you've been so involved with National Women in Roofing and education and diversity. We have been able, even, we put a shout-out for National Women in Roofing. We would not have been having this conversation even five years ago.

Maureen Greeves: Oh yeah. No. And I want to first go back to Megan. I'm so happy to hear that your employer embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Megan Ellsworth: Me too.

Maureen Greeves: It's such a relief. But I was just thinking here, our Coffee Conversations last year, we focused a lot on pronouns and I've been a lesbian for the majority of my life, probably all my life. Let's just be clear. But then not realizing it for until later, like Jennifer, but I'm still learning. So for folks in that 80, whatever the math is that are not the non 7% that are on this call today, it's hard sometimes, even for the 7% of us to get to keep up with everything that goes on. Right?

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

Maureen Greeves: Oh my God. And so I think just, you said it, Spencer, just being willing to have the conversation and give yourself some grace to have that conversation, be open to understanding or learning. Those are important things. Those are important things even for our own community. And so we had a long conversation about pronouns. We had a long conversation about the growing letters on the LGBTQ. Right before the call. I said, I'm so old that I was around when it was just LG, there was no LGT. So just for the folks that don't identify with one of those letters, and as an employer, just being willing to open up and learn about them is really important.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. And just in case someone out there doesn't know what they all stand for, LGBTQIA, it's lesbian, gay, LG, bisexual.

Maureen Greeves: Do you need help, Megan?

Megan Ellsworth: Oh yeah, a little. Transgender, queer, intersex, asexual. Now there's also two spirit, so it's actually LGBTQIATS. And there's one more, but I'm not-

Maureen Greeves: That's what the plus is for Megan. That's what the plus is for.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, there's a plus. Yeah. That's it.

Spencer Jacobs: At the end of the day, be proud of who you are.

Maureen Greeves: That's right, that's what [inaudible 00:40:03].

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly is really what it comes down to. I love this conversation. So please, I do want to say in the chat, Mandy, thank you so much. Mandy is, she is in charge of the Real Roofing, runs it. I don't know if in charge sounds right, but I think you're also on vacation. So thank you for being here. But she puts some great numbers in the chat on diversity and how it helps your business she, with Level Up consultants, she does some great things for businesses, but I want to talk a little bit about businesses and just bring the business side of this into it. And when we're really looking at on rights, right? Paternal rights, pay equity. I'm going to say this word wrong, I hope I don't, but if I do, Mandy, I'm sorry. But intersectionality I think is, did I say it right, Maureen?

Oh, I'm so excited. And that is when in equity that women and men who are dealing with more than one. So a Black gay man would have two different things that are, he's cultures that they're working on. Mandy, I know I'm just screwing this up, but we just learned about this and I think it's so important. And when we are looking at pay equity for women, it has already been lower than men. And then when you look at it for Black women, it is even lower. And Hispanic women are at the very bottom. So as you are looking at all of this, and Maureen, you talked about this last year, so I just want to bring it back again, how important it's you had and Kelly getting married, paternal benefits, all the pay equity, all the things that go along with that. Talk a little bit about that.

Maureen Greeves: Yeah, so we talked about this last year and I think I will say the same. It's kind of the thing. So my wife and I have been together for 20 years. I'm sorry, we met in 2000, so 20 going on 24. And we got married in 2014 and we had already had two kids. 2006 we saw the birth of Mia. 2008 we had our Gabby and Maddie. So at that point I was a legal stranger to them, even though I was their other mother. But if you look on paper, I was a legal stranger. And so marriage, why is it important? Why was marriage important? Well, at that point in time, if that hadn't happened here, we would be sitting here 23 years together, no access to her medical if she needed it. No, she wouldn't have access to my health benefits, she wouldn't have access to my social security.

I wouldn't have access to my children, right before that, before we got married, I used to have to carry around a piece of paper that she had to sign that gave me rights to take them to a doctor's appointment. And I never had to use it, thank goodness, because in most of the people that I ran into knew who I was and knew my role. But we did. I still had to just in case, just in case, especially when we would travel somewhere and something happened, I'd have to go to an emergency room or something.

So yes, it mattered. And so I think when my company extended that and I found the health benefits and I knew that we could get married in New York in 2014, I called her and I mean was really not, it was the least romantic thing I probably have ever done in my life. It was like, "Hey, we can get benefits. Let's go get married in New York." That's it. That was it. Thank gosh she didn't leave me right then and there, right? So yes, that was the driver. That's the driver. For me it was it's about stability and providing for my family. So those are the drivers. Those are the deviant behaviors that I want to follow is making sure she has access to my 401(k).

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It is so true to have the rights to be able to get the benefits, to be able to have everything. Amy [inaudible 00:44:23], I'm so happy to have you here. It was all about the benefits for me initially, so putting that together. Spencer, now benefits wise, you and your husband, talk a little bit about the importance of that.

Spencer Jacobs: So again, just looking back to equity inclusion. So paternal leave if needed. We're engaged right now, so not quite married yet.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay. Congratulations.

Spencer Jacobs: We're working on that. And big thing for the benefits, I mean really it's a lot of same thing of healthcare who's... Estate planning type things. Because I know for myself, my partner actually works in healthcare. He's a PA. So a lot of times whenever there's a medical issue, who am I going to? And if I was in kind of some sort of situation here, of course I want him to be the one making much of these decisions. So we have a lot of legal documents already prior to this. But that's like the biggest thing looking forward to this now of I have the opportunity to make sure that going forward and building a family and just looking back to some of the challenges we face as a hurdle, kids aren't necessarily a hundred percent in the future, but it's definitely a hurdle. I know for most men that are looking to have children, the cost is very prohibitive and it's a lot of logistical challenges, but just making sure you have the support from your employer and the community around you to make sure those things happen.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Nice. Jennifer, how about you?

Jennifer Grove: So Deanna and I have been together since 2008. My daughter was nine months old when her and I got together. We got married in Chicago in 2014. I want to say it was roughly six months after the gay marriage bill was signed in Illinois, roughly right around there, maybe within the year. I don't remember the exact. And at that point, my sister and I were operating as TORI Construction, but my wife was working for another company. So my daughter and I were on our own with state insurance and different things. And we had tried to figure it out financially. Now what's the best way to go? And when we decided, when we found out we could get married, it was the same thing. Hey, those benefits are fantastic, let's just take it. Her employer was a little, they pushed back a little bit on it at first because even though her and I were married, my daughter legally was not her child.

So they gave us a little bit of pushback when it came to our daughter. In the end, we were able to figure it all out and they came around and it was something that works for all of us. But in some cases, I know heterosexual couples when they get married, if one part of the marriage has full custody or whatever, it's of a child that their spouse is, the insurance is kind of all go hand in hand. People don't usually question it. It's not a underwriter question. So when the employer kind of halted it, and it made both of us take a step back LIKE, hold on, wait a second. This is if we were a man woman couple and this was your kids coming in and they didn't have insurance benefits, would this employer have questioned it? So that was one of the hurdles that we had seen.

But again, it was an open conversation we were able to have with the HR directors and then with the insurance underwriters, and it was all figured out. But fast-forward, that was 2014. Fast-forward two years, my wife decides she wants to carry our now six-year-old. Now to know my wife, I never in a million years thought she would want to carry a child, let alone actually end up carrying our son full term. But it was one of the best experiences I think she's ever had. And she'll tell you she was the best fit pregnant person ever. But we came up against other hurdles when doing that, when it came to our hospital of choice, our doctors in their personal beliefs, in their opinions. And then when it came time to sign our son's birth certificate, most of the hospitals in our area are Christian, Catholic based or Franciscans, whatever they are.

And the birth certificate paperwork still says mother and father. And at that point, we were both very adamant with, well, he doesn't have a mother and a father. He has two mothers. So the woman had gone to HR at the hospital and explained what we were looking for. And turns out that following year, so Dylan was born in August, in January of 17, they were starting their new forms that had parent one, parent two. So actually we were one of the first families to utilize that a little bit earlier because both of our names should have been on there. We are both legally, his parents fighting biology. I can't fight that, but I can fight it legally because I didn't carry him. But he's mine. He has my last name, he has my personality, he's got everything, I just needed to be, we wanted to make sure we were covered legally.

So when the world started to shake a little bit, 2018, 19, 20, when everybody started being... that fear stuff started to pick up again. I'm not going to lie and say I did get a little nervous. That piece of paper may not have been enough to keep Dylan with me in the event that something did happen to my wife. Is that piece of paper enough? Does it hold as much legal ground as a standard birth certificate? I still honestly don't have a full answer to that. I don't know what the world could turn into one day, but it's definitely a fear that I don't think a lot of people realize that we live with, that it's something that until you're in that position or in our shoes, you don't see it.

As far as the world around us is concerned. Dylan is a Grove. He has two moms, he has a sister, he has grandparents, aunts and uncles that love him. And that is all there is to it. But in the legal world, I don't know. And I don't ever want to be in that position to have to test that boundary or fight for what I believe in my heart and my son knows is true. But it's one of those gray areas still in legislation I think that could one day the rug be pulled off underneath me? I don't know.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It needs to be fixed.

Jennifer Grove: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Wow. Go ahead Megan.

Megan Ellsworth: I just love that. Thank you for sharing that. And Maureen and Spencer, thank you all for sharing everything that you've shared today. I'm so glad, that is what we're here for, is to make that experience heard. And so yeah, thank you. That was just very powerful.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, very powerful. Well, it makes you, every single person on here, and everybody who's going to listen to this, everyone can relate as a parent or an aunt or a sibling or something, whatever you're doing. And that should not be determined by what community you're in, by how you identify and any of that. And the legal needs to protect that. And we need to all keep that in mind. I will tell you, I'm fearful with what I see out there because of Megan and her friends and the community. And it's very... I just get mad at the news and yell at it, and it's just not right. And so we try to stay very kind of talking business and everything around Coffee Conversations, but sometimes there's just things that are just not right. And I say, today is the day that we're talking about that. That what's going on is not right.

So we have had some great comments. I just want to say Mandy did have to leave. Ray just said thank you for all your vulnerability and honesty this morning. I have to agree to what Megan said, what Ray said. Thank you all. I do want to kind of talk about, we always like to have some takeaways on how people can educate themselves, how they can become more, learn from all of this, become more empathetic. So I'm going to bring the PowerPoint back up, but before we're going to go over, I'm going to have Megan go over some of these that she has found some resources. But I want to talk real quick about Real Roofing by National Women in Roofing. I am in the midst of this taking these classes. It's something you can purchase from National Women in Roofing, and it is small videos and it's all on DEI, diversity, equity and inclusion.

And I have to say, I thought, oh, I've heard all this. We've been talking about it now for five years. I have a lot smarter people than me who help me all the time to be a better person and to say things right and to understand and to be educated. And I have been taking these courses from National Women in Roofing, and I have really learned great information. It's made me think, it's made me put things in place that I didn't really understand before. And then sometimes I'll go back and watch it a couple times because I need to, and I know, Maureen, I would just like you to speak on that real quick because I know you're also doing this course and we're doing it at the same time.

Maureen Greeves: Yeah, it's been an amazing experience. I have to agree, Heidi, right? I've been in, I'm part of it as well. And it has been an amazing experience for sure. And again, just kind of going back to, yeah, I don't know what I don't know. And embracing the fact that I need to better educate myself and learning also allows me to become a better ally when I need to step into those shoes. So for me, it's about that. It's about building my knowledge and building a language that I can become an active ally for the minority and the folks that are struggling with DE and I. It's a wonderful program. I love the format. It's video, short, interactive, little polls and puzzles and then you can share your thoughts on with some commentary. So it's very bite-sized pieces of information, but data rich and such content rich. But it's been a really good experience for sure.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it's really good. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to make it available to all of our team, to our whole company. It is financial and it's important because that helps support National Women in Roofing to do more of this. But I would say also, if you have a large company, talk to them because you probably can work out some things and hopefully I'm not going to get in trouble with anybody on this call that I said that. But I do want to say, Amy said she has piloted the program Real Roofing and it's great.

And then Jennifer Stone, I love this. I have taken the course three times and I still get the answers wrong. So much to learn and still learn. Thank you Jennifer, for making me feel a little bit better. But it is great because it does ask and has you answer questions. So you can't just sit there and multitask while you're watching this video and let it kind of go over your head. You actually have to stop. They stop you every so often you have to answer questions. So it's really great. But what are some other resources, Megan? Do you put some of these together for everybody to be aware of and to learn more?

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. So the big one to take away from today, I would say would be the Human Rights Campaign. They actually just announced that in terms of LGBTQIA+ safety the, and transgender safety, predominantly the United States is in a state of emergency in their eyes. And I'm a member of the Human Rights Campaign. You probably see them outside of your local Trader Joe's all the time. They were on my college campus, trying to get people to sign up. I donate every month. They do incredible work to help transgender youth, LGBTQIA+ youth, the queer community as a whole. And other communities too. BIPOC people, Native American communities. They just do really great work. I highly recommend you look into them.

And then also The Trevor Project is really great. They specifically work with young people, transgender youth and LGBTQ youth specifically like teenagers. And they're really trying to work on getting some of these bills that are trying to ban gender-affirming care to teens and children abolished to get those bills out of the way. There's also SAGE and Out & Equal, GLAD, The Okra Project. The Dru Project is one that recently came on my radar. And there's just so many good ones that you can go and be a part of donate to go to an event for, especially during Pride Month. It's so great.

And that's when the most fun activities are. That's when everyone's the proudest. And also, honestly, going to your local Pride parade and just being on the sidelines, cheering people on, saying, "Hey" to the drag queens. Pride is literally the best time of the year. It's so fun. I cannot wait for Denver Pride. And just like that's... And also just doing this, attending this Coffee Conversation and also maybe doing the Real Roofing. I haven't done that yet, but I really want to.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We're going to get you on it, Megan.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. And yeah, just being a good person.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, we... Yeah, being good person. So I am going to just real quick, Spencer, I want to start with you some last words? We're coming to the top of the hour.

Spencer Jacobs: Just keep having these conversations and we're all going to be better off.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you so much for being here today, Spencer. I can't tell you how happy I am.

Spencer Jacobs: Yeah, thank you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Jennifer?

Jennifer Grove: Just thanks for having us keep having these conversations. Don't be afraid to make mistakes when having these conversations. Just be open and willing to make changes where need be. And hopefully one day we don't have to have these conversations anymore.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, that would be great. We can celebrate, just go the parades.

Jennifer Grove: Absolutely. Absolutely. Thanks guys.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Maureen, first last words, but also thank you again for sponsoring today, WTI sponsoring and just being such a light in the industry.

Maureen Greeves: Oh, thank you, Heidi. I love being a part of this. Thank you again for the invitation and thanks Roofers Coffee Shop for letting us have a voice today. It's June. Let's celebrate. Whoo.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We're all going to go find the parades. I love it. And Megan, thank you. Thank you for your leadership and for helping all of us. Any quick last words?

Megan Ellsworth: No, I just, I'm really proud to be a part of this industry and I truly would not have guessed that I'd be saying that if you had asked me even four years ago. And I am just very thankful that it's so open and which is great industry. So thank you for everyone that's here.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. And I also want to say thank you, Megan, for the amazing job you do all year long. This is our season finale of our Coffee Conversations. So this is our season finale, but we're going to have live conversations coming to everyone in Florida. Megan will be there, she'll be getting us all in line and getting all the great videos. She'll be on camera too, I'm sure. And we also will be possibly having some special Coffee Conversations during the summer that's still kind of up, but we will let you all know. So from all of us, I'm just going to say love to everyone because that's how I feel right now after this great conversation. And I hope you have a wonderful summer and we will for sure see you at the beginning of season five in September on Coffee Conversations. Have a great day.

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