Shepard Verbas, The LOFT's Director of Programs and Services is starting a new chapter in their career and will be moving on from their position as a staff member at the center. The LOFT would like to thank Shepard for their 7 years of dedicated and outstanding service, they will be greatly missed!
We thought we'd share the news about Shepard in OUTSpoken as a way to also celebrate and acknowledge their outstanding service to the community while also giving them a platform to share any final thoughts and messages.
Shepard, in your 7+ years here at The LOFT, what are some of the projects, programs, and services you are most proud of being a part of?
Honestly I am proud of being a part of the LOFT community in general, and very proud to feel like I was able to contribute to the legacy of the center.
I am proud of being a part of the formation of our TransMission scholarship program. This program was a dream of the center for years before it was able to be set in motion; I was able to put together our application, awardee processes, and have been a part of every Review Committee of the service since it opened in December 2020. It feels amazing to have started a long-lasting program at the center that’s provided $29k worth of scholarships to trans & non-binary folx throughout the country.
I am also proud to have been the leader of the Hudson Valley Trans Forum conference the center organizes annually for TGNCNB communities and allies for the past 6 years. This conference has been such a labor of love to organize every year, and I have met some really incredible speakers and collaborators in this work from the experience of being a lead organizer. It has also brought me so much joy and satisfaction to see TGNCNB community members come out to participate in the two days of workshops and celebration spaces. There’s just something really special about organizing something others look forward to experiencing every year.
My first professional passion has always been teaching, so after joining the team in 2015 I really wanted to focus on developing the center’s curriculum and reputation as a training expert. I am proud to say that I have participated in hundreds of workshops, panels, trainings, and interviews on behalf of the center throughout my career at The LOFT. Each experience has seriously taught me so much about the power of empathy and the importance of listening and collaborating together to build a future where we can all thrive as ourselves.
In 2016 The LOFT received a small grant to help us kick-off a formal program to support LGBTQ+ survivors of abuse. Since then I have been able to serve as the center’s LGBTQ+ survivor advocate, forming stronger relationships with DV service providers in our state, working on some really cool inclusion tools for providers like the Power and Control Assessment Tool and Self-Assessment tool I worked on with the NYS LGBTQ IPV Network, and assisting survivors in navigating safety, resources, and support including co-leading our LGBTQ+ Survivor Support Group which is run in partnership with WestCOP- VAS.
What are a few memories that still bring a smile to your face?
Silver Connections Write OUT memoir showcase event
First moments that kids have when going to Rainbow Clubhouse and seeing other kids like them
Impromptu dance lessons at the Ice Palace in Cherry Grove, FI from Silver Connections members
Scott singing at Night of Resilience, Christina singing at LOFT Night OUT
Memories of meeting & bonding with people I now consider friends and chosen family
What do you want folx to know about The LOFT as you move forward into your next chapter?
The LOFT has been a home base for me, working here has allowed me to develop my creativity and challenge what I thought I was able to accomplish. I am incredibly proud of the work I have done with the center and would love nothing more than for folx to continue utilizing the services we provide and supporting the next chapter of this staple of our local community.
Thank you, LOFT community for making me feel at home these last 7 years. I am deeply grateful for all of the memories being a part of this center has given me.