Class of 2021 BEQ Pride LGBTQ Leader Under 40
(They, Them) is 25
The year 2020 feels like a worldwide wake-up call in so many ways. As a leader, I realize the most important thing I have learned and will take forward is…
The most important thing that I have learned is that shared success is more powerful than individual success. Your work, experiences and values can shape a workplace or local community and can create an inclusive culture that inevitably stands up for those that are marginalized.
Abeda Alam is a Process Quality Engineer at General Electric. They graduated from the University at Buffalo with a BS in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. They are a recipient of the 2018 MAE Humanitarian Award, SEAS Leadership Scholarship and the first place winner of the 2016 UB Stadium Hack. Alam volunteers as the Programming Committee Chair at Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Inc. (oSTEM Inc.), served on the board of Charleston Pride and is a member of GE’s LGBTA employee resource group.
Abeda Alam is focused on breaking barriers and building community wherever they go. As a Trans/Non-binary, Bengali Muslim in this country, being marginalized has not only shaped every molecule in their being, but also made them courageous, self-sufficient and a nurturer. Their strength comes from years of practicing self-love, overcoming obstacles and demonstrating compassion through their leadership endeavors.
Alam is a self-proclaimed workplace “queer missionary” of sorts, who is “spreading awareness” and the gospel of workplace inclusion. It began when they were a student in Buffalo, NY, helping create an oSTEM (Out in STEM) chapter as a safe and accepting space for queer identifying people. With so few LGBTQ and or people of color in engineering, there was and still is a great deal of work to be done to create inclusive environments. Alam saw the need and answered the call to create community and permanent queer spaces throughout their college career and beyond.
After college, Alam decided to give back to oSTEM Inc., by becoming the programming committee chair, hosting their first conference of over 900 students and professionals with 50+ hours of programming. This engineer who doubles as a queer workplace inclusion missionary understands the importance of attendee experience when planning conferences and events. Their intention to provide high quality content that inspires young leaders and leaves a lasting impression when attendees return to school or work is a strategic decision about the long game.
After a year of working in Charleston, they recognized the lack of diversity and visibility of LGBTQ community in the region. They stepped up to the challenge by becoming the first non-binary South Asian on the Board of Charleston Pride. Even during the pandemic, they were able to host PrideRev, Virtual StoryTime, and Pride Nights. From programming to administration and operations Alam is ”honored to be helping queer communities sustain and thrive in cities that need them.”
But, Alam’s vision goes beyond campus programming or annual Pride events. They are intending for LGBTQ+ people to unapologetically thrive as they deserve. They see an influx of growth for the LGBTQ+ community through an increase in entrepreneurship, more leadership and workplace protections within companies, supporting and affirming nonprofits, as well as policies and legislation that protect the rights of the queer community.
This leader looks forward to continuing to create and invest in queer spaces inside and out of work. They have proven they are built for leading sometimes difficult, but crucial conversations around inclusion, and bringing awareness and visibility to the LGBTQ+ community. It’s obvious that Alam’s gifts to the community create the momentum for change and help activate new agents for inclusion.