The Early Years

The First Education Event

Kathryn Rivers opens the 1995 Education Event with Management

While the women's and African American networks centered around visible identities, LGBTQ identities, for various reasons, remained private. As a result, members of the Lambda Network faced the crucial decision of when and how to reveal their identities. In line with their commitment to education and drawing inspiration from the models set by other networks, Lambda Network took the initiative to organize an Education Event for Kodak management at the Burgundy Basin Inn, extending a special invitation to CEO George Fisher.

LNAK exhibit audio · Kathryn Rivers recalls the tension at the first Education Event with Management

On May 30, 1995, approximately 50 managers, alongside network members, gathered in a modest event space. Kathryn Rivers vividly recalled the scene, noting how managers clustered around the bar while network members occupied the opposite side of the room. Elizabeth Birch, the guest speaker and executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, described the palpable fear in the air as something "you could cut with a knife." Despite the tension, the presence of members from other Kodak employee networks provided crucial support, and the arrival of George and Ann Fisher brought both comfort and a firm acknowledgment of the event's significance.

The program unfolded with an introduction to the network's mission, two impactful vignettes performed by members from all networks, a speech by Fisher expressing robust support for the group, and a presentation by Birch. The event proved to be a resounding success. Birch's participation connected Kodak to a broader movement advocating for LGBTQ rights in the workplace, while Fisher's acceptance and endorsement of the group elevated the Lambda Network's mission to a core tenet of the company's values, propelling it to greater heights.

The inaugural 1995 Education Event marked the beginning of an annual tradition, with subsequent events attracting attendance from hundreds of Kodak managers, employees, retirees, and their partners. These gatherings featured shared tables, dinners, skits, group activities, and speakers, all designed to engage participants on LGBTQ topics. Collaboratively produced with other Kodak employee networks, the Education Events emphasized the universality of LGBTQ issues, showcasing role-model allies and their stories of support. Beyond their educational aspect, these events were intentionally crafted to be enjoyable, with many participants recalling them as memorable highlights of their learning experiences with Lambda.

Photo from the 1995 Education Event. From left to right: Kathryn Rivers, Ann Fisher, George Fisher, Elizabeth Birch, Emily Jones, and David Kosel.

Coming Out at Work

HRC survey results suggest better education of LGBTQ issues supports workplace equality

Recognizing that increased understanding of LGBTQ realities could foster greater support for inclusion, the Lambda Network strategically embarked on educational initiatives beyond their annual Education Events.

One noteworthy program was the "Can We Talk?" workshop, a hands-on learning experience tailored for Kodak managers upon request. This workshop aimed to facilitate discussions about sexual orientation that might be challenging within typical workplace settings. Creating an environment of mutual vulnerability, participants were encouraged to openly share their thoughts and experiences. The workshop initiated with participants self-identifying their sexual orientation, leading to the formation of two groups – one LGBTQ and the other non-LGBTQ. The structured setup involved the LGBTQ group sitting in a circle, surrounded by the non-LGBTQ group, all facing inwards. A facilitator posed questions to the LGBTQ group, with the non-LGBTQ group in listening mode. After a dinner break, the groups swapped positions and roles, concluding the workshop with a debriefing session. By fostering small group interactions and promoting the sharing of personal experiences and empathy, these workshops provided a safe space for participants to challenge assumptions and reshape their perspectives.

In addition to the "Can We Talk?" workshop, the Lambda Network developed various educational programs, creating a comprehensive approach to fostering understanding.

The Lambda Network's efficacy as an educational force positioned it as a vital asset for Kodak. Collaborating with Kodak marketing, the network sought to connect with LGBTQ customers, while partnering with HR aimed at enhancing workplace equality across the entire company. The growth of the Lambda Network paralleled an expansion of its partnerships and responsibilities. 

LNAK exhibit audio · David Kosel recalls a time when HR invoked the Lambda Network

In 1998, recognizing the need for strategic focus, Lambda established four strategy teams, later expanding to six: the Lambda-HR Partnership Team, Education Strategy Team, Marketing Strategy Team, Communication Strategy Team, Networking Strategy Team, and Membership Strategy Team. The Lambda Network's success prompted senior managers to seek its insights into its achievements, treating Lambda as a model to enhance the effectiveness of other employee networks within the company.

Other Educational Programs

The Debut of Kodawood Squares

SafePlace™ magnet

In a creative approach to addressing facts and dispelling misconceptions about LGBTQ people, the Lambda Network ingeniously transformed the popular game show Hollywood Squares into an engaging and enlightening program named "Kodawood Squares." This entertaining adaptation featured a diverse group of participants and aimed to present LGBTQ-related information in an enjoyable manner.

Responding to requests from managers or fellow employees, the Lambda Network organized Brown Bag Discussions. These informal gatherings involved network members and officers sharing lunch with non-members, fostering open conversations about the network and the experiences of being an LGBTQ employee.

To equip participants with the skills to navigate challenging discussions, the network conducted Having Difficult Conversations Workshops. These workshops were designed to empower individuals to speak up and engage in more complex conversations related to the safety and equality of LGBTQ employees, ensuring that participants were well-prepared for such dialogues.


The Lambda Network actively promoted LGBTQ inclusivity within Kodak through various initiatives. One notable effort involved the distribution of SafePlace™ Magnets, a creation of LEAGUE AT&T (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Allies Employees at AT&T). These magnets, strategically placed on doors and offices, served as visible markers to identify LGBTQ safe spaces and allies within the workplace.

Network members took an active role in diversity panels at Kodak, using these platforms to share personal stories, discuss their coming-out experiences (where applicable), and candidly address questions about their individual journeys.

In collaboration with the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley (GAGV), the Lambda Network organized the GAGV Ally Workshop. Conducted by GAGV members, the workshop aimed to educate both LGBTQ individuals and allies about homophobia and effective strategies for overcoming it. The goal was to empower participants to become advocates for LGBTQ inclusivity in their communities, fostering a broader understanding of ally behavior.

To extend awareness of Kodak's employee networks and their focal points to the shop floor, these networks joined forces for a Shop Floor Outreach. This collaborative effort aimed to introduce Lambda Network and LGBTQ issues to shop-floor employees without singling out individuals as LGBTQ or allies. Given concerns about the safety of LGBTQ expression on the shop floor, this protective approach was crucial. As part of this outreach, the network brought Kodawood Squares to the shop floor and hosted a "Can We Talk?" workshop, actively engaging shop-floor volunteers in open and constructive conversations.

LGBTQ Shop-Floor Employees

Given the hierarchical structure of Kodak employee networks, designed to instigate top-down change by influencing managers and executives rather than orchestrating grassroots movements within the company, outreach to Kodak's shop floor initially took a backseat for the Lambda Network. It wasn't until 2002, a decade after its inception, that the Lambda Network collaborated with other Kodak employee networks to organize a Shop Floor Outreach. This marked a shift in focus, recognizing the importance of understanding the dynamics between the shop floor and the Lambda Network in the context of LGBTQ workplace equality. We are currently engaged in comprehensive research to delve deeper into the relationship dynamics and shed light on the Lambda Network's impact on the shop floor environment.