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Men's Forum Started Great Conversation

OUCAN’s first Men’s Forum provided another platform for men to share their perspectives on working in the female-dominated occupations in human services and nonprofit organizations.

Topics ranged from work-life balance to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging, and redefining masculinity. Approximately 20 men from throughout the OUCAN network joined in the virtual forum and shared their thoughts.

“We wanted to have this forum so we can share experiences, discuss topics and develop support for male practitioners in the field,” said Rudy Herter, Human Resources Director for Stark County Community Action Agency, who co-chaired the event.

“We capitalized the M.E.N. in mental for a reason,” added co-chair Kerry Austin from Step Forward. “It is important that we have a voice in the inclusion topic about serving clients and working within a female dominated industry.”

The forum was moderated by Lawrence Witherspoon, director of the Center for Family Voice at Groundwork Ohio, who was candid about his own experiences.

“We’re expected to be strong,” he said. “We don’t have a choice but to be resilient as men. So we don’t share what makes us vulnerable. There are times when being resilient is exhausting.”

The men also discussed why there aren’t more men in human services jobs. In part, it is because they are considered “feelings jobs.”

“Sometimes we need to plug in with some of our male friends or anyone who may be looking toward into getting into this social services field to get rid of some of those stigmas that come along with it,” said Miami Valley Community Action Partnership’s Brent Robinson. “I think sometimes we get put in a box that we’re supposed to be blue collar, hard-working, get your hands dirty type of men.”

The recording from the Forum is now available on OUCAN’s website. OUCAN hopes to create more opportunities for the men of the network to connect.

“The men have spoken and they had a lot to say,” said OUCAN CEO Yvonne Cherell. “We appreciate those who were able to join us and unselfishly share in the conversation.”