Taking even the briefest look at Glennda Testone’s C.V., and it’s easy to see why her days are so busy: Since 2009, she’s served as the first female executive director of New York City’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, where she oversees rebranding and spearheaded its groundbreaking programming for its youth community. She’s also a member of Ending the Epidemic Task Force and sits on the Executive Board of the City University of New York Institute for Health Equality and the CenterLink board. Oh, and she’s also a member of the Bronx Borough President’s LGBT Policy Task Force.
A whole lotta social justice all the time, in other words, and by nature and necessity, she’s got the energy to match.
As a kid growing up in the conservative upstate New York town of Central Square, Testone was an athlete; she took up gymnastics for over a decade, rode horses and danced, and was “able to do as many pull-ups as the boys,” she says. When she eventually landed at Syracuse University to pursue an education in journalism, however, she experienced what so many do: The change in environment and routine combined with the pressure of school knocked her off track somewhat. Testone gained weight and struggled with an eating disorder, finding herself in a generally unhappy state.
But around this same time, Testone also found her calling: Social justice and activism. And after getting her master’s degree in women’s studies at The Ohio State University, Testone started to see a personal trainer as well as a therapist. She cites the combination of these two things as the reason she got back to a place of wanting to feel healthy again. “I just loved walking down the street and feeling strong, like I could handle whatever happened to come up.”
Fast forward a few years and Testone is handling whatever comes up and then some. She cites her physical routine, combined with a meditation practice, as the primary methods of taking care of herself—so she’s able to take care of her community and oversee the vital work The Center does.
We caught up with Glennda recently for an insider look at her day-to-day and how she manages to keep it calm and collected amidst such a busy schedule.
Glennda, stoked about crossing that finish line.
6:00 a.m. Time to get up. Sometimes my dog, Meatloaf, wakes me up, wanting to go to the beach. Sometimes my own biological clock does the trick. I try and have coffee, breathe and stretch a bit before said dog must go to the beach.
6:30 a.m. Go to the dog beach in Asbury Park, New Jersey, where I live. Otherwise, I’ll walk with him on the boardwalk. He is a big hit either way, being a cute-but-large French bulldog with a name like Meatloaf. I get a little exercise here, and get to breathe the ocean air.
7:00 a.m.Go to the gym and do some cardio to clear my head. I do the elliptical, stationary bike or Stairmaster, and I’ll usually look at fashion magazines (a guilty pleasure) or listen to podcasts (a less guilty pleasure). Some of my favorites recently have been Snap Judgement and S-Town. Then I’ll go home and have a quick breakfast, usually home cooked by my amazing partner, Jama. The last couple of weeks she’s been making these mini quiches with egg whites and vegetables.
Glennda with her partner, Jama Shelton, and Meatball (left). Their other pup, Bambino, passed away earlier this year.
8:30 a.m. I leave for work, taking the express bus to Port Authority Bus terminal. On the bus, I do emails, prepare for my day, listen to some music, and try to meditate for 20 minutes. It’s sort of like the busy person’s meditation. You do it twice a day for 20 minutes, which I really appreciate, because it’s so hard to find the time, and it makes a huge difference in my psyche.
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.Meetings at The Center and around the city with staff, community members, government partners and supporters.
1:00 p.m.Working lunch, also made by said amazing partner, usually. Lately she’s been doing a lot of things with cauliflower rice. So, like, chicken and cauliflower rice, and some vegetables. She’s really good with spices.
Afternoon through 6:00 p.m.More meetings, emails, phone calls, tours of The Center and planning to empower and protect our amazing LGBT community in New York!
7:00 p.m.I take the bus home and answer some emails. Hopefully I can get in my 20 minutes of meditation. Otherwise I’ll play games on my phone and listen to the NPR Politics Podcast or the day’s news.
8:00 p.m. Time for dinner with my partner and maybe some friends. After that, we’ll usually watch some TV.
10:00 p.m.In bed by this time at the very latest. And I’ll usually read a few pages of a book before falling asleep—before getting up to do it all over again the next day.
Check out The Center’s recent collaboration with Equinox on the gorgeous short film they created together for LGBT Pride Month, “The LGBTQAlphabet.”