Creating A Gateway For Others

Dr. Michael Madden is a new grandfather, and just like any new grandfather, he wants to tell all his co-workers about his grandson.

But if Madden, chief medical officer at Gateway Health Plan, wasn’t openly out at work, he wouldn’t be able to share such a joyous part of his life with his co-workers.

“For me the real issue is that leaders need to be authentic and you can’t be authentic if you’re hiding such an important part of who you are,” he says.

A former Medical Director for Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, Madden came back to Gateway for the second time in 2009. He previously had served as Medical Director.

Now 60, Madden says he didn’t come out until he was 50 and that caused a few bumps along the way – including a boss lecturing a female friend about workplace romances after they attended social events together.

“Everybody needs to make these decisions at their own pace, but some of us also need a push to get down that road,” Madden says.

At Highmark, Madden served on the diversity committee, and is currently a member of the advisory board for the Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh and a board member of the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force. His partner Ron Senerius is a board member at Persad Center. He says having a family photo on his desk is a great conversation starter, especially since he and Ron have five children. “It is a great way to demonstrate to applicants and current staff that we have an inclusive environment,” he says.

No matter what position an employee holds or if they are straight or LGBT, everyone deserves a work environment where they feel comfortable doing their job, he says. Otherwise more energy is spent worrying.

“We need that energy for productive work,” he says, “in order to foster innovation from all types of perspectives.”

Gateway Health Plan has policies that support domestic partnerships, which Madden appreciates. He says that more companies in Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania should do so, and they should support legal progress that prohibits housing and employment discrimination.

So when Madden’s grandson grows up and looks back on this time, such inequality will seem antiquated and out of place.

“Hopefully by the time Theo is an adult he won’t even be able to fathom that gay people were discriminated against,” he says.

Stacey Federoff is a Sutersville, PA native, Penn State alumna, and reporter living in Park Place near Regent Square. She has written for The Daily Collegian, The Chautauquan Daily, Trib Total Media. She loves music, vinyl records, coffee, running, and volunteerism.