Faces of Laradon: T’s Story

We often hear the saying be unapologetically you. But, what does that actually mean?

The dictionary describes it as, “Sense of strength and pride in being your true self.”

And, for those at Laradon we’d like to add one phrase to that definition, and that’s Tiontae Thornton— T for short.

While they’ve only been at Laradon for a handful of months so far, it’s apparent to everyone they encounter that T is the very definition of being unapologetically yourself.

“My rule of thumb is if you can go home at night and go to sleep peacefully and happy with the person you are there’s nothing anybody can take from you,” T, Laradon’s HR Equitable Process Partner, shares.

T’s larger than life personality is rooted deeply in their story.

“When I was little, and now, I was a curious person and I was always into odd things. For instance, all of my uncles played sports, I played the clarinet,” T says through laughs.

Growing up in Cleveland, Ohio and moving to Rochester, New York as a teen, T’s curiosity and zest for life always kept them busy. See, T is the type of person who could star in High School Musical, run track, play the clarinet, teach Zumba and be an expert in all things anime … all at the same time. After all, anyone who knows T, knows that they embody the very essence of energy and optimism.  

It was this very energy and curiosity that led T to Colorado and right here to Laradon. Their interest in pursuing their career in talent relations with strategic approaches in mind was the exact role T had been on the lookout for. Not to mention, Laradon’s mission resonated with T’s futuristic spirit.

“I get to do something I not only enjoy, but I also get to give back to the community in a tangible way,” T shares. “What motivates me is how I want the future to be, along with the work I get to do and the people I get to work with.”

T’s job also allows them to look at Laradon through a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging lens, while helping the organization continue to be a leading inclusive workplace for our students, participants and staff.

“It all boils down to physiological safety. If you create an environment, where people feel safe to be themselves and for a place for disagreement, it’s a lower threshold for work place violence, and for workplace fatigue,” T shares.

With June being PRIDE Month, T sheds light on why it’s important for Laradon to take their DEIB efforts to the next level and not just acknowledge the month, but to actively create safe spaces for people to talk about it and be involved in it.

“There are three reasons on why PRIDE is important. It brings visibility to the issues that LGBT people face. It brings validation to me. When I was younger and transitioned, I had a really accepting family. I didn’t have to go through what some people in our community have to where they are ostracized and kicked out of their families. I had a very supportive family. It brings validation to me,” T shares. “It’s a way to celebrate my triumphs and me overcoming obstacles. Nowadays pride has evolved from being a revolution at Stonewall to now just being like, ‘We are here. We exist. We don’t care if you don’t like it’.”

But- Laradon’s DEIB efforts shouldn’t stop there, T says. Celebrating, honoring and acknowledging people for their differences is something that should be ever flowing.

“Pride shouldn’t be something you celebrate one month, it should be something you celebrate all throughout the year. I’m not just gay one month out of the year, I’m not just non-binary one month out of the year. It’s something you have to constantly keep improving and keep showing your support for,” T explains.

What are T’s colleagues saying about their impact at Laradon so far

“The perspective that T brings to our team is so valuable! ‘Have you ever thought about it this way,” and “maybe we should try it like this’ are ways T gets us all to stretch our thinking.

Not only that, T sense of style is amazing, their laugh is infectious, they love our employees and our participants and students, and the feeling is mutual. T brings an energy and a burst of compassion to our team that is tangible. You can tell that T loves their job and loves to make an impact. Awesome, awesome team member!” – Liz Schmidt, Chief People Officer

“T is a bundle of energy! From day one, T has reached out to each department to make connections with all staff.  T takes daily walks to each program so staff have the ability to connect with them with any concerns or questions they may have.”- Lori Brown, Human Resources Operations Specialist.

“T lights up every room they walk into with their infectious energy. I am so happy to have them on the team and appreciate their unbeatable one-liners!”– Ally Robichaud, HRBP- Talent Acquisition



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