After 33 years with Bank of America, Jaye Huber could be called a dedicated banker.
But there is another distinction she is recognized for: Advocate and philanthropist within the LGBTQ community.
In her volunteer role, Huber sits on the Women’s Advisory Board for the Health Information Project, which teaches high school students about reproductive and mental health, sexuality, alcohol and drugs. The Health Information Project, HIP for short, is an 8-year-old countywide program that partners with high schools throughout Miami-Dade. Huber’s son, Ian, helped launch HIP at his school, Palmetto High, then interned at the HIP main offices before attending college. A few years later, Huber’s younger son, Garrett, took over as president of HIP at Palmetto High.
With the HIP program, students become the teachers, educating younger students about social and health issues. Topics include sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), depression, eating disorders and obesity, suicide, alcohol, tobacco and drug addiction. In the 2017-2018 school year, HIP partnered with 54 Miami high schools to educate more than 33,000 ninth graders.
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Huber, a Bank of America executive, said she became involved in HIP after seeing how much high school students benefited from education on sensitive topics. The Women’s Advisory Board includes community leaders who participate in events, give input on funding, and position the program to be a national model for other organizations. HIP is funded by private and public partners.
“My role is being rainmaker for them and being a voice,” Huber said.
Risa Berrin, founder and executive director of HIP, said champions like Huber are critical, while students are key to the implementation. Within the high schools, student educators, usually juniors and seniors, participate in an extensive interview progress. Once selected, they attend training on how to teach the discussion sessions to the ninth graders in a frank, non-judgmental way. Students discuss labels, such as transgender and bisexual, and learn about abusive situations.
“Peer educators understand how important the issues are,” Berrin said. “With our program, peer pressure can be used positively.”
When Ian was 13, he told his parents he was gay. Huber said she let him know he had her unconditional support. Still, he struggled in his early years of high school. Now, 23 and working as an accountant, Ian said he wishes HIP existed when he was a ninth grader. After running HIP as president his senior year, he remains a mentor to the peer educators.
“My mom saw the difference it made in me, and said it was something she wanted to champion, too. When she gets the notion and drive to do something, she is going to do it.”
Huber’s passion for giving back, particularly within the LGBTQ community, extends to her workplace, too. She leads the LGBTQ affinity group for Bank of America in Miami. She holds lunch-and-learns, group discussions, and her door is open to anyone who wants or needs to talk. “There are individuals at the bank who have come up to me to share their stories after I shared mine.”
In April, the affinity group participated in Miami’s Gay Pride Parade as a Bank of America team. “This will be an annual event for us going forward,” Huber said, noting that it’s not easy for people to go to workplace meetings or public activities and make their sexual preferences public. “Some think if I go, what does that mean for my career?”