By: Mark Thomas
Photography: Landon Vonderschmidt Photography
Gillian Power came out as transgender in 2014. Power is the CIO of Lathrop and Gage, a 140 year old law firm, very much a Kansas City icon.
"As an administrative leader within the firm, I didn't get to transition quietly," Power explained. "I was mortally fearful of coming out." However, on the day the company distributed a letter (with a personal note from Power), about her transition, her email exploded with support. "It was an outpouring of love!"
Born in South Africa, Gillian came to the United States 13 years ago. She has been in Kansas City for 7 of those years. Prior to moving to the Midwest, she lived in London and Orlando. She met her wife Jessica while on a business trip to the U.S. while still working in England. They have two children.
Power says of Kansas City, "It takes a while to establish a network of friends here. There aren't as many transplants as other cities." But once those friendships are established she notes, "They are deeply genuine."
Gillian is the driving force behind Kansas City's Heartland Trans Chorus. "I always had a very strong relationship to music." In South Africa she sang in youth and Junior School choirs as well as played bass guitar in informal bands.
"When I started gender therapy, voice training was a very important component...for a trans woman, typically voice is a challenge. Hormones don't change that. I consider it important to speak in a voice that is mostly aligned." Gillian said she 'filed it away' at the time, but her therapist, a former Broadway singer noted that, "I had a dramatic Soprano voice."
After a powerful experience last March while listening to the Heartland Mens Chorus, Power began singing lessons. A trip to Boston, gave an opportunity to watch a rehearsal of the Butterfly Chorus. It was then that Power was moved to start a similar group in Kansas City.
The first meeting to establish the Heartland Trans chorus was held in December 2015. "There is so much local talent...they have sung their whole lives." Auditions will be open to allies as well, but the focus is on transgender voices. Performances are still some time away, "We're focused on this being a long term sustainable fixture on the art scene." However, plans for 2017 include shared concerts with other community choirs.
Within her professional field, Power is also a leader. She serves as thought leader for the annual International Legal Technology Association conference (attended by over 3,500 members). She received the ILTA Distinguished Peer Award for server/operations in 2011.
As for her CIO work at Lathrop and Gage, "I have an amazing team, we've built a very stable infrastructure."
Regarding her firms involvement with Mid-America GLCC, "I see my role as being an ambassador. Here's this KC institution, 140 years and shows the firm in a very modern light."
Work/Life balance is critical to Power, for her work team and personally. In addition to music and family, she is an avid reader and yogi.