Interview With A Recruiting Vampire (Our President, Joe Halsch)
(Joe, on the left, with his husband, Tramane)
Joe Halsch. President of the Jim Toy Community Center. Recruiter. Husband. Friend. Ally. Tell me more about you!
I grew up just outside of Cleveland. The oldest of 3 siblings in a Catholic, Italian family. I moved here about ten years ago.
How did that go, being gay and Catholic?
Not as bad as you can imagine, but it was difficult. Being Catholic, I was under the weight of expectations to getting married and have kids. In fact, I was married for about seven months before coming out!
How did you end up here?
I moved here for a new job, to start my masters program, and a fresh start. It was amazing being able to be me, make my own choices, and not feel judged. I had a couple friends here who were so welcoming and warm that it made everything so much easier.
Is that when you met your husband?
So we actually met three separate times. After I moved to Ann Arbor, we met a Tech Trek, a second time at PRIDE, and then, which he will never let me forget, he applied for a job where I was the recruiter. I declined him because he was overqualified! Then, finally, I swiped on Tinder, and we had our first date at Bobcat Bonnies! We’ve been married since 2020!
What a whirlwind! Let’s get to the tough questions!!!! Why did you choose to serve with Jim Toy?
I felt the call to action after the Pulse shooting. It struck a cord that the places we could feel safe and be ourselves were attacked. My first job was helping with PRIDE. I helped with PRIDE, and it was so amazing to help in the Kid Zone. And I never left.
What are your goals with Jim Toy?
My goals are our goals: Education, Community, Advocacy. I want us to have a real impact with in politics, with Alliance, and be the strong voice our community needs. I really want to be more and more proactive with our education, and make sure that Jim’s legacy carries on. We are the torchbearers for that amazing man. And we have to make sure we keep that going.
What was your biggest epiphany in your life?
I’m still waiting for it. I was talking to a friend, Mike Hale of Tech Elevator, and I felt like I didn’t know where to go next. I was waiting for the epiphany. And he said something so powerful to me: You’re already there. Maybe I am, and I hope I am. All I can do is work hard, appreciate my loved ones and my friendships, and make others feel the same.
You’re a recruiter for software engineers and an LGBTQ+ advocate. How does that translate into your work?
I ask everyone for the same thing I give them: authenticity. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, reschedule interviews because you had an emergency. I am here to help. I am here to empower you to reach your goals.
Absolutely. Last question: What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust yourself. You are responsible for your decisions. No one else can tell you who you are. I would also say to little Joey to stand on your foundation and make sure you build a strong one. Most importantly, be kind to yourself. The world is going to hurt, so be kind to yourself.