2023 Power 50: Joshua Croke
May 1, 2023 : Worcester Business Journal
Croke is the influential voice for the LGBTQ+ community across the Central Massachusetts region. As president of Love Your Labels, they lead the Queer Coalition of Greater Worcester and run programming across the area, including Drag Queen Story Time.
Titles: Founder, Action! by Design, in Worcester President & co-founder, Love Your Labels Transformative development initiative fellow at MassDevelopment, in Springfield
College: Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Love Your Labels hosts the Queer AF: Art+Fashion Show Fundraiser, which showcases diversity in the community and advocates for self expression. Their programming is all the more important this year, as it is active opposition to anti-trans sentiment and legislation across the country, including in late April when North Brookfield refused to allow a drag show at a Pride parade.
Beyond their work for the queer community, Croke leads Action! by Design, which convenes a statewide working group for the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative that seeks to disrupt and eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline under the Massachusetts Department of Youth Services. The group is made up of community-based organizations, state departments, and advocates across sectors. The organization held its second Cultivating a School-to-Possibility Pipeline in March, attended by more than 200 educators, youth workers, parents and families, and state employees.
Croke is on the board of Worcester nonprofit Living in Freedom Together, supporting people impacted by the sex trade.
How should professionals best use the power they wield? “Actively seek to distribute it to the collective; to the people you serve, to people who have been disallowed access to certain forms of power. Take a stand. Businesses need to take a stand against injustice, racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and all the -isms that prevent us from living truly liberated lives.”
Surprising inspiration: Croke credits sci-fi and “Star Trek” as inspiring their way of thinking and value of knowledge.