Sarah Kate Ellis’s big challenge hasn’t been being a woman or being gay—it’s been her own self-doubt.
“The biggest barrier in my career was probably myself. My own head, getting in my own way, thinking that I could be less than because I was a woman or because I was gay,” she tells Fortune.
Before Ellis became the CEO and president of GLAAD—the media monitoring organization founded by LGBT people in the media—she tried to blend in as just another heterosexual media executive. “When I started my career, I never was out because I thought it would really hurt my career, so I was very, very quiet about my private life,” Ellis recalls.
“It wasn’t until I actually came out that I felt like my career really flourished because then I was being authentic and true and that showed in the work that I was doing,” she says.
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And flourish it did: Ellis oversaw the turnarounds of a number of media brands at Condé Nast and Time Inc. (TIME), as well as the launch the lifestyle magazine Real Simple, before taking on her current role at GLAAD.