1. Tell us about the Calhoun County Coalition for Inclusion. What purpose is it intended to serve?
Calhoun County Coalition for Inclusion, or 3Ci as we affectionately call it is a coalition of faith leaders, medical professionals, students, teachers, youth and community members who are dedicated to creating an inclusive and welcoming community for LGBTQ youth and adults alike in Calhoun County. We hold annual events such as Peace Prom, a dance held at an open and affirming church that is inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities. 3Ci is led by Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan and was formed in 2008.
2. What brought you to work in LGBTQ advocacy?
I got involved in LGBTQ advocacy as an ally in high school during my freshman year. My parents taught me that everyone should be treated equally and I didn’t think it was fair that people were getting teased and bullied in school just because of their perceived or actual sexual orientation. As I got older, I realized it wasn’t just about bullying – discrimination was written into our legislation, which lit a fiery passion for social justice that won’t blow out. Of course, coming out as transgender to myself and – eventually – publicly after denying it for so long, has also contributed to my interest in LGBTQ advocacy.
3. You’ve mentioned feeling eager to amp up transgender programming at the center, as the transgender community has been overlooked at times. What kind of programming are you hoping to bring to KGLRC?
To be perfectly honest, I have some ideas for programming but I won’t know how those ideas can fit into the KGLRC until I have a better understanding of the current programs from the inside. I think the KGLRC has some great programs, like the Triangle Mentorship Program and it’s many committees like the Health and Wellness committee, the Queer Women Committee, and Transcend – the transgender committee. What I’m excited to do is ensure that we don’t leave out any group of people when we create programming, and that we do more for groups that might have unintentionally not been considered for programming in the past.
4. As Program Director, you’ll also be working with the Triangle Mentorship Program. Can you tell us a bit about the program and what you’d like to strengthen/change once you’re on the job?
The Triangle Mentorship Program pairs youth with an LGBTQ identified adult professional and an ally identified adult professional to allow the youth to have two mentors for the school year. It premiered last year and I was actually a mentor for a (lucky) high school student. Just with any program, strengths and weaknesses are discovered when the program goes from proposal to action. I want to strengthen the Triangle Mentorship Program, by equipping our adult mentors with some more training on youth facilitation and youth empowerment as well as adding some new structure to the program’s calendar. I think the Triangle Mentorship Program is an amazing initiative and I can’t wait for it to get bigger and better over the years.
5. Any idea what your first day on the job – Nov. 1 – will look like?
(Laughs) I have no idea. I imagine it’s going to be a busy day and, for me, the beginning of my next amazing chapter. If Zach and David are reading this, I am hoping it involves a lot of coffee and bagels! I look forward to working with all of the amazing community members I already have met and know, and am excited to start working with all of the incredible community members I haven’t yet had the opportunity to meet. Please feel free to stop by the KGLRC to introduce yourself – and sign up to volunteer!