Title: Associate Director | Summer Programs
College / University / Organization: Georgetown University
Position for which you are applying: Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Awareness, Chair
In the space below, please describe your involvement with ACPA, including any leadership positions you have held .
I have been a member of ACPA continuously since I joined the Association during my first semester of graduate school in September 2004. I have found my professional home within ACPA and have become involved by belonging to several of the Standing Committees and Commissions. However, most of my leadership and formative experiences have occurred in the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Awareness (SCLGBTA). I ran and was selected as an Administrative Coordinator to serve on their Directorate Board both from 2006-07 and 2007-08. When a Board Member had to resign their position, I stepped in as Director of Convention Programs from 2009-10 and was responsible for the evolution of the AIDS Memorial into Our Agenda program.
From my involvement with the SCLGBTA, I was pushed to become more involved with the Association. I have presented seven presentations at four of the eleven Annual Conventions I have attended. At the 2012 Annual Convention, I started to become involved in the Social Media Task Force. On the local level, I served on the local re-chartering committee of District of Columbia College Personal Association (DCCPA) from 2009-10 and was elected two consecutive years (2010-11 & 2011-12) as the Educational Programs Chair. In this role, I was ultimately responsible for coordinating the inaugural and second annual conference including recruiting and selecting presenters and arranging all logistics for the conference.
I have wanted to get more involved with the greater Association and when a position became vacant late in the planning process on the 2013 Vegas Convention team, I stepped in on the Local Arrangements Team as one of the co-chairs for Headquarters and Signage. I enjoyed that experience so much that most recently, I have been serving on the 2015 Tampa Convention team as part of the Marketing and Communications team working with the Convention Program Book. All of these involvement and leadership opportunities have made me more invested in ACPA and its goals and mission while wanting to seek out more ways to get more deeply involved and give back to the Association.
Please describe how you will work to advance ACPA’s Core Values if elected/appointed to this position.
If I were privileged enough to be elected to the Chair of the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness (SCLGBTA), utilizing ACPA’s core values would both the foundation to build my work upon as well as a beacon of where I can assist in helping the Association progress into the future. One of ACPA’s core values is the education and development of the total student and this value radiates to the core of my personal values. This would be reflected in my work by ensuring that decisions made by the Executive Board are guided by increasing opportunities for our membership to become more student centered and focused in our work. This is especially true for traditionally underrepresented populations, including LGBT students, to ensure their unique needs are addressed in the spaces and experiences we work to create on our campuses. The Association does an excellent job at this already but in my role, it is amplifying the need to raise awareness of the experiences and needs of LGBT students and professionals and actively seeking out research to bring this dialogue to our membership.
The core value of diversity, multicultural competence and human dignity speaks to the need for me to ensure the Executive Board reflects the identities and cultures of the general membership of ACPA. This calls me, as a professional with a social justice lens, to ask questions about what voices are and aren’t being heard at the table in all conversations, from our Annual Convention presentations to publications and even how the Association brands itself to our membership and the world. The Association already uplifts this core value in how it operates and if elected, I would work collectively with other Standing Committee chairs and the Equity officer to ensure we continually reflect on how we engage our membership with its complexity of identities and continually reassess to make sure our intentions align closely with impact of our work. Inclusiveness in and access to association-wide involvement and decision-making is one of the core values that had motivated me to run for the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness Chair position. I am a proud member of ACPA and that pride in the Association has led me to have opinions and ideas of how to better the already great work being accomplished in our Association.
While I am just one professional, it will be important to actively seek the ideas and opinions of other ACPA members especially the membership of the SCLGBTA which is reflected in the core value of the free and open exchange of ideas in a context of mutual respect. I have come to see the power of engagement with social media, and if elected to SCLGBTA Chair, I would strive to develop online spaces and opportunities for the SCLGBTA membership to with one another and with myself. My work with the Social Media Task Force for the past few years has provided me great experiences and knowledge about how to leverage these resources to provide more space for networking, information sharing, and way for SCLGBTA members (and the general ACPA membership) to provide direct feedback about their experiences.
And the core value that motivates me the most is outreach and advocacy, which is one of the SCLGBTA core values as well. Being involved in ACPA and more deeply within the SCLGBTA has connected me to professionals and opportunities where I have learned that organizations and individuals can always do more to reach out to better themselves, the system they are working for, within, and sometimes against, and the collective community through which they serve. The opportunity to serve as Chair of the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness would allow me to engage in continued advocacy for our membership while having opportunities for my voice to assist in amplifying the voices of those who typically are silenced or at least not given the space and time to have their needs and experiences listened to.
After reviewing the qualifications of the position for which you are applying, please describe briefly below how you believe you meet each qualification.
I am fully qualified for the Chair of the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness (SCLGBTA) as I have continued to be involved and invested in ACPA for the past 10 years. I remember quietly checking out the Dinner OUT in Nashville, TN at my first Annual Convention. Dinner OUT is an event sponsored by the SCLGBTA on the night before the opening of Convention where individuals gather to go out to dinner at a typically local LGBT-run restaurant and spend time networking. I remember being unsure of what the Standing Committee was going to be but was and have been pleasantly surprised of the community and close friends I have developed over the past 10 years. From my first experience at Dinner OUT, I actively sought ways to learn more about the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness by attending the open meetings and attending as many events as possible at the first Annual Convention.
The more I experienced, the more I wanted to become involved and play a role the great work the SCLGBTA was doing. At the next Annual Convention, I ran and was appointed a position on the Administration team, which worked on various branding and communication projects. I was privileged enough to be appointed to the position for two years in a row and worked closely with creating marketing materials for annual Convention events and working with the Silent Auction initiative that benefited a local LBGT youth organization in the host cities during Convention. From my early involvement, I benefited and witnessed the power of creating opportunities for networking, one of the SCLGBTA core values. I met and developed strong professional connections with individuals from various institutions and functional areas as well as parts of the world. Most of the mentors and role models I have made within the field of Student Affairs were forged within ACPA.
My involvement with the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness took its next evolution in fall 2009 when the current Convention Programs Director had to step down from their position. I was contacted by the leadership of the SCLGBTA to take the lead in examining the best steps for the AIDS Memorial event that occurred at Annual Convention. The event was important to the Association and to the SCLGBTA but had struggled with attendance in past years. Through a series of conference calls with SCLGBTA, ACPA, and Convention leadership for several months, I led a team, which created a new event titled Our Agenda. Our Agenda shifted the focus from not only memorializing those who have lost their fight with HIV/AIDS but also one of awareness and education for our membership of how to take active steps to engage our own campus communities in the conversation. It was through this experience it was even more engrained the importance of another of the SCLGBTA’s core values, education. While Our Agenda no longer exists, it did serve a function of engaging ACPA members in learning and reflecting on our role in working with a unique population of students who are living with HIV/AIDs.
This is the work I would continue if selected to Chair the SCLGBTA by working with the Directorate and our members to identify experiences of LGBT individuals that we can support by encouraging more research, supporting Convention presentations, and facilitating learning opportunities outside Convention. After serving on the Directorate for three years, I took a step away to provide new members to become more involved and I focused on my own learning by developing and presenting several sessions at Annual Conventions. I presented seven different presentations at four Conventions on a variety of topics but several times examining intersections of other social identities with LGBT identities (social class and spirituality). The ability to further the learning of my peers, while learning about myself at the same time, is an important aspect of the Association and the SCLGBTA that I will continue. Delving further into the intersections of other identities with the LGBT is an area the Standing Committee is doing solid work but something I would continue to foster and develop.
My passion for advocating for change and making an impact in ACPA members’ experiences drove me to become involved in the Local Arrangements team for the 2012 Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. I learned that to have my voice heard more loudly and ensure that my ideas have greater impact that I needed to get involved at higher levels of the Association. Working on the Convention Planning team provided me the opportunity to see how Association leadership works and understand the greater complexities in operating with such a diverse and large organization. This passion for advocacy, the third core value of the Standing Committee for LGBT Awareness, has pushed me to apply for the Chair position and regardless of the outcome, I will evolve my involvement within ACPA as this Association, especially the SCLGBTA, has given me so much that I want to continue to give back.
As a leader, how will you contribute to the work of the Association?
Being elected to the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness (SCLGBTA) Chair position would be a leadership position that would provide unique opportunities to leverage my skills and experiences to better the Association. While I am a proud member of ACPA, there are places where I see the Association can grow and better serve its membership. ACPA Leadership established the 2012-2016 Strategic Plan, which provides an excellent framework as we look toward the Associations areas for improvement. One of my goals is to continually examine our practices and policies to make sure they serve professionals at every level, from every functional area, and be cognizant to be inclusive of the many identities we each own. As I look to move up in the profession, I have come to acknowledge mid-level and senior professionals have unique needs. And within this community, there is a need to examine those underrepresented identities, which struggle to move into mid-level and senior positions. This is touched on with the Strategic Goals of Career Development and Professional Development. If elected to the Chair position, I would work to continue to develop opportunities for unique populations to explore their needs within ACPA and the Student Affairs profession.
Another goal is to increase the Association's utilization of technology and social media to better increase opportunities for communication between leadership and the membership. This speaks to the strategic goal of Association Performance & Excellence. ACPA has taken great strides to better engage its membership via social media and provide resources to equip its members to utilize social media in their roles. If elected to the position, I would build upon this great work and incorporate it into the SCLGBTA. I would provide opportunities for the membership to engage with Directorate board including myself to provide direct feedback. I would tap into existing networks such as The Student Affairs Collective and their weekly #sachat to see how we can partner and strengthen connections with other online communities to engage them in issues of LGBT professionals and students.
Lastly, the strategic goal I hope to focus my work around if privileged enough to be elected as Chair of the SCLGBTA would be to continue the work around Social Justice that ACPA's membership already excels at. This is an area our Association excels in engaging our professionals in but the work is never done. More needs to be done to explore the intersections of our many social identities and continue to find ways for increased levels of inclusion and equity for our members and the many student and campus communities we serve. I would build upon the great work done in the past for creating networking socials for professionals with unique identities within our LGBT community including the Genderqueer/Trans social and the Queer People of Color social at Annual Convention. I would work with the Directorate Board to continue to develop spaces for individuals to network and feel supported but also find ways to assess the impact of these events on our membership. I would also push to work to use assessment to find a way to evaluate the impact of the various longstanding traditions run by the SCLGBTA to ensure they are meeting their intended outcomes and are still inclusive spaces for all identities within our membership. My ability to serve as the Chair of the SCLGBTA provides me the opportunity to have my voice be heard by a different level of leaders within our Association. With that privilege, I hope to continue the great work the SCLGBTA has done for many years while always finding ways to push the work that is being done to make sure our intent in how we engage our members plays out in our impact.
After reading the introductory statement about the ACPA Leader Selection Process, take a moment to reflect on your own experiences at the intersections of equity, inclusion and diversity. How will your experiences help you in our work to champion equity, inclusion and diversity within and outside the ACPA community?
The interesting aspect of power and privilege with social identities is when you have it, you get the benefits without knowing or acknowledging it. This was true for me with regards to many of my dominant identities until several experiences provided me the opportunity to begin to recognize the privilege I have been afforded most of my life. My privilege around my white identity (or acknowledgement of race at all) was not made apparent to me until graduate school. It was in the deeply personal and reflective courses and assignments I learned all the unconscious benefits I had been given as a white man my entire life including my experiences in graduate school and within the Student Affairs profession. This began my passion for engaging myself in work around social justice, inclusion, and equity. Graduate school ignited my personal reflection work around my white racial identity but also to do more thinking and dialoguing around my male identity and privilege, and social class identities.
While my personal work around my dominant identities was crucial, my coursework gave me the space to sit and more fully understand what it meant to be gay and part of an underrepresented identity population. I began to immerse myself in the literature at the intersections of these identities by doing work about LGBT students and their experiences around spirituality as I personally was struggling with this in my own life. I began to explore the developmental steps of LGBT identity and actively working to implement them in my own life. I did not realize it at the time but reflecting back on my experiences, it exemplifies how crucial the work Student Affairs Professionals do around equity, inclusion, and diversity. Our identities impact how we experience our worlds especially for students on our college who developmentally are experiencing critical moments of their development. It is important for our Association to critically identify research and engage in dialogue with one another about how to continually examine current practices to ensure we are creating spaces and opportunities for students and professionals alike.
After graduate school, I continued to further my own learning by continuing to seek out opportunities that pushed my knowledge around social justice and inclusiveness including The White Privilege Conference and the Social Justice Training Institute. On my own campus, I helped start and have continued to be involved for the past 4 years in Georgetown’s first intergroup dialogue program, A Different Dialogue. These experiences have instilled in me the value that work around social equity and justice is never done; there is always more for everyone at every level to learn. They have also stressed the importance of actively working to make sure as many voices of different traditionally underrepresented groups are invited to participate in dialogues at every level of the Association. Finally, all my experiences within the realm of social justice and inclusion have taught me the power of acknowledging my own privilege and the limitations of my worldview. They have instilled in me the importance of truly listening to others before trying to impart my own thoughts and experiences. While I know I have lots to learn in my work around social justice and inclusion, they are experiences I readily seek out and believe the Chair for the Standing Committee for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Awareness will provide.