Preferred Pronouns: he, him, his
What is your position at the University?
I am a Coordinator in the Center for Student Engagement where I advise students on the Campus Events Board and do graphic design/marketing for the 80+ events per year that our office brings to campus.
What is your role on the commission?
I currently serve as the Chair for the Communications and Alumni Committee. This is my first year as a professional staff member on the Commission, but I served the past two years as a graduate student while I was completing my Masters in Transmedia Design.
Discuss some of your recent accomplishments and/or areas of study relating to the LGBTQ+ community.
In April 2016, I launched an organization called All Out Knoxville that serves the LGBTQ+ community by providing opportunities for networking, professional development, community service, and social engagement. My biggest accomplishment of the last year would definitely be getting this organization off the ground and building it into what it is today. Since our launch party at the Central Collective in April, we have done everything from hosting an LGBTQ+ Trivia Night at Remedy Coffee and partnering with TurboSpin Knoxville to offer a private spin class for LGBTQ+ community members, to planning an LGBTQ+ Career Networking Mixer with the Center for Career Development and hosting an outdoor brunch at Ijams Nature Center. You can check out what we’re all about at http://www.alloutknox.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/alloutknox/.
Over the past year, I have also become increasingly involved with the Tennessee Equality Project; specifically with the Knox, Anderson, and Blount Counties Committee. Recently, we have had huge successes with our ‘Lobbying 101’ presentation at TVUUC, in creating a database for LGBTQ-inclusive mental health providers in the Knoxville area, and by expanding the “TN Open for Business” initiative.
In terms of my work on the Commission, I am really proud of the Communications and Alumni Committee for planning and hosting the first LGBTQ+ Alumni Homecoming Tailgate back in the fall—where we invited alumni to come back to campus, tour the Pride Center, and network with current LGBTQ+ students at the university.
In what ways do you see the commission impacting the University?
I think the Commission has a really unique role on campus, as we serve in an advisory capacity to the Chancellor on matters concerning the LGBTQ+ university community. We are an essential link between students, faculty, and staff and the upper administration, which provides us the opportunity to address issues facing our community in a more impactful way. Our work has become increasingly important in light of the legislation that has negatively impacted campus resources for the LGBTQ+ community and I believe it is more important now than ever for the Commission to be a voice for positive change on this campus and to give a voice to those who feel they have been silenced.
What would you like to see in the future at UT for LGBTQ+ people?
My desire—and the driving force behind all that I do on the Commission and through my roles in various community organizations—is to help create an LGBTQ+ community that is more active, accessible, and inclusive. I want the University of Tennessee to truly be an environment that is “welcoming to all and hostile to none” and I want members of the LGBTQ+ community to feel valued, safe, and welcome here. It wasn’t until I stepped onto campus as a freshman in ’08 and found other people that were ‘like me’ that I truly felt at home, and now I want to help others do the same.