2019 LGBT+ College Conference Schedule

Conference Theme – All Identities–Building Support

The conference is free to attend for everyone. Please register to help in planning.


Get details on driving, parking, hotels, registration, submitting, etc.


Thursday, April 4 - Research and Examination

8:30am – 9:00am | Conference Registration and Check-In

JUB Lobby

9:00am – 9:20am | Welcoming Remarks

JUB Tennessee Room

Presented by Christopher J. Bannochie, Ph.D. (he/him/his)

Christopher J. BannochieDr. Bannochie currently leads the mercury speciation effort for Savannah River Remediation, coordinating 36 shipments and the characterization and reporting on over 50 tank and process samples to date. He is working a DOE EM-21 funded proposal to speciate mercury in sludge solids to determine if long-held assumptions about the nature of incoming mercury to the Defense Waste Processing Facility (DWPF) are accurate.

Prior to the present mercury effort, Dr. Bannochie supported SRR’s Saltstone Facility regulatory reporting and Hanford Bench-Scale Steam Reforming (BSR) R&D programs. From 2005 – 2009, Dr. Bannochie led the SRNL team responsible for support of the DWPF radiological process development, regulatory analyses, and analytical characterization activities. This team, with an annual budget in excess of $1 million, was responsible for radiological support of this multibillion dollar, one of a kind facility for the vitrification of high level waste (HLW).

Dr. Bannochie was responsible for a $2.9 million SRNL research program in conjunction with Clemson University in support of the Hanford Waste Treatment Plant (WTP). During this effort he successfully insisted on the completion of necessary experimental studies prior to pilot-scale activities and educated the customer on the need for a more integrated progression of experimental and pilot-scale work, removing unnecessary analytical measurements and implementing better control of sample protocols to ensure the generation of technically representative data.

Dr. Bannochie was one of a six person SRNL team stationed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the joint LLNL/SRNL Plutonium Immobilization Program (PIP) where as a Visiting Scientist for three years, he was responsible for developing material characterization capabilities for a future Plutonium Immobilization Facility. The work included the development of laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for analysis of pressed metal oxide particles and the implementation of this technology in the LLNL Plutonium Facility.

Dr. Bannochie was responsible for the design, construction oversight, testing, and deployment of a 48-foot mobile radiological laboratory to support the SRS Transportable Vitrification System deployment at the K-25 site at the Oak Ridge Reservation and the Duratek, Inc. waste vitrification program at the SRS M-Area Nuclear Fuel Fabrication Facility. The laboratory was brought in within budget and schedule for its initial duties.

Dr. Bannochie led the SRNS team for the SRNL transition from paper laboratory records to an Electronic Laboratory Notebook (ELN) system, which brought about an annual cost avoidance of nearly $700K. Dr. Bannochie continues to work toward integration of the ELN with the new Laboratory Information Management System and expanding its capabilities to manage equipment and stockroom materials in the laboratory.

Dr. Bannochie is a Fellow of the American Chemical Society (ACS), where he serves as an elected member of the ACS Council committee responsible for nominations and elections. Dr. Bannochie’s awards include the ACS Division of Professional Relations Louis J. Sacco Award, the E. Ann Nalley Southeastern Regional Award for Volunteer Service, the Stanley C. Israel Regional Award for Promoting Diversity in the Chemical Sciences, the NOGLSTP Walt Westman Award, and a George Westinghouse Signature Award. He is a member of the Malta Conferences Foundation Board, the Johns Hopkins OXIDE Advisory Board, and is a Director for the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Basic and Applied Sciences

9:20am – 10:45am | Tennovation Research Symposium Presentations

JUB Tennessee Room

The Tennovation initiative is designed to bring together people investigating issues that overlap with conference goals and programming, including, but not limited to, issues of adjustment to college or university environments, efforts to improve inclusion, issues affecting LGBT+ people generally, research into intersectionality, and research investigating initiatives to improve outcomes for students.

The Tennovation research symposium will feature presentations submitted through the conference portal addressing a variety of topics overlapping with conference themes. The Tennovation Research Symposium Abstracts Book will post after submissions close.

Tennovation Research Symposium Abstracts Book

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of Social Work

11:00am - 12:00pm | Tennovation Keynote

Europe's Long-Lasting Fight towards LGBTI-Equality

Fifty years after the Stonewall Riots, the LGBTI movement all around the world became much more visible. The 2005 Cultural Festival of Equality in Poland is seen as Central & Eastern Europe's Stonewall. In general, within the European Union the LGBTI community made a lot of progress in the last two decades. But what if we cross the border of the EU? Russia uses its soft power not only to fight its domestic LGBTI community, but also to spread institutionalised homophobia in ‘Gayropa' - and indirectly also in the USA. Is it really getting better? Political scientist Rémy Bonny will initiate the participants of this keynote in the world of LGBTI Politics in Eastern Europe through personal research experiences. He will not only talk about the current situation in the region, but also explain the impact of backlashes concerning LGBTI rights in Central and Eastern Europe on the West.

Presented by Rémy Bonny (he/him/his)

Rémy BonnyRémy Bonny is a young political scientist. He studied the Bachelor and Master programme at the Free University of Brussels. Within the scope of this programme, Rémy wrote a master thesis on the impact of europeanisation on LGBTI politics in Ukraine based on extensive field research. Currently, Rémy is living in Budapest. There he is examining the impact of foreign actors - like Russia - on the countermovement towards LGBTI equality in Hungary. He’s doing this research in the context of a programme at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation.

Rémy specialises in LGBTI Politics in Central & Eastern Europe and post-Soviet Republics. He has been traveling around Eastern Europe in the last three years to learn more about the LGBTI community in the region. During the ‘3xVeto’ protests against the judicial reforms in Poland, he was asked by Al Jazeera to share his views on the topic.

When Rémy received death threats for an article he wrote on the situation of transgender people in Armenia, he also became a vocal advocate for LGBTI rights in the whole of Europe. Since that moment Rémy comments and writes on LGBTI Politics for several international media, like The Advocate, LGBTQ Nation, PinkNews, GayStarNews, Bild, etc. More info on Rémy’s work can be found on https://remybonny.be/

Sponsored by AllianceBernstein

12:15pm - 4:00pm | Concurrent Sessions

NOTE: The tracks are student(s), student affairs / advisor / faculty(a), and corporate / workplace(c)

SESSION  I - Lunch and Nissan Factory Tour(s)

JUB Tennessee Room (depart from here)

Workplace Tour Description

Conference participants will be taken to Nisaan's factory in Smyrna, TN for a tour and presentation about opportunities with Nissan. A boxed lunch will be provided as participants get on the bus. This tour is limited to 25 participants, so please let us know at registration that you plan to attend.

Tour notes:

  1. The bus will leave from the curb in front of the James Union Building at 12:15 pm.
  2. The tour starts promptly at 1:00 pm so the bus will have to leave on time at 12:15 pm.
  3. You will not be allowed to bring your cell phone, cameras, or recording devices on the tour.
  4. You will need to wear a shirt with at least a 4-inch sleeve.
  5. You must wear closed-toe shoes, no flip-flops or sandals are allowed.
  6. Participants are encouraged to bring resumes with them on the tour.

Sponsored by Nissan North America

SESSION II – Safe Zone Training (S, A, C)

JUB Hazelwood Dining Room (Lunch will be served)

Safe Zone Description

Learn how to create a network to support all members of the LGBT+ community. a train-the-trainers session will follow for anyone wanting to become a Safe Zone trainer.

Presented by: The Middle Tennessee State University Safe Zone Training Team

Note: You must pre-register for Safe Zone training; participation is limited to the first 30 people who register.
Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Center

Thursday, April 4 Evening - LGBT+ College Conference Film Festival

6:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Film Festival and Reception

The festival will feature films related to LGBT+ issues submitted from around the globe.

Host: Allie Sultan (she/her/hers)

Allie Sultan has her degree from San Francisco State University. She is a filmmaker and video/sound editor with over 12 years of experience in visual storytelling. She teaches filmmaking to people of all ages and believes in the power of creating over consuming. She has expertise in video editing, sound editing, cinematography, screenwriting, directing, and timelapse photography.

Allie Sultan

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Media and Entertainment 

Friday, April 5 - Intersections of Identity with the Broader Community

8:3am – 9:0am | Conference Registration and Check-In

JUB Lobby 

9:00am – 9:20am | Conference Opening Address

JUB Tennessee Room

Presented by William Langston (he/him/his)

William LangstonDr. William Langston is a psychology professor at Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Langston’s research explores the psychology of belief. As part of his research program, Dr. Langston is a ghost investigator and has visited some of the most haunted places in the world. Dr. Langston is also the advisor to MT Lambda (MTSU’s all-inclusive LGBT+ student organization) and serves on the Provost’s Access and Diversity Advisory Board.



9:30am – 10:45am | Opening Plenary Discussion

JUB Tennessee Room

Building a Coalition

Building a successful community coalition, student organization, or employee resource group of diverse constituencies with potentially conflicting goals can be difficult. However, coalitions can be more successful than people operating alone. Panelists who have created and/or led community coalitions, student organizations, or employee resource groups will present a discussion to help others build and maintain successful alliances. 


Christy SiglerChristy Sigler (moderator; she/her/hers)

Christy Sigler serves MTSU as a Title IX Investigator and Deputy Coordinator, primarily investigating claims of sex- or gender-based misconduct. She also assists as a trainer for the Safe Zone Program on campus. Prior to her role here, Ms. Sigler worked as an attorney, primarily in juvenile court. She is also an appointed member of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth.

Dwayne JenkinsDwayne Jenkins (he/him/his)

Dwayne Jenkins is a native New Yorker from the Bronx who has lived in Nashville since 1994. He has worked at Nashville CARES, Tennessee's premiere HIV/AIDS Service Organization for over 22 years and serves as the Director of My House, a diverse drop in center delivering essential health and support for today’s ever-changing needs of Same Gender Loving.  He is the Executive Director of the Brothers United Network, Inc., the state’s first African American Gay focused 501c3 organization, and is the Founder and President of Nashville’s annual Black Gay Pride Celebration.  He has been the Community Advisor to the Genders & Sexualities Alliance at Tennessee State University since its founding in 2003, and serves as the Board Chair of the Center for Black Equity which advocates for over 30 Black Pride organizations as well as focuses on equality and justice for Black LGBTQ communities through expansive platforms on Health, Economic and Social Equity.  Dwayne attended Buffalo State College for a BA in Communications, has been a proud & financial member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity for 34 years, raised three sons, has 2 god children and lives with his spouse of 23 years.

Kelly HillKelly Hill (she/her/hers)

Kelly Hill is Power of One Prevention grant coordinator for the Office of Violence Against Women Campus grant at the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at Middle Tennessee State University. Kelly also has experiences working as a public health educator, victim services advocate, and as a legislative research analyst. She founded two grassroots community organizations, in Ohio and Tennessee, with the goal of community building and civic engagement among progressive Asian American women. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University, and a Master of International Education Policy from Vanderbilt University.

Charitey MackenzieCharitey Mackenzie (she/her/hers)

President of Rainbow Rutherford, Charitey is on a mission to create safe spaces and a tribe within the LGBTQIA+ Community. Wife, Mom of 2, and small business owner in the sexual health field, Charitey has a unique background and chooses to lead with one word in mind—Inclusive. Charitey has helped to grow Rainbow Rutherford from a Facebook group to a thriving group of over 650+ members that is pursuing community involvement and providing safe spaces for the community to find a tribe they can count on.

Cathy LivelyCathy Lively (she/her/hers)

Cathy C. Lively is the Manager of Diversity and Inclusion for Nissan North America.

Lively joined Nissan in 2010 as a contractor at the company’s headquarters in Franklin, Tenn. In 2011, she transitioned to a full-time employee in the Business Transformation team and was later promoted to support business planning and cross functional teams. In 2014, Lively was promoted to Sr. Analyst in the Americas Diversity Office, and was promoted to Manager of Diversity and Inclusion in March of 2018.

Lively earned a bachelor of sciences degree from Eastern Illinois University and a master of sciences degree from Illinois State University. Lively is a Certified Diversity Professional by the National Diversity Council.

Lively has earned several awards and recognitions as a result of her work in diversity and inclusion.

Maxwell PearsonMaxwell Pearson (he/him/his)

Maxwell Pearson is the President of MTSU Lambda Association for the 2018-2019 academic year. He is studying Microbiology and Nutrition and Food Science. His goals for the organization are to spread the word and increase membership and participation as much as possible, as well as to partner with other organizations to work on education and ally-ship. His current career goal is to become a Food Technologist.



Sponsored by Nissan North America

11:0am – 1:00pm Film Keynote Presentation and Luncheon

JUB Tennessee Room

The Most Dangerous Year

In 2016 a small group of families with transgender kids joined the fight against a wave of discriminatory anti-transgender legislation that swept the nation and their home state. With the help of a coalition of civil rights activists and ally lawmakers, these families embarked on an uncharted journey of fighting for their children’s lives and futures in this present-day civil rights story. Visit the film's web site to view the trailer and learn more about the film.


Elyce HelfordElyce Helford (moderator; she/her/hers)

Elyce Rae Helford, Ph.D., is professor of English, director of Jewish and Holocaust Studies, and faculty in Women's and Gender Studies at MTSU. Her teaching includes courses on film, literature, and popular culture within the fields of gender studies, Holocaust studies Jewish American studies at all levels of the curriculum. Helford's research centers in gender, sexuality, and ethnicity within 20th-century film, including her book on gender in the films of gay Hollywood studio director George Cukor (University of Press of Kentucky, forthcoming 2020).


Vlada KnowltonVlada Knowlton (she/her/hers)

Award-winning filmmaker Vlada Knowlton made her feature-length documentary debut with HAVING IT ALL (2015), exploring the pressure women face to balance careers, children, and marriage. The film was the anchor program of the KCTS9 (Washington PBS) "Women Who Inspire" series in August 2015, and also aired on Oregon Public Broadcasting. Her current documentary, THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR (2018), was awarded the Professional Grant from Women in Film Seattle and an Open 4Culture Grant. It premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival, receiving a runner-up award for Best Documentary, and went on to win a Best Social Issue Documentary award at the Atlanta International Documentary Film Festival. Knowlton holds a doctorate in Cognitive Science from Brown University and worked at Microsoft prior to her filmmaking career.

Dr. Marisa Richmond (she/her/hers)

Marisa RichmondDr. Marisa Richmond currently teaches history and women’s and gender studies at Middle Tennessee State University. She is also a member of the Metro Human Relations Commission in Nashville, and the only openly transgender member of the Democratic National Committee. Previously, she served many years as the President and Lobbyist for the Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition. She is a prolific author and speaker on transgender rights, and has served on many boards at the Local, State, and National levels. She has been recognized for her work with many awards. She has three degrees, all in U.S. History. Her A.B. is from Harvard University, her M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from George Washington University.

Justin Miller (he/him/his)

Justin MillerJustin Miller is an activist, political operative, and former political candidate. A vocal ally to the LGBT+ community, Justin pursued a seat in the Tennessee State Legislature with LGBT+ rights as the centerpiece of his campaign. When his campaign ended, Justin continued to raise awareness of the discriminatory legislation consistently introduced in Tennessee and joined the Tennessee Equality Project where he currently serves as Chair of the Rutherford County committee. The Tennessee Equality Project advocates for the equal rights of LGBTQ people in Tennessee through legislative advocacy.


Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of English and Virginia Peck Estate Trust

1:30pm – 2:45pm | Plenary Panel Discussion

JUB Tennessee Room

Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

A foundational element of the conference’s initial conception, this panel explores the “bottom line value” that organizations place on their capacity to create a culture in which differences are respected and inclusion is strategically leveraged as an organizational strength. Students preparing to enter the employment pipeline will have an opportunity to gain insights on how potential employers' policies and practices address various dimensions of diversity, including gender identity or expression and sexual orientation. D & I professionals and other leaders in attendance will benefit from open and honest dialog in building their knowledge and exploring new thought leadership for the benefit of the work unit and organization.


Patrick McCarthyDr. Patrick McCarthy (moderator; he/him/his)

Dr. Patrick McCarthy, J.D., received his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from George Mason University and his J.D. from the Nashville School of Law. He is a licensed attorney and a member of the American Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Law Division. Dr. McCarthy has previously served as Director of MTSU’s Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness (COHRE). Besides his consulting experience, Dr. McCarthy has also served on the Leadership Development Executive Board for the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education.


Shovann Staton-BackusShovann Staton-Backus (she/her/hers)

Shovann Staton-Backus has been cooking all her life but didn’t turn that passion into a full-time career until a few years ago. Prior to that, she cared for patients as a registered nurse for 15 years. In 2013, she was looking for a career change that would combine her desire to help people with her love of cooking, so she became a certified health and wellness coach and launched Women Four Wellness. The ‘four’ in the name is a play on words referencing the four aspects of wellbeing she addresses. Her mission statement is “Helping Beautiful Women one body at a time, Mind, Body, Spirit, and Overall Health.” In addition to coaching and consultation, Women Four Wellness offers healthy prepared meals through a subscription service, so clients can stick to healthy eating habits.

A year later, Staton-Backus launched The Stiletto Chef, as she says, “to celebrate the crazy, fun, flavorful and sexy side of cooking and great good.” The Stiletto Chef offers a range of services such as catering, private cooking classes, and instructional videos for her Facebook group with 15,000 followers! Staton-Backus says that the inspiration for the name of The Stiletto Chef came from the idea of a career woman who can come home from running a successful business to create a hearty meal for her brood of kids or a romantic meal for her partner before she’s taken off her stilettos.

Timothy GaullTimothy Gaull (he/him/his)

Timothy is a Lead User Experience Designer for enterprise software at AllianceBernstein. Additionally, he’s the chair for the LGBT+ employee resource group where he works to actively lobby for inclusive policies promoting equality and equity including gender, sexual preference, ethnicity, race, and socio-economic backgrounds.

Before discovering his mission crafting software and culture in corporate America, Timothy was an entrepreneur and design thinker who has worked in venture capital and the startup communities in Boston, Kansas City, and Chicago. He also has a very faith-based background and has previously served in a mission-related capacity for the Gay Christian Network and other religious organizations. Timothy's passionate about promoting inclusive policies within the corporate world and challenging corporate power in America to be an active force for good. He lives with his dog, Charlie in East Nashville.

Jarod ForsytheJarod Forsythe (he/him/his)

Jarod Forsythe is a financial analyst for Nissan North America. He joined Nissan in the summer of 2016 as an intern at the company’s headquarters in Franklin, Tennessee. He returned as an intern two more times. In 2018, he transitioned to full-time employment on the Materials Finance team. Forsythe is a member of the Gay Straight Alliance at Nissan Business Synergy Team (GSAN). He was selected to the role of Pride Director, and works to coordinate activities with various departments for Nashville Pride and other LGBTQ events in the Middle Tennessee community. He earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting from Westminster College in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania.

Dr. Dorsha James and Judge Rachel BellJudge Rachel Bell (she/her/hers)

Judge Rachel Bell has been in the legal profession thirteen years, six of which she has served in the capacity of General Sessions Court judge in Nashville, TN. Judge Rachel is the founder of the Music City Community Court which focuses on prevention, rehabilitation and restoration in the Criminal Justice System. Married in 2017 to Dr. Dorsha James, they have founded the “i am…just human” campaign and currently own Solutions Now, Inc. along with The Ring the Bell Foundation.

Dr. Dorsha James and Judge Rachel BellDr. Dorsha James (she/her/hers)

Dr. Dorsha James has practiced emergency medicine since 2005 and recently retired from Emergency Medicine in order to pursue her passion as an entrepreneur. She has served in the roles of Assistant Medical Director and Medical Director in busy ERs throughout the MidSouth. She is the co-founder of the “i am…just human” Campaign with her wife of 2 years, Judge Rachel L. Bell. They are co-owners of Solutions Now, Inc. along with The Ring the Bell Foundation.


Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of Psychology

3:00pm - 5:00pm | Concurrent Sessions

Note: The Tracks are Student (S), Student Affairs/Advisor/Faculty (A), and CORPORATE/Workplace (C)


JUB Tennessee Room

Building Support between the LGBT+ Community and Greek Life

Many students struggle to fit in when they first step onto a University or college campus, but fitting is even more of a struggle for LGBT+ students as they grapple with personal identity development, social stressors, and, often times, a lack of support from their family and peers. Commissioner Nadzieja struggled to keep her gender identity a secret most of her life out of fear of being rejected by family and friends. She will describe her experiences coping with those fears living as a man during college and as a member of the Greek system and overcoming those fears later in life to finally live the life she was intended to live as a woman. Commissioner Nadzieja will describe the challenges transitioning to be successful in her career, to becoming the first transgender judicial officer in Arizona, and as an active female alumna volunteer in her all-male fraternity.

Presented by: Tracy Nadzieja (introduced by Paul Wydra)

Paul WydraPaul Wydra (introduction; he/him/his)

Paul was born and raised in Glen Carbon, IL, which is about 15 minutes east of St. Louis. He worked for his fraternity after college and helped move the fraternity from Vincennes, IN to its present location in Lebanon, TN. Paul spent over 4 years on staff in various roles, Educational Leadership Consultant for the Midwest, Director of Alumni Relations, and Director of Expansion. In his spare time, he loves listening to music & going to concerts, playing bad golf, watching sports, going to movies & fantasy sports. Paul has worked at Middle Tennessee State University for over 12 years. He was the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for over 10 years and now is the Director of Development Initiatives. In his job, he assists in fundraising efforts for the Honors College, the Library, and the University College, along with special events & projects and alumni affinity groups. MTSU is the second largest undergraduate university in Tennessee with over 22,000 students and has almost 140,000 living alumni. Paul received his Master of Education-Higher Ed. degree in Management & Supervision from MTSU in August of 2011.

Tracy NadziejaTracy Nadzieja (she/her/hers)

On April 20, 2018, Tracy Nadzieja was appointed as a Commissioner of the Maricopa County Superior Court. She is the first openly transgender judicial officer in the State of Arizona and it has been reported that she is only the third transgender judicial officer in the country. She is currently assigned to the Criminal Department’s Initial Appearance Court. Prior to her judicial appointment, Tracy was a civil litigation attorney for more than 24 years and practiced by the name of “Tom” until her name was legally changed to Tracy in 2016.

Tracy was formerly partner at the Phoenix law firm of Peshkin & Kotalik where her practice for 19 years (17 years as Tom) focused on insurance coverage and bad faith disputes and third-party insurance defense litigation. She was listed as a Southwest SuperLawyer from 2015 to 2018 until she left her law practice to serve the Court. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science in 1989 and with a Juris Doctor in 1993.

Tracy also serves Sigma Pi Fraternity as its Arizona Province Archon which oversees all Fraternity operations within Arizona including its undergraduate chapters/colonies, alumni clubs and assists with expansion efforts. Tracy also represents Sigma Pi as its Delegate to FRMT, Ltd., its national insurance provider and risk management consultant.

Tracy has called Phoenix, Arizona home since her family relocated from Chicago in 1976. She is married to her wife Patty for 22 years and has raised two children, Ethan (18) and Stacia (15).



Sponsored by: Middle Tennessee State University Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Center

SESSION II – Workplace Success Showcase-Deloitte (C)

JUB Dining Room C

Building an Inclusive Workplace Environment

How can a company build an inclusive environment that reflects its values to employees and customers? The discussion leader will facilitate a discussion with participants to develop concrete interventions to implement in the workplace.

Presented by: Diane Easter (she/her/hers)

Diane EasterDiane Easter is a Senior Manager at Deloitte and leads strategic, talent focused programs for Deloitte’s Information Technology Services (ITS). During her career at Deloitte, Diane has led numerous other efforts, including Web Hosting, Application Operations, Service Management and Deloitte’s National Operations Center as well as multiple diversity and inclusion initiatives. Her involvement with diversity and inclusion at Deloitte began in 1994 when she started Deloitte’s first group for LGBT employees. “I am proud of Deloitte’s long-standing inclusion journey and our commitment at the national level and in our local communities”. She and her wife have four children and live in Hendersonville, TN. Diane holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Middle Tennessee State University.


Sponsored by Deloitte

Friday, April 5 Evening - LGBT+ College Conference Game Night

6:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Game Night

Student Union Building, Center for Student Involvement and Leadership (Room 330)

Student Union Building (STU), 1768 MTSU Boulevard, MTSU campus map coordinates E4
Parking: Student Union Lot, MTSU campus map coordinates E3
Conference participants will gather for an evening of interaction and fun with a variety of games and activities.
Sponsored by Focus Middle Tennessee

Saturday, April 6 - Working and Learning Sessions

8:30am – 9:00am Conference Registration and Check-In

College of Education Building, Room 160

9:00am – 9:20am Welcoming Address

College of Education Building, Room 160

Presented by: T.K. (Thunder Kellie) Hampton (he/him/his)

T.K. HamptonT.K. (Thunder Kellie) Hampton was born in the small town of Columbia, TN, where he was raised by his mother and father along with his two other siblings. After high school, TK went on to graduate from the University of Montevallo, Alabama, where he received his Bachelors of Science in Education, specializing in Special Education. He was an educator for special education for over 15 years. When TK found out he was HIV Positive over 20 years ago, he knew then that he wanted to become a voice for young black gay men so that they wouldn’t have to go through the feeling of abandonment and the same turmoil that he went through. Becoming HIV Positive gave TK a voice and a platform, which he used to produce his first theatrical production entitled “You Shall LHiV” in 2007. “You Shall LHiV” was a production that focused on the black church and the statistics surrounding HIV in women. In 2017, T.K. Hampton wrote, produced, and directed the second theatrical production “You Shall LHiV 2: ZERO”, a theatrical production that gave voice to the most vulnerable within the LGBTQ community through song, dance, and monologues. ZERO educated and empowered LGBTQ individuals and their allies with the knowledge of biomedical advancements that helped stop the spread of HIV regardless of race, sex, or socio-economic status. TK is currently working on his final theatrical production entitled “You Shall LHIV without STIGMA”. “You Shall LHiV without STIGMA” focuses on fighting and correcting the stigmas that black men face when dealing with race and HIV. TK is currently employed as the MSM/3MV Program Director at My House/Street Works. My House/ Street Works is a one stop shop for men who have sex with men to get HIV testing, STI testing and overall sexual education. TK has been recognized and awarded in Nashville, TN and across the United States for his advocacy work within the HIV field. Although TK enjoys focusing on HIV in the black community, he wants to take it a step further and focus on a holistic healing through plant base practices to reach his targeted community.


Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Vice President's Office for Student Affairs

9:30am – 10:30am Plenary Discussion

College of Education Building, Room 160

Personal Reflections on Building Support

Panelists will discuss their experiences of building support in a variety of contexts, academic, corporate, and community. 


William LangstonDr. William Langston (moderator; he/him/his)

Dr. William Langston is a psychology professor at Middle Tennessee State University. Dr. Langston’s research explores the psychology of belief. As part of his research program, Dr. Langston is a ghost investigator and has visited some of the most haunted places in the world. Dr. Langston is also the advisor to MT Lambda (MTSU’s all-inclusive LGBT+ student organization) and serves on the Provost’s Access and Diversity Advisory Board.


Panelists will be selected from conference participants who volunteer to participate.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Institutional Equity and Compliance

10:45am – 11:45am The "Plus" in LGBT+ Keynote

College of Education Building, Room 160

You Can't Play with Us, Bro

The bridge between the athletic community and the LGBTQ community has been an uphill struggle throughout history. Stereotypes, homophobia, and inequality have been displayed for over a hundred years in athletics and the fight for equality in sports still continues. Public Motivational Speaker and LGBTQ Activist, Nathan Fort, will discuss the perceptions, stereotypes, and issues in athletics (including masculinity). Fort will also discuss the importance of straight allies in the LGBTQ sports community, the history and progress of LGBTQ athletes in a heterosexual sports environment, and his personal stories of living in one of the most homophobic and racist parts of the country as a gay college athlete.

Presented by: Nathan Fort (introduced by Dean Harold Whiteside)

Harold WhitesideHarold Whiteside (introduction, he/him/his)

Dr. Harold “Terry” Whiteside has been a professor in the Psychology Department at Middle Tennessee State University since 1973. His professional areas are in sport psychology and persuasion.

Whiteside received an associate degree from the University of Florida, his baccalaureate degree from the University of Miami, his master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and his doctorate degree from Oklahoma State University.

In 2002, Whiteside was appointed by President Sidney McPhee to be Middle Tennessee’s Faculty Athletics Representative. In that role he has participated in annual meetings and workshops offered by the NCAA, the Sun Belt Conference and Conference USA, and the Faculty Athletics Representatives National Association. In 2005, the All-American Football Foundation awarded him its Outstanding Athletic Representative Award.

He is currently serving as Dean of MTSU’s College of Behavioral and Health Sciences, MTSU’s largest College. Prior to serving in administration he focused his efforts on teaching, research, public service, and his athletics’-related responsibilities. He has published or presented over 80 professional papers.

Whiteside is married to the former Sharon Colavito and has four children, Dean, Erik, Lilly and Anise, and grandson Riley.

For his crucial support in the launch of the LGBT+ College Conference, Dr. Whiteside has an award named after him, the Terry Whiteside Ally in Diversity Award.


Nathan FortNathan Fort (he/him/his)

Nathan Fort is a Public Motivational Speaker from Cedarville, Arkansas where he has been one of the most upcoming LGBTQ speakers in the South. At the age of 22, Fort became the first gay college athlete to publicly come out in the state of Arkansas and the first gay basketball player to publicly come out in the West South-Central region of the United States. His coming out article has been featured on Outsports, Out Magazine, and the Huffington Post where it has been read by millions of people across the world. Since then, Fort has been all over the United States speaking to different corporations, organizations, and institutions on the issues of homophobia, suicide prevention, sexual assault, and LGBT inclusion on college campuses. Some of these corporations include Sprint and Nike, organizations such as GLSEN, and institutions such as Kansas State University and Arkansas Tech University. He has also spoken for different Pride events all across the nation such as Chicago Pride, Kansas City Pride, and recently Atlanta Pride. Fort received his Bachelor of Science degree at Bethel College and now resides in Nashville, Tennessee where he is also an Education Services Director for the Salvation Army promoting educational opportunities, diversity, and inclusion in the non-profit world.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Behavioral and Health Sciences

12:00pm – 1:30pm Lunch Break / Networking / Community / and Religious Organizations Fair

College of Education Building, Lobby

Lunch will be provided to allow conference attendees to network and interact with community organizations and groups participating in the community and religious organizations fair.

1:45pm – 3:15pm Strategy Session

Saturday, April 6, College of Education Building, Room 160

Connecting Academic and Corporate Diversity Training

Diversity training is a part of the academic and corporate worlds. The goal of this session is to bring together leaders and trainers from both groups to assess current training goals and strategies. What do these training programs have in common? Can participants leverage differences to improve their own practice? Participants in the session will have an opportunity to try out various training modules and to provide feedback based on their experiences.


Dave MarksDave Marks (corporate; he/him/his)

Dave Marks is Director of Diversity & Inclusion at Asurion, a Nashville-based technology solutions company, where he helps people managers think beyond traditional definitions of corporate diversity to become truly inclusive leaders. His responsibilities include development and execution of Asurion’s D&I education and D&I metrics strategies. Dave has more than 20 years of experience as an HR practitioner in functions ranging from HR systems to organization development and holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County along with Society of Human Resources Management Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) and Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certifications.

Roberta NelsonRoberta Nelson (academic; they/them/theirs)

Roberta currently serves as the Assistant Director of the Office of LGBTQI Life at Vanderbilt University. For the past two years they have created and delivered educational curriculum and trainings on the Vanderbilt campus and across Middle Tennessee. In the fall 2018 semester Roberta conducted over 40 trainings that ranged from how to create “brave spaces” to the P.R.I.D.E. (Pursuing Respect, Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity) program. Roberta holds a Masters in Theological Studies, with a focus in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard Divinity School. While at Harvard Divinity School, Roberta worked as a Graduate Assistant in the Office of Student Life and was a founding member of the Religious Anarchist Collective. Roberta also earned a BA in Religion and History from the University of Rochester. Their academic interests lay in the development of American religious identity constructions at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Roberta also has a passion for campus and community programming that engages these points of intersection. Outside of work, Roberta is an avid Green Bay Packers fan, who watches a bit too much Sci-Fi.

Joshua RigsbyJoshua Rigsby (academic; they/them/theirs)

Joshua Rigsby graduated MTSU in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Communication. While attending MTSU he served as the MTSU Lambda Association President from 2012 to 2014 and established the LGBT+ College Conference with the goal of creating a statewide network of LGBT+ collegiate students across the state of Tennessee. Since graduation, he has served as the Alumni Advisor for the MTSU Lambda Association from 2014-2018, and has served as a member of the LGBT+ College Conference Advisory Board from 2013-2019. Beginning in 2013, Joshua served three consecutive years as a member of the Board of Directors for OutCentral, Greater Nashville’s LGBT+ Community Center. While a member of the board, he oversaw student engagement and outreach, served as a member of the Executive Board as Vice President, and was responsible for volunteer outreach, recruitment, and training. Currently, Joshua is the Middle Tennessee State University LGBT+ Program Assistant.



Sponsored by: Middle Tennessee State University College of Education

3:30pm – 4:30pm Issues Summits

College of Education Building

Note: The Tracks are Student (S), Student Affairs/Advisor/Faculty (A), and CORPORATE/Workplace (C)

SESSION I – Student/Corporate/Workplace issues summit (S, C)

College of Education Building, Room 149

Discussion Topic: When and How to Intervene

Students have suggested examples of situations where bystander intervention might have been appropriate. Discussion leaders will lead the group in developing strategies for intervention in these types of situations, including role-playing potential interventions. Participants will be encouraged to add their own examples to the conversation, either from academia or the work place.

Discussion Leaders

Barbara ScalesBarbara Scales (she/her/hers)

Barbara has 20 years of social welfare and adult learning experience. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology/Sociology and a Master of Arts in Education and Counseling and is working on her Ed.D. in Learning and Leadership at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. Currently, Barbara Scales serves as the Director of the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at Middle Tennessee State University. Barbara also is the Principle Investigator for the Department of Justice Grant – Office of Violence against Women CAMPUS Grant. She is the founder and developer of MTSU’s Bystander Intervention-Prevention Program – “Be the Power of One”; an awareness and education program about gender –based violence. Barbara and her team has reached over 12,000 students over the last 2 years with their prevention efforts.  Barbara is an advocate for women and nontraditional students and is dedicated to removing obstacles and building bridges between working, education, and social environments. She is truly committed to making what she considers her ceiling our future professional women’s floor through her women’s programming, advocacy, support, and events. Barbara’s passion is helping people live life in 3D; define their destiny, discover their potential and develop in their purpose.

Kelly HillKelly Hill (she/her/hers)

Kelly Hill is Power of One Prevention grant coordinator for the Office of Violence Against Women Campus grant at the June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students at Middle Tennessee State University. Kelly also has experiences working as a public health educator, victim services advocate, and as a legislative research analyst. She founded two grassroots community organizations, in Ohio and Tennessee, with the goal of community building and civic engagement among progressive Asian American women. She holds a Master of Theological Studies from Boston University, and a Master of International Education Policy from Vanderbilt University.


Gert ComfreyGert Comfrey (they/them/theirs)

Gert Comfrey (aka Sarah Grove, MTS, LMFT) does healing labor and facilitation at the intersection of psychotherapy, spiritual care, and anti-oppression activism. They are deeply committed to liberation movements, to consciousness-raising, power-generating practices, and to the healing spirit of abolition. These commitments are present in Gert’s work as a licensed therapist, where they serve individuals, couples, and families in Nashville, TN. Gert offers trainings to health care practitioners, therapy interns, and students about best practices when working with queer folx. They also spend time in radical spaces exploring the ways we can organize well, bringing our whole selves to the movement. They are passionate about community care, community-based decision-making processes, and community visioning. Gert has served on the steering committee of the Nashville Feminist Collective and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) and is a co-founding member of Neon Guard Nashville.


Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Liberal Arts  

SESSION II – Student Affairs/Advising issues summit (A)

College of Education Building, Room 145

Discussion Topic: Meeting the Needs of LGBT+ Students

How can advisors, faculty, and staff anticipate and meet the needs of their LGBT+ students? Safe Zone trainers and staff who work closely with LGBT+ students will discuss common challenges that students face and discuss solutions. Session participants are encouraged to ask questions and share their experiences.

Discussion Leaders

Maigan WipfliMaigan Wipfli (she/her/hers)

Maigan is an Assistant Director for Student Programming and Activities at MTSU. She enjoys being a Safe Zone Trainer because everyone deserves to be respected and feel valued. Everyone can also learn a lot from a Safe Zone training, whether they know it or not. Feel free to stop in Student Union 340, or make an appointment if you need to talk! It can be about anything (cats, crafts, the Green Bay Packers….). She is available!


Stephanie AldersonStephanie Alderson (she/her/hers)

Stephanie is the Area Coordinator for Cummings Hall at MTSU. She received her Bachelor of Social Work from MTSU and her Master of Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. It was during her time in Nebraska that she was able to exercise her passion for the LGBTQA+ community while serving as the graduate assistant for the LGBTQA+ Resource Center on campus. Stephanie is very glad to be continuing her work in the community by being a Safe Zone trainer at MTSU. She would love to list her hobbies as doing things that are adventurous and daring, but as that would be a lie, she will list them as reading good books, going on walks with her husband and puppy, and adding things to her Netflix queue.



Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of Sociology and Anthropology

4:45pm – 5:00pm Conference Closing and Action Plan Review

College of Education Building, Room 160

Participants will "report out" key lessons from the conference, complete conference evaluations, and make recommendations for next year's agenda. 

Saturday, April 6 Evening - LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner

7:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner

James Union Building, Tennessee Room

Join us in a celebration of the conference attendees and presenters, and help us recognize the remarkable achievements of our nominees and award winners.


Kayla Gore (she/her/hers)

Kayla GoreKayla Gore's organizing work includes assisting in several campaigns with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, including fighting for housing equality for all people who are chronically homeless and advocating for the just treatment of transgender people by law enforcement. She works to connect transgender people to core OUTMemphis services, including HIV testing, HIV+ support services, sexual reproductive health needs, emergency services, and peer-led groups. She is excited about expanding transgender decriminalization programming at OUTMemphis and building legal support services to meet the needs of transgender people in the Mid-South.

Jennifer Novo (she/her/hers)

Jennifer NovoJennifer Novo is a dedicated champion of diversity in higher education; for over seventeen years she has taken on various roles learning the ins and outs of campus life. Her work as faculty and staff, in areas related to student retention, access and success, instruction, and student advising have given her the capacity to have a better understanding of how to address the issues that concern students and administrators. During her time in higher education, she has held various roles including Director of Student Success, University Student Retention Specialist, Dean of Student Success, and Director of the Academic Enhancement Center. She played a critical role in the development of various campus-wide efforts to decrease student attrition including programming for minority student populations including LGBT+, Latino, immigrant and international student organizations. She is committed to student success. In 2018, she received the Academic Advancement Award from Middle Tennessee State University’s Office of Intercultural and Diversity Affairs and became a Climate Reality Leader. She currently serves as Chair of the Grants and Funding Committee for the Cumberland University Diversity and Inclusion Task Group.


Sheri Nichols Bucy and Barbara Santoro (accompanist)

Sheri Nichols BucySheri Nichols Bucy (she/her/hers)

Sheri Nichols Bucy is widely known as larger-than-life Sheri Lynn, one-half of the Jugg Sisters of the wildly popular and zany NashTrash Tours. In business since 1997, their rolling comedy show on wheels is the longest-running entertainment tour in Nashville. This is a rare opportunity to hear Sheri’s more refined side, as she performs songs from her award-winning, one-woman show “Le Miracle de Piaf” based on the life of the legendary Edith Piaf. Sheri’s stunning embodiment of Piaf during theatrical runs in Detroit, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong earned international critical acclaim.

Barbara Santoro (accompanist; she/her/hers)

Barbara Santoro hails from the Washington, DC area where she studied classical piano with internationally renowned pianist, author, and educator Mary Gae George. She and her husband, drummer Vince Santoro, moved to Nashville in 1992 to perform, tour, and record with country artists Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Carlene Carter, and others. She began work at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music as an accompanist for classical voice students, and joined the faculty as Adjunct Artist/Teacher in 2013. She also works as an accompanist/coach at Belmont University and privately for professional and amateur opera singers.

Keynote Address

Candace Winters Johnson and Damien Connor

Candace Winters JohnsonCandace Winters Johnson (she/her/hers)

Candace Winters Johnson is a newlywed to husband Mike (FTM) and the mom to three adult sons, the youngest, Damien age 19, is transgender FTM. They've written a book together about their journey. One side tells Damien's childhood journey, flipping the book over gives Candace's view, that speaks to the parent. She's a fierce activist for the LGBTQIA+ community and a mama bear for any kid that needs it and crosses her path. She's a member of several groups that support and affirm the community including: SerendipityDoDah, MamaBears, Free Mom hugs, Vanderbilt transbuddy volunteer program, and PFLAG Nashville. She worked eight years as a surgery tech at Vanderbilt Medical Center and had dreams of a career in stand up prior to being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2015. Her days are filled with writing and working for the cause of inclusivity of human rights, as well as her passion to become a master gardener with the handicap of having a black thumb. She truly rejoices in feeding the hundreds of songbirds that find their way into her backyard in Franklin, Tennessee. Another passion is nourishing the hungry souls that find their way into her kitchen. The rest of her time is spent wrangling dust bunnies and loose fur created by their four four-legged fur babies.


Damien ConnorDamien Connor (he/him/his)

Damien Ryan Connor is a 2018 graduate from Independence High School in Thompson Station, TN. He graduated with the rank of Captain and a leadership award from their JROTC program. He currently works part time and has been accepted into a volunteer firefighter program that will train him to eventually become a professional firefighter. In addition to writing his side of the book, in his free time he enjoys playing video games. He also spends his free time hanging out with his girlfriend, brothers, and close friends. 

2019 LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner

Presenting Sponsor


 LGBT+ College Conference Logo

Lambda hosts weekly meetings and membership is open to all currently enrolled MTSU students who act in good faith of Lambda's Constitution and Community Standards. Membership dues are announced at the beginning of each academic year and can be paid at any time.