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2020 LGBT+ College Conference Schedule

Conference Theme – All Identities–Expanding Your Influence

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 2 - Research and Examination

James Union Building (JUB), 516 Alma Mater Drive, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Bell Lot (green section), MTSU Campus Parking Map

8:45am – 9:15am Conference Registration and Check-In

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building Tennessee Room

9:15am – 9:35am Welcoming Remarks

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Presented by Roberta Nelson (they/them/their)

Roberta NelsonRoberta Nelson is currently the Assistant Director at LGBTQI Life at Vanderbilt University where they oversee training and education, and student support initiatives. Roberta holds a Masters in Theological Studies, with a focus in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard Divinity School, and 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. Their recent research projects include: Charismatic Leadership: A Case Study of The Church of Scientology, The Ethical and Spiritual Construction of the Underground Punk Community, Uncovering Diverse Lesbian Identities of the 1920s, and The Past, Present, and Future of Global Gender Identities. In January 2020 Roberta was awarded the Promising New Professional award from the Consortium of LGBTQ Higher Education Resource Professionals.

Sponsored by Focus Middle Tennessee

9:45am – 10:45am Tennovation Research Symposium

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building 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 will post after submissions close.

Call for PresentationsSubmit a Presentation

Tennovation Research Symposium Abstracts (will post in March)

Host Ray White (he/him/his)

Ray WhiteRay A. White is licensed by the State of Tennessee as a Licensed Professional Counselor, with both Mental Health Service Provider and Approved Supervisor status. He maintains a professional private practice as Whitewood Counseling & Consultation, along with working in higher education where he serves as a clinical counselor and teaches on both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of Social Work

11:00am – 12:00pm Tennovation Keynote

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Title

Blurb

Presented by ()

Bio

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Distinguished Lectures Committee

12:00pm - 1:00pm Lunch Break

1:00pm - 3:30pm Concurrent Sessions

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building

NOTE: The tracks are student (S), student affairs / advisor / faculty (A), and corporate / workplace (C)

SESSION I - Interviewing Strategies for Success! (S)

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Please join us for a highly interactive session designed to build your interviewing confidence! This session will include an overview of the importance of interview preparation in all its facets (by Dr. Janet McCormick, Professor in Communication) along with inspiration and advice from professionals. We will provide key content and perspectives for students at any stage of the job/internship hunting process. You will learn the significance of research, questions, and the impact of your cover letter and resume, followed by interviewing skills needed to foster positive rapport. Bring your resume or simply be ready to take notes. Our goal is to help you succeed!

Training Team

Janet McCormickDr. Janet McCormick (she/her/hers)

Dr. McCormick earned her BA, MA and PhD in Communication and has been teaching courses in higher education and conducting workshops globally for over 30 years. Her repertoire of expertise includes, but is not limited to: public speaking, interpersonal communication, communication theory, leadership communication, intercultural communication, gender communication, small group communication, listening, organizational communication, communication consulting and auditing, communication training, communicating organizational change, conflict negotiation, persuasion, and interview communication. She is the recipient of numerous teaching, advising and service awards for her dedication to the Communication profession and her ability to better prepare students for the global workforce.

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.

Ron BalcarrasRon Balcarras (he/him/his)

Ron in a Senior Manager at Deloitte and works within Enterprise Technology Operations. His duties include leading teams who are responsible for Deloitte’s data management and access across numerous technology platforms. Ron is also the Chair of the Hermitage Inclusion Council, an active member of the Technology and Infrastructure Inclusion Council and the Executive Sponsor of the Hermitage GLOBE & Allies Business Resource Group (LGBT+ Employees and Allies). Ron holds a Bachelors of Mathematics from the University of Waterloo and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Ottawa. Ron moved from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Nashville 24 years ago and has been with Deloitte for 15 years. Ron is the Fund Development Chair for Nashville Cares and serves on the Vanderbilt HIV Vaccine Program Community Advisory Board.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Liberal Arts; FifthThird Bank

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

Thursday, April 2, James Union Building Hazelwood Dining Room

Learn how to create a network to support all members of the LGBT+ community at your school or organization.

Training Team

Jamie FustonJamie Fuston (xe/xem/xyr or they/them/their)

Jamie Fuston is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Volunteer State Community College after having earned a graduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Sociology with an emphasis in gender, sexualities, and non-criminal deviance. Having served as the chair for Vol State’s Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee, Jamie currently partners with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion to lead LGBTQ+ Safe Zone trainings for community college faculty and staff and serves an active role in building support and educating others to be inclusive.

William LangstonDr. William Langston (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 served on the Provost’s Access and Diversity Advisory Board.

 

Note: You must pre-register for Safe Zone training; participation is limited to the first 20 people who register.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Student Activity Fee Committee

Thursday, April 2 Evening - LGBT+ College Conference Film Festival

Keathley Student Union Building (KUC), 1524 Military Memorial, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Jones Lot, MTSU Campus Parking Map

6:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Film Festival and Reception (Program begins at 6:30)

Thursday, April 2, Keathley University Center, Theatre

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

Host Allie Sultan (she/her/hers)

Allie SultanAllie 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.


Film Festival Program (will post in March)

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Media and Entertainment

Friday, April 3 - Intersections of Identity with the Broader Community

James Union Building (JUB), 516 Alma Mater Drive, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Bell Lot (green section), MTSU Campus Parking Map

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

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room


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

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Presented by Lynn Cothren (he/him/his)

Lynn CothrenLynn Cothren is Special Assistant to the Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission, working in partnership with the ED on all the facets of the agency, including agency operations, the Board of Commissioners, our stakeholders, and the public.  Lynn assists with day to day logistics, education and outreach and general administration. Lynn works as an integral member of the executive staff team. Previously, as Director of Administration at Girl Scouts of the USA, Lynn’s leadership role included developing and implementing organizational strategies and policies that enabled girls to build courage, confidence, and character, and make the world a better place. Previously, Mr. Cothren served for 23-years as Special Assistant to the late Mrs. Coretta Scott King, founder of The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change.

Sponsored by Tennessee Human Rights Commission


9:30am – 10:45am Opening Plenary Discussion - Rooms without Windows: Reflections on LGBT+ Activism

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Panelists will discuss their efforts to bring about change at their workplaces, schools, organizations, and in the broader culture. The discussion will center on specific battles fought by the panelists, and will then broaden to include the audience and provide advice and encouragement for challenges audience members currently face. The name Rooms without Windows comes from a comment made by Cathy Lively of Nissan at the 2019 conference when she talked about finding meeting space for LGBT+ interest groups in their early days.

Panel

Shane McCoyShane McCoy (moderator; they/them/their)

Shane McCoy is a Lecturer in the department of English at Middle Tennessee State University and an affiliate faculty member in the Women's and Gender Studies Program. They teach courses that focus on first-year composition, queer literature and theory, contemporary transnational literature, and women of color and black feminisms. Their research focuses on feminist affect studies, Africana women’s literature, critical and feminist pedagogies, social justice, and pedagogies of empowerment.

 

Darius McLeanDarius McLean (panelist; he/hem/hiz)

Darius McLean holds a BS from Temple University and is a 2020 MS candidate in Organizational Development and Leadership at St. Joseph's University. McLean has been involved in various LGBTQ+ organizations including as board member of Girls Justice League of Philadelphia, a girls’ rights organization dedicated to taking action for social, political, educational, and economic justice with and for girls and young women. As a facilitator they have worked at the Gender and Sexuality Clinic support group for trans and GNC youth aged 4-12 at the Children's hospital of Pennsylvania (CHOP), and the monthly creative writing group transcribez at the University of Pennsylvania, as well as The Attic Youth Center and Valley Youth House in Philadelphia. McLean currently works as the Program Manager and Trainer for Einstein’s Pride Program, where he advocates for equity for LGBTQ+ people accessing healthcare services. He presents across the nation on topics including: LGBTQ+ health, social justice work as a QTPOC identified person, and the experiences of coming out and acceptance for Queer Black Diaspora people and their families.

Pamela ShefferPamela Sheffer (panelist; she/her/hers)

Pam Sheffer is the Founder & Director of Just Us at Oasis Center (www.justusoasis.org). After a lucrative 23-year career in corporate health insurance sales, Pam made a momentous decision to leave the corporate world and instead dedicate her life to creating system level changes for LGBTQ+ youth. She made it her new mission to ensure that LGBTQ+ young people could grow, thrive, and create positive change in their lives and communities.  Pam spent a year working fulltime (without pay) for the Oasis Center, conducting the necessary research and development to create a program designed specifically for LGBTQ+ youth. She built the infrastructure for the “Just Us” program in 2010-11 and collaborated with LGBTQ+ youth to develop the programming that is currently delivered. After securing the necessary funding to sustain the program, Pam launched Just Us in 2011. Since 2011, Just Us has expanded programming from one program to five and has expanded in staff by three professionals who are providing positive youth development programming as well as therapeutic mental health services on a weekly basis to over 100 young people each year. Over the past five years, Pam has focused exclusively on working with the systems of care where LGBTQ+ youth are marginalized and mistreated – public education, juvenile justice, and foster care. Pam approaches her systems level work through a truly southern perspective: build relationships, earn their trust, be invited to the table, and respectfully educate them. Through this approach, she has been successful in changing policy, mandating trainings, and creating allies in places of influence.

Stephanie LoweStephanie Lowe (panelist; she/her/hers)

True You TN Executive Director and Founder, Stephanie Lowe is exceptionally passionate about giving back to the community and committed to fighting for social, economic, and environmental justice. Stephanie brings with her over 10 years of experience leading and organizing non-profit organizations, strategically fundraising, and bringing awareness to issues within the community. Her personal story mirrors those of the youth she serves, so she understands the challenges they have faced.

Leslie Russell YostLeslie Russell Yost (panelist; she/her/hers)

Leslie Russell Yost is known for her outspokenness and advocacy for an equitable community. A founding member of the Boro Art Crawl, Locally Owned Boro, and BoroPride, the Tennessee Equality Project’s premiere event, Russell Yost enjoys supporting local business, the arts, and the LGBTQIA community. A self-appointed community busy body, she works with local media and organizations to promote the richness and diversity of the community. Russell Yost is from the hills of East Tennessee but firmly planted in the Heart of Tennessee in Murfreesboro with her spouse, Troy, and their assortment of rescue pets.

Sponsored by Nissan North America


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

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Films

The Real Thing--Brandon Kelley

"When a soldier returns home, things have often changed. For Staff Sergeant Michael Waltze, the ultimate change is in his child. While on his tour of duty, his daughter has transitioned and started living her truth. Today he is coming home to surprise her. Parental love is unconditional. It transcends a person's memory of their child. The Real Thing is an infinitely stronger bond." (https://vimeo.com/223044638)

Trans In America: Texas Strong--Daresha Kyi

Trans In America: Texas Strong is the story of Kimberly Shappley's journey from Tea Party Republican to staunch LGBTQ activist because of her love for her 6 year old transgender daughter, Kai, and their fight for Kai to use the girls bathroom at her school in Pearland, TX. (https://vimeo.com/321907578)

Authentically Us: Voices from the Transgender Community--Jesse Ayala

Authentically Us is a virtual reality documentary series about transgender people. Direct violence and discriminatory legislation against the transgender community continues to rise at a time when transgender visibility in pop culture continues to break glass ceilings. Step into the lives of three transgender people in the American northwest who are living authentically and taking action to make our communities safer and more prosperous for all. Produced in partnership with Pride Foundation, Oculus by Facebook, and Fovrth Studios. (https://jesseayala.com/authentically-us)

Panel

Allie SultanAllie Sultan (moderator; 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.

Brandon KelleyBrandon Kelley (panelist; they/them/their)

Brandon Kelley focuses on wrapping the performances of their actors around the story of the film. The opportunity to tell a compelling story, using the talents of a strong and flexible cast, is what Brandon finds most exciting. Having worked for the past 8 years in various crew positions, they have tried to absorb lessons from each department. An encompassing trust with their DP, AD, and keys is something upon which Brandon insists, as this is the key to a smooth production. Most of Brandon's films focus on a theme of social import. Their most well-known short film, The Real Thing, is included in many school curricula in order to introduce children to the concept of a transgender classmate. As a newly-out, but proud, genderfluid individual, Brandon is touched by the deeply personal responses to The Real Thing, but looks forward to their next projects.

Daresha KyiDaresha Kyi (panelist; she/her/hers)

Daresha writes, produces, and directs film and television in Spanish and English. Currently she is in post-production on Mama Bears, a feature documentary about how conservative, Christian mothers are transformed when they decide to accept their LGBTQ children. In 2018 she was commissioned by the ACLU to direct Trans In America: Texas Strong which garnered over 3.4 million views online, screened at SXSW, won two Webby Awards and an Emmy for “Outstanding Short Documentary.”  In 2017 she co-directed Chavela, a multiple award-winning documentary about iconic singer Chavela Vargas and produced Dispatches From Cleveland. This former Chicken & Egg, Creative Capital, Firelight Documentary Lab and A Blade of Grass fellow has produced programming for FX, WE, AMC, Telemundo, and FUSE, among others.

Jesse AyalaJesse Ayala (panelist; he/him/his)

Jesse (Jesus) Ayala is a creative director and filmmaker at Fovrth Studios. Ayala is best known for “Authentically Us: Voices from the Transgender Community,” Oculus’ first virtual reality docu-series, and #ImmigrantVoices, a Global Citizen virtual reality series. He is a current member of the New Museum’s NEW INC incubator and alum of Oculus VR for Good, and The Future of Storytelling programs. His work has premiered at Tribeca, SXSW, Cannes, HotDocs, IDFA, and the American Film Institute (AFI). Ayala lives in New York and Cambridge, Massachusetts with his husband. Ayala is proudly latinx and LGBTQ. For more visit www.JesseAyala.com

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


1:30pm – 2:45pm Plenary Panel Discussion - Bringing Your Whole Self to Work

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room

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.

Panel

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 is a co-founding Senior Consultant of MTSU’s Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness (COHRE), and has worked with over 80 clients ranging from Fortune 100 corporations to community nonprofits. Dr. McCarthy is also a past recipient of the LGBT Plus College Conference’s Ally in Diversity Award, and MTSU’s LGBT+ Faculty Advocate of the Year Award.

Ashe TuckAshe Tuck (panelist; she/her/hers)

Ashe Tuck is the Sales Academy Manager for Dell Nashville, a member of the Pride Group, and active as a local leader. She joined Dell Technologies in 2015 as a member of the Dell Consultant Network after a successful career in hospitality management. In 2017 she was a Presidents Club recipient which is exclusive for the top 10% of sales makers at Dell Technologies. Along the way she was able to achieve several sales and leadership awards while contributing to the hiring and diversity initiatives for the site. Ashe holds a B.S. in Recording Industry Business with a concentration in Public Relations from MTSU, 2009, and an M.B.A. with a concentration in operations management from MTSU, 2015. Outside of work she enjoys working home projects with her partner, cooking and caring for their dog, Cole, and cats, Willow and Oxford.

 Kelly HouskeKelly Houske (panelist; she/her/hers)

Kelly Houske is the Manager, Client Experience for INIFINITI Motor Co., LTD. Kelly joined Nissan in 2009 as a team lead for the Nissan LEAF launch, at the contact center in Amherst, OH. She was later promoted to Service Delivery Manager as the LEAF project grew to include connected services for both Nissan and INFINITI. In 2013, she transitioned to a project manager role at HQ in Franklin, TN. She later assumed the role of Manager, Client Experience where she continues to lead a team, dedicated to serving the approximately 1.5 million INFINITI Clients across the US. In 2017 Kelly received the coveted MC-I Chairman Award in recognition of her contribution to the JD Power – CSI#1. Last year, a third of her team moved into new roles at Nissan and INFINITI after learning the fundamentals of the business in INFINITI Consumer Affairs. They are the real heroes… Kelly has had a very diverse career. Before joining Nissan, she spent time in the insurance industry, owned a telecommunications and data services business, was President of NetWorld Ohio, Inc., a regional provider of internet services, and owned and operated several restaurants, a bed and breakfast and a limousine service. At one point she even worked for an orange juice company but got canned because she couldn't concentrate.... In addition to her current responsibilities at Nissan, Kelly is a member of GSAN at Nissan and serves on the Vanderbilt Program for LGBTQ Health Community Advisory Board in Nashville, Tennessee.

Kenny AbernathyKenny Abernathy (panelist; he/him/his)

Kenny Abernathy joined Deloitte in 2012 and is a Senior Employee Solutions Representative on the Personal Service Network team. He and his team support over 90,000 employees by educating and enrolling them into benefits, payroll, and family leave opportunities. His love for educating people on health and wellness and helping them understand their benefits has always been his passion. It reflects his desire to help others. Kenny is very active throughout the year coaching in the Metropolitan Nashville Softball Association League. Kenny also enjoys playing kickball, volleyball, and dodgeball within the LGBTQ community leagues. He has been co-chair of Deloitte Globe & Allies LGBTQ+ Business Resource Group for many years helping to support inclusion in the work place. Kenny is also an alumnus of MTSU.

Name (panelist; )

Bio

Gary SteeleGary Steele (panelist; he/him/his)

Gary Steele is vice president of human resources for BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, which has more than 6,000 employees and serves 3.4 million members in the state and across the country. He is responsible for the direction and oversight of the human resources division of the company and all its subsidiaries. Prior to this role, Steele was the director of talent management and business consulting for BlueCross, where he developed innovative human resources strategies and programs that support the company’s corporate goals and diverse lines of business. He was also responsible for leading human resources business consulting, and all BlueCross’ employee lifecycle elements, including talent acquisition, orientation and onboarding, performance management, organizational development, and succession planning. Steele has played instrumental roles in process improvements which translated into significant annual cost savings. These improvements include creation of strategic workforce planning, creation of the managed service provider program, improving succession planning methodology, creating more focused and expanded executive and mid-management development programs, and re-engineering of the talent acquisition department. During his 21 years with the company, Steele’s roles have increased in responsibility. He previously served as BlueCross’ principal human resources business consultant and senior corporate recruiter. Prior to joining BlueCross, Steele served 10 years as employment manager for the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. From 2007 to 2009, Steele served as president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). He continues as an active member both locally and nationally. In 2008, he was awarded the Human Resource Management Excellence Award from the Tennessee State SHRM council. He is also a member of the American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) and the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). Steele earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. In 2001, he earned his Professional in Human Resources (PHR) certification.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University College of Business; Middle Tennessee State University Department of Psychology


3:00pm – 5:00pm Concurrent Sessions

Friday, April 3, James Union Building

NOTE: The tracks are student (S), student affairs / advisor / faculty (A), and corporate / workplace (C)

SESSION I - Academic Success Showcase - Out in Academia (S, A)

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Dining Room C

Students interested in graduate school or a career in academia will have an opportunity to gain insights on how to navigate various dimensions of diversity, including gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, in an academic setting. Panelists will provide a frank and open discussion about their experiences with employers and students in their role in academia.

Panel

Bek DawsonBek Dawson (moderator; they/them/their)

Bek Dawson is a scholar and activist working towards bringing voices from the LGBT+ community into academic spaces so that their experiences and issues can be understood comprehensively. Bek received a BA in English and MA in sociology from MTSU. Their thesis research focused on the experiences of transgender and nonbinary people, specifically looking at the role of language socially and developmentally. While in school, they were an officer as well as the head of the education committee for MT Lambda, MTSU’s LGBT+ organization. While in MT Lambda, Bek helped organize events such as MTSU’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and create informational resources, such as the Identities Pamphlets series. They are a former organizer for Seeds of Acceptance Rutherford, an LGBT+ support group in Murfreesboro, TN. Bek currently teaches Women’s and Gender Studies at MTSU.

LaToya EavesLaToya Eaves (panelist; she/her/hers)

Dr. LaToya Eaves serves as Assistant Professor in the Department of Global Studies & Human Geography at Middle Tennessee State University. She is also an affiliated faculty member in the Women and Gender Studies program and the Africana Studies program. Eaves has a PhD from Florida International University, where she wrote a dissertation that addressed the place-making practices of Black queer women in the southeastern United States. Her research develops and applies a uniquely geographic perspective to the study of race, gender, and sexuality. Eaves has been active in the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA) and the American Association of Geographers (AAG) for a number of years. In 2019, Eaves received two of the AAG’s most coveted awards: The Ronald F. Abler Distinguished Service, unparalleled at this stage of the career, and the AAG Enhancing Diversity Award.

Shane McCoy (panelist; they/them/their)Shane McCoy

Shane McCoy is a Lecturer in the department of English at Middle Tennessee State University and an affiliate faculty member in the Women's and Gender Studies Program. They teach courses that focus on first-year composition, queer literature and theory, contemporary transnational literature, and women of color and black feminisms. Their research focuses on feminist affect studies, Africana women’s literature, critical and feminist pedagogies, social justice, and pedagogies of empowerment.

 

Jamie FustonJamie Fuston (panelist; xe/xem/xyr or they/them/their)

Jamie Fuston is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Volunteer State Community College after having earned a graduate degree from Middle Tennessee State University in Sociology with an emphasis in gender, sexualities, and non-criminal deviance. Having served as the chair for Vol State’s Diversity and Cultural Awareness Committee, Jamie currently partners with the Office of Diversity & Inclusion to lead LGBTQ+ Safe Zone trainings for community college faculty and staff and serves an active role in building support and educating others to be inclusive.

Nikki JonesNikki Jones (panelist; she/her/hers)

Nikki Jones, DSW, LCSW, LMFT, is an Assistant Professor and the BSW Program Coordinator at Middle Tennessee State University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. Dr. Jones has provided direct services to couples and families in private practice and behavioral health settings. Her main research and publication interests are social determinants of sleep disparity among non-majority groups, LGBT issues, and culturally aware social work practice. Dr. Jones serves as a consultant on culturally aware practices with non-majority groups.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Institutional Equity and Compliance

 

SESSION II - Workplace Success Showcase - Business Chemistry - Deloitte (C)

Friday, April 3, James Union Building Tennessee Room

Business Chemistry is a system expressly designed to provide insights about individuals and teams based on observable business traits and preferences. It draws upon the latest analytics technologies to reveal four scientifically based patterns of behavior. The resulting system is easy to remember, but with a sophisticated underpinning that highlights statistically relevant behavioral cues in a business environment.

Training Team

Joel G. CooperJoel G. Cooper (he/him/his)

Joel G. Cooper joined Deloitte in 1993 and is a senior manager on the Deloitte data center management team. His duties concentrate on data center asset and finance management where he uses his experience as a technology operations manager with his love of numbers to help manage items related daily financial operations. Joel is very active in the community. He supports Deloitte’s collaboration with Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, PENCIL, Junior Achievement, tnAchieves and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville, where he serves on the Advisory Board. Joel also facilitates various development and leadership courses for Deloitte including Business Chemistry.

Betsy OleksaBetsy Oleksa (she/her/hers)

Betsy Oleksa has spent over 30 years with Deloitte in its various forms and in many positions.  She is currently a Senior Manager, Software Solutions within the Deloitte Application Studios Talent Channel.  She began her career in the Cleveland Practice Office typing and filing in personnel files and has worked in the CallCenter, Information Technology, and Payroll.  One of her biggest accomplishments was the creation of team in India that grew from six to over sixty with minimal turnover.  Betsy is a certified facilitator for Deloitte’s Business Chemistry and Introduction to Mindfulness and Meditation trainings as well as a faculty member for Deloitte’s Up Your Game curriculum of soft skills training.  Over the years, she has discovered her passion for facilitation as well as coaching. She is a graduate of Alma College in Alma, Michigan, the L’Evate Leadership program in 2016 and a consulting Mindfulness teacher for Vanderbilt’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.  Betsy lives in Old Hickory with her husband of 29 years, as well as two silly cats.

Sponsored by Deloitte; Middle Tennessee State University Department of Economics and Finance

 

Friday, April 3 Evening - LBGT+ College Conference Game Night

Student Union Building (STU), 1768 MTSU Boulevard, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Student Union Lot, MTSU Campus Parking Map

6:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Game Night

Friday, April 3, Student Union Building Center for Student Involvement and Leadership

Conference participants will gather for an evening of interaction and fun with a variety of games and activities.

Host Kelly Hill (she/her/hers)

Kelly HillKelly 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.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Intercultural and Diversity Affairs Center

Saturday, April 4 - Working and Learning Sessions

Business and Aerospace Building (BAS), 1827 MTSU Boulevard, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Founders Lot, MTSU Campus Parking Map

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

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)


9:00am – 9:20am Welcoming Address

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)

Presented by 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, the Tennessee Department of Health’s Transgender HIV Prevention Task Force, 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.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Vice President for Student Affairs


9:30am – 10:30am Plenary Discussion - Personal Reflections on Expanding Your Influence

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)

Panelists (selected from conference participants) will discuss their experiences of expanding their influence in a variety of contexts, academic, corporate, and community.

Panel

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 served on the Provost’s Access and Diversity Advisory Board.

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

Sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

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

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)

More than Alphabet Soup: Identity Language Meaning in the LGBT+ Community

Recently, language has been shifting at an ever increasing pace, particularly within the LGBT community. There is much discussion about what this language means and whether or not it is useful to the community. In this talk, Bek Dawson will present research on the role of language in the LGBT+ community, which focuses specifically on the experiences of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who use or have used nontraditional language to describe their gender or sexuality. The lecture will explore the social impact of diverse identity language and how it shapes identity development. The talk will conclude with an invitation for the audience to join a conversation on individual terms, meanings, and how to apply this knowledge. 

Presented by Bek Dawson (they/them/their); Introduction by Shane McCoy (they/them/their)

Bek DawsonBek Dawson is a scholar and activist working towards bringing voices from the LGBT+ community into academic spaces so that their experiences and issues can be understood comprehensively. Bek received a BA in English and MA in sociology from MTSU. Their thesis research focused on the experiences of transgender and nonbinary people, specifically looking at the role of language socially and developmentally. While in school, they were an officer as well as the head of the education committee for MT Lambda, MTSU’s LGBT+ organization. While in MT Lambda, Bek helped organize events such as MTSU’s first Transgender Day of Remembrance, and create informational resources, such as the Identities Pamphlets series. They are a former organizer for Seeds of Acceptance Rutherford, an LGBT+ support group in Murfreesboro, TN. Bek currently teaches Women’s and Gender Studies at MTSU.

Shane McCoyShane McCoy is a Lecturer in the department of English at Middle Tennessee State University and an affiliate faculty member in the Women's and Gender Studies Program. They teach courses that focus on first-year composition, queer literature and theory, contemporary transnational literature, and women of color and black feminisms. Their research focuses on feminist affect studies, Africana women’s literature, critical and feminist pedagogies, social justice, and pedagogies of empowerment.

Sponsored by Dell; Middle Tennessee State University College of Education


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

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, Lobby, First and Second Floors

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 - Turning Words into Action: What's Hard and What's Hopeful about LGBTQ Advocacy in Tennessee?

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)

Conference attendees will learn about statewide organizing from leaders of the Tennessee Equality Project.

Training Team

Chris SandersChris Sanders (he/him/his)

Chris Sanders is executive director of Tennessee Equality Project, a statewide LGBTQ rights and public policy organization.  A resident of Nashville, he holds the M.Div. from Vanderbilt University.

 

Justin MillerJustin Miller (he/him/his)

Justin 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 LGBT+ people in Tennessee through legislative advocacy.

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


3:30pm – 4:30pm Issues Summits

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building

NOTE: The tracks are student (S), student affairs / advisor / faculty (A), and corporate / workplace (C) 

 

SESSION I - Student / Corporate / Workplace Issues Summit - Privilege Discussion (S, C)

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, Room 270

How does privilege impact the workplace and academic settings? What can be done to help people understand the role that privilege plays and be sensitive to it?

Discussion Leader

Roberta ChevretteRoberta Chevrette (she/her/hers)

Roberta Chevrette, Ph.D. (Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Women’s and Gender Studies Faculty, Middle Tennessee State University) is a critical rhetorical scholar committed to examining relationships among communication, identity, and social justice. Her research employs queer, feminist, and postcolonial frameworks to engage questions of difference, representation, embodiment, and whiteness. Her research appears in journals including Communication Monographs, Communication Theory, Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies and Frontiers: A Journal of Women’s Studies, and her co-authored book Dangerous Dames: Representing Female-Bodied Empowerment in Postfeminist Media will be available this year. Awards include the 2015 Emerging Scholar Award from the Critical and Cultural Studies Division of the National Communication Association, the 2018-2019 Ayne Cantrell Service Award, and the 2019 Tennessee Communication Association Undergraduate Mentor Award. She is the Immediate Past Chair of the Rhetoric, Culture, and Advocacy Division of the Western States Communication Association, and the chair/creator of a departmental committee on Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. Dr. Chevrette's courses at MTSU include Rhetoric, Identity, & Difference, Critical Methods in Communication, Intercultural Communication, Women in Media, Gender Communication, and Introduction to Women's Studies. By connecting theory with lived experience, her teaching guides students to become aware of, and critically examine, the ways language, symbols, and ideologies shape cultural and communicative structures and practices.

Sponsored by Middle Tennessee State University Department of Sociology and Anthropology

SESSION II - Student Affairs / Advising Issues Summit - Helping Students in Crisis (A)

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, Room 272

How can advisors, faculty, and staff be prepared to help students in crisis? Engage in a wide-ranging discussion covering topics such as homelessness due to familial alienation and domestic violence, stalking, and assault.

Discussion Leaders

Danielle RochelleDanielle Rochelle (she/her/hers)

Danielle Rochelle is currently working as Outreach and Support Programs Coordinator, where she assists students in maintaining and securing basic needs while attending MTSU. She received her B.S from MTSU in Psychology and M.S from Florida State University in Art Therapy. She has worked at MTSU for five years, previously in the role of an academic advisor. Her work has focused on increasing self-esteem among African-American female teens, programs to assist students experiencing or at-risk for homelessness while in college, as well as addressing food insecurities among college students.

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.

Amy DeanAmy Dean (she/her/hers)

Amy Dean is a 33-year retired police officer. She has a BS degree from University of New York and an Associates in Business from Indiana University. She is a graduate of the 164th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico VA. She is a certified Trainer in Domestic and Sexual Violence from The Federal Training Center in Glenco, GA as well as the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy. Amy spent the last 20 years of her career developing the Domestic and Sexual Violence unit at Murfreesboro Police Dept. while working as an investigator and later a Sgt. of that unit. She has presented many trainings to officers across the state and nation. After retirement, Amy went to Middle TN State University where she is currently their Advocate for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence. In December of 2019 she graduated from MTSU with her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice Administration.

Sponsored by Waller

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

Saturday, April 4, Business and Aerospace Building, State Farm Room (S 102)

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

Saturday, April 4 Evening - LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner

James Union Building (JUB), 516 Alma Mater Drive, Interactive MTSU Campus Map
Parking: Along Old Main Circle, MTSU Campus Parking Map

7:00pm LGBT+ College Conference Awards Dinner

Saturday, April 4, 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.

Hosts

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.

 Zac Woodward (he/him/his)

Bio

Music

Nashville in Harmony Major Minors

Major MinorsThe Major Minors youth chorus is a group for people ages 12-18 to be themselves without apology. The mission of the chorus is to use music to build community and create social change. The chorus is a safe, welcoming, and accessible place for all youth that celebrates the joy, diversity, strength, and pride of today's young people. Major Minor singers find their own voice and unique identity within a welcoming environment. The group was founded in the Spring of 2017 and since then have performed in many communities across Tennessee including Murfressboro, Clarksville, Winchester, Knoxville, and Nashville. The group has also collaborated with artists Demi Lovato and Ty Herndon. This summer, the group will make their debut performance at GALA 2020 in Minneapolis which is the quadrennial international celebration of LGBTQIA+ choirs.

Keynote Address

Kathy Halbrooks (she/her/hers)

Kathy HalbrooksKathy Halbrooks has been involved as an ally and advocate for almost eighteen years. As a straight, cisgender person with no children, she became active as an ally because a bill that would protect employees of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County was introduced to the city council in 2002. As a Metro employee, she was in favor of this bill, but her first step into committed activism came when protestors from Westboro Baptist Church came to Nashville to protest the bill. For the first time, she did something besides being supportive in her heart and mind. She stepped onto the courthouse steps and stood in support of the bill. (It failed, but a bill passed in 2009 that includes protection for both sexual orientation and gender identity for city employees.) Once Kathy started to learn about LGBTQ+ issues, her passion grew. She went from not even knowing anyone LGBTQ+ to having numerous cherished friends who belong to the community. Kathy is Co-Chair of PFLAG Nashville and is South Atlantic Regional Director for PFLAG. She volunteers with the Tennessee Equality Project and works whenever possible to do her part to ensure that someday everyone, regardless of whom they are or whom they love, is treated equally with respect and affirmation. She is immensely grateful to the people she's met along her journey who have taught her about the privileges she was lucky enough to be born with and how to use those privileges to help others.

 

Conference Contacts

Program Presentation and Participation
Professor William Langston (William.Langston@mtsu.edu)
 
Sponsorships and Support
Development Director Paul Wydra (Paul.Wydra@mtsu.edu)
 
Corporate and Community Engagement

Advisory Board Chair Lynn Cothren (Lynn.Cothren@tn.gov)


Presenting Sponsor
 
Nissan
 

2020 LGBT+ College Conference Sponsors


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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.