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The LGBTIQA+ Advocacy Awards recognize staff, faculty, and postdoctoral contributions, graduate and professional student contributions, and undergraduate contributions or advocacy on behalf of the LGBTIQA+ communities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Individuals who have advocated on behalf of LGBTIQA+ individuals, conducted educational programming or research regarding LGBTIQA+ communities, helped to improve campus or community policies affecting LGBTIQA+ people, or enhanced visibility and awareness of LGBTIQA+ issues, all from an intersectional framework, were eligible for consideration.

Learn more about these awardees and their contributions to Carolina at this year's Lavender Graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 9th, 2021 at 4:00 PM. Full descriptions of their accomplishments will be posted here after the ceremony.

Dr. Sharon P. Holland smiles in front of a full bookshelf, wearing a gray suit and black glasses.

Dr. Sharon P. Holland

2021 Advocacy Award Winner
Faculty, Staff, and Postdoc Award

The winner of this year’s faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholar award is Dr. Sharon P. Holland, who is the Townsend Ludington Distinguished Professor in American Studies here at Carolina. She is the author of Raising the Dead: Readings of Death and (Black) Subjectivities, and the co-author of Crossing Waters/Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country. She also authored The Erotic Life of Racism, a project that explores the intersection of Critical Race, Feminist, and Queer Theory. In her time at Carolina, she has served as the co-chair of the Provost’s Committee on LGBTQ Life, as well as the Chair of Sexuality Studies. Currently she is the Chair of the Department of American Studies, as well as the convener of the Critical Ethnic Studies Collective. 

The individual who nominated Dr. Holland noted the work that she has done to highlight intersectionality in American studies, always “pushing for more complex and nuanced approaches that center marginalized peoples.” They also note the work that Dr. Holland has done to advocate for LGBTIQA+ people across campus. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the nomination is Dr. Holland’s work co-founding the COVID-19 QTIPOC Survival Fund, a partnership with community organizers to redistribute wealth and foster self-determination among the most vulnerable members of the community. The fund has given over 80K to QTIPOC people, and has been recognized for its excellence by the Orange County Rape Crisis Center with the 2021 Teal Ribbon Award.  

The nomination letter concluded by stating the following: “Without Dr. Holland, there would be no Critical Ethnic Studies Collective, likely no QTIPOC Survival Fund, and significantly less support for BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ undergraduate and graduate students on campus. Her work as a mentor and advocate has already begun to transform Carolina into a radically different place from where it was.” 

Dr. L.B. Klein smiles while holding flowers and balloons, wearing an outfit printed with colorful unicorns, a pink sweater, and black glasses.

Dr. L.B. Klein

2021 Advocacy Award Winner​
Graduate and Professional Student Award

The winner of this year’s graduate and professional student award is L.B. Klein. LB has been working to prevent interpersonal violence, support survivors, and advance LGBTQ+ equity for over 16 years. She recently received her PhD in social work after defending her dissertation, "Campus sexual and relationship violence and LGBTQ+ students: Implications for prevention." Her dissertation work was funded by the National LGBTQ Institute on IPV and the UNC Injury Prevention Research Center. LB has also served as the chair of the UNC Gender-Based Violence Prevention Advisory Group; taught undergraduate and graduate social work courses, and was actively involved in the UNC Gender-Based Violence Research Group. 

The individual who nominated L.B. noted the work she has done as a member of UNC’s Gender-Based Violence Prevention Advisory group. L.B. has worked to ensure that the group focuses on centering marginalized students, including LGBTIQA+ students, BIPOC students, and students with disabilities. The nomination letter specifically noted the way that L.B “engages closely with student activists and holds space for them” in her work. She has advocated for and included LGBTIQA+ people in their framing of an issue that has typically focused on cisgender heterosexual women. Further, L.B. has insured that LGBTIQA+ people are integral to prevention planning and are a focus of the new Senior Prevention Strategy Officer. Overall, the nominator noted that the work L.B. has done at Carolina “has been what has kept the momentum going on gender-based violence and has ensured it is rooted in intersectionality and social change.”  

This summer, LB, her spouse, and their identical twin toddlers will relocate to Madison, Wisconsin. After having the 2021-22 school year as an Anna Julia Cooper Post-Doctoral Fellow to focus on her research, LB will be an assistant professor in the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 2022. 

Professional photo of Brady Hanshaw wearing a navy suit and black glasses.

Brady Hanshaw

2021 Advocacy Award Winner​
Undergraduate Student Award

he winner of this year’s Undergraduate LGBTIQA+ Advocacy Award is Brady Hanshaw. Brady is a Research Assistant in the Behavior and Technology Lab at UNC School of Medicine. He is the study and patient coordinator for ePrEP, a clinical trial evaluating a telehealth intervention aimed at improving access to HIV prevention medication for men who have sex with men (MSM) and transwomen in rural areas. Additionally, Brady, as first-author, has recently completed a qualitative study that evaluated the facilitators and barriers to HIV serostatus disclosure for Black and Latinx MSM. Study findings focused on the role of heterosexism and HIV stigma in HIV disclosure behavior.  

Beyond this, Brady has recently had two propective pieces accepted for publication in peer-reviewed health journals, the American Journal of Public Health and the Journal of the Association of Nurses in AIDS Care. “A Patient’s Perspective on Privilege as a Prerequisite for PrEP” highlights how PrEP care can become more inclusive for sexual minority youth to improve PrEP uptake; “Reimagining Inclusion within Health Care to End the HIV Epidemic” discusses how healthcare and HIV care must become “oppression informed” for sexual minorities and how anti-heterosexism efforts must be viewed as HIV prevention interventions. Brady has additionally advocated for the LGBTIQA+ communities by serving on Harvard Medical School’s (HMS) LGBTIQA+ Youth Advisory Board.  

Overall, Brady has furthered the mission of UNC's Behavior and Technology Lab on campus which is to improve health outcomes for sexual and gender minority groups. Further, Brady established a cohort of UNC students within Railcare Health, a medical nonprofit, to further LGBTIQA+ health initiatives. This work has created one of the only outlets on campus for UNC students interested in LGBTIQA+ health equity to create community health events for the LGBTIQA+ communities. Lastly, on campus, he spearheaded rapid HIV testing events with a focus on UNC's LGBTIQA+ and racial minority communities. 

When told that he was selected for this award, Brady asked us to give a special thanks to his mentor, Dr. Lina Rosengren.

2021 Advocacy Awards Committee

  • Dani Puccio
  • Jhon Cimmino
  • Kristin Richards
  • Hannah Skjellum
  • Zachary Kerr
  • Rachel Maguire
  • Hillary Hecht
  • Katelyn Campbell

Members of the 2018-2019 Advocacy Award Committee worked hard to determine three winners from over 30 nominations recognizing the contributions of talented and committed UNC community members:

Undergraduate Awardee: Graeme Strickland

Graeme saw the need at Kenan-Flagler Business School to create an undergraduate organization for LGBTIQA+ students. While there was a Graduate LGBTIQA+ organization at Kenan-Flagler, there was no organization for queer undergrad students to interact or access queer-specific resources in the school. Plus, there was no organization to promote allyship among undergraduate students in the business school. Noting this need, Graeme brought together individuals from around Kenan-Flagler and revived the Undergraduate Pride Club in 2018.

The former president of the Graduate Pride group had this to say about Graeme: “Graeme approached me… saying that he was interested in bringing back to life the undergraduate Pride Club. Since the beginning, I knew that he was going far. Graeme brought his passion and immediately started to work to improve our community. In less than one month, he put up a proposal to put the Pride flag at the McColl building, collecting signatures from all business programs. He dealt with multiple stakeholders in a very political environment to come up with a solution that could be approved by the administration. Furthermore, he showed his managerial and organizational skills by setting milestones and tasks for each individual involved with the proposal. Subsequently, Graeme was able to attract multiple companies to campus, building a panel that had more than 40 attendees, with companies like Accenture and P&G. Graeme has hosted multiple events for the Pride Community, and … engages his peers his true and kind leadership.”

A peer likewise commented on the ways that Graeme has increased LGBTQ visibility at the business school, and the importance of the inclusion of the rainbow flag on Kenan Flagler’s campus.  She said that “His role in leading the diversity and inclusion board established an identity flag display, including the pride flag. He pushed this initiative, despite initial opposition from conservative leadership, as a way to signal to queer students on campus that they, too, can study business - despite the reputation of the school as an overwhelmingly heteronormative environment. Furthermore, he has helped the undergraduate program promote queer-focused programming and has advocated for non gender-specific language and the use of pronouns in his classes.”

She went on to say that “Graeme's role on the diversity and inclusion committee constantly pushed events that highlighted intersectional perspectives and experiences at UNC. This year, Graeme put on a TED talk-style event which purposely sought to elevate voices that are not typically given platforms at the business school. Among these were someone who grew up in a rural area, the first elected Vietnamese person in NC, and a black woman who talked about her experience at UNC in a very white environment. Because these are not conversations generally had at the business school, Graeme has without a doubt brought conversations of intersectionality, equity and inclusion to the forefront of his programming.”

When told that he had won this award, Graeme had the following to say: “It is an honor to have been selected as an undergraduate recipient for the LGBTIAQ+ Advocacy Awards. I am immensely grateful for all of the support that the Center has provided me in leading LGBTQ+-focused initiatives during my time here, and I could not have done it without them. Their leadership and support goes to show how important all the work the Center does is, and the vital role it has on campus.”

Graduate/Professional Awardees: Noa Nessim and Margo Faulk

These two graduating medical students were jointly nominated by four of their peers, who wrote:

Noa and Margo, through the funding of a Schweitzer grant, started the Gender Affirming Care Clinic at UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition (SHAC, the nation’s first student-run free clinic). Through this clinic, Noa, Margo, and their supervising providers offer free, gender affirming care, including prescriptions for hormone therapy, primary care, and access to other outside resources. These two medical students have gone above and beyond the expectations of fourth year medical students, putting hundreds of hours into starting and operating this clinic and ensuring its continuation once they graduate and begin residency.

In addition to running the clinic, Margo and Noa created a specialized training program for all SHAC volunteers and staff to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all trans people who come to the clinic to receive care. In particular, it focuses on the challenges faced by trans-identifying individuals within the healthcare system. Their work toward realizing a vision of incorporating this training into the curriculums of UNC health profession schools -- making it mandatory for all graduating students -- holds the potential to yield sustained benefits in providing medical care for LGBTQIA+ patients.

 Noa and Margo have enhanced visibility and awareness of LGBTQIA+ issues by identifying a need in the community and doing everything in their power to fill it. They saw a lack of free, safe medical care for trans people in the Chapel Hill community, highlighted the gap, and used their medical knowledge and academic resources to make a change. By creating an extensive network of LGBTQIA+ folks in the triangle and beyond, they have been able to reach a wide community and provide services that may otherwise be inaccessible.

 Noa and Margo have made every effort for their clinic to operate within an inclusive environment. They offer all of their documentation and services in both English and Spanish. They have also begun to apply for grants in an effort to provide transportation assistance for community members unable to find rides to clinic appointments. Additionally, they are working to find funds that would allow the clinic to provide free hormone therapy for patients in their clinic who cannot afford it. Margo and Noa are constantly looking for ways to make their care more accessible, seeking out potential barriers in order to break them down.

Overall, Margo and Noa’s work has provided a resource for the LGBTQIA+ community in Chapel Hill that was previously unmet. They have identified the need for quality, kind care for the trans community, and then masterfully filled that need. This clinic will not only continue to provide care for years to come, but will also allow the opportunity for current and future medical students to learn to provide excellent healthcare to trans patients.

Faculty, Staff, and Postdoctoral Scholar Awardee: Dr. Brad Figler

Dr. Figler is a fellowship-trained expert in transgender care and gender affirming surgery and an Associate Professor in the UNC Department of Urology. When he started at UNC in 2016, he noticed that there was a lot of great work being done for transgender patients across the healthcare system. However, it wasn’t always clear to patients how to best access those services. Therefore, in 2018 Dr. Figler proposed the UNC Transgender Health Program as a way to improve access to UNC Healthcare, and to support coordination and quality of care for transgender patients. The program was officially launched in July of 2019, and draws on the strength and commitments of many departments across UNC, including urology, gynecology, plastic surgery, family medicine, endocrinology, and psychiatry. Further, two of the three employees of the UNC Transgender Health Program are trans, allowing members of the community to guide people through transition and train faculty and staff across UNC on how to provide better care to trans individuals.

During the creation of this program, Dr. Figler tirelessly sought guidance and insight from existing programs across the country, travelling to observe surgery and learn from the experiences of other programs, setting UNC’s program up for success. And indeed, in its first year, the Transgender Health Program at UNC has been a resounding success. In fact, there has been such a high volume of incoming patients that the program has not just been approved for continuation into next year, but instead for expansion.

Patient feedback for Dr. Figler has been overwhelmingly positive, with a recent patient stating, “Dr. Figler is the very best as far as I’m concerned. He …was so careful not to cause me any pain. He explained everything he was doing, and completely put me at ease.” Dr. Figler clearly cares deeply for the health and well-being of transgender patients, and provides a safe space that recognizes differences in his patient’s experiences.

2019-2020 Advocacy Award Committee Members

  • Gretchen Bellamy
  • Charla Blumell
  • Sherah Faulkner
  • Jacob Lau
  • Stacey Parker
  • Jacob Robins
  • Ashton Thorne

The LGBTIQA+ Advocacy Awards recognize staff, faculty, and postdoctoral contributions, graduate and professional student contributions, and undergraduate contributions or advocacy on behalf of the LGBTIQA+ communities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Individuals who have advocated on behalf of LGBTIQA+ individuals, conducted educational programming or research regarding LGBTIQA+ communities, helped to improve campus or community policies affecting LGBTIQA+ people, or enhanced visibility and awareness of LGBTIQA+ issues, all from an intersectional framework, were eligible for consideration.

Alejandra Márquez Guajardo

2019 Advocacy Award Recipient
Faculty, Staff, and Postdoc Award

The winner of this year’s faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholar award was nominated by two esteemed colleagues who were consistently impressed by her achievements. She completed her Ph.D. in 2018 and is currently a Teaching Assistant Professor here at UNC. Her dissertation “Dissident Female Desire in Contemporary Mexican Literature and Culture” sets the foundation for the very first critical book-length work on lesbianism and its metaphors in Mexican today. In the past fifteen years, studies of male homosexuality in Mexican literature and culture have been extremely common, but the same cannot be said about scholarship focused on lesbianism. This recipient’s work has significantly contributed to the discipline by considering many literary genres that both problematize and contextualize lesbianism in this context.

However, her dedication to advocating for this community is not only evident in her most recent scholarly accomplishments. Starting as a graduate student, she served as a Safe Zone facilitator, a program focused on raising awareness of LGBTIQA+ issues on campus as well as creating a visible network of allies across offices, departments, and campus spaces. In 2014, this recipient participated in a panel for National Coming Out Day, a celebration of LGBTIQA+ people and their allies, and in Fall 2015, she organized a screening of the short film Disrupted/Quebranto for community members during Transgender Awareness Week. Her desire to bring people together for educational purposes has always been made apparent by her tireless dedication to highlight intersectional narratives in her advocacy work.

Connecting her campus advocacy work and her academic research, this recipient was also awarded a prestigious summer grant by the UNC Provost’s Committee on LGBTQ Life. This committee is charged with fostering high quality LGBTIQA+ experiences on campus as well as offering financial support for speakers, performers, and other innovative programs. This recipient’s work has extended into the broader Triangle area when she was invited to give a research presentation at Duke’s Center for Gender and Sexual Diversity. In that same year, she also shared her research on LGBTQ bookstores in Mexico with Dr. Michelle Robinson’s course LGTBQ Fiction and Film from 1950 to the Present in the American Studies Department here on campus. Her prolific success in sharing her research so early in her academic career is a positive omen for her forthcoming scholarship and further contributions to her discipline.

As a faculty member for the 2018-2019 school year, she taught several courses such as 1) Latin American and Latin@ Cultures and 2) Growing up Latin@, in which she regularly includes units on gender and dissident sexualities. Her students remark that she goes out of her way for them and makes learning as enjoyable as possible.

Leigh Spivey

2019 Advocacy Award Recipient​
Graduate and Professional Student Award

The winner of this year’s graduate and professional student award was nominated by three colleagues and mentors who were passionate about highlighting the recipient’s contributions to the LGBTIQA+ community.

As a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at UNC-Chapel Hill, Leigh dedicated her research, clinical work, and internship hours to investigating the link between gender nonconformity and adolescent health risk behaviors. Her research pursues the factors that may help mitigate suicide risk among gender-nonconforming and transgender youth, a currently under researched area in her discipline. She has earned the great honor of receiving a fellowship from the National Science Foundation to study this topic and has already published half a dozen articles on LGBT youth and suicide, including her published “Future Directions” piece of affirming psychosocial approaches with trans youth. As a pioneering leader in this field creating innovative work with unmatched passion, continuation of this academic research will significantly improve the lives of LGBTIQA+ youth.

In addition, she is a fierce advocate for LGBTIQA+ students, staff, and faculty within the Clinical Psychology program. Years ago, the department of Psychology and Neuroscience created a self-assessment of the climate for minority undergraduate students. After learning LGBTIQA+ students had reported some concerns, she cofacilitated a focus group of psychology students to identify areas of growth within the department. Pursuing those actionable steps began to improve visibility and support structures for LGBTIQA+ students in psychology and neuroscience for years to come.

As made apparent by these efforts, Leigh routinely speaks up for marginalized voices with assertiveness and respect to peers and mentors alike. Due to her tact and expertise, she has been asked to present didactically to the entire Clinical Psychology faculty on relevant issues and considerations concerning transgender youth. Utilizing lecture, group exercises, and large discussion, she revolutionized the dialogue and understanding of gender-nonconformity within the department in a profound way. Her impact on the program’s climate has been immeasurable and she has since consulted with numerous labs, multiple community agencies, and even on the development of trans clinics in the Triangle area. She has helped reframe the dialogue about sexual and gender minority youth to ensure that all people understand the psychological symptoms as consistent with the minority stress theory, a framework that links the effects of discrimination on one’s health experiences. Her non-confrontational approach has uniquely taught those around her to reevaluation negative stereotypes regarding LGBTIQA+ status as a form of psychopathology.

Leigh is being recognized not only for her depth of knowledge, but also her kindness, compassion, and willingness to educate and provide outreach on behalf of gender non-confirming and transgender youth.

Morgan Korzik

2019 Advocacy Award Recipient​
Undergraduate Student Award

Morgan serves as the Resident Assistant in Cobb Hall for the Pride Place community, a residential community focused on personal wellness and academic success of students of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions here at UNC. He has been considered by his peers to be someone who has gone above and beyond in promoting the needs of LGBTIQA+ identified persons and allies, working to improve visibility, advocate for their needs, and empower community members. Under his leadership, the Pride Place community has been elevated to new heights as an available campus resource.

Morgan has served his students by holistically supporting them through experiences of discrimination and harassment that occurred on and around campus. His programming efforts have addressed interpersonal relationships, mental health resources, and other topics that have encouraged a climate of support and vulnerability in the residential community. He has also worked to connect Pride Place with other groups on campus, including the LGBTQ Center and the student-focused organizations SAGA (the Sexuality and Gender Alliance) and QTPOC (Queer and/or Trans People of Color). He has mobilized the residents of the community to further advocate for the visibility of these groups through such initiatives as chalking campus on Transgender Day of Visibility to empower and uplift others with powerful words written across campus.

In addition, Morgan spends much of his time researching and keeping current on news around LGBTIQA+ issues so that he can provide updated resources and support to those around him. When state laws were passed to prohibit gender-neutral bathrooms for students in the building, he provided support and advocated on behalf of his residents to find a solution. During many difficult conversations, he did not back down in his care and support for students while setting up meetings with senior leadership in Carolina Housing and the LGBTQ Center to ensure his students’ concerns were heard.

Outside of Pride Place, he has focused his energy on making sure that future Tarheels know about the LGBTIQA+ community on campus, volunteering at admitted students' days, and tabling at summer orientation sessions. He previously hosted an event for community members from Pride Place to meet with students from local high schools through Durham Pride to talk about their college experiences.

2019 Advocacy Awards Committee

  • Edward Bahnson
  • Parker Brookie
  • Jhon Cimmino
  • Alli Whitenack
  • Kyle Alexander
  • Katie Bess Hilbinger
  • Shelley Kennedy
  • Montia Daniels
  • Kimberly Pentel

The LGBTIQA+ Advocacy Awards recognize staff, faculty, and postdoctoral contributions, graduate and professional student contributions, and undergraduate contributions or advocacy on behalf of the LGBTIQA+ communities at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Individuals who have advocated on behalf of LGBTIQA+ individuals, conducted educational programming or research regarding LGBTIQA+ communities, helped to improve campus or community policies affecting LGBTIQA+ people, or enhanced visibility and awareness of LGBTIQA+ issues, all from an intersectional framework, were eligible for consideration.

Kai Ewing wearing an argyle sweater

Kai Ewing

2018 Advocacy Award Winner
Faculty, Staff, and Postdoc Award

The very first recipient in the faculty, staff, and postdoctoral scholars category, Kai has been described as an excellent role model and dedicated public servant as well as hardworking, humble and kind. Graduate assistants who work with this person expressed enthusiastic gratitude for such a wonderful example of passionate and committed advocacy.

Kai thoroughly embodies what it means to be an advocate, using their expertise in daily life to educate and advocate one-on-one within their department but also finding ways to have a broad impact across campus, in local communities, and beyond. We were so impressed by how Kai used their expertise and obvious love for library work to make crucial information and resources accessible to library users as well as to educate library professionals so as to make libraries more inclusive of LGBTQIA patrons.  

Kai worked with the Library Diversity Committee to give a presentation educating departmental faculty and staff on how to better serve transgender patrons. They are now developing this content into a training module so that libraries both at UNC and beyond will have access to this important resource for years to come. They have also served on the School of Information and Library Science Diversity Committee where they successfully advocated for the addition of trans-positive and trans-specific materials into the training for the SILS Diversity Certificate.  

Kai has advocated for the need of gender-inclusive restrooms in campus libraries within their department and also campus-wide, through a presentation to the employee forum. Further, they petitioned the CITI Program for more equitable treatment of LGBTIQ+ topics. This program is the mandatory training required of all faculty, staff and students who are engaged in research involving human subjects at more than 1300 institutions, including UNC.

They also created a centralized database to connect resources in the LGBTQ Center’s library to the larger UNC Library system, making them more easily and widely accessible. In addition to creating the database, this project included recruiting and training library professionals and students to help catalog thousands of items, and creating finding aids for popular topics in the collection.

They also volunteer with the LGBTQ Center of Durham's Library. This work has included creating collection policy and library usage guidelines; forming and leading a Committee to develop a unique in-house, LGBTIQ+-friendly classification system for the collection; leading volunteer cataloging sessions; creating materials to aid users and promote the collection, and authoring a chapter in a forthcoming monograph about the process of creating an in-house classification system. All of this work is done to bring crucial resources to community members who truly need them and may have no other free options.

Kimberly Pentel

Kimberly Pentel

2018 Advocacy Award Winner​
Graduate and Professional Student Award

Kimberly is a clinical psychology doctoral student in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience.

During her time so far at UNC, the awardee has made great strides in improving LGBTIQ+ inclusion in her department, UNC’s campus, in North Carolina and nationwide. She has accomplished this by drawing attention to areas of academic and clinical training that could be improved and then providing education opportunities and community building spaces to address the needs of LGBTIQ-identified clients in an affirming and sensitive manner.

Her nominators remarked that the awardee is the “go to” person in her department for learning about best practices for working with LGBTIQ individuals, especially in terms of couple-based psychotherapy. She has supported her department in a myriad of ways, including organizing an LGBTIQ and Allies brunch during applicant weekend that focused on local resources and climate. She has solicited workshops from community experts, including a local certified sex therapist, on how to talk about sex with clients in an affirming and inclusive manner. She has helped coordinate a panel of LGBTIQ-identified faculty in the sciences and arranged tailored SafeZone trainings for her department. These programs aimed to increase LGBTIQ visibility, competence in talking about LGBTIQ issues in the classroom and in the therapy room, and awareness of local political events.

The awardee has also emerged as a leader on UNC’s campus. She serves as a board member of UNC Queer Grads. Queer Grads is a collaboration between the UNC LGBTQ Center and the Graduate School that provides opportunities and resources for LGBTIQA identified graduate students to support them in developing community and achieving academic success. She presented “When the Political Becomes Personal: Discussing LGBTQ+ Issues and Politics in Therapy” and “Couple Therapy with LGB Couples–Theoretical and Empirical Considerations for Affirming and Sensitive Therapy” as part of the UNC LGBTQ Graduate Speaker Series as well as other graduate program brown bag lunch talks.

Outside of UNC, she has fought back against anti-LGBTQ legislation in our state by speaking at national conferences about the clinical harm of such legislation. She has spoken about LGBTQ mental health to local providers and she helped the North Carolina Psychological Association draft a press release in response to legislative action of concern to her and the field of psychology and neuroscience.

Her nominators shared that for her dissertation, the awardee is conducting an important pioneering project: developing the first same-sex couple therapy to be subjected to empirical evaluation. Her pilot study is currently underway to deliver this therapy to a small sample of same-sex female couples. The study addresses an important, local gap in mental health care by providing culturally sensitive and accessible couple therapy. Findings will advance the field of sexual minority-affirming mental health care.

Ariana Rivens

2018 Advocacy Award Winner​
Undergraduate Student Award

Ariana is graduating with a Bachelor’s in Psychology, as well as a Minor in Social and Economic Justice. She received four nominations for the Undergraduate LGBTIQ Advocacy Award, each filled with glowing praise. From the nominations, it was easy to see that this person has demonstrated her dedication to the LGBTQ community time and time again.

This awardee has been exceptionally active in LGBTQ advocacy in both her professional and personal lives.  One area where this can be seen is in the work she has done as a Resident Advisor Mentor. By creating bulletin boards, highlighting diversity throughout her events for her residents, and serving as a multicultural advisor on the staff, she has been able to bring to light a number of issues in the LGBTQ community while serving as a clear ally and person of support for anyone struggling with their identity. Her impact has reached countless individual in the LGBTQ community at UNC.

Another area of note for this awardee is the work that she has done with UNC QTPOC, an undergraduate student group for queer and trans people of color. Her leadership in  UNC QTPOC has been invaluable since its founding, which she played a most significant role in. She stepped up as an organizer and planned many of the events for the organization, including bake sales, movie nights, game nights, and meet-ups. She has worked towards getting new members, publicizing events, and ensuring that everyone in the organization felt safe and affirmed. Many of the steps she took to make the organization better, like providing rides for people without cars and bringing food to events, truly made it a space of comfort and love.

Through these avenues and through more personal means, this individual has become a cherished mentor to many. One nominator stated that “Through everything that she does, helped me through my coming out experience as someone who made me feel like my story was unique and valid, rather than another classic tale of a queer standout.” Another said “When I was a first year, I struggled accepting my sexuality and finding the courage to come out and take pride in my identity. was an integral person of support for me in one of my hardest times, and for that I am forever grateful. I’m not sure she even realizes how much she helped me in accepting my truth because she helps so many people in similar ways.”

All of the nominators spoke of this awardee as an intersectional advocate for all identities in the LGBTQ community. She brought awareness to issues through programming and advocacy for every party of the acronym LGBTIQA, not just the traditional sense of the word gay.  She has also participated in efforts to advocate for civil rights for important and marginalized communities, standing up for the rights of LGBTQ folk and people of color. She has been an active part of protests on campus. On top of everything, she selflessly provides any member of the LGBTQ community with love, support, advice, and care. She has changed the lives of every LGBTQ-identifying person she has come across and will continue to do so in the future.

UNC will feel her absence sorely once she graduates this year and moves forward to her next adventure, but we wish her all the best as she continues on her path towards the field of clinical psychology, where she will continue shine as an advocate for marginalized folks.

2018 Advocacy Awards Committee

  • Edward Bahnson
  • Marcus Donie
  • Joseph Megel
  • Magnus Schulz-Peeler
  • Kristan Shawgo
  • Lauren Townsend
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