Discerning Our Pasts: Townhall Revisited

A 10th Anniversary Celebration of the Out for Change Campaign

Out for Change

The LGBTQ Center is thankful for all of those who joined us to observe the 10th Anniversary of the Out for Change Campaign in collaboration with our students, faculty, and partners from across campus, who were part of this historic campaign from the Fall of 2007.

History of Out for Change Campaign

The specific student-led campaign, Out for Change, (Fall 2007) was in response to hate crimes on campus that year; but was part of a much longer struggle for recognition, visibility, equity, and justice for LGBTQ communities and life on the Hilltop which started decades ago. Much of this history is still being told, but it has been part of the long arc of healing for the campus. The students’ “call” for justice over incidents of hate crime on campus, led to the historic  “response” when President DeGioia convened the Townhall of 2007 at the ICC Auditorium.

Students on the Hilltop have had a long history of calling the institution to live up to our better selves, and our better angels; and the institution has responded to those calls with a willingness to listen and to grow. It is this that has led to our ability to remain an institution true to our mission, heritage, and identity rooted in self-awareness and a willingness to examine and do what is needed to heal. The Working Group model has also served as a useful template in the last 10 years for many other major and even more complex initiatives.

President DeGioia, in his address from 2007, outlined his core principles, and guiding values: “I would like us to begin a process for a sustained, community-wide discussion about the needs of students. Iwould like us to develop new ideas for meeting these needs in ways that are in alignment with our identity. The four ideas brought to me by the students — all workable — should be a platform for our efforts, but not the ceiling.” 

The LGBTQ initiative was led by Dr. Dan Porterfield (then VP of Strategic Communications, now President, Franklin and Marshall College), and Rosemary Kilkenny (VP for Diversity & Equity). They established the three Working Groups on Reporting, Resources, and Education, where many students, faculty, staff, Jesuits, and alumni participated in large numbers and held transformative discussions about LGBTQ issues in relation to Mission & Identity, needs of students, and faculty, staff, and alumni.  This process ultimately led to the recommendation to establish a Center in the Division of Student Affairs in the Fall of 2008. More on the working groups. 

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We Were Honored to be Joined by:

John J. DeGioia

John J. DeGioia is the 48th President of Georgetown University. For nearly four decades, Dr. DeGioia has worked to define and strengthen Georgetown University as a premier institution for education and research. As President, Dr. DeGioia is dedicated to deepening Georgetown’s tradition of academic excellence, its commitment to its Catholic and Jesuit identity, its engagement with the Washington, D.C. community, and its global mission. Under his leadership, Georgetown has become a leader in shaping the future landscape of higher education and has recently completed a $1.5 billion campaign dedicated to enhancing the lifelong value of a Georgetown education.

Dr. DeGioia earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgetown University in 1979 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University in 1995.

Prior to his appointment as president in 2001, Dr. DeGioia held a variety of senior administrative positions at Georgetown, including Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs.

He has been presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Academia by the Sons of Italy, and the “Catholic in the Public Square Award” by Commonweal (2012). He was honored as a “Brave Thinker” by The Atlantic (2012), and as “Washingtonian of the Year” by Washingtonian magazine (2008).

He has received Honorary Degrees from Miami Dade College (2008); Loyola University, Maryland (2009); Queens University, Belfast (2009); Sacred Heart University (2011); Mount Aloysius College (2015); and Seattle University (2016). He has also received an honorary fellowship at Glyndŵr University (2010), as well as the “Esteemed Friend” award from Sophia University in Tokyo (2014), and was elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2010).

Dr. DeGioia spent his early years in Orange, Connecticut, and Hanford, California. He and his wife, Theresa Miller DeGioia, a Georgetown alumna, and their son, John Thomas, live in Washington, D.C.

Fr. Phillip Boroughs

Prior to becoming President of Holy Cross in 2012, Fr. Phillip Boroughs, S.J. served as Georgetown’s first-ever Vice President for Mission and Ministry from 2003 to 2011. There, he was the only Jesuit serving as a senior university administrator. In addition to overseeing a division of the university which included the Office of Campus Ministry and the Office of Mission and Pastoral Care at Georgetown University Hospital, Fr. Boroughs was responsible for numerous programs for faculty, staff, students, and alumni which advanced Catholic and Jesuit identity. During his eight-year tenure at Georgetown, he raised funds to develop and endow the Calcagnini Contemplative Center currently under construction, to renovate the historic Dahlgren Chapel, and to endow positions and programs for the Office of Mission and Ministry.

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, in 1949, Fr. Boroughs was raised in Seattle, the third of five children of the late Robert and Catherine Boroughs. He earned his B.A. from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 1973, and received a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology (Chicago) in 1978. He holds a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley (1987) and received a Ph.D. in Christian spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union (Berkeley, Calif.) in 1989. His doctoral dissertation was on John Woolman (1720-1772), the itinerant Quaker preacher in Colonial America, who advocated against slavery and whose journal is considered a spiritual classic. He entered the Jesuit order in 1967, was ordained a priest in 1978, and made his final vows as a Jesuit in 1986.

Professor Dana Luciano is an Associate Professor of English and a former Director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgetown, where she teaches sexuality and gender studies, 19th century US literature, feminist theory, and queer film. She has taught at Georgetown since 2004, and has been active with the Georgetown LGBT faculty group. In 2005, she co-founded a working group dedicated to gaining equal benefits for same-sex partners of Georgetown employees–a campaign that succeeded later the same year.

Recent publications include “Queer Inhumanisms,” a special issue of GLQ: The Journal of Gay and Lesbian Studies, co-edited with Mel Y. Chen (vol. 22 no. 2-3, spring/summer 2015) and Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (NYU Press, 2014), co-edited with Ivy G. Wilson. She is the author of Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America(NYU, 2007), which won the Modern Language Association’s First Book Prize in 2008.

Rosemary Kilkenny

Rosemary Kilkenny, Georgetown University’s first Vice President for InstitutionalDiversity and Equity, was appointed to this position effective April 1, 2006 by John J. DeGioia, PhD., President. In announcing Rosemary’s appointment, Jack expressed his confidence and support of Rosemary, as he stated his desire for Georgetown to be a model in higher education for diversity and inclusivity. Before this appointment, Rosemary held the position of Special Assistant to the President for Affirmative Action Programs at Georgetown.

Rosemary is a founding Board member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) established in 2006 and served as its Treasurer for seven years. She also serves on the Editorial Board of the Negro Educational Review and is a board member of Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC as well as Sports for Education and Economic Development in Senegal (SEEDS). Rosemary has served on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Affirmative Action, Howard Road Academy, National Child Research Center and also served as Chair and Founding Member of the Board of Directors, Discovery Creek Children’s Museum of Washington,D.C. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the School of Hope in Nairobi, Kenya and the Board of Directors, Georgetown Day School, an independent school in the District of Columbia. She has given many seminars on such topics as Cultural Diversity, Sexual Harassment, and Legal Issues in Affirmative Action in Higher Education to name a few topics on which she has presented at national and regional conferences.

Rosemary received her Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center; and her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Kent State University.

Erika Cohen

Erika Cohen Derr serves as an Assistant Dean in Student Affairs at Georgetown University. She oversees a variety of student engagement units, including student organizations, leadership programs, new student orientation, campus recreation, student centers, and events management. Erika is also a doctoral student in the Liberal Studies program at Georgetown; her research interests focus on identity development in general and the impact of placehood on student leadership development in particular. Before landing on a career in Student Affairs, she enjoyed work in both banking and non-profit management. She holds a BS in Anthropology from the College of William and Mary, and an M.Ed in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland.

In more than fifteen years at Georgetown University, Erika has had a front row seat for a wide-variety of student programming, involvement and activism. She is grateful for all that the Georgetown community has taught her, and believes there is great learning to be found in the challenging moments, for students and professional staff alike. In her free time, Erika enjoys cooking, running, traveling, and spending time with her Airedale terrier and two-legged family members.

Catherine Heinhold served in Georgetown’s Office of Campus Ministry for eleven years. She focused on retreat programs, directed the Catholic Chaplaincy, and co-facilitated a prayer group for LGBTQ students. After leaving the University in 2010, she went to São Paulo, Brazil for five years and worked in parish, prison, and retreat ministries. She now works with Ignatian Spirituality programs at Holy Trinity Catholic Church

Connor Cory (COL ’10, LAW ’16)

Connor Cory

Connor Cory is a Skadden Legal Fellow at Whitman-Walker Health Legal Services. He represents LGBTQ individuals and families in applications for asylum, certain immigrant visas, family petitions, DACA, and other immigration benefits. His practice is centered around youth and includes defending clients in removal proceedings. He also represents clients who have been discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity and provides pro se assistance to Trans folks looking to change their name and/or gender marker. Connor graduated from Georgetown University College in 2010 with majors in Government and Women’s and Gender Studies, and received his J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2016. 

Julia Reticker-Flynn (SFS ’08)

Julia Reticker

Julia Reticker-Flynn is the Director of Youth Organizing and Mobilization at Advocates for Youth, where she works with young people across the country to advocate for cultural and policy change that supports young people’s sexual health and rights.  Since starting at Advocates in 2010 she has trained over one thousand young people on grassroots organizing skills, mobilized thousands to take action on federal policy initiatives to protect young people’s sexual health and rights, and launched the 1 in 3 campaign to destigmatize abortion and promote access to abortion services. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of Nursing Students for Reproductive and Sexual Health.

Julia graduated from Georgetown University in 2008, with a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service and certificate in Justice and Peace Studies and is pursuing a Master of Public Administration at George Washington University’s Trachtenberg School.

Jason Resendez (COL ’08)

Jason Resendez

Jason Resendez is the founder of Resendez Strategies, a boutique public affairs firm based in Washington DC. He has spent his career building connections across the public, private and non-profit sectors to achieve social impact objectives for innovative non-profits, philanthropists, and socially responsible corporations. With nearly a decade of experience working at the intersections of public policy, strategic communications, and coalition building, Jason has led multifaceted public health and advocacy campaigns for UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, The Steve Fund, UnidosUS, MasterCard, and others.

Jason is a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project, an Aspen Spotlight Health Scholar, and a Google NextGen Policy Leader. He has written about health equity and social justice issues for The Hill, Huffington Post, NBC News, Truth Out, and The Hechinger Report.

Jason serves on the boards of Consumers for Quality Care, The Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s, and The Esperanza Education Fund. He hails from South Texas and graduated from Georgetown University in 2008 with a degree in Government.

Kristina Mitchell (COL ’10)

Kristina Mitchell

Kristina Mitchell is a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, currently working on a dissertation project about queer narrative and temporality in contemporary Latin American and U.S. Latinx cultural production. She graduated from the Georgetown College in 2010 with a double major in Spanish and Women’s and Gender Studies, and went on to complete an M.A. in Comparative Literature at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She credits both her southern roots and her time at Georgetown, particularly her time in the Georgetown Solidarity Committee (GSC) and her participation in the Out for Change campaign, as fundamental to her belief in activism as a social responsibility and as a critical form of political participation

Shamisa Zvoma (MSB ’08)

Shamisa Zvoma

Shamisa Zvoma is a Certified Public Accountant in New York at Spielman, Koenigsberg & Parker, LLP, where she manages tax compliance, strategy, and financial reporting for a diverse range of client across various industries, including private equity and entertainment. Prior to this, she was a Tax Consultant at Deloitte in their Private Wealth tax practice, focusing on domestic and international tax compliance and planning for private equity and high net worth individual clients. She also has an extensive background in royalty and licensing audit, having performed numerous engagements on behalf of high-profile recording artists, songwriters, merchandise licensors and other intellectual property rights holders.

Shamisa graduated from Georgetown University, McDonough School of Business in 2008 with a BSBA in Accounting & Finance and holds a Master of Science in Accounting from CUNY Baruch College. She currently resides in New Jersey with her loving girlfriend and their two adorable cats.

Scott Chessare (SFS ’10, MBA ’15)

Scott Chessare

Scott graduated from the School of Foreign Service in 2010. During the Out for Change Campaign in 2007 Scott was Co-President of GU Pride. Scott worked on and led many of the externally-facing and advocacy aspects of the Campaign – PR and media, University and alumni relations – and was a member of the Resources working group, which collaboratively developed the blueprint for the LGBTQ center and led the search for its Director. Scott also helped establish the LGBTQ Catholic prayer group with Campus Ministry.

Since graduating in 2010, Scott has worked for the Office of Advancement at Georgetown in a variety of roles from research to student programs and young alumni class engagement focused on building new capabilities and programs and managing change. After completing his MBA, Scott took on leadership of Advancement’s Data & Analytics function. Scott is very proud to have participated as a graduate in Lavender Graduation twice since the Center was established!

Jen Nguyen (COL ’09, GRAD ’14)

Jen Nguyen

Jen Nguyen is a native Houstonian Hoya.  She now lives in San Francisco, CA and is Director of the Student Center for Academic Achievement (SCAA) at California State University, East Bay.  Jen was a junior in the Fall of 2007 and was just months removed from coming out to her sister when she joined the Out for Change Campaign.  During that semester, she also served as a facilitator of Out Spoken – a safe, confidential facilitated space for LGBTQ students.  At the 2009 Lavender Graduation – the first hosted by the newly established Georgetown LGBTQ Center, Jen was awarded Outstanding LGBTQ Involvement in Student Life.

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Discerning Our Pasts: 10 Anniversary Video Clips

President John J. DeGioia

John J. DeGioia (President, Georgetown University, COL ‘79, GRAD ’95) led the Townhall of 2007 in response to student demands. He helped pave the way for healing through the three working groups: reporting, resources, and education. This eventually led to the creation of the LGBTQ Resource Center.

The Panel

Led by current student Zackary Abu-Akeel and alumnus Caitlin Opperman, panelists covered topics related to the Out for Change Campaign, the Townhall, and the Supreme Court case against Georgetown from the 80s. The panel included members of the Georgetown community that experience these events at varying levels.

Shamisa Zvoma (MSB ’08)

Shamisa Zvoma (MSB ’08) is one of the many students who led the student activism across campus and spearheaded the Out for Change campaign efforts. Shamisa attended the Townhall Revisited event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Out for Change Campaign.

Scott Chessare (SFS ’10)

Scott Chessare (SFS ’10) is one of the many students who led the student activism across campus and spearheaded the Out for Change campaign efforts. Chessare attended the Townhall Revisited event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Out for Change Campaign.

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