New director announced for LGBT Resource Center

By Ashlyn Korienek | 8/31/16 8:45pm

GVL / Courtesy - Marla Wick Jen Hsu
by Marla Wick and Marla Wick / The Lanthorn

Faculty changes were made over the summer for Grand Valley State University’s Division of Inclusion and Equity, as the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center will be led by a new director.

Jen Hsu will take the place of Colette Seguin Beighley, who served as director since 2011. Jesse Bernal, vice president of GVSU’s Division of Inclusion and Equity, announced the change early in June.

Hsu said her decision to serve at GVSU reflected the university’s commitment to creating an inclusive campus.

“The welcome to GVSU has been nothing short of amazing,” Hsu said. “I choose GVSU because of its commitment to inclusion and equity. I look forward to the opportunity to work with students every day.”

When Hsu is not traveling across country or watching “Gilmore Girls,” she can be found dedicating her time to creating change surrounding LGBT issues at the college level and within the community.

For more than eight years, she worked both in community nonprofit and higher education positions focused on LGBT inclusive practices. In 2012, Hsu was appointed as the director of LGBT Student Services at Western Michigan University.

“I look forward doing a lot of listening early on, developing partnerships with campus and community members, and building onto the the amazing programming at the LGBT Resource Center,” Hsu said.

For her undergraduate education, Hsu earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology and Neurosciences from the University of Michigan and a master’s of public administration degree from WMU.

In previous years, she served as the founding executive director for the OutCenter in Benton Harbor.

“I chose this career for a couple of reasons,” Hsu said. “LGBT people, especially those who hold multiple oppressed identities, continue to face exclusion, discrimination and violence in our communities. I am committed to helping to create more inclusive, equitable and safe spaces.”

Serving as a member of the division’s leadership team, Hsu will monitor daily operations of the center and consult LGBT campus and initiatives based in Grand Rapids. Moving forward, she said her focus is to build a foundation of support for students to create positive experiences and achieve their goals.

“We are thrilled to welcome Jen as our new director,” said Marla Wick, assistant director of the LGBT Resource Center. “She contributes a fresh perspective to our ongoing work and is helping us grow in our capacity to support students, and function as a resource for the campus and the broader community.”

Additional appointments were made recently in the department as well.

Serving as the new graduate assistant, Jake Carter is a GVSU alumnus with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a minor in LGBT studies. After graduating, Carter wanted to apply his knowledge within the community by pursuing a dual master’s degree in social work and public administration.

“I had a lot of theoretical knowledge after graduating, and wanted to translate that into transformative practice in our community,” Carter said. “Essentially, I want to do more than talk about the issues most pressing to our community. I want to act on them.”

In previous years, Carter served as a facilitator of the LGBT Youth Group at the Grand Rapids Pride Center. In his position, he educated the youth on the laws and statistics of Gender and Sexuality Alliances in their schools to empower them to create change.

This year, Carter will work with the LGBT Resource Center facilitating First Year Queer Alliance (FQA) and Loud and Queer (L&Q), which are programs offered to students on a weekly basis. In addition, Carter plans to focus on updating the center’s social media strategies.

“I have had exposure to so many inspiring people during my time at Grand Valley that really ignited my passion for social justice and equity,” he said, “and made me feel a part of something really special and valuable. I want to be a part of building on that legacy by further extending this to the students that I am working with.”

Wick said the center will partner with the LGBT Faculty Staff Association to pilot a new LGBT mentorship program called “Queer Connections.” Additional programs offered through the center will be expanded and added throughout the year.

In addition, Wick said Reina Gossett, an activist, artist and writer based in New York City, will visit campus to give the keynote speech for Transgender Day of Remembrance.

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