A new perspective.
Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Older Adults.
In 2012 I was honored with Lexington Fairness’ “Out for Fairness” award for my work in bringing attention to the unique needs of LGBTQ+ older adults in long-term care. While Lexington as a city is widely recognized for its openness, it is not uncommon for LGBTQ+ older adults to return to the closet when accessing a variety of health care and social services. As the Director of Programs and Services with the Nursing Home Ombudsman Agency, I felt I was in a unique position to address these concerns.
Through collaboration with a team of concerned social workers and community members, I organized the Senior Pride Initiative, a grassroots effort to bridge the gap between services and mature members of the LGBTQ+ community. The efforts of the work are continuing to benefit the lives of LGBT Q+ older adults throughout Central Kentucky.
This work allowed me to connect with a select group of LGBTQ+ advocates across the country in programs like SAGE, the LGBT Elder Initiative, the National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and Center on Halsted’s Senior program in Chicago, where I worked directly with LGBTQ+ older adults.
While my work now focuses on the mental health needs of members of the LGBTQ+ community and those with diverse perspectives, this experience has informed how I see being LGBTQ+ across the lifespan.
Traces of my work in LGBTQ+ aging remain strewn across the internet. Here is one of my favorite moments from this work. Live Mic with Mark McNease.
My mental health experience began in 1992, many years before earning my MSW from the University of Kentucky in 2009.
As a young adult, I worked on a clinical team as a psychiatric technician, providing in-patient care and support for children, adolescents and their families. It was there that I found the work of therapists to be an integral part of helping families understand how to adapt to the behavioral health needs of their children.
My fascination with human behavior was fixed.
My clinical training has included in-patient psychiatric care for adults, community mental health with minority groups, and direct services for LGBTQ+ older adults in Chicago. My clinical work has been supervised by seasoned and expert Licensed Clinical Social Workers in Tennessee and Illinois.
In 2006, I returned to the University of Kentucky to graduate at the top of my class with a BASW (C’08) and advanced standing MSW (C’09) in Social Work. As a non-traditional student, my experience working in mental health and programs for children gave me a unique perspective on what I was learning and how I was actualizing the knowledge in my life and community.