Plenary Speakers

Angela Denise Davis

2020 Plenary Speaker

On Rev. Angela Denise Davis, M.Div., M.S., is an Ordained Minister, Public Speaker, Activist, and Community Ukulele Teacher. She is the founder of Uke Griot, a program that focuses on awakening musical skills in adults via the ukulele to increase social engagement and foster joy in making music. She also founded Sister Harriet, a spiritual collective created for queer women to share their best selves and to find meaning in the sacredness of their lives. Her work as a Minister centers on the fusion of art and spirituality to enrich the ways we move in personal and social spaces. In addition, she is the creator, host, and producer of the ZAMI NOBLA Podcast.As a Blind, Black Lesbian her public speaking centers around justice issues located at the intersection of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability. She believes her call in life is to facilitate conversations and theological reflections along the fence line of those differences. She challenges her audiences to wrestle with the difficult and to support each other ‘s journey into new territory. She is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University where she earned a B.A. in Art. She also holds a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt University Divinity School, and a Master of Science in Rehabilitation Counseling from Georgia State University.

Jessica Halem

2020 Plenary Speaker

Jessica Halem, MBA, is currently the LGBTQ Outreach and Engagement Director at Harvard Medical School and remains unique in her role among medical schools in the United States. Under her leadership, the first-year class has grown from 4% to 15% self-identified LGBTQ and she secured a $1.5 million-dollar grant to overhaul the curriculum to integrate sexual and gender minority health equity. Prior to joining Harvard, Jessica ran the Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago where she implemented the nation’s first cultural competency trainings for the CDC, served on then-candidate Obama’s first LGBT Advisory Committee, and she began fighting for the inclusion of transgender health equity since 2001. She coaches individuals and groups on dealing with difficult moments using improv skills and is a sought-out speaker nationally on issues of workplace diversity and inclusion. She currently serves on the Board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and can be found on social media at @jessicahalem.

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera

2020 Plenary Speaker

Lisbeth Meléndez Rivera is the Religion and Faith Program’s Director of Latino and Catholic Initiatives at HRC. Before joining the organization full-time, Lisbeth worked closely with the program for two years as the National Coordinator for the A la Familia project, training and empowering Latinx throughout the country around LGBTQ issues. Lisbeth envisioned and directed “Before God: We Are All Family,” a powerful short documentary that has been shared with Latinx communities across the country. As the Director of Latino and Catholic Initiatives, Lisbeth has deepened the already impressive reach of her work with Latinx communities and has help HRC develop and implement Catholic engagement work across the organization.

Del LaGrace Volcano

2020 Plenary Speaker

Del LaGrace Volcano is a gender variant visual artist and cultural producer working with the body and gender/sexual identity notions for both social, political and personal purposes. Del has produced four monographs, Love Bites, Gay Men’s Press 1991, The Drag King Book (with Judith Halberstam), Serpent’s Tail 1999, Sublime Mutations, Konkursbuchverlag 2000 and Sex Works, Konkursbuchverlag 2005 and has also been cited and reproduced in numerous publications, journals and books on visual art and queer and feminist theory. Del’s latest short videos include, GENDER QUEER: Qu’est-ce que c’est? 2005, The Passionate Spectator 2003 and Journey Intersex 2000.

VISIBLY INTERSEX, a collaborative photographic project featuring nearly 100 intersex activists from around the world will comprise the Virtual Art Exhibit and a live 30 minute discussion will be provided.

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