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Gender and Sexuality Resource Center staffers receive statewide awards

UW-Eau Claire has received multiple recognitions in recent years for the work of its Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, a hub of resources and programming to ensure the university stays true to its commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion:

Christopher Jorgenson and Kallie Friede, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center’s only full-time staff members, have led the programming and initiatives behind these top rankings. In recognition of their work at UW-Eau Claire, they will receive awards Oct. 3 during the Wisconsin College Personnel Association’s annual fall conference for their contributions to the field of student affairs.

Jorgenson, Gender and Sexuality Resource Center director, will receive the WCPA’s Nora McGuire Outstanding Professional Award. Jorgenson, who has served as the center’s director for eight years, has “transformed the campus climate for LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff,” wrote his nominator, Dr. Tamara Johnson, former vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and student affairs at UW-Eau Claire.

Under Jorgenson’s leadership, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center has developed robust programming, including an internship program through which 10 students assist in events like The Fire Ball (which over eight years has raised more than $140,000 for student social justice advocacy efforts and in just three years has raised approximately $37,000 for UW-Eau Claire’s Campus Harvest Food Pantry) and FreaQweek (a reconceptualization of the former Eau Queer Film Festival).

Jorgenson also serves as chair of UW-Eau Claire’s Bias Incident Response Team, EDI Communications Committee, and Queer and Trans Action Committee; teaches in the university’s women’s gender and sexuality studies program; and accepts invitations from across campus to facilitate conversations about sex, gender and sexuality. He also is invited to facilitate training sessions throughout the U.S. on building safe spaces, inspiring active bystanders in the fight against sexual assault, and exploring privilege to better understand individuals’ roles in the oppression of marginalized communities.

“He is professional, innovative and thoughtful,” Johnson wrote of Jorgenson. "Diversity is often difficult to discuss; however, Christopher is skilled at facilitating complex conversations in a way that educates, as opposed to alienates, and helps individuals in our community reach more advanced levels of cultural competency."

Friede, associate student services coordinator in the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, will receive the WCPA’s New Professional of the Year Award. Friede has been on the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center staff for six years, first as an intern while she was a UW-Eau Claire undergraduate student, then as a graduate assistant while she completed her master’s degree in student affairs administration through UW-La Crosse, and most recently as associate student services coordinator.

Because Jorgenson was the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center’s only full-time staff person until Friede recently began working in her current position, she has played an integral role, regardless of her employee classification, in the center’s work to effect change for people with marginalized identities, Jorgenson wrote in his nomination of Friede for the WCPA award.

"Any success the GSRC has enjoyed — and those successes have been many — Kallie has helped achieve," Jorgenson wrote. "Each of these recognitions — and more — are possible only with Kallie's willingness to engage in this critical work."

Friede supervises the center’s student internship program, serves as associate director of FreaQweek and will be the associate director of The Fire Ball, now in its ninth year. She also has worked to educate and advocate for victims/survivors of sexual violence and has assisted for the past three years with annual bystander intervention training for UW-Eau Claire student-athletes.

"Anyone who knows Kallie views her as a leader on campus," Jorgenson wrote. "She is dedicated, organized and passionate about equity, diversity and inclusion. Moreover, students love her and never doubt that she is in their corner. In fact, Kallie has personally met with and connected students to Counseling Services, the Student Health Service, the Dean of Students Office and community resource providers, ensuring our students receive the best care on offer.”