Past Planning Committees

OUTstanding 2015 Executive Committee

Kristen Godfrey

kristen profile picKristen is currently a student in the Masters of Social Work Program at the University of Tennessee. She is from Arizona and attended the University of Arizona to receive her bachelor’s degree in anthropology and history. At UT, she is a graduate assistant at the OUTreach center and she is president of the Masters of Social Work Organization. Kristen is particularly passionate about social justice, foster care and the importance of racial conciliation and intersectionality. Kristen hopes to create a non-profit that works to create safe living spaces for LGBTQ+ adolescents and allies                                                                              in foster care.                                                                                                                                                                                

Mackenzie Cartin

cartin profile pic

Originally from San Diego, Mackenzie earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology at Colorado State University. While studying in Colorado, she found that many of her peers and friends were unaware of the realities of the issues that the LGBTQ+ community faces, usually due to a lack of exposure. To this day, Mackenzie enjoys exposing others (and herself) to different perspectives and to all types of folks who fall under the LGBTQ+ acronym.

Mackenzie is currently a second year graduate student in the Master’s of Social Work program at the University of Tennessee. Although her primary concentration is on a career in the developing field of Veterinary Social Work, she is still pursuing her passion of education and activism on behalf of LGBTQ+ peoples. During the upcoming 2015-2016 academic year, she will serve on the Commission for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People. As a member of this committee, she will provide advice on campus LGBTQ+ issues that will have an effect on management, leadership, and policymaking. Through her focus on education, she hopes to create a better world for all members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Lauren Green

IMG_0762Lauren is currently a second year student in the University of Tennessee’s Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. She earned her Bachelor’s in Humanities from Maranatha Baptist University in Wisconsin. After teaching high school English for a year in Florida, Lauren decided to pursue the counseling field as a means to help serve youth. She hopes to one day work in psychiatric rehabilitation or juvenile detention facilities. With a history of working in faith-based organizations, Lauren is especially passionate about helping to build bridges between LGBTQ+ youth and conservative, faith-based communities.                                                                                                                                        lgreen16@vols.utk.ed

Nancy Thacker

nancy profile picNancy is seeking her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at UT and will graduate in 2016. She is originally from Max Meadows, VA and received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Western Carolina University in 2014. As a current counseling intern at Maryville College, she is passionate about college students’ adjustment, development, and overall well-being, particularly LGBTQ+ students. Nancy hopes to work in a College Counseling Center after graduation and focus on providing care for LGBTQ+ students. 

OUTstanding 2014 Executive Committee

Abel Howard (Publicity and Advertising Chair)

554112_10200374723679716_435286444_n Abel is originally from Crossville, TN. He graduated with a B.S. In Accounting with a minor in Spanish from Tennessee Tech in 2013. While at Tech, he completely revamped the Gay Straight Alliance as the acting president. Additionally, Abel headed the Safe Haven project and TranSupport Group on campus. He is starting his MBA in the fall at UT with a concentration in Marketing and will graduate in 2016.



Allison Heming (Assistant Director/Funding and Contracts)


Allison Heming is currently attending the University of Tennessee for her Masters in Mathematics. She is originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, travelling to Painesville, Ohio (a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio) to get her bachelors of science in Mathematics from Lake Erie College. Allison started Lake Erie College’s Gay/Straight alliance organization and actively worked to educate the campus about LGBTQ+ issues. At the University of Tennessee, Allison is a member of the Chancellor’s Commission for LGBT people, where she is Co-Chair of the Membership and Awards Committee. The value of a person is not based upon their gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. We should work to understand all people. Allison is especially passionate about breaking down barriers within the LGBTQ+ community to promote understanding across all factions of LGBTQ+ people. After all, we are all in this together, let us stand together to help educate others. Allison is honored and excited to be a part of this year’s OUTstanding planning committee and looks forward to continuing the tradition of the LGBTQ+ seminar at the University of Tennessee.


Leah McConoughey (Director)


Leah McConoughey is an extended study student in the Master’s of Social Work (MSSW) program. She is originally from Cleveland, OH and received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Hollins University in 2006. While taking classes part time, she works full time at a local community mental health clinic. Leah is an advocate for many social justice and equality issues, especially in the LGBTQ community. After earning her MSSW, Leah hopes to continue her work in the mental health field with a focus on youth and LGBTQ individuals. She has attended and volunteered in the previous three OUTstanding seminars and is very excited to be in a leadership role in  OUTstanding 2014!


Robin Lovett (Logistics Chair)

935416_611513838860456_2029732695_n Robin is an undergraduate studying Spanish and Latin American and Caribbean Studies. She works in the Outreach LGBTQ Resource Center at UT. After completing undergrad, she hopes to study for a Masters in Social Work to work with homeless populations, especially homeless LGBTQ youth. When she is not learning about homelessness among youth or practicing Spanish, she likes to bake, watch birds, and look at flowers.


2013 Planning Committee


Jordan Miller is an undergraduate senior in Kinesiology and plans on getting a dual Masters in Social Work and Public Health. Jordan is the former Lambda Student Union President and has served on UT’s Chancellor’s LGBT Commission. Social justice issues and the way intersections of diversity can create change are what motivate Jordan to never give up striving for equality. He believes in the power of people and the power of voice and wishes to bring people together to fight for equality for all people, using those intersections of diversity– gender identity, sexuality, race, politics, disability, religion– to better our campus and our nation. Jordan is very excited about directing OUTstanding 2013 and hopes to make it the best one yet!

Special Thanks to:

Amy Jordan

Abel Howard

Brooke King

Devan Pope

Leah McConoughey


2012 Planning Committee

Joseph Goeltz is a graduate student of Social Work at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at UTK in 2008 and returned to school in order to pursue a career that promotes social justice. Although the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution provides equal protection under the law, discrimination against LGBTIQ individuals is often used as a political tool. Tennessee’s recent “Don’t Say Gay” bill (SB49), which passed the House and Senate but died in the General Assembly, brings two important things to light: The desire to stigmatize and discriminate against minorities is ever present, and public outcry by an informed constituency is an effective tool to combat injustice. As a Knoxville native, Joseph hopes that OUTstanding will continue to grow and raise regional awareness of LGBTIQ issues.

Lindsay Harper is currently attending the University of Tennessee for her Masters in Social Work; this is her second and final year. She received her bachelor’s degree in Family and Child Sciences from Florida State University in 2010. Lindsay was born and raised in central Florida (Bradenton, FL for those of you who know their way around Florida) and happily made the move to Knoxville, TN last year to further her education.  Lindsay is an M.S.S.W. intern at Community Shares and her goal is to eventually work in a non-profit and help any and all people in need.  She has very positive opinions on LGBT issues and hopes this conference will serve to extend the knowledge out to people who don’t yet have them. Lindsay is very excited about OUTstanding and is so glad she was able to work with such awesome people to get this conference up and off the ground.

Christina Perkins is a 2nd year Master’s in Social Work student at the University of TN- Knoxville and is currently a Graduate Research Assistant with the College of Social Work as well as an intern at Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office. Christina is originally from Mountain City Tennessee (see Google Maps for details), she majored in Psychology at Brown University.  Afterward she spent a few years working for Victim’s rights as an advocate for Safe Haven Sexual Assault Crisis & Recovery Center of East Tennessee and championing women’s issues with Women Advocating for Change in Johnson City, TN.  She lived and worked in San Francisco, CA  before deciding to reenter the world of academia. In S.F., Christina worked for the Department of Public Health in HIV research. After much deliberation, her professional course veered from the world of psychoanalytic theory to social work because of the importance of social justice activism  and person-in-environment theories when considering family dynamics and personal behaviors. Christina believes everyone matters and no experience is without important consequence.  Christina is honored and humbled to be a part of such an amazing group of individuals committed to LGBTIQ equality and inclusion.

Coleman  Garner is a senior at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville studying Psychology and Political Science. A state native from Memphis, he began college at UT Martin and transferred to UT Knoxville in 2010. Throughout his undergraduate studies, Coleman has been involved in multiple collegiate diversity associations, including the UT Martin Student Government and Multicultural Affairs Committee, as well as participating as a presenter at the initial OUTstanding seminar in 2011. Driven by a passion for research, education, social justice, and personal experience as a member of the LGBTIQ community, Coleman strives to increase social equality by helping others understand and celebrate their differences.

Jordan Miller is a senior, majoring in Kinesiology and Philosophy and plans on pursing an M.D. and a Master’s in Public Health.  Ze is the current Lambda Student Union president and serves on UT’s Chancellor’s LGBT Commission.  Ze’s also involved in other organizations on campus, including Women’s Coordinating Council and Clinic Vols. In zir work with Lambda Student Union and with collaborative organizations in Knoxville, Jordan’s goal is to increase not only the quantity but also the quality of educational and social programming at UT in order to reach a more diverse population of LGBTIQ students and allies. With this goal in mind, ze will continue to strive for diversity in all aspects of campus life (while, of course, not forgetting to have a good time!). There is heat in freezing; be a testament.


Phyllis Shey works for UT for First-Year Studies. She has an MS in Education. Phyllis believes in equality and justice for all.

Amy Williams is a third-year law student at the University of Tennessee College of Law in Knoxville.     She is Editor-in-Chief of the Tennessee Journal of Law and Policy, is a recent graduate of the Tennessee Bar Association’s Diversity Leadership Institute, is on the board of the East Tennessee  Gay-Straight Alliance, and is an officer in the College of Law’s Lambda Law Society. In February 2012, in response to the disturbing legislation being proposed in Tennessee, Amy organized a panel entitled “Does Religion Provide a ‘License to Bully’?”, which was attended by over 100 people and was the largest student club event in the College of Law that semester. Prior to attending law school, Amy worked as a program director for the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program for abused and neglected children in Sullivan County, TN for eight years. She also holds a master’s degree in anthropology from the University of Wyoming, where she graduated magna cum laude.


2011 Planning Committeee

Eva Krug is a graduate assistant in the College of Social Work at UT in Knoxville, working towards her Masters degree while also working at the CAC Office on Aging as a case manager for low-income senior citizens. Originally from Los Angeles, Eva majored in Fine Arts at Rhodes College in Memphis, where she got the opportunity to do lots of awesome things, like create art programming for teenagers during a Summer Service Fellowship and write for publication about the depiction of Civil Rights activists in journalistic photography as a Regional Studies Fellow. After graduating, Eva worked for Teach For America in Memphis and Nashville, first running logistics for the regions and then in a development capacity, writing grants and organizing the alumni community. In her spare time, she also worked as a Patient Advocate at the Memphis Center for Reproductive Health and as an ESL teacher at the Memphis Literacy Council. She deeply believes in equal rights for all people and is honored to be part of an amazing team here in Knoxville that is working towards those beliefs. Simply put, she is super-duper excited to bring awesome people to speak about important matters to Knoxville!

Lauren Hill currently works in the Office of Research at The University of Tennessee as a Sponsored Programs Administrator and serves on the UTK LGBT Commission.  She is also on the Board of Directors for Three Rivers Market, a locally-owned natural food cooperative grocery store in Knoxville. Originally from Tennessee, Lauren recently moved back  after 7 years in Portland, Oregon as an environmental and social justice activist and 4 years on the Big Island of Hawai`i. Lauren and her partner, Shannon, were awarded a grant from The University of Hawai`i at Hilo to put on an event similar to OUTstanding called Unity Through Diversity. Returning to the south was a bit of a culture shock. The amount of acceptance and quality of life tends to be much greater for LGBTIQ identified individuals in other parts of the US. Lauren wanted to bring an event to the Knoxville community to educate, inspire, and bring people together to show support and understanding of sexuality and gender identity. Life is precious; there is no room for hatred. 

Steven Stothard is a graduate student in the College of Social Work at UTK after taking a six year hiatus receiving a BA at The Ohio State University in Race, Class, Gender and Sexuality Studies.  He has worked with the LGBTIQ community most recently as an independent bookstore executive director and events coordinator that hosted many LGBTIQ authors, activists, and performances.  He has worked as a publisher of indie books, a recreational therapist for adults with mental illness, and a frustrated but successful campus activist organizing around economic justice, animal rights, and international labor issues.  He now works at UT as a Graduate Assistant and for three research projects including gang prevention through targeted mentoring,  economic trends and labor issues in the US, and people experiencing homelessness in Knoxville and Knox County.  He believes that all oppression and exploitation should be dismantled and that silence equals complicity, so speak out and act up!  He’s pushing 30 but is still punk on purpose yet loves bad pop music. The world is complicated.


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