The LGBTQ Resource Center announced its new associate program director on April 13.
Activist and educator Riley Jelenick, who comes to Georgetown with previous experience in developing LGBTQ+ outreach and education as a student services coordinator at the University of Dayton, will lead the center’s events and programming initiatives to promote greater inclusion of the LGBTQ community at Georgetown. Jelenick’s primary goal in this position is to normalize conversations and work around identity and queerness on campus.
“I’m in this work because I care about the well-being of all students, and I want them to succeed. So if that means leaving space for questions and curiosity, if that means connecting them to resources that support them in their academic journey, whatever that thing may be, I’m another human on campus to support them,” Jelenick said in a press release. “I just have a tailored focus on supporting LGBTQ+ students.”
The LGBTQ Resource Center, which opened in 2008, was the first of its kind at a Catholic university. It offers resources in community building, education and outreach, as well as support in navigating life at Georgetown, student leadership development, student wellness and alumni engagement.
Jelenick said he was vocal about his experience as a young transgender student when interacting with students in his leadership role at the University of Dayton’s LGBTQ+ center, and he hopes to do the same at Georgetown.
“I’ve often opened up about my story as a young trans student navigating the world and systems that were not made for me,” Jelenick said in a press release. “I try to give back to other young queer students like myself who didn’t know there was a human there to support them, who didn’t know that they could feel comfortable as their whole self, exist and belong.”
Ella Lesher (CAS ’25), a co-president of GUPride for the 2023-2024 academic year, said she is eager to see the LGBTQ Resource Center prosper after the position’s temporary vacancy.
“I am glad that the university has finally hired someone to fill this position, and I am excited to see the LGBTQ Resource Center thrive under his leadership,” Lesher wrote to The Hoya.
Sivagami Subbaraman served as executive director of the LGBTQ Center for more than a decade until she stepped down in June 2021, leaving behind Amena Johnson as associate director, who then left in September 2022. Annie Selak, the associate director of the Women’s Center, has served as interim associate director of the LGBTQ Center until Jelenick was hired.
GU Pride and the LGBTQ Resource Center have collaborated on events together including Trans Day of Visibility and will continue similar collaborations through next year. Lesher believes that this work will enable both groups to support queer students on campus.
“I’m confident that GU Pride and the LGBTQ+ Resource Center will continue to advocate for inclusivity on campus, and that means allowing students to live how they want and with whom they want,” Lesher wrote.
Liam Moynihan (SFS ’25), the co-president of GU Pride, said Jelenick has already taken initiatives to hold events for LGBTQ+ students, including LavGard, an annual graduation ceremony for the LGBTQ+ community at Georgetown.
“We’ve met with Riley a number of times since his hire, and I’m strongly optimistic about his future work at the LGBTQ Resource Center and on campus,” Moynihan wrote to The Hoya. “Over the past two months, he has dived headfirst into the job, advocating for gender inclusive bathrooms and housing, as well as planning and hosting important LGBTQ+ community events like LavGrad.”
Moynihan said Jelenick’s hire is crucial to LGBTQ+ life at Georgetown after the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted momentum in Georgetown’s LGBTQ+ community.
“Clubs lost much of the institutional and generational knowledge passed down from board to board, and many big events no longer have the same hype they had before COVID,” Moynihan wrote.
“However, with an enthusiastic and capable director of the LGBTQ+ Resource Center and re-energized student organizations like GU Pride, QPOC and Haus of Hoya, the future of LGBTQ+ life at Georgetown is looking up,” Moynihan added.
Ulises Olea Tapia (SFS ’25), an employee at the center, said Jelenick’s appointment will bring new ideas and energy to the space.
“He seems very eager and very excited to put in the work to really like, you know, sit back and think on the things that we’re doing good and the things that we can be doing better,” Tapia told The Hoya. “I think that that’s important, and he’s very enthusiastic, and that really brings a really nice energy to the Center.”
Jelenick said he has enjoyed his time thus far and hopes to continue building connections in the Georgetown community.
“I have truly enjoyed my experience thus far in joining the Hilltop community! It has been a wonderful meeting with various students, faculty, and staff from across campus — across departments and disciplines — that are committed to increasing a sense of belonging and support for our LGBTQ+ community,” Jelenick wrote to The Hoya.
“I have been warmly welcomed by so many and hope to continue meeting and connecting with folks as we look forward to the next academic year,” Jelenick added.
Jelenick will respond to community needs to create a stronger center, according to Tapia.
“I think that we can always continue to do research and really try to see what the needs from the community are,” Tapia said. “I’m really excited to see how we can readapt the Center and adapt it to the needs of everyone.”
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