Interview “Embodying Our Values with Dr. Reese Kelly: The Importance of Healing and Transforming Our Bodies” by Dr. Trish Derocher of Transformative Consciousness
I consider myself a passionate community advocate, educator, scholar, and practitioner. I grew up in the predominantly white middle-class suburbs of metro Detroit during the 80’s and 90’s where my upbringing was shaped by the privilege of well-funded public education, competitive women’s sports, and being a queer kid in a fairly conservative community. I found my voice and my desire for self and collective liberation in my twenties, and decided to pursue a career in higher education.
As a faculty member turned diversity and student affairs leader, I hold almost two decades of higher education experience. I am the former Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, Equity, and Inclusion at Champlain College where I also served as the Title IX and Bias Response Coordinator. Prior to that, I directed the Office of Pluralism and Leadership at Dartmouth College and taught courses at Dartmouth College, Middlebury College, the University at Albany, and the University of Vermont, where I was awarded the LGBTQ+ Faculty Leadership Award.
A white, queer, trans man, I am particularly attuned to the impact that institutions and norms have on the well-being of individuals and communities. I have produced research and scholarship on the strategies that trans people employ to navigate interpersonal and institutional discrimination. For this work, I was awarded the nationally renowned Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies as well as a Dissertation and Post-Doctoral Fellowship from Middlebury College. I have authored pieces on mental health considerations for LGBTQ+ high school and college students, trans identity management, queer theory, and trans-specific microaggressions in healthcare settings, and was featured on the 2018 BBC World News report “What’s the Real Difference Between the Sexes?”
Over the years, I have leveraged my expertise to advocate for trans inclusion and to educate healthcare professionals, K-12 teachers, and student affairs practitioners across the United States. From 2018-2019, I served as a founding member and patient advocate on the Gynecology Trans Healthcare Pathway project for the Department of Gynecology at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (Lebanon, NH) where I worked with doctors, nurses, interns, and administrative staff to identify address gaps in care for trans men and non-binary patients.
At a fundamental level, I consider community development a core value. It’s important to me to nourish a sense of belonging and ensure that marginalized voices are heard. I currently serve in a leadership role for the anti-racist community organization Neighbors for a Safer Saint Albans (Saint Albans, VT), as a member of the Board of Directors of Outright Vermont and a member of the Belonging, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the City of St. Albans, and I am the founder and primary administrator of the Transgender Vermont Facebook Group. While living in the Upper Valley of VT, I co-facilitated a bi-weekly peer support group for trans and non-binary adults. From 2009-2014, I served as a co-chair of the National Women’s Studies Association Trans/Gender Variant Caucus. And, when I lived in Albany, NY I supported the work of the Pride Center of the Capitol Region (Albany, NY) as a participant on the programming committee, grants committee, and then as a member of the Board of Directors.
I earned my doctorate and master’s degrees in Sociology from the University at Albany, State University of New York and my bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Colby College. Additionally, I am a certified Restorative Justice Facilitator and graduate of Harvard Institute of Education’s Management Development Program. Currently, I am working on my yoga and meditation teacher certificate, social-emotional learning facilitator certificate, and massage therapist certificate.
I founded Embodied Values, LLC, to be able to provide healing and transformative services that help people and organizations embody their values.