Keri McDonough began their role as assistant director of the LGBTQ Center and graduate student engagement in April.
Since McDonough started in the position, the LGBTQ Center has already held several community events — such as a reception for LGBTQ+ alumni and the annual Lavender Celebration for graduating seniors — as it settles into the new Stonewall House on Benevolent Street.
In their new role, McDonough will work alongside LGBTQ Center Director Caitlin O’Neill to manage the center’s daily operations and support the University’s Disability Justice Initiative and Women, Gender and Sexuality Peer Counselors. McDonough will also work with graduate student representatives to create a more inclusive campus environment for the University’s graduate and medical students.
McDonough arrived at Brown with years of experience in student engagement and LGBTQ+ advocacy at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, O’Neill wrote in an April 7 announcement. They also hold a master’s degree in higher education from Salem State University and previously worked at Bridgewater University’s GLBTA Pride Center.
‘I knew it would be an institution that would support me as a staff member’
Before coming to Brown, McDonough noticed how thoroughly the University supported its LGBTQ+ students.
“In my previous work, supporting queer and trans students was often considered extra volunteer work,” McDonough wrote in an email to The Herald. “Seeing how fully Brown University supports its LGBTQ+ community … I knew it would be an institution that would support me as a staff member as much as the students.”
Their new position at Brown “is exactly what I was looking for and more,” McDonough wrote, particularly because Stonewall House “truly feels like a home.”
LGBTQ Center community members expressed their excitement about working with McDonough.
O’Neill wrote in an email to The Herald that McDonough was selected because of their “great personality” and “genuine care about students and campus collaborators.”
“Keri won us over by demonstrating a consistent commitment to LGBTQ+ students in their everyday work, and making (campus) spaces more accessible and affirming for students who otherwise hadn’t felt welcome in them before,” O’Neill wrote.
Kylie Brewer ’24, president of Queer Alliance, wrote in an email to The Herald that they’re “incredibly excited to work with (McDonough) in the fall.”
Queer Alliance frequently works with the LGBTQ Center on community-building efforts and other campus events, Brewer noted.
McDonough seems “like a perfect fit for the LGBTQ Center given their background in student affairs,” Brewer wrote. “I look forward to teaming up with Keri and Caitlin on a number of events next year.”
‘Keri was the best decision for the center’
Under McDonough, the center has already expanded its reach on campus, O’Neill noted.
The center’s alumni brunch and Lavender Celebration during commencement attracted 200 people “for the first time” in the event’s history, O’Neil wrote.
In addition to continuing annual traditions, McDonough has worked on developing new programming for the center.
Last month, the center announced an initiative to help students acquire gender-affirming base layers — like binders and other undergarments — in collaboration with the Sarah Doyle Center for Women and Gender. The trial program was organized thanks to McDonough’s help, according to O’Neill.
2023 also marks the 20th anniversary of the LGBTQ Center. As assistant director, McDonough wrote that they look forward to “honoring the history” of the center on campus and in Providence.
This summer, McDonough plans to launch the center’s clothing initiative, which will offer students “an inclusive closet that is safe for exploring gender-affirming presentations with makeup, clothing, hair styling” and other resources, they explained.
O’Neill praised McDonough’s efforts in their first month at Brown.
“Already in the two short months since they arrived at Brown, it’s been apparent to all of us that Keri was the best decision for the center,” O’Neill wrote.
Read more from The Herald's Pride 2023 Special Issue.
Neil Mehta is a University News section editor and design chief at The Herald. They study public health and statistics at Brown. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking and playing Tetris.