Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center names new director
The new director of the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center, D.L. McKinney, is a self-described “queer, trans, disabled, Black and family-oriented person” with a partner, four kids and a long history of advocacy work and community engagement.
Originally from Detroit, McKinney came to West Michigan to attend Grand Valley. McKinney, '08 and '15, earned a bachelor's degree in business administration and a master's degree in public administration.
“It was clear that Grand Valley would benefit from their years of experience advocating for this population in the local community,” said Jessica Jenrich, interim assistant vice president of social justice centers and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs/Center for Women and Gender Equity. “D.L.’s connection to faculty, staff and students was apparent throughout this process and they arrived on campus ready to expand the Milton E. Ford LGBT Resource Center’s community through their engaging presence.”
McKinney emphasized their enthusiasm for the position and discussed how students will continue to be centered in the work they do.
“The first thing I hope to do is advocate for students to allow them to do what they're here for: which is to be students,” McKinney said. “I’m so excited to see the students in action and learn more about what they want to see in future.”
As a student, McKinney was active in social advocacy on Grand Valley’s campus. They served as the vice president and treasurer of the only queer student organization at the time, Out n About, working alongside then advisor, Milton Ford. During McKinney’s senior year on campus, the Milton Ford LGBT Center opened and they served as the first student worker the center had.
After graduating, McKinney worked in the healthcare industry as a phlebotomist and in laboratory sciences until returning to GVSU to get their master’s in public administration with an emphasis in public health.
This education altered their career path and re-centered advocacy work as McKinney went on to serve as the director of Drop-in at AYA Youth Collective, a nonprofit organization that aims to create support and provide resources and community for 14 to 24-year-olds facing homelessness or instability.
Their advocacy work extends beyond one area– McKinney and their partner have also established a consulting firm, Paradigm Shifts Consulting, to provide training, facilitations and strategic planning around social equity and social justice. Their firm remains active and current projects include working with lawyers to discuss bias in professionalism.
It’s safe to say McKinney is ready to take on the challenges and joys this new role will bring. In the lull of the summer, their first focus is to make connections on campus in order to be equipped for the arrival of students.
“I need to step into these spaces, into these classrooms and student groups and events to not only represent this population and demographic but also to say ‘hey we’re here,’” McKinney said.