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Applicants for position at LGBT Center visit Athens to meet with students, community

As the search for a new LGBT Center director comes to a close, the community had a chance to meet with the position’s two potential candidates.

The search for the new director of the LGBT Center has been underway since this past August, when former director Mickey Hart left his position at the center after receiving a job offer as the director of Residence Life at the Columbus College of Art and Design.

When the search began, a hiring committee was formed and town hall meetings were held. Now, as the search nears an end, the candidates visited Athens.

Chris Fowler, interim director of the Women’s Center at Iowa State University, and Delfin Bautista, a licensed social worker and Yale alumna, came to the center Monday and Thursday, respectively.

Fowler, who identifies as lesbian, said she heard about the position by word of mouth and decided the job requirements and location of the position were ideal.

“I had several friends email me the position, knowing I have experience working with the LGBT community and also that I’m interested in relocating to the Athens area to be closer to my family,” Fowler said.

Fowler said she was also drawn to the position because she enjoys working in public service, especially in an educational setting.

“I love working in higher education because everyone is learning and growing,” she said. “It is such a creative environment. I get inspired by students; they have no limits to what they can accomplish.”

Bautista, who identifies as trans and two-spirited, said because of their background studying different religions, they hope to implement more of a dialogue if chosen to lead the center.

“It’s not about making people join a particular denomination or tradition, but seeing how religion plays or doesn’t play a part in the lives of queer people,” Bautista said. “For a long time, religion has been used as a weapon against us, but more and more people are starting to reclaim faith in an inclusive and empowering way.”

Besides offering spiritual guidance and an open dialogue, Bautista hopes to be a trusted source that members of the center can speak with.

“I hope people see in me a person who is willing to listen and engage their point of view,” Bautista said. “Though I have had my share of arguments, I truly try to create a space where conversations and dialogue can happen, moving away from right and wrong.”

Visits with each candidate included a Q-and-A session and a meet and greet, each open to the public, which interim director of the LGBT Center, Susanne Dietzel, said is important to the growth of the center.

“It’s important that not only students, but also the entire community is involved in this process,” she said. “This is a person who will contribute to the future of our center and we want everyone’s voices to be heard.”

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