Meet Ted Lewis, ROSMY’s new Executive Director
“I think working with LGBTQ youth has always been a passion of mine,” said Ted Lewis, head of LGBTQ campus life over at University of Richmond, who recently accepted the role of executive director at ROSMY.
Lewis spent the last four years as UR’s first Associate Director of Common Grounds, an organization created to support LGBTQ Campus Life on campus.
In that time, Lewis, who identifies as gender queer and uses they/them pronouns, was able integrate programs such as the Lavender Graduation, UR Comes Out: A Celebration of LGBTQ History Month, and the Q-Summit: A Gathering of Queer Southern Youth.
While Lewis will join ROSMY in this official capacity toward the end of this month, it wont be their first time working with the LGBTQ youth support organization. They’ve been a facilitator and volunteer with the organization since moving to Richmond in 2012, but when the opportunity to head ROSMY popped up, Lewis said they jumped at the chance.
“I was really interested in the ROSMY role, there’s not too many LGBTQ youth organizations, particularly in the Southeast which is my home,” Lewis said.
They added getting a chance to work with those most marginalized within the LGBTQ youth community was also a reason they wanted to take on the role.
“Working with college students is amazing, but they also have access to phenomenal resources that middle and high school youth just don’t have,” they said.
Lewis praised ROSMY for continuing to provide excellent resources over the years to serve the LGBTQ youth community. And while Lewis thinks ROSMY is already doing a great job, he’s hoping to better the organization with his past experience.
“ROSMY has a unique opportunity to really educate our community on how to best serve LGBT youth in a lot of different areas of their lives,” Lewis said. “What I’m hoping to do is make that work more public and more visible and we can continue our reach,”
The University of Richmond official said they are hoping to see ROSMY’s Institute of Equality, a program that educates local groups and schools about LGBTQ issues, expand in their time there as well.
Originally from Fairfax County, Lewis initially came out when they were 10-years-old in 1992, but came out publicly to family and friends as a junior in college.
They said this is something they hope those under their guidance wont have to deal with.
“I don’t want another person whose a part of my community to have to wait 10 years to be their full authentic self when they already know,” Lewis said.
Lewis graduated from Mary Washington for undergrad and moved onto the University of South Carolina for a graduate degree in higher education. They said they’ve been slowly working their way back up to the Commonwealth ever since.
“It’s always good to come back to your home state and do this kind of work,” said Lewis.
Watson Seaman, a ROSMY board member, spoke to Lewis’s experience working with LGBTQ youth in the past as a main reason why they stood out for the job, saying they’ve got a “tremendous understanding of, and commitment to, ROSMY’s mission.”
“When you combine these with Ted’s many skills, it’s clear that [they're] the right person to lead ROSMY and to build on the great work done by Beth Panilaitis,” Seaman said.
Panilaitis, ROSMY’s former ED, left a few months ago to take on a role at the Richmond Federal Reserve in their Diversity department.
“LGBTQ youth should Consider ROSMY to be that safe, awesome hang out space where you can make new friends, feel empowered,” said Lewis about their plans for the future of ROSMY. “We’ve always got your back… consider us a second home.”
Lewis will take over as Executive Director at ROSMY March 30th.
The journey that LGBTQ youths live is constantly changing.October 24, 2016
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