Zenobia Lee-Nelson, a junior at James Madison University, is a dynamic leader who addresses issues of inclusion, working to create equitable spaces for all students. Her own research, most recently focused on Black directed femicide and gender-based violence against Black trans women, has translated into exemplary outreach. She applies her knowledge via dialogues with various constituencies across campus, including students, faculty, staff, organizations, and departments; she also participates in presentations across the university and around the state. She recognizes, however, that change comes from clear and consistent visibility, leading to her founding and leading multiple organizations that empower students to accept and embrace their multiple identities related to gender, ethnicity, race, and/or sexuality.
Since I was a child I have always had a passion for activism and advocacy work. Once I came to JMU I quickly realized JMU's environment and culture hasn't always been the most inclusive or knowledgeable when it comes to black and brown students as well as LGBTQ+ identifying students. I joined the Black Student Alliance and started Shades of Pride, a LGBTQ+ focused organization. The work I've done as a leader to create and cultivate spaces that promote culture and cultural competence, acceptance and advocacy here for black and brown and queer students through events such as student panels and culture shows as well as my academic research.