Catalyst Awards 2020

Honoring those who speak up, out, and often for the LGBTQIA Community

Catalyst Awards in fancier script in front of a microphone

Established in 1998, the Catalyst Awards is an annual event aimed at bringing together LGBTQ activists, volunteers, students, and community members. Any group, individual, or event may be nominated for a Catalyst Award, which is reviewed by a committee overseen by the LGBTQ Resource Center Coordinator.

And now, the 2020 recipients!

NiK Peavy

The first person we are recognizing is our very own Graduate Assistant, NiK Peavy! NiK has worked in the LGBTQ Resource Center for two years and is graduating this May with an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis. On to the next step of their journey, NiK is headed to D’Youville College to serve as their Director of Student Development and Advocacy!

NiK was nominated for a Catalyst Award by Sean Olmstead, Jennifer Fellabaum-Toston, and Sarah Wunder. Here are their statements of support:

“NiK is a tireless advocate for students at MU and beyond. I have been so fortunate to observe their dedication through their roles with our graduate student association, ELGSA, as well as their work with the LGBTQ Resource Center. I admire how NiK is always willing to ask the difficult questions and engage in identifying actionable recommendations. They also regularly share resources that help educate and encourage us to do better. I am grateful to have been a part of their journey at MU!” – Jennifer Fellabaum-Toston

“NiK has all the qualities needed to be a Catalyst Award recipient: They take initiative to learn about other communities, they push institutions and structures to be more inclusive, and they have an empathetic leadership which challenges and supports others to be their best selves. They have a bright future as a student affairs practitioner and are surely to make an impact in the field of higher education. I’m so excited to see where life takes them!” – Sean Olmstead

“NiK has filled many roles at MU. As acting advisor to Mizzou Aces & Aros, they helped the organization restructure and find a stable footing, all while teaching the organization’s executive officer how to be an executive officer. Their patience and good humor played a crucial role in establishing the organization as it is today. NiK embodies the type of person most of their students aspire to be. They’re always willing to help, even when the situation at hand is challenging or seems trivial. The guidance NiK gave me through our time at MU will leave a lasting impact in my life, and I know that this is true for every student that got to work with NiK.” – Sarah Wunder

Ael Diehm

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient Ael Diehm! Ael is an undergraduate student who works at the LGBTQ Resource Center as Student Mental Health Coordinator. This year they served as co-president of QTPOC (Queer Trans People of Color) and S.T.A.R.S (Stronger Together Against Relationship and Sexual Violence).

Ael was nominated for a Catalyst Award by Nathaniel Laire Valentine and Sarah Wunder. Here are their statements of support:

“I think that Ael should receive the Catalyst award because they are hardworking and a very dedicated person. I’ve seen them in leadership roles like being the president of QTPOC and putting on many cool events along with fostering a community for QTPOC students. Ael is also working towards revamping mental health for the queer community at Mizzou, which is something we all can benefit from. Indigenous students deserve to be recognized for their accomplishments and no one works as hard as Ael, I think it would mean the world to them to receive this award.” – Nathaniel Laire Valentine

“Ael’s passion for their work shows how much they care about their community and its well-being. The way Ael has led their organizations has facilitated more open communication and a more connected community. Ael has inherited many leadership positions that have had unexpected challenges and has capably handled them with grace and strength. This year in particular has presented unique challenges for many student organizations – through this, Ael has maintained their community and created a path for incoming leaders. They have become a role model for many students on campus and will continue to grow in this way.” – Sarah Wunder

Ari Ellis

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient, Ari Ellis! Ari is an undergraduate student who served on the executive board of Queer Trans People of Color and FourFront.

Ari was nominated by Sarah Wunder:

“Ari has already become a leader at MU. His extensive work with QTPOC and the QLF Council has created an environment where students are able to find community. Ari’s work with these organizations has helped them grow and develop foundations for continuing success. Ari builds relationships with everyone and works to create a community that welcomes all who need it. Looking forward, it is clear that Ari will continue to grow as a leader and encourage others to do the same as he inspires and helps them grow. Not only is Ari himself a leader, he helps others become leaders in their own right.”

Fionna Clark

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient Fionna Clark! Fionna works in the LGBTQ Resource Center as the History and Archives Student Coordinator. She is active in the MU Theatre Department, and this year she worked on the stage crew of The Wiz. She also facilitated all of our Queer Monologues rehearsals, and would have directed the QM performance.

Fionna was nominated by Devon Hoerr:

“Fionna Clark has brought education, celebration, and support for the LGBTQ community at and around Mizzou that deserves recognition with a Catalyst Award. Fionna created an annual event teaching the campus’s history regarding queer folks and their experiences at the University. Additionally, Fionna has taken up the preservation of the Center’s history through her efforts to maintain and update an archival system at the Center. Her work has created a greater sense of understanding of just how far things have come on campus regarding legislation and protections, as well as how far we still need to go within these same things at Mizzou and beyond.”

Jason Entsminger

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient, Jason Entsminger! Jason is a Ph.D. student in the Division of Applied Social Sciences, and is an active leader in Students for Cultivating Change at Mizzou.

He was nominated by Jason D. Gilman:

“Jason Entsminger is an organizational economics PhD student. As an out gay man, he has a deep, abiding interest in marginalized agricultural/food sector entrepreneurs. This includes research-extension, curriculum and foundational research. He is unique in his focus on LGBT+ entrepreneurship in agro-food.

Jason surpasses a typical graduate student and interacts with campus leadership to advocate for HIV/AIDS awareness and LGBT+ inclusion in healthcare, crisis responses, and courses on agriculture, sustainability, and business. Jason is a member of MANRSS and routinely speaks on LGBT+ panels.

Jason works with the Cultivating Change Foundation – a LGBT+ inclusion/diversity agricultural agency.

Melina Constantine Miseo

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient, Melina Constantine Miseo! Melina is a Ph.D. student in Mizzou Sociology, and they teach courses in the Women’s & Gender Studies program. Melina also facilitates Prism- The Center Project Teen Group and is a member of the Mizzou Safe Space facilitation team.

Melina was nominated for a Catalyst Award by Mason Aid and Kerri Schafer:

“There was a moment when I knew it was time to step down as a coordinator for PRISM. What could have been a fraught decision was simply made. I knew exactly who to hand leadership over to. Mel was the obvious choice. They have stepped up and supported the LGBTQ youth in our community relentlessly. Mel is an obvious choice for the catalyst award as they have helped both the University community as well as Columbia at large.” – Mason Aid

“This is to offer recognition and thanks to Melina Constantine Miseo for their support and advocacy for queer and trans youth. As a Prism facilitator, they are a consistent and affirming advocate and role model for teens. They are a comfort and resource to parents of queer and trans youth. As an instructor, they invite MU students to think more deeply about LGBTQ issues. Along with being a fierce protector of queer and trans youth, Mel is a doting cat parent, self-taught embroidery master, and recommender of excellent queer media. They have undoubtedly changed Columbia for the better and we’re so lucky to have them here.” – Kerri Schafer

Nathaniel Laire Valentine

We are excited to share our next Catalyst Award recipient, Nathaniel Laire Valentine! Laire works at the LGBTQ Resource Center as Safe Space Student Coordinator, and he served as a Proud Tigers mentor this year.

Laire was nominated by Sarah Wunder and Devon Hoerr:

“Nathaniel Laire is one of the most involved people in our campus community. He spends much of his time working on community events and is influential in the Proud Tigers Mentorship Program. Because much of what he does is behind the scenes, few people are able to see the scope of his involvement or appreciate the depth of his impact. His effort allows for events to function smoothly, helps our community grow both in number and closeness, and expands the MU community’s awareness of issues impacting the LGBTQ+ community both locally and globally. Laire’s work is essential to helping our community thrive.” – Sarah Wunder

“Nathaniel Laire’s work at the LGBTQ Resource Center is deserving of recognition through a Catalyst Award because of the support he provides to new students at Mizzou. Through the Proud Tigers Mentorship Program, in which he is a mentor and organizer, Laire helps incoming and transfer students find community and resources to acclimate to a college experience as an LGBTQ student at Mizzou. Laire’s dedication to this program is so important and worthy of recognition because of the difference it makes for all those who take part in it; in a really difficult transition to college, these students had someone to support and celebrate them.” – Devon Hoerr

Peyton Flewelling

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient, Peyton Flewelling! Peyton is a staff member who works for the Department of Social Justice in the Mizzou Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center.

Peyton was nominated by Patrick Skrivan:

“As one of the Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center advocates, Peyton’s warm demeanor makes folks of all identities feel comfortable in her presence and trust her with their stories of intimate partner violence. She understands the importance of her work and prioritizes the experiences of the LGBTQ community when she is working with clients. By actively seeking new opportunities to learn and implement the best ways to work with queer and trans clients, Peyton has created a Center of support that has moved beyond cultural competence to cultural excellence. Because of her, students, faculty, and staff know that the RSVP Center stands as a safe place for people of all identities to begin their healing process. She is a critical voice for queer and trans justice on this campus.”

Sarah Wunder

Congratulations to Catalyst Award recipient, Sarah Wunder! Sarah is graduating this semester with a Bachelor’s in psychology. She served as President of Mizzou Aces & Aros and was also a mentor in the Proud Tigers Mentorship Program.

Sarah was nominated by NiK Peavy:

“Sarah has done amazing work for and within the LGBTQ+ community at Mizzou. She is a regular within the Center, revived and is the current President of Aces and Aros, and is a mentor for Proud Tigers. She is a problem solver, a creative, a leader, a confidant, and a friend to so many throughout our community. Sarah’s legacy will have a lasting impact on our campus. Over the time that I have known them, Sarah has always led with love and kindness. I have seen this rub off on other students and I believe it will continue to spread as the years go on.”

STITCH Conference

We are excited to announce our final Catalyst Award recipient! This award goes to a group of MU School of Medicine students who organize the STITCH Conference (Summit to Improve Transgender Collaborative Healthcare). These individuals are: Elizabeth Modde, Megan Anderson, Sam McMillen, and Summer Jensen. Congratulations!

This group was nominated by Kerri Schafer:

“I want to celebrate and express gratitude to the MU medical students who make STITCH (Summit to Improve Transgender Collaborative Healthcare) happen: Elizabeth Modde, Megan Anderson, Sam McMillen, and Summer Jensen. STITCH is a day-long conference focused on transgender healthcare and wellness, which debuted last year and was postponed this year.

STITCH may not have come to fruition if not for Elizabeth, who initiated the planning and constantly kept us on track early on; along with Megan, Sam, and Summer who brought energy and organization to the project. They have been confident networkers, scrappy fundraisers, and patient organizers. Most of their work is behind-the-scenes and without much recognition. They seem to realize we couldn’t pull this off without them – they’ve made sure that a student from each year is on the planning committee, so we never “run out” of med students.

Each of these students has also worked at, coordinated, and/or helped to create the MEDZOU Transgender Health Clinic. Individually they are deserving of recognition, but as a group they have been truly incredible. They inspire and energize me each time we interact, and witnessing their passion and action makes me so hopeful for the future of transgender healthcare.”