The Community Organizer

by | Jul 1, 2023 | 0 comments

Jennifer Morales was the first Latine person to be elected to the Milwaukee Public Schools board of directors, a position they held for eight years. One of their first acts on the board was to champion a policy requiring gender-neutral, inclusive family terminology on MPS forms, so that the city’s diverse families could see themselves represented at school. In their second term, they came out publicly as queer, in part to support the effort to stop the 2006 Wisconsin ballot referendum against marriage equality and to win domestic partner benefits for school employees.

After leaving public office, Morales pursued an MFA in Creative Writing, resulting in the publication of their first book, Meet Me Halfway: Milwaukee Stories, a collection of interconnected short stories about life in the hyper-segregated city. In 2014, after more than two decades in Milwaukee, Morales moved to rural Viroqua, in the Driftless Region of the state, to focus on their fiction writing and nonprofit work.

The 2016 election brought a new sense of vulnerability to rural queer life. Morales spent a sleepless election night fielding panicked phone calls from friends and family worried that this new president was likely to target LGBTQ+ people, women, people of color, and religious minorities. In the morning, they started the Driftless LGBTQ+ & Allies listserv, which has now reached more than 100 members, as well as a separate listserv for families with LGBTQ+ children.

Ballet - Timeless - 300x300
DCHS Wildlife Center

In 2019, they helped found Viroqua Area Pride, whose inaugural event was a joyful, intergenerational festival that attracted more than 500 people. In subsequent Viroqua Pride fests, Morales has served on the security team and hosts the interdenominational Blessings Booth, which brings in LGBTQ+-affirming clergy to offer conversation, prayer, and blessings to those who request such support. As a former Sunday school teacher in the affirming United Church of Christ, the Blessings Booth offers Morales the opportunity to reassure LGBTQ+ people that God loves them just as they are.

Morales’ day job is serving as Director of Movement Learning & Culture Change at Family Values @ Work, a national paid leave advocacy organization. In that role, Morales has nurtured a cross-movement network of advocates called the Family Justice Network, to ensure that public policies define family in ways that include chosen family, queer families, and all the diverse ways families are composed in the US. This effort brings Morales full circle, back to that first policy they passed on the Milwaukee school board.

Although they keep busy with a big garden and paid and volunteer work, Morales still makes time for writing and helps run the Driftless Writing Center, bringing notable authors and writing teachers to their rural community.


2023 Pride in Color

The ChampionChris Allen is President and CEO of Diverse & Resilient where he continues his vision and advocacy for LGBTQ+ rights and health equity.

The Change MakerKaleb Hawj is a prominent trans leader in the Hmong Queer Feminist Movement and is shaping the way the Hmong community protects, celebrates, and loves Hmong LGBTQI+ people.

The Community OrganizerJennifer Morales brings creativity and queer culture to rural life while making real change at the policy level for queer families nationwide.

The Role ModelSteph Tai is trying to help fight the fight against climate change.

Article Tags

MGHA tournament
Advert 77
Ballet - Timeless - Banner

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

MGHA tournament
Advert 77
Ballet - Timeless - Banner

Latest News

Catching up with Kathy Griffin

Catching up with Kathy Griffin

Steve Noll chats with the legendary comedian about why she’s done performing in clubs, life on the PTSD-List, her upcoming show at Overture Center on April 21, and yes… the infamous photo.

Cash & Olive’s Pub

Cash & Olive’s Pub

Jen O’Branovich and Courtney Sargent of Millie’s Coffee & Eatery in Cambridge have traded in the sunny space they formerly occupied in Galleria 214 to expand into a more Sconnie-style environment outside the main drag.

Pain Is In the Brain

Pain Is In the Brain

Nyle Biondi, MS LMFT, was one of the first out trans therapists in the state of Wisconsin and has devoted the past few years to helping others heal from chronic pain and health conditions.

Be Every Day

Be Every Day

A journey of self-discovery, acceptance, and love decades in the making. Follow along and be inspired at how Martha Marvel discovered her truth.

Latest News

VIEW ALL LATEST NEWS

DCHS Wildlife Center
Ballet - Timeless - 300x300

Events

SUBMIT AN EVENT

VIEW ALL EVENTS

Jobs

SUBMIT A JOB POSTING

VIEW ALL JOBS

Popular Tags

Pin It on Pinterest