2008 PFIG Recipient Heather Welborn

Career Administrator

Heather Welborn
College of Arts & Sciences
History
2009 Graduation Year

Internship: Alternatives to Marriage Project and the LGBT Community Center in New York, NY

My past year at UVA has been a time of intellectual growth and personal reflection. I wanted to spend my last summer in college devoted to a community whose civil rights I have advocated for on Grounds and will continue to advocate for beyond my time at UVA. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community in New York City is a thriving cultural and intellectual institution whose legacy I sought to be apart of while working to achieve equality for this community. I was selected to intern at both NYC’s LGBT Community Center , a staple in LGBT history and society, and the Alternatives to Marriage Project, a progressive nonprofit organization who seeks to eliminate martial discrimination.

Notes on the first week 

After a busy weekend of moving into my cozy apartment in Park Slope, Brooklyn , I began my summer internship at the Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP). I was in awe when I first arrived at the office of a national nonprofit organization, which has one full-time employee, the executive director, and over 8,000 members all across the country. I was selected as one of the Alternatives to Marriage Project summer interns to research martial discrimination in equal access to health care. My beginning task, which I am currently pursuing, is to research advance directives for health care and develop a public policy statement for AtMP on this issue. I also help out with the day-to-day tasks of running a national nonprofit such as mailing out the organization’s newsletter and annual report. I look forward to the exciting research and professional growth I will undergo during my time at AtMP.

In the middle of my first week I began my second internship at the bustling LGBT Community Center in Greenwich Village . The atmosphere and the type of work that I do at the LGBT Community Center are very different from AtMP. As the events planning intern for the Community Center I am tasked with helping plan the LGBT Community Center’s three major fundraising events beginning with the Center’s Garden Party, the only LGBT tasting event in the country. In preparation for Garden Party I am responsible for helping coordinate the 34 restaurants participating in the event as well as helping launch and run the online auction component of Garden Party at: http://www.cmarket.com/auction/AuctionHome.action?vhost=lgbtcenternyc.

I’m so grateful to the Parent’s Fund for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity. I look forward to sharing my exciting summer with you!

Midway 

New York is an exciting place to be in the summer! The city is very accommodating for individuals on a budget who want to have a great time with numerous outdoor festivals every weekend. The only problem is surviving the heat! 

I am almost finished researching advance directives for the Alternatives to Marriage Project's public policy statement. I have been able to contact leading researchers and professionals regarding advance directives including Nancy Polikoff, a professor at American University and premiere health care and civil rights scholar. I am now in the process of writing AtMP's public policy statement as well as drafting the text for the organization's website. Additionally, I am working on an action plan for the rest of the summer to motivate AtMP's members to file advance directives to ensure their wishes are followed with regard to their end-of-life care. I'm very excited about the opportunity to develop an action plan for a national non-profit. I'm learning an invaluable amount from my internship with the Alternatives to Marriage Project about how to manage a national non-profit organization. 

At NYC's LGBT Community Center , I have now helped execute two of the Center's largest fundraising events: Garden Party and Bay Dance. With only one more event left at the end of July my time at the Center is almost over. However, I recently had the amazing opportunity to march with the Center (who was the Grand Marshall) at this year's Gay Pride Parade in NYC. This historic event has been the highlight of my summer thus far and was an experience that I will not soon forget. NYC's LGBT Community Center has been the root for the LGBT community in the city whose legacy has had a tangible impact that I am proud to now have been a part of.

Final Reflections

My final days in New York have come and gone. As I packed up my little apartment and headed back down south I reflected on how much I have grown intellectually this summer. Through my internship with the Alternatives to Marriage Project (AtMP) I received hands on training from the Executive Director concerning public policy and grant research. I spent my last month with AtMP writing a public policy paper on the issue that I had been researching all summer—advance directives.

In addition, I created an action strategy for AtMP that included a "Get Your Paperwork In Line" campaign, through which AtMP will encourage its members and provide the resources to fill out an advance directive. Other valuable skills that I learned from my time with AtMP include constructing action alert emails and member actions as well as a webpage: http://www.unmarried.org/health-care/hospital-rights/. However, what I value the most from my time in New York and with AtMP is not enhancing my non-profit skill set but rather my intellectual growth in realizing how issues such as advance directives affect such a large amount of people. Problems within our health care system, such as advance directives, threaten the autonomy and end-of-life care decision-making of everyone regardless of which identity or demographic group you belong to. In order for anyone working on health care policy to truly affect change one must realize the intersection of different identity and demographic groups on health care issues such as advance directives, which affects not only the LGBT population but also the elderly, and unmarried individuals. In addition to my work at AtMP during my last month in New York , I also helped execute the NYC’s LGBT Community Center ’s final summer event—Dancing on the Beach in the Hamptons . Despite a last minute venue change, the event ran smoothly as donors enjoyed the Center’s beach party fundraiser. Another valuable skill that I gained knowledge of through my time with the Center was non-profit event planning. I am comfortable in the future stating that I know what goes into planning and executing a non-profit event that many non-profits use as fundraisers. The Events Planning department celebrated my time in New York and my contributions this summer to the Center by taking me to see the Broadway show "[title of show]" my final night in New York. It was a perfect evening to end my amazing summer in New York. 

Thank you again to the Parent’s Fund for giving me the opportunity to have such an incredible summer. I’ve gained immense experience and invaluable intellectual growth from my two internships. Now I’m ready to return to Virginia and "hit the ground running" in order to affect change for the LGBT community at UVA.