Q Center

Jen (they/them), Former Director, 2005-2020

Dr. Self is the founding Director of the UW Q Center and earned their PhD in social welfare & graduate certificate in Feminist Studies from the University of Washington in 2010. They are a Part-time lecturer in School of Social Work & CHID and Affiliate Faculty of Gender, Women, & Sexuality Studies. Jen, a licensed independent clinical social worker and social transformation/liberation educator, has worked in higher education or with educators through consultation for more than 20 years.

In early 2004 Self, a graduate student at the time, sat in a small room in Schmitz Hall and had a vision to create a cultural space where LGBTQIA+ students could cross a threshold and redefine themselves, try on who they want to be, and integrate parts of themselves they left behind or are asked/told to leave behind daily. “[My] charge was simply to create a center that would provide respite and resources and safety for students. I knew that was necessary, but that it wouldn't be enough. My intention was always to create something that was about systemic change.”

Dr. Self’s approached their work with a vision and methodology that healing, growth, and renewal occurs within authentic, boundaried, caring, present, and consistent relationships both with community and interpersonally.  At the center of the center, the students, their energy, power, leadership, skill, and commitment always fueled the engine of the organization. Dr. Self’s vision that everyone must have unfettered access to education, teachers with whom they connect, structural supports and resources, and accessible, relate-able pathways to their visions of success resulted was unwavering and led to the University of Washington to being recognized as the #1 LGBTQIA+ affirming campus in North America in 2019.  Dr. Self's leadership was deeply rooted in intersectional race and gender justice and the centering of student authority and power, and love ethic.  By purposefully choosing to lead from a place of vulnerability, authenticity, transparency, and service and infusing a radical love ethic (bell hooks) the Q Center’s environment was inherently different from other spaces on the University campus.

Dr. Self’s fierce leadership of the Q Center from 2004-2019 stewarded immense shifts for the individual lives of LGBTQIA+ students to the larger institutional policy. The Q Center became a unit that touches every system in the university. The work and advocacy of Dr. Self and the Q Center staff “has affected curriculum, campus-wide policy, health care and how that's provided to students, how professors interact with their students, students who want to do queer research, and the way that students feel about their time here at UW.” they said.  “We've impacted student housing, recreation, how advising is done, everything from facilities to ceremonies. Honestly, we've gone from nothing to everything. And there's still so much more to be done.”

Jaimée Marsh (she/her/hers & they/them/theirs), MSW, Former Associate Director of the Q Center, 2013-2019

Master of Social Work in Community Organizations, Minors in Social Policy & Evaluation, University of Michigan

 Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare, Minors in Public Health & Geography, University of Washington

Jaimée Marsh is an organizer, an educator, and a scholar from Spokane, WA. During her undergraduate experience at UW she was an active student at the Q Center.  When the first-ever Associate Director position opened up in 2013, Jaimée felt confident the role was for her, “When I saw that posting I was like “this is it” who else has this connection to the space and experience higher education? This is for me!”

Jaimée’s commitment as a leader was always to center love, joy, justice and making visibility a reality for LGBTQIA+ students. For her six-year tenure at UW, Jaimée unapologetically cultivated a community space for people to bring their full selves and advance programs and policies that shift power to queer and gender diverse individuals and communities.

Jaimée stewarded the Q Center as an innovative hub of organizing and policy advocacy across campus. Her work secured the QC as a place where people and departments connect, cross-pollinate and disseminate research and information to forward and shift resources and institutional policies. Her policy work has contributed to the creation of gender-accessible bathrooms, chosen names in student databases and gender-accessible housing for UW students.

Jaimée’s superpower abilities in building community and partnerships advanced student programming campus-wide. She was the founder of Lavish: a QTPoC Artist Showcase in collaboration with the Ethnic Cultural Center; she also expanded the Colors conference from a one-day event to three months of programming that included a teaching artist program and student-run showcase for QTPOC visual or performance artists. Jaimée brokered strong relationships between to Queer People of Color Alliance (QPOCA), Alphabet Alliance of Color Initiative (AAoC) to steward $30,000 towards healing projects centering queer and trans students of color.  In 2019 her powerful work earned her the Dr. Sheltreese McCoy Award for Outstanding Social Justice Practice from the Consortium of Higher Education LGBTQ Resource Professionals at the Creating Change Conference in Detroit.

On a campus with 2% black folks, Jaimée’s commitment to increasing the visibility of her community was revolutionary. “The time I spent at the Q continues to transform my life...it opened me up to the possibilities of what I could be and taught me to learn more about myself, my grace, my own power, and my leadership. It taught me how to intentionally engage community and our own power building on our own terms.” Jaimée remarks, “ I don't know that I would be here if I didn't have those moments where I just got to be supported in all of who I was”.