Nikki Neuen connects her talents to gender diversity

Nikki Neuen

Nikki Neuen (’04, American Studies) is Associate Director for Gender Diversity Education and Support Services, where she focuses on infrastructure management, communications, grant writing, and everything else.  “Our staff is so small, that we all help with everything – conferences, marketing, volunteer management, fundraising – you name it,” Nikki explains. Gender Diversity increases the awareness and understanding of gender diversity in children, adolescents, and adults by providing family support groups, education and training to professionals serving trans youth, and through their annual international conference, Gender Odyssey.

When Nikki's only child revealed himself as trans, she began attending Gender Diversity’s parent support groups and quickly became a volunteer. As the organization exploded in size, the opportunity for Nikki to officially join the staff full-time opened up.  She “gleefully” did so.  “This kind of work – nonprofit work in support of underrepresented people – is exactly why I went to college,” Nikki explained. Gender Diversity and Gender Odyssey have supported more than 800 families and trained hundreds of service providers since their inception in 2001.  Nikki's greatest joy is the people she encounters though her work, especially the "amazing parents," who never imagined themselves raising a trans child, but who become powerful advocates for their children.  "This work truly saves lives.  We help families transform from distress to celebration," she explained.  “I’m constantly inspired by the courage of gender expansive youth that I know, and humbled by the gracious, loving humility of their parents.”

Nikki is a first generation college graduate who attended Metropolitan State College of Denver, and North Seattle College after several years in the workforce.  Already interested in human rights policy and cultural disruption, an encounter with IAS faculty member Bruce Kochis turned her sights toward further education at UW Bothell.  Nikki reflects on the impact of interdisciplinary learning in her daily life.  “Not a day goes by when I don’t think of a class or core concept at UW Bothell.  Whether it’s using qualitative research analysis methods for a grant, or highlighting and honoring intersectionality in the communities I support, I still lean on the techniques and philosophies I studied at UW Bothell over a decade ago.”