Holobough Honors Recognizes LGBTQIA+ Advocacy, Service of Brown School Faculty, Staff and Students

Community Engagement; Diversity; Faculty

Six Brown School students and faculty were recently recognized as Holobaugh Honorees—Washington University students, staff and faculty who live and lead authentically and perform direct advocacy and service to LGBTQIA+ communities.

The Holobaugh Honors celebrates many forms of LGBTQIA+ leadership, including artistic expression, trailblazing activism, academic exploration, and dedication to education, demonstrated commitment to intersectionality, relationship- and bridge-building and emerging leadership.

The 2019 Holobaugh Honorees from the Brown School include:

Tonya Edmond, Professor and Associate Dean for Social Work, will receive the James Baldwin Committed Educator Award, which recognizes an individual who has shown great commitment to raising awareness of various LGBTQIA+ issues and educating community members for the benefit of all. Edmond was previously the Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion at the Brown School, during which time she expanded the use of gender inclusive restrooms and education and advocacy for gender inclusive pronouns. Her research is around sexual assault survivors and intimate partner violence across queer relationships. She also serves as a mentor to many younger queer faculty and staff, creating space for others to live out their identities.

Ilia Silverman Esrig, MSW candidate, will receive the Sylvia Rivera and Marsha P. Johnson Activism Award, which recognizes trailblazing work by an individual who takes action in the face of injustice and stands up for their ideals. Ilia has been the force behind the development, implementation, and improvement of the nameplates used in Brown School classrooms to help prevent misgendering students. Ilia has dedicated their time to solving a problem on campus that will affect students long after they graduate. They have shown incredible amounts of initiative in the implementation and improvement processes, and continues to meet with deans and decision makers at the Brown School to advocate for centering LGBTQIA+ identities at the Brown School.

Braveheart Gillani, MSW candidate, will receive the Bayard Rustin Builder Award, which recognizes an individual who helps forge connections and build authentic spaces within LGBTQIA* communities through a people-centered approach. Braveheart is a leader in informal settings as well as within student government, and works to forge connections between student groups and research groups. He works alongside others in the Brown School to reduce misgendering in the classroom. He is described as a “true humanist” and his compassion is recognized by those around him.

Ezra Hessel, MSW candidate, will receive the Gloria Anzaldúa Advocacy at Intersections Award. This award recognizes an individual who advocates at intersections of LGBTQIA+ identities and illuminates and supports diversity in LGBTQI+* communities. Ezra is being recognized for his work with transgender youth, mostly recently through his practicum work as a patient advocate at the WashU Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. In the past, Ezra has also done work with LGBTQIA+ youth experiencing homelessness. His ability to form meaningful connections with young people and his devotion to his work are recognized by his colleagues and peers.

Peter Hovmand, Professor of Practice, will receive the Audre Lorde Academic Exploration Award, which recognizes an individual committed to using academic work to empower LGBTQIA+ communities and individuals. It seeks to honor individuals who use academics as a space for personal exploration and community development. Hovmand founded the Social Systems Design Lab at the Brown School, which has been doing work around gender equity and queer empowerment in conversations about sexual violence. 

Kris Wilson, MSW candidate, will also receive the Gloria Anzaldúa Advocacy at Intersections Award. Kris is being recognized for her work establishing safe spaces and support networks for LGBTQIA+ peers. She is a foundational community support member on the WashU campus, and has been intentional about expanding her work into the broader St. Louis community. During her time as president of OPEN, an LGBTQIA+ student group, Kris worked to ensure the group was inclusive and accessible for people with all different identities. She works hard to support people in their whole selves, particularly around mental health. Kris is described as a “humble and inspiring” person, and a source of light on campus.