The CU Boulder Alumni Association honored Bethy Leonardi (PhD EFPP ’14) and Sara Staley (PhD C&I Literacy ’14), School of Education research associates and co-founders of A Queer Endeavor, with the 2018 Kalpana Chawla Award at the October annual awards ceremony, one of CU Boulder's oldest traditions.
Initiated in 1982, the Kalpana Chawla Award recognizes outstanding career achievement and significant contributions to the community within fifteen years of graduation from CU Boulder. In 2003, the award was renamed to honor Kalpana Chawla (MAero’86, PhD’88) and her impressive career as a scientist and astronaut.
After graduating with their doctorate degrees, Leonardi and Staley co-founded A Queer Endeavor, an initiative housed in the School of Education that aims to provide educators with guidance and tools for creating school cultures that are safe, supportive and accepting of LGBTQ youth and families.
“Silence has historically surrounded topics of gender and sexual diversity in education, but Drs. Staley and Leonardi help educators create school cultures characterized by deeper understanding and positive change,” said nominator Michele S. Moses, education professor.
Since A Queer Endeavor’s founding, Leonardi and Staley have worked with an impressive 5,000-plus educators and school leaders nationwide, including all of the principals in the Boulder Valley, Adams 12 and St. Vrain Valley School Districts. In the Boulder Valley School District, through the Boulder Valley Safe Schools Coalition, they have worked with over 2,800 teachers since 2014.
Bethy’s and Sara’s work addresses the underlying structural framework that perpetuates this stigma and their work is vital to the health of our communities."
“A Queer Endeavor has led us, coached us, taught us, encouraged us and continues to walk with us in making our ongoing efforts to make our schools the safe and inclusive places that children deserve,” said an assistant principal at BVSD. “I really can’t think of where we would be without them, nor do I want to."
“They support every teacher they work with inside and outside of the hours they are paid for,” said Out Boulder County Executive Director Mardi Moore. “Bethy’s and Sara’s work addresses the underlying structural framework that perpetuates this stigma and their work is vital to the health of our communities.”
With a deep commitment to social justice, Leonardi and Staley’s work and support for LGBTQ students is helping educators across the country cultivate the safe and inclusive spaces that all children deserve.