Keynote Speaker

Keynote Luncheon Address 2023

Jenna McElroy ’16

Jenna McElroy is a former MCLA student (Class of 2016) who pursued their first MA degree in the field of Gender/Cultural studies at Simmons University in Boston, MA, and then their second MA degree in Sociology at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. Jenna specializes in Foucauldian studies and qualitative methodology - which frames the majority of their research. Being tickled by French philosophy and the Frankfurt school, Jenna's first thesis and defense compared the rise of Nazi Germany post-Weimar Republic, with the rise of contemporary fascism in the United States under Donald Trump. The thesis was a thick analysis of how conversion therapy on LGBTQIA+ individuals was deployed as a weapon of war in Nazi Germany, which made the existing practice in the United States even more popular post-WWII. Contemporarily, the heinous practice of conversion therapy thrives with the growing religious and far-right extremism in the United States, which can only serve as a dangerous warning. Jenna's second thesis and defense was an extensive research project that focused on far- and alt-right social movements (groups promoting beliefs for anti-abortion, anti-evolution, flat-earth, anti-vaccinations, anti-LGBTQ, men's rights, white supremacy, and anti-climate change). Adopting an investigative approach, while bringing Foucault into the study of social movements, Jenna personally and strategically moved through these circles to understand how far- and alt-right movements co-opt "the truth" to wreak havoc in our sociopolitical sphere. While Jenna continues to pursue their research interests, they are able to now pragmatize their knowledge for the realm of public health. After living in Chicago for five years, Jenna now resides back in Massachusetts with their spouse, working at Tufts Medicine within the Population Health department. Their goals are to make the Massachusetts healthcare world and its policies more LGBTQIA+ inclusive while simultaneously broadening gender-affirming care, and separately, to work towards eliminating conversion therapy nation-wide. Jenna regularly participates in activism and advocacy for a variety of reasons - including but not limited to anti-1% movements, domestic abuse, sexual assault, LGBTQIA+ rights, and through serving as an ally for BIPOC movements. Aside from this, Jenna regularly enjoys long cross-country roadtrips with their spouse, going to shows/concerts, oddity hunting, and having the privilege to trace their genealogy.

URC Keynote Speakers from Recent Years

2022 Elsa "Rose" Mastico '18

2021 Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu '15

2020 Ama Bemma Adwetewa-Badu '15 - Canceled due to COVID19 pandemic

2019 Alexandra Nichipor '12

2018 James Chapman '15

2017 Kaitlin Hallet '10

2016 Chloe McGrath '13

2015 Alicia Girgenti, Ph.D '07

2014 Victoria Welch '09

2013 Evan Hermann '07

2012 Jarrod Abbott-Washburn '08

2011 Brendan Gaesser '07

2010 Maura Mills '05

2009 Trisha Farco '04

2008 Gerol Petruzella '01

2007 Bonnie Beal '01