The Vice-President of FreeState Justice’s board, Lee Westgate, has joined the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) as the Manager of Policy and Advocacy!
NASW has 55 state/territorial chapters and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. NASW’s robust social justice and workforce policy portfolio includes economic equity, criminal and juvenile justice, healthcare equity, immigration, voting rights, environmental justice, LGBTQ issues, among others, which intersect with racial equity and civil rights, outlined in the 2021 Blueprint of Federal Social Policy Priorities. In his new position, Westgate will work in collaboration with numerous coalitions and other policy stakeholders to advance NASW’s advocacy agenda.
As an out transgender advocate with over 15 years of professional experience in social work policy, practice, research, and education, Westgate has long served as a trailblazer for his community. He has held numerous leadership roles and has served as an educational consultant to various associations and organizational clientele. He will continue to serve as a graduate faculty member and Clinical Instructor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work.
Transgender representation in leadership positions is integral to advancing and protecting the rights of all gender-nonconforming people. Transgender people face particularly difficult barriers in the job market. According to a 2015 study, over one-quarter of transgender people who held or applied for a job in the last year reported being fired, not hired, or denied a promotion due to their gender identity (source). Although awareness around transgender rights has increased in the past six years, there remains a lack of representation in positions of power — particularly those that decide policy. Throughout his career, Westgate has demonstrated to TLGBQ+ people that they can have, and deserve to have, a seat at the table.
At FreeState, we are incredibly proud of Lee Westgate’s accomplishments, and the hope he represents for the TLGBQ+ community! Congratulations Lee!
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