LGBTQAward Winners


Distinguished Service Award Winners:


Tesla Cariani, 2013:  This year’s recipient has made a significant contribution to the Northeastern community during her five years on campus, including leadership within Students for Choice, co-oping with the NUin Program, co-chairing the Senior Class Advisory Board, involvement as a Resident Assistant, and participation with Alternative Spring Break. She has also had a tremendously positive impact on the LGBTQA community through her involvement and leadership within NU Pride. One nominator described her as “the rock that holds NU Pride together” and another nominator mentioned how they were not sure how effective NU Pride would be without her. As one nominator so eloquently wrote, “she is a major driving force in creating and maintaining the community which NU Pride serves to educate, and to otherwise better the community through understanding, education and exposure. A third nominator described how she has been involved with nearly every LGBTQA initiative they’d seen on campus in recent years, and how when she graduates, “it will be the end of a legacy.” Our fourth nominator (because yes, four different people nominated this individual) described how she “has done so much to foster an inclusive and celebratory LGBTQA community at Northeastern,” and I certainly can’t think of a more deserving recipient of this year’s Distinguished Service Award.

Cecilia Johnson, 2012: The first award recipient has long been an ally of the LGBTQA community, beginning in high school when she watched her good friends ridiculed, harassed, and even physically assaulted for being gay.  These powerful experiences when she was younger led this recipient to become increasingly aware of issues facing the LGBTQA community not only in her home town, but also globally.  She has participated in political movements (such as the “No on 1” Marriage Equality Campaign in Maine), volunteered at national events (like the Human Rights Campaign’s Annual Gala in Boston), and interned at Physicians for Human Rights to help international LGBTQA people find asylum in the US when their own country’s laws could result in imprisonment or death for being “homosexual.”  Further, in other co-op experiences through Northeastern, this recipient has worked to address issues of housing and employment discrimination found in the LGBTQA community.  Presently, she is seeking to continue her career post-graduation in serving as an advocate for the LGBTQA community.  Says her nominator, this person is socially conscious and dedicated to making change, even if people don’t know about her work in this area.

Anastasia Zankowsky, 2012: The second award recipient has dedicated efforts to serving the LGBTQA community both on- and off- Northeastern’s campus.  She has been steadily and consistently working in some capacity on LGBTQA efforts since 2010, when she became the Director of Administration for NUBiLaGA.  In January of 2011, she became president of NU Pride, and led the group to its recognition as “Social Justice Organization of the Year” by the Office of Student Affairs.  This recipient has also been actively involved in the OUT@NU Speaker’s Bureau on campus, first as a participant in 2010, then as a trainer and program coordinator in 2012.  That program seeks to humanize the experiences of LGBTQA individuals through dialogue, and her voice and background were invaluable additions.  Most notably, however, has been her work with The Network/La Red, an organization that works to end partner abuse in queer communities.  First logging 70 hours of state-certified domestic violence training, she now staffs a hotline providing crisis intervention and resources to survivors.  Says her nominator, “I admire her tremendously for her strength of voice and persistence in overcoming challenges.

Ally Award Winners:


Christina Gaffney, 2013: This year’s recipient has made a tremendous impact on campus over the past four and a half years. Our nominator described how she has played an instrumental role in creating and continuing to expand the Gender Neutral Housing program at Northeastern. Not only did she play a role in its creation, but she has remained involved with the project through its expansion over the years. This past summer she worked on a proposal to expand the program into apartments with double rooms, which effectively opened the door for many new spaces on campus to be used for gender neutral housing. This expansion will take effect during Fall 2013 and will positively impact hundreds of students within the Northeastern community.

Colleen Fritze, 2012: The recipient of this award has been involved in advancing LGBTQA causes on Northeastern’s campus for as long as anyone can remember – perhaps since the very moment she stepped onto campus.  Beginning in 2008, she has served as an advisor to NU Pride.  Past student leaders say of her, “Visiting her was like taking a break from the day.  I would hope to have a form for her to sign so that I could go and catch up.  She’s always willing to listen, offer a bit of wisdom, or a smile.”  She also was a member of the GLBT Advisory Group, whose mission was to create an inclusive campus environment through advocacy, education, social action, and community development.  In 2006, that committee drafted and presented an extensive proposal for the development and recognition of a funded and staffed GLBT Resource Center on campus – a movement that has led to the creation of the first Coordinator of LGBTQA Programs and Services, and the designation of 328 Curry as the LGBTQA Resource Center.  A letter written by this recipient contained within the proposal for the Center reads, “By sharing each others’ truths, we break down the fear stereotypes and promote healthy dialogue about the human condition… We learn and educate each other with mutual respect and integrity not as fractionalized groups, but as an inclusive, living dynamic.”  The document still serves as a guideline for the mission and vision of the Center and its programming.  Today, this recipient is still actively engaged in dialogue around the state of the LGBTQA community on campus.  Says her nominator: “She has been an indispensible mentor and guide to me, with a consistently gentle spirit and energy.”  

Catalyst Award Winners:


Drake Jones, 2013: The recipient of this award is someone that has been a true catalyst for change on campus. He is a law student who immediately became involved with the Queer Caucus when he arrived at Northeastern. As he came to know the Northeastern campus community better, he noticed the lack of “gender identity and expression” in the Equal Opportunity Policy at Northeastern, and quickly sought to bring his campus resources together to create a united front to address the issue. He is frequently the go-to student when it comes to discussing other LGBTQA campus issues, including gender neutral bathrooms and the preferred name and pronoun policy. His recent work includes a memo in favor of expanding student health care to cover transgender medical and psychological treatments. This document includes research and insight on the medical necessity of such care, and its importance in making Northeastern a more safe and inclusive environment for all students.

Frank Marino, 2012: The recipient of this award is someone that we can all agree has been a true catalyst for change on campus.  Through his work as an RA and as a Social Justice Resource Center Ambassador, this recipient has worked to create amazing programming opportunities for students.  He held an NU edition of the “It Gets Better,” and helped to create and will be leading the LGBTQA-oriented Living and Learning Community.  But perhaps what this recipient is best known for are the ways he has encouraged wide-spread campus activism, through his roles in campaigns like “Knockout Barstool Sports” and “No Way Chick-Fil-A.”  His persistence and presence has earned him respect from his peers and administrators alike in the Northeastern Community.  Says one of his nominators: “he has come to understand that change can only occur when we are willing to call out injustice and inequity and then take the risk to do something about it… he has challenged my understanding of student activism from docile to invigorated.  The proper name of Frank Marino is Catalyst.”