Universal Design to “Be Kind” - Approaches to Inclusivity for Nonbinary and Transgender Staff, Individuals and Community

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While nonbinary and trans people are increasingly visible in both popular culture and daily life, they still face discrimination, stigma and systemic inequities. Despite this, 91% of LGBTQIA+ adults report engaging in wellness activities and LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to report positive outcomes when they feel supported at home, school and in their community.  Park and recreation professionals have long been on the frontlines of social and public health issues, with agencies regularly navigating how to respond to and best support individuals and communities with differing needs, while also handling pressure from the public and elected officials, policy changes, and other challenges that influence their approach to addressing the matter.  Join Autumn Saxton-Ross, VP of Education and Chief Equity Officer for NRPA, Laure Kosey, Director of Oak Brooke Park District and Jon Marquardt, Superintendent of Facilities for Skokie Park District as they discuss their approaches to inclusion in facilities, summer camper and staff policies, and recreation practices and programs in support of nonbinary and transgender inclusion.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Participants will build an understanding of language and terms used when discussing the LGBTQIA+ community 
  2. Participants will learn how universal design provides an approach for both inclusionary facilities and language in more conservative communities
  3. Participants will engage with practices,  policies and programs used to support transgender staff and participants within recreational settings 

Autumn Saxton-Ross, PhD (she/her/hers)

Vice President of Education and Chief Equity Officer

National Recreation and Park Association

Autumn Saxton-Ross, PhD, developed a love of the outdoors first through her grandmother’s yard and then exploring city parks with her family in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.  Now a resident of Washington DC and mom of two, she is the VP for Education & Chief Equity Officer at the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA). 

She started her career as an elementary school Health and PE teacher in DC Public Schools and after receiving graduate degrees in Health Education and Sociology, has worked in various positions that placed her at the intersections of health, equity and the outdoors.  Most recently, as the Mid-Atlantic Regional Director and Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Lead for NatureBridge, and prior to that she held positions as the Program Director for Place-based Initiatives at the National Collaborative for Health Equity, Program Specialist at DC Department of Health and (Health) Recreation Specialist at both Montgomery County and DC Departments of Recreation.

Autumn is a connector- actively seeking out ways to build bridges between seemingly disparate people, opportunities and ideas.  And if you really want to see a sparkle in her eye, start a conversation on all things Marvel, Octavia Butler or Star Trek: The Next Generation.  

Laure Kosey

Executive Director

Oak Brook Park District, IL

Laure L. Kosey, Ph.D., CPRE, is the Executive Director at the Oak Brook Park District since 2010.  Her path towards parks and recreation started in Minnesota at the College of St. Benedict where she taught leisure studies and coached women’s soccer.  In 1996, she became the first head women’s soccer coach at DePaul University.  In 2000, a career changing opportunity was offered as the new Director of Parks & Recreation for the Village of Riverside.

Jon Marquardt

Superintendent of Facilities

Skokie Park District, IL

As the Skokie Park District's superintendent of facilities, Marquardt administers the district's revenue facilities and their staffs. He also is charged with developing innovative partnerships and outreach within the Skokie community. Marquardt also serves as the diversity committee head, which oversees DEI initiatives and diversity events throughout the district.


Universal Design to “Be Kind”
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