Kelsey Pacha, MA, M.Div. is a trans man who has worked with marginalized communities for 15+ years in a variety of settings. He holds a Master of Religion and Psychology, Master of Divinity, and Certificate of Sexuality and Religion from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA. He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Psychological Services from Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. He is the owner of Kelsey Pacha Consulting, which supports the work of institutions and individuals in increasing their capacity for cultural humility and social justice-informed institutional change. Kelsey offers educational trainings and LGBTQ workplace policy expertise with an emphasis on practical skills, identity awareness, and personal empowerment. He regularly works with corporate diversity, equity, and inclusion officers and LGBTQ affinity groups, as well as legal, clinical, medical, and direct service (including child welfare and faith leader) personnel.
Kelsey brings his personal experience as a white person from the Midwest who was confronted with his privilege and lack of cultural awareness when he matriculated at Northwestern University, near the urban center of Chicago. His activism for institutional change began at Northwestern, where he spent 4 years as a member of the campus LGBT group’s executive council and spearheaded a successful campaign to include “gender identity and expression” in the school’s non-discrimination policy. In 2006, he organized the Chicago site of Soulforce’s Right to Serve campaign, protesting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. In 2007, he took a semester off school to go on Soulforce’s Equality Ride, visiting 21 Christian colleges and universities around the country that had policies that prevent students from coming out as LGBTQ.
Kelsey’s growth and knowledge base accelerated when he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008, working with people with disabilities, homeless youth, and LGBTQ youth communities. Kelsey has worked as a direct service provider, case manager, and program coordinator at multiple non-profit organizations. In addition to strategizing for institutional change, Kelsey believes that self-compassion, continuing self-accountability, and focusing on personal incremental actions are vital tools in bridging individual change with larger cultural shifts.
With increasing divisiveness among generations with differing approaches to identity politics and professionalism, it is essential, now more than ever, to build resiliency in having tough conversations in order to prioritize communities most impacted by systemic oppression. Kelsey brings the ability to listen with openness, validate individuals’ experiences, while also challenging people to leverage their power and privilege for a more equitable, just world. He regularly presents at LGBTQ conferences all over the country, and has presented at the LGBTQ Task Force’s Creating Change Conference, Gender Spectrum’s Professional Symposium, and the Philadelphia Trans Wellness Conference, among others. He was featured on the podcast And So We Meet Again, discussing his personal journey as a queer transman of faith, as well as giving a mini-version of his Gender and Pronoun 101.
Kelsey straddles the worlds of academia/theory and practice, serving as the Board President of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, a national non-profit organization that publishes a 649-page resource guide of the same name, by and for the trans*, genderqueer, and gender nonconforming communities. Through this work, he connects with leading transgender and gender expansive scholars in medicine, law, mental health, social sciences, politics, and culture to collaborate on editions of Trans Bodies. He recently authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter of second edition of the book, to be released in 2021, while managing a nationwide qualitative survey of 2,400 respondents, and editing several chapters. Kelsey also co-authored the Religion and Spirituality chapter in textbook Gender Confirmation Surgery: Principles and Techniques for an Emerging Field, edited by Loren Schecter, released 2020.
What I Bring to Diversity & Inclusion Work
I have over 20 years of experience in leadership, managing teams, tracking strategic goals, providing individual mentorship, and strengthening community-building networks. I currently serve as the president of a national board creating resources for trans and gender expansive people, our providers, and allies.
A Holistic Perspective
I know that for people to learn new skills, retain knowledge, and challenge their perspectives, they must be well-resourced and present. I use my experience as a direct service professional, case manager, and pastoral counselor to encourage integration, self-advocacy, and a commitment each individual’s own well-being.
I bring my whole self to the work I do, and imbue trainings with personal examples from my own life. I know stories have more impact than research data, and am willing to share some of mine. I respond to areas where clients need to grow with honesty and direct, but compassionate, feedback.
Commitment to Structural Change
I’ve accompanied many organizations through structural changes, from modifying all-gender spaces to creating new connections in community resource networks. I believe practicing relentless self-inquiry about our own identities is the foundation for dismantling harmful systems, and I model that for my clients.