Student Leader Spotlight: Katie Barnes

Katie Barnes

  • Age: 23
  • Sexual Orientation: Lesbian/Queer
  • Gender Identity/Expression: Woman/Gender Non-Conforming/Masculine-of-Center
  • Hometown: Oxford, OH
  • Alma Mater: St. Olaf College ‘13
  • Alma Mater: Graduate Student in Student Affairs & Assistant Resident Director/First Year Advisor

Katie participated in Camp Pride in 2012 and received the Campus Pride Voice & Action Award in 2013.  They now serve as Vice President of the Youth Advisory Board, on the Board of Directors, Selection Committee Chair of the Voice & Action Awards, and as a Pride Leader for Camp 2014.  Now, they are finishing graduate school for student affairs.  We asked Katie to reflect on their experiences with Campus Pride and how they’ve affected their life and work since.  Below are their responses.

When did you first become involved with Campus Pride and what do you recall about your experience?

My first involvement with Campus Pride came in January of 2012 when I attended the Queer It Up Action Institute at Creating Change. I remember thinking I was a big deal when I entered the room, and leaving with the realization that I could do so much more than I did at that time. I think as leaders, many of us have those moments, times when we realize that we could be better. For me, that day was the single most transformative experience I’ve had as a leader.

Share a story about a meaningful moment that you attribute to your experience with Campus Pride.

This isn’t a singular experience, but the entirety of my senior year of college in regards to my activism and the change I brought to my campus in conjunction with other leaders is due to the experiences I had with Campus Pride. In the fall of 2012, I chaired the MN OUT! Campus Conference, an opportunity I never would have taken had I not been inspired by my experience at Creating Change. Campus Pride partnered with me through the in kind donations of tote bags and Lil Purple Backpack resources, while also facilitating the booking of Kristen Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid from Everyone Is Gay. I was a featured speaker at the United For Our Future Rally, joining state legislators and activists around the state in the celebration of the historic defeat of the marriage limiting amendment that November. I was also awarded the Voice & Action Award from Campus Pride and Distinguished Senior in Leadership from St. Olaf. Though I was honored individually, the awards reflect the true transformation in the dedication and scope I envisioned for my own leadership, and also for the accomplishments of my community. Throughout that year, my most proud moment was the awarding of Organization of the Year to GLOW!, the LGBTQ organization at St. Olaf, for the second year in a row. None of that would have been possible without Campus Pride and the leadership training I received.

Describe what you are doing today with your professional life and how Campus Pride helped to prepare you?

I am the Assistant Resident Director/First Year Advisor of a residence hall at Miami University (OH) and halfway through my M.S. in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Campus Pride provided me with advocacy tools I use every day. Whether I’m advocating for LGBT students or working on staff development, the training and lessons I received through Campus Pride is ever present.

How did Campus Pride impact you and your individual growth as a leader?

I credit Campus Pride with much of my growth as a leader. I already talked about eating a healthy slice of humble pie, but I also learned how to think strategically, and the true importance of being an ally to other letters of the acronym. Campus Pride challenged me every moment during the Institute as well as Camp, and I’m still challenged today with new opportunities and avenues of support.

What value do you feel Campus Pride brings to LGBTQ and Ally young adult leaders?

Campus Pride has given me so many opportunities, and I think that is one of the greatest things available to students across the country. As someone who organized on a college campus with no resource center and no staff support, connections and resources were scarce. College students have a tendency to focus inward, but Campus Pride breaks that isolation, giving students a network of support and communication that aides even the most isolated of students, which is tremendous. The leadership skills are tremendous as well, but personally, the connection was invaluable.

How does Campus Pride still provide enrichment to your life today and what you do professionally?

Serving on the Board of Directors has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had. Being able to represent campus Pride at various conferences and events has provided me with so many meaningful connections and potential mentors, and also an opportunity to continue my work with students and do the work I love.

What advice do you have for those involved in Campus Pride or for those who want to become more involved?

Don’t be afraid to take an opportunity if it’s out there. The Advisory Board is a great step for that, so are internships and the Summer Fellowship. Campus Pride has opportunities for students to continue their involvement and create change on their campuses and beyond.

 What’s next for you in your personal and, or professional goals?

I’d love to go on to get a Ph.D in either higher education or education policy, but first I have to finish this masters. After that, who knows? As long as I have the opportunity to continue this work, I’ll be happy.

Campus Pride is the leading national educational organization for LGBTQ and ally college students and campus groups building future leaders and safer, more LGBTQ-friendly colleges and universities. The organization provides resources and services to thousands of college students and nearly 1400 campuses annually. Learn more online at

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