A Letter from President & CEO Chris Allen
October 20, 2023
Dear Diverse & Resilient Community,
I am honored and excited to greet you as the new President & CEO of Diverse & Resilient. As I step into this role, I am reminded of the journey that brought me here, one that began in the very heart of our community.
My story with Diverse & Resilient began back in 2002 when, as a sophomore at Riverside University High School, I joined the organization as a Youth Advisor. Growing up in Milwaukee, I personally experienced the profound challenges that LGBTQ+ individuals, especially those of color, often face. The weight of internalized stigma and discrimination made me feel like I wasn’t enough, like my identity as a Black gay man somehow made me less than. Before becoming involved with Diverse & Resilient, I endured abuse, harassment, violence, and periods of homelessness simply because I came out as gay.
However, my life took a remarkable turn when I found a place that not only accepted me as I was, but supported me, affirmed me, and saw the value in me and my experiences. It was here, within the nurturing embrace of Diverse & Resilient, that I began to heal and envision a future for myself. Dr. Gary Hollander, Mark O’Neil, Brenda Coley, Tyler Hadley, and many others played crucial roles in helping me see the value that was inside me. Their support was a beacon of hope during some of my darkest hours.
My journey with Diverse & Resilient reached significant milestones, eventually leading me to become the Program Manager of Milwaukee Programs in 2015. Along the way, I’ve had the privilege of collaborating with various organizations and individuals who share our mission and vision. My experiences have taken me to different corners of the country, from working with UT Austin’s Health Innovation and Evaluation Team to collaborating with the Texas Department of State Health Services, where I focused on HIV prevention and care.
Our mission at Diverse & Resilient is deeply personal to me. It’s about achieving health equity and improving the safety and well-being of LGBTQ+ people and communities right here in Wisconsin. Our vision paints a picture of a brighter future—one in which LGBTQ+ individuals in our state thrive, living healthy, satisfying lives in safe, supportive communities. We’re committed to addressing anti-violence, nurturing leadership development, enhancing sexual health, and tackling substance use issues.
I want you to know that our success isn’t possible without you. Strengthening relationships with community-based organizations, partners, community leaders, and groups is integral to our agency’s future. Together, we can make a profound impact on the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals and communities throughout Wisconsin.
As we move forward, I’m inspired by our collective dedication to creating a more equitable and inclusive world. I’m eager to work alongside all of you, drawing from your expertise, passion, and experiences. Let’s continue the vital work of Diverse & Resilient and bring our vision to life.
Thank you for your support, and I look forward to the journey ahead.