Jeff Mills, SAGE Wilmington Director
Jeff currently resides in Wilmington, North Carolina's Myrtle Grove district. After a far flung upbringing in a U.S. Air Force family, that included several years in Tachikawa Air Base, Japan. He graduated high school in Dover, Delaware in order to study engineering and architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. There, he found inspiration to improve society during vocal objection to the War in Vietnam. Gay liberation, birthing then, was another source of direction for him.
Graduating college in 1971, his next adventure was a three month, hitch-hiking journey from Cambridge, MA to San Francisco, CA. Gleefully settling there, in the Bay Area, for nearly the next 42 years (!), he found great freedom in expressing his talents through construction, design, and through "out" communal gay living.
His longest career path led to decades spent executing unique building designs in both residential and commercial projects as a carpenter and as a general contractor.
Enduring the massive loss and tragedy of the HIV/AIDS Plague in San Francisco through the eighties and nineties, altered his life path profoundly. Despite the calamity, he and his permanent partner, Ed, met in 1992. Together, today, they both find life satisfaction by importing the Left Coast approach to life into the Cape Fear of North Carolina.
Here, since 2013, they have spent much of their time in organizing and participating in the ongoing campaign to bring diverse, free equality into the lives of those around them. Currently, Jeff, while retired from construction, devotes much of his life to membership in Cape Fear Equality; working with Equality North Carolina; mentoring with other HIV positive long-term survivors; and furthering the aims of both SAGE Wilmington and the Frank Harr Foundation.
Angela Wadsworth, Director
My educational path was not that of a “typical academic”. Following high school I worked in air freight offices and took community college classes, earning a two year degree in medical record technology. My plan was to finish the education that would allow me to be board certified as a nurse, then go to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and train to be a medical photographer. An industrial accident derailed those plans, and made return to college a necessity as I needed to train for a field that required less physical, hands-on work than was necessary in nursing or photography.
Upon transferring to UNC-Charlotte, I took courses in social problems and medical sociology. Suddenly, what I had seen and worked around for years in hospital settings made more sense; as did the general world around me. This time period coincided with the advent of HIV/AIDS, as we began seeing more and more patients in health care settings with this new, inexplicable illness that brought with it old fears of contagion and suspicion of those who were “different”. Now, stigma and discrimination were not just terms in a book, but faces and names of persons who often had little to no family support as they neared the end of life. I became involved with Lutherans Concerned, an organization within the Lutheran church focused on full inclusion of LGBT people within the life of the Evangelical Lutheran church. While a member of Lutherans Concerned, I was a board member and worked on a number of service projects. We provided hands-on care when needed, wrote grants, held fundraisers, made panels for the NAMES Project quilt, and for many served as the only form and touch of humanity they received as they neared the end of their time in this world. I watched people whom I came to love die from HIV/AIDS, as well as cancer and other opportunistic diseases to which their ravaged immune systems made them susceptible. During this time I was also a member of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Charlotte, where I sang in the church choir and volunteered in a variety of areas within the church; including being the first “out” lesbian in the North Carolina Synod to be elected to church council.
While an undergraduate at UNC-Charlotte, I was honored to be one of two persons awarded the First Annual Scholarship Award sponsored by the Charlotte Chapter of PFLAG. After earning my B.A. and M.A. degrees in Sociology at UNC-Charlotte; I relocated to Lexington, Ky. and earned my Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of Kentucky. While there I had the opportunity to train and teach in their behavioral science department, a division of the medical school. My love of teaching was encouraged and strengthened, and is my primary focus today. Upon completion of my doctorate I returned to North Carolina, and joined the faculty of UNC Wilmington in 2004.
Research and publications have been in the areas of gender and carework, patient ethnography of illness, nursing history in North Carolina, religion/spirituality and mental health, and women, social class and school reform. Death and dying, chronic and/or terminal illness, as well as health care inequalities on the basis of diagnosis, and how diagnosis and treatment are affected by race, age, gender, and sexual orientation in health care settings; are a continuous thread that informs my teaching and writing.
While I love the work I do, work/life balance is very important to me. I enjoy living in coastal North Carolina in all its beauty, photography and reading, and spending time with friends and family. My wife Annelle and I are members of St. Jude’s Metropolitan Community Church, and share our home with our neurotic little rescue dog, Sissy.
Ken Cox, Chairman
Ken is the founder and Chair of the Frank Harr Foundation. A native of South Carolina, Ken has been living in Wilmington as an out, southern gay man for many years. He was the long time partner of Frank Harr. It is the combination of Frank and Ken, their courage, wisdom and love that lie at the heart of the the Frank Harr Foundation. Ken's ability to make connections and build relationships has been a big part of his success, professionally, personally and in community life. Ken has balanced community involvement with being an active & loving brother, uncle and friend. Ken is also a founding member of St. Jude's Metropolitan Community Church, where he remains active.
Noell Rowan, Director
She earned her BSW (1989) and MSW (1990) degrees from University of Georgia and Ph.D. (2005) in social work from University of Louisville/University of Kentucky joint program. She has practiced clinical social work in the areas of mental health and addictions for more than 20 years in Georgia, Indiana, and Kentucky before her move to Wilmington, North Carolina in July, 2013. She has worked as a private practitioner in both Kentucky and Indiana from 1992-2013. She is a licensed clinical social worker in North Carolina and also holds the ACSW credential.
She moved to Wilmington to join the leadership team in the School of Social Work, University of North Carolina, Wilmington where she is Associate Professor and Coordinator, BSW Program. Her areas of research include the overarching areas of gerontology, LGBT population and alcohol and other drug addictions, spirituality, and the impact on social work education and practice. She has worked with national colleagues on enhancing cultural awareness of the LGBT community in the older adult service network through providing several community based seminars using the award winning GEN SILENT film and curriculum.
Prior to joining UNCW, Dr. Rowan was Director of BSW Program, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville, from its inception (2007-2013). The John A. Hartford Foundation funded her research entitled “Resiliency and Quality of Life of Older Lesbian Adults with Alcoholism” in the Hartford Faculty Scholars Program in Geriatric Social Work (2010-2012). She collaborated on multiple research projects from local, state, and federal funding sources as Assistant Research Professor, University of Louisville (2005-2007).
She has authored several scholarly works including more than 18 peer reviewed articles. In 2009, she was awarded Best LGBT Research Award by Diversity Research Symposium, Ball State University. In 2011, she was the recipient of David A. Peterson Award for being lead author of Best Article in the Volume of Gerontology and Geriatrics Education to recognize excellence in scholarship in academic gerontology. She has also been the recipient of two teaching awards; 2006, Metroversity Award for innovative teaching in gerontology and in 2007, she was awarded Distinguished Educator Achievement Award by Kentucky Association of Gerontology for exceptional effort in teaching geriatrics and gerontology in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
She is an outdoors and nature enthusiast and loves living near the ocean in North Carolina, kayaking, biking, and spending time with her partner, Laura, of 18 years and their beloved dog, Glory.
Virginia Hager, Teasurer
Ms. Hager earned her law degree at The College of William and Mary in 1984, and practiced with federally-funded legal services organizations in Ohio and Kentucky before moving to Wilmington in 1990. After practicing law with Alex Hall for five years, she established her own firm, and for the past several years has limited her practice to divorce, custody, and other family law matters. She is certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission to conduct family financial mediation conferences, and since 2011 has served as a Parenting Coordinator by court appointment. Ms. Hager has successfully represented gay or lesbian parents in custody and other family law matters, as well as LGBT persons seeking to protect their family relationships or negotiate a fair end to their relationships.
Ms. Hager served on the Board of Directors of Domestic Violence Shelter and Services from 1990 to 1998. She is an Elder serving on the Session at St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church, where she enjoys singing in the choir. She is a longtime member of North Carolina Gay Advocacy Legal Alliance (www.ncgala.org), More Light Presbyterians (www.mlp.org), and other organizations which advocate for marriage equality and full acceptance of LGBT persons, and for many years has been a volunteer cooperating attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.lambdalegal.org). For more information, visit www.hagerlawoffice.com.
Mailing Address: 1923 Wrightsville Ave. Phone: 910-399-5557 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wilmington, NC 28403
Wilmington, NC 28403