Join us on April 1 at 7 pm for an exciting virtual panel discussion about the documentary “Fire & Flood: Queer Resilience in the Era of Climate Change.” The panel will feature Vanessa Raditz, director of the documentary; Kennedy Loftin, chief development officer at the Montrose Center; and Rice anthropology graduate student Kristin Gupta.
How to watch: Fondren Library will provide registrants information to watch the film in advance.
Vanessa Raditz , director
Vanessa Ratiz (they/them) is a queer cultural geographer, educator, and culture-shifter dedicated to community healing, opening access to land and resources, and fostering a thriving local economy based on human and ecological resilience. Vanessa is currently the director of the collaborative documentary film Fire & Flood: Queer Resilience in the era of Climate Change, rooted in their lived experience of the 2017 fires in Northern California and relationships with queer and trans folks in Puerto Rico. Vanessa received their Master of Public Health in Environmental Health Sciences from UC Berkeley, and currently studies in the Geography PhD program at University of Georgia. Vanessa is part of the founding collective of the Queer Ecojustice Project, educating and organizing at the intersection of ecological justice and queer liberation.
Kennedy Loftin, chief development officer, Montrose Center
Kennedy Loftin was born in Houston, grew up in East Texas, and after experiencing housing insecurity following coming out to his family decided to channel his activism into nonprofit development impacting underserved communities. Kennedy began his career at Best Buddies Texas, an organization that serves people with intellectual disabilities, and became the Director of Special Events for Miami-based Best Buddies International. In 2006, Kennedy returned home to Houston to serve as executive director for Best Buddies Texas, and was the youngest executive director in the history of the organization. Kennedy became the Chief Development Officer for Interfaith Ministries in 2008. During his tenure, he led a $15 million capital campaign for the new Interfaith Conference Center and for the construction of the Meals on Wheels building which serves 4,500 seniors daily.
Kennedy now works at his dream job as Chief Development Officer at the Montrose Center, one of the nation’s largest LGBTQ+ resource centers and leads the $26M campaign that broke ground on the first affordable and second-largest, LGBTQ affirming senior housing center in the South. In response to Hurricane Harvey, Kennedy launched the LGBTQ Hurricane Harvey Relief fund which raised $2.3 million to help the LGBTQ+ community recover from the disaster. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the Center launched a fund that has currently raised $2.1 million in funds focused on providing direct financial assistance to vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community. Kennedy is a founding member of Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board, has served on several boards, and is a sought-after development educator and leader in the industry, with guest teaching at Rice University, Glasscock School Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership and the University of Houston.
Kristin Gupta, Rice anthropology graduate student
Kristin Gupta is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Her dissertation research focuses on shifting notions of life, death, and decay in American culture through her fieldwork with end-of-life doulas and alternative funeral directors in Seattle, Washington. She is a Contributing Editor with the Society of Cultural Anthropology and the graduate representative for the Association for Queer Anthropology.