Change Agent. Coach. Communicator. Bringing years of experience, humor, and research to facilitate collaboration and advance critical issues.
LGBTQ Outreach and Engagement Director, Harvard Medical School
Former Executive Director, Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago // MBA from Simmons College // Trained at Second City // Led successful public affairs campaigns in New Orleans and New York City // Board of Directors, Tegan and Sara Foundation
"She is able to take a room full of people that are uninterested in participating and make them excited to collaborate and be a part of the discussion," Joyce Hong, Project Analyst, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Jessica Halem, MBA, is the LGBTQ Outreach and Engagement Director at Harvard Medical School and remains unique in her role among medical schools in the United States. Under her leadership, the first-year class has grown from 4% to 15% self-identified LGBTQ and the faculty and resident OutList has quadrupled in size. Most recently, she secured a major grant to overhaul the entire curriculum to integrate sexual and gender minority health equity. Prior to joining Harvard, Jessica ran the Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago where she implemented the nation’s first cultural competency trainings for the CDC, served on then-candidate Obama’s first LGBT Advisory Committee, and fought for the inclusion of transgender health on the national agenda since 2001. Jessica has published on treating transgender patients (AMA Journal of Ethics, 2016), optimism and organizational change (Medical Care, 2018), and mentoring across difference (Mentoring Diverse Leaders, Routledge, 2017). She coaches students, faculty, and administrators on dealing with difficult moments and is a sought-out speaker nationally on issues of workplace diversity and inclusion. She currently serves on the Board of the Tegan and Sara Foundation and can be found on social media at @jessicahalem.
“Such a wonderful speaker, tackling sensitive topics such as gender and sexuality with disarming humor and empathy," Melissa Obleada, Employment Brand Specialist
Publications & Productions
"Committees Are for Straight People,” Public Seminar, June 30, 2019
"Optimism: A Building Block for Organizational Change," Medical Care, December 2018
“Today Is the Day: A Call to Action for Providers During LGBTQ Pride Month,” The Body Pro: The HIV Resource for Health Professionals, June 12, 2018
"Why Do You Call Us Ladies? History, gender, and manners in public life," Public Seminar, October 17, 2017.
Course Planner: LGBTQ Health as Clinical Practice, Online Continuing Education, Harvard Medical School, 2017.
"How Should Physicians Refer When Referral Options are Limited for Transgender Patients?" AMA Journal of Ethics, 18:11 (2016): 1070-8.
"Mentoring Relationships of Professional Indian Women: Extending the Borders of Our Understanding at the Intersection of Gender and Culture," in Mentoring Diverse Leaders: Creating Change for People, Processes and Paradigms (Routledge, 2017).
“Mentoring as a Connecting Competency Builder: Examining POS as a Catalyst Across Dimensions of Diversity,” in Positive Organizing in a Global Society: Understanding and Engaging Differences for Capacity Building and Inclusion (Routledge, 2015).
“Career Progression in Academic Medicine: Perspectives from Junior Faculty Women of Color,” in Center for Gender and Organizations Insights, Simmons College, 2014.
Documentary Film Producer, Exotic World and the Burlesque Revival, 2011
"Having Jessica take the stage in support of our 45th anniversary event was truly a highlight of the evening. She's super smart, super hilarious, and 110% committed to making sure everyone in the room comes along for the fast-and-funny ride." Liz Owen, Director of Communications, PFLAG National
Recent Speaking & Training
Australian National University College of Health & Medicine Dean’s Lecture Series: Medical Moonshots “Prejudice Vanquished: Championing Inclusive and Respectful Workplaces,” Canberra, Australia
Grand Rounds at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TN: “Caring for the Continuum: Creating a Foundation of Understanding for LGBTQ+ Patients and their Families”
Harvard Medical School Talks@12: “LGBTQ&A: Building a Foundation for Understanding and Care”
CVS Health Celebrates Pride Month, Woonsocket, RI: “LGBTQ History, Healthcare,and Inclusion”
Community Builders, Boston, MA: CEO Fireside Chat
Harvard Hears You: 2019 Summit for Gender Equity
The Fenn School, Concord, MA: Multicultural Educators’ Forum 2019
Stanford Medicine Pfeiffer Visiting Scholar: "Transforming Medicine: One Difficult Moment at a Time"
City of Hope, LGBT State of the Science and Caring, Pasadena, CA: “Inclusion and Health Equity”
LGBT Health Workforce Conference, NYC: "Hands-on Practice Handling Difficult Moments around LGBT Issues with Colleagues, Patients"
Emceed PFLAG’s 45th Anniversary Celebration in Washington, D.C.
Midwest LGBTQ Health Symposium, Chicago: “Honor the Dead and Fight for the Living”
Webinar for Workforce Magazine "Creating LGBT Inclusive Workplaces"
Grand Rounds at Massachusetts General Hospital, Neurology Department
Boston Children's Hospital, Pride Celebration
Brigham and Women's Hospital Research Assistants "Improv Skills for Leadership Development"
Dunkin' Brands HQ "Everyday LGBTQ Inclusion at Work"
HubSpot "LGBT Inclusive Workplaces"
Governor's Academy, Newbury, MA: "Creating LGBT Inclusive High School Communities"
Workforce Live "Creating LGBT Inclusive Workplaces"
"Having Jessica Halem speak at Dunkin' about LGBTQ inclusion is probably our best investment in diversity yet," Anne Fajon, Corporate Social Responsibility