Born This Way Foundation 1st in LEC Speaker Series


Maggie Doolittle

Terez Hanhan from the Born This Way Foundation gives a presentation during academy.

A Born This Way Foundation guest speaker came to speak at Campolindo during academy on October 29 as a part of the Leadership Equity Council’s (LEC) Speaker Series.

Born This Way Foundation was founded by pop singer Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta in 2012. The guest speaker, Terez Hanhan, who is Born This Way’s Programs and Research Manager, gave a presentation on what the foundation does. She also took questions from the audience and asked the audience what they wanted to see implemented or changed at Campo.

Hanhan said, “We have a really broad mission, but we find that it’s life saving and urgent and an important mission. And our mission is to make kindness cool, to validate the emotions of young people, and to eliminate the stigma around mental health.”

Junior Elizabeth Cho, a member of LEC’s Community Outreach Project, created the Speaker Series. The Born This Way Foundation seminar was the 1st organized by Cho.

Cho explained, “In LEC, we all have our different projects, and I wanted to tackle the lack of engagement. A lot of students that we’re seeing…in the equity academies and that kind of stuff people are tuning out or not wanting to listen [to the presentations] or just thinking it’s dumb. So I was hoping that if we’re bringing in people to speak about different issues like equity, diversity, mental health, that sort of thing, then they’ll be more interested if it’s in a field that they can relate to. So this is just part 1 of that for the rest of the year. I’m hoping to get in authors or athletes, like anyone really, to try to reach as many people as possible.”

Hanhan said that her personal job is to “make sure that whatever we’re speaking about, whatever we’re offering to the world, is grounded in data and evidence based. We issue our own research on the impact of kindness on mental health. We partner with others to look at the impact of kindness on mental health. And we’re constantly looking at other people’s research and promoting it just to ensure that the world knows what’s going on in the lives of young people.”

Senior Eilidh Kilpatrick attended the academy and said, “I think it’s awesome that there is this foundation that’s going around and trying to talk to people in schools. It’s always nice to see programs that are trying to help…make LGBTQ people feel more accepted or [are] trying to give people [and their] mental health a space because I think that’s incredibly important.”

Hanhan asked the audience a question at the end of the seminar. “I was so, so honored and encouraged to receive the feedback from everyone today when I asked, ‘what do you want to see?’ Because that’s what informs our work, what do young people and people young at heart need and want to see in the community? And so… I’ll be taking the information that I learned today, speaking about it with our team and seeing where we can connect the dots with community leaders to ensure that we have what we need.”