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Bard Queer Leadership Project to Host Next Queer Leaders Vision Forum
04:00PM / Friday, December 01, 2023
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GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. — The Bard Queer Leadership Project (BQLP) will host its next Queer Leaders Vision Forum with Paula M. Neira, a nurse, lawyer, and trans rights and healthcare advocate. 
Provost and Vice President John B. Weinstein and Director of the Bard Queer Leadership Project, Dr. Carla Stephens, will join Neira in conversation.
The event will be held on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. in the Clark Auditorium on the Simon's Rock campus. The event is free and open to the public. It can also be accessed via livestream following this link:
Paula M. Neira holds both a law degree and a nursing degree, but she didn't grow up thinking she'd be interested in either field. Neira graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy in 1985 and served primarily as a surface warfare officer until 1991, when she came to terms with her gender identity. At that point in time, serving as an openly transgender woman in the military "was not an option," leading her to leave the Navy and begin a career in nursing. "Nursing allowed me to have a career path where I could continue to serve," said Neira. Sticking to a "high-stress, life and death stakes career," Neira served as an ER nurse for five years before attending law school.
Neira decided to attend law school so as a nurse she would "have a voice at the table" during a time when nurses were not seen as "an interdependent, co-equal profession." After completing an accelerated program at Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Neira relocated to Washington to pursue an opportunity with the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN), now known as the Modern Military Association of America. She served as a Staff Attorney and subsequently on SLDN's Board of Directors and as the Co-Chair of its Military Advisory Committee. In her time at SLDN, Neira helped lead the efforts to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell. As a leading expert on transgender military service, she helped lead the efforts to change the regulations that allowed for open transgender service in 2016, before President Trump reversed that new policy in early 2017.
Neira began working for Johns Hopkins Medicine as the Nurse Educator in the Department of Emergency Medicine in 2008. With the founding of the Johns Hopkins Center for Transgender Health in 2017, she serves as its inaugural Clinical Program Director. In that role, Neira works with senior leadership to oversee an interdisciplinary service line that is aimed at providing comprehensive care for transgender people. Paula strives to match patients with the services they need and improve the health system's ability to provide culturally and clinically competent care for the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, Neira currently serves as the Secretary on the Board of Directors for GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ+ Equality. 
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