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Meet Our Staff

Students, faculty, staff, and community members are free to contact whomever they would like in our office and ask to meet regarding issues of gender and sexuality, based on job responsibilities, background, or personal interests. If for whatever reason you are not comfortable meeting at the KC Potter Center, staff members are happy to meet in other campus locations. We look forward to meeting you!

Stephanie Mahnke, Ph.D. | Director

pronouns: she/her

Originally from Riverside, California, Stephanie (“Steph”) Mahnke joined the Vanderbilt community as the Director for LGBTQI Life in January 2022. Prior to arriving at Vanderbilt, Steph worked as an assistant professor in English & Literature at Utah Valley University. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree at the University of California Los Angeles, her Master’s degree at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, and her Ph.D. in writing, rhetoric, and American cultures at Michigan State University. Drawing from her research in cultural rhetorics, community engagement, and digital humanities, Steph has worked extensively with cultural centers and non-profits on project and programmatic development that center digital literacy and equity, cultural heritage preservation, and diverse cultural conceptions of gender and sexuality.

In her spare time, she enjoys video games, pickup basketball, running with her dog Jude, and cooking Filipinx food for her communities.

Contact Steph about: the mission and vision of LGBTQI Life, Staff and Faculty Resources, Trans@VU Updates, the LGBTQI+ Alumni Group, events and programming, including annual events and collaborations.  Steph also coordinates student leadership initiatives, graduate student involvement, and submissions to be featured in our newsletter or social media as well as training and educational sessions including  Straight Facts about LGBTQI Life, P.R.I.D.E. Trainings, and student support initiatives like Affinity Groups. Steph advises the Vanderbilt Lambda Association.  

Kai Taylor- Deak | Graduate Assistant

Pronouns: he/they

Kai is a first-year master’s student in the Higher Education Administration program. Kai is a recent graduate of the Ohio State University, with degrees in Sociology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and is excited to join the Vandy community! Kai’s professional and academic interests include exploring ways to create affirming college campuses that allow queer + trans students to flourish. A former organizer for the Queer, Trans, People of Color (QTPOC) cohort at Ohio State, Kai is passionate about intersectional student advocacy.

Outside of classes and working at the K.C. Potter Center, Kai enjoys trolling the internet for new recipes, curating the perfect playlist, being in community with others, and spending just a little bit too much time learning about astrology.

Josefine Parker | LGBTQI Life Divinity Intern

Pronouns: she/they
Drop-in hours: On leave until Fall 2022

Josefine Parker is a Master of Divinity (M.Div) candidate at Vanderbilt Divinity School and chaplain at the K. C. Potter Center. If you need someone to chat about faith, gender, sexuality, grief, ancestry, and/or gender-affirming surgery, she’s here for you. She also hosts the TGQ Affinity Group. Josefine is studying to be a gender-affirming surgery chaplain, drawing upon her experience caregiving for trans people and ritually celebrating our gender transitions.