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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!

Christopher Purcell, Ed.D. | Director

pronouns: he/him/his

Chris has worked for LGBTQI equity in higher education throughout his career. After graduating from Western New England University, he went on to get his M.Ed. in higher education and student affairs administration from the University of Vermont. At Vermont, Chris served as the graduate assistant for LGBTQA Services and worked with orientation and new student programs. He then served as the program coordinator in the Center for LGBT Life at Duke University and most recently as the associate director of student activities at Berklee College of Music. He completed his Ed.D. in higher education policy and leadership at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College in 2017. He enjoys playing tennis and kickball, watching basketball, and volunteering for political campaigns and community organizations.

Contact Chris about: the mission and vision of LGBTQI Life, Staff and Faculty Resources, Trans@VU Updates, and the LGBTQI+ Alumni Group.


Roberta Nelson, MTS | Assistant Director

pronouns: they/them/theirs

Roberta holds a Masters in Theological Studies, with a focus in Religion, Ethics, and Politics from Harvard Divinity School. While at Harvard Divinity School, Roberta was a founding member of the Religious Anarchist Collective and worked for the Religious Literacy Project. Roberta also earned a BA in Religion and History from the University of Rochester. Their academic interests lay in the development of American religious identity constructions at the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality. Roberta also has a passion for campus and community programming that engages these points of intersection. Outside of work, Roberta is an avid Green Bay Packers fan and gardener who watches a bit too much Sci-Fi.

Contact Roberta about: Training and educational sessions including  Straight Facts about LGBTQI Life, P.R.I.D.E. Trainings, Speak Out, and student support initiatives like Affinity Groups.


Jay Bohanon, MA | Program Coordinator

pronouns: he/him/his

Jay has spent his entire professional career working in various higher education roles. While pursuing an MA in Religious Studies from the University of Kansas, Jay founded and served as the inaugural president of Queer Students of Color. He also led the movement which resulted in the ability for trans and non-binary students to not only get replacement student IDs that affirm their identities, but students can now also get preferred names on their IDs, all at no cost to them. Jay also holds a BA in Anthropology and Religion from the University of Rochester.  Outside of the office, Jay is an amateur Kansas historian, Jayhawks basketball fan, and avid reader of cooking blogs.

Contact Jay about: Programming, including annual events and student leadership initiatives. Jay also advises the Vanderbilt Lambda Association. 


Jacob Goedde | Graduate Assistant

pronouns: he/him/his

Jacob is from a small town in southern Indiana and received his Bachelor of Arts in Educational Studies from Purdue University. He looks forward to pursuing his Masters in Higher Education Administration at Vanderbilt’s Peabody College and how his work with the Office of LGBTQI Life will supplement and enrich his classroom learning experiences. In his free time, he enjoys watching far too much Netflix and spending time with his friends and family.




Contact Jacob about: LGBTQI history month and general programming.


Zack Eccleston | Divinity School Graduate Intern

pronouns: he/him/his or they/them/theirs

Zack has lived a little bit of everywhere, and his icebreaker fun fact is always that he was born in Alaska. However, he mostly grew up in a town north of Atlanta and has lived in Nashville since 2013 when he moved to attend Lipscomb University, where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Worship Ministry. Zack is currently pursuing his Masters of Theological Studies at Vanderbilt Divinity School, and is excited to work with the Office of LGBTQI Life with the hope that he can pursue a career in higher education working with queer students, as well as continuing his work of walking with Christian congregations as they learn about and move towards acceptance and affirmation of queer people. When not working, Zack loves to visit coffee shops, write bad poetry, and listen to copious amounts of music.


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