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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.

Yasja Hemmings, M.Ed. | Assistant Director

Pronouns: they/them

Yasja hails from the City Beautiful aka Orlando, Fl. Even though most people think of Disney World when they hear Orlando, Yasja actually prefers Universal Studios. Yasja earned their Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of South Florida (#GoBulls!) and their Master’s in Higher Education- Student Affairs from Iowa State University. 

Prior to stepping in to their current role, Yasja served as an Academic and Career Exploration (ACE) Coach where they supported undecided students in their self-discovery, determining majors that aligned with their interests, and creating action plans to achieve their career goals. Prior to being an ACE Coach, Yasja served as a Hall Director for several years. 

Yasja is a life-long learner that is passionate about mental health & well-being, social justice, belongingness, and equity. Yasja thoroughly enjoys supporting, interacting, and aiding in the growth and development of  others, particularly college-aged students. 

Katja Tetzlaff, M.S. | Program Coordinator

Pronouns: they/them

Born and raised in rural Alabama, Katja Tetzlaff (they/them) is a queer Southerner, first-generation college graduate, and second-generation German American. Before joining Vanderbilt, Katja was the Director of the Health and Diversity Academy Fellowship program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where they also chaired the Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of LGTBQ People. They graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham before completing their Master’s in Biomedical Visualization. Specializing in accurate and affirming representations of sex and gender, their personal and professional experiences serving the LGBTQAI+ community as an educator and medical illustrator have prepared them for the role of Program Coordinator at the Office of LGBTQI Life.

In their free time, Katja grows and preserves food, sews and alters clothes, and designs and sticks their own tattoos.

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

Raised in Baltimore County in Parkville, Maryland (the setting of John Water’s A Dirty Shame), Josefine is a Slavic-American of Eastern European, German, and British heritage. She graduated with a B.A. in American Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park and acquired a decade of experience self-publishing zines and chapbooks within queer artist and punk networks.  

Through caregiving for trans people and ritually celebrating our gender transitions, they decided to become a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) candidate at Vanderbilt Divinity School, studying to develop gender affirmation surgery chaplaincy. If you need someone to chat about faith, gender, sexuality, grief, ancestry, and/or gender transition, Josefine is here for you. She also hosts TGQ, an affinity group for any student who is trans, genderqueer and gender non-conforming, or questioning their gender.

When not on campus, Josefine is fermenting sauerkraut and beet kvass in a manufacturing kitchen, walking her extremely country dog Ginger, and working on their first novel.