On Capitol Hill, Phipps leads LGBT community

Georgetown University Law student Kelsey Phipps ’01 says her sexual orientation inspired her to pursue a career in public service.

“A lot of folks would say that being LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) would not have a bearing or impact in what they do every day, but for me the experience has shaped my desire to be in public service,” she says. “I want to go do things that will help others, and a law degree gives you strong training for dealing with communities that are disenfranchised. It’s the area [where] I think I can make a difference.”

Phipps is the recipient of a Point Foundation Scholarship, which provides money to gay students. The foundation recently announced that it is offering funds for 27 undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate students to further their studies. Since 2001, the Point Foundation has provided financial support, leadership training, and mentoring to gay students who may have faced difficulties or marginalization because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Phipps has also been giving back, serving as the first woman cochair of the Gay, Lesbian, and Allies Senate Staff Caucus, and is a key staffer in Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s (D-Mass.) office. On the caucus, “we work on visibility issues, making sure the Senate is a comfortable place for staffers to be out, and that staff is aware of issues affecting the community,” Phipps says.

Point Foundation Scholars are supported with more than just money. One of the organization’s annual events is the summer leadership conference, which brings together alumni, scholars, and notable speakers. “We cover a variety of topics, including LGBT history, media training, budgeting, the community service project, and mentoring,” says Jorge Valencia, executive director and CEO of the Point Foundation.

“The dropout rate [of gay and transgender high school students] is three times that of the national average and twice as many LGBT students report they aren’t going to pursue higher education because of harassment or violence in high school,” Valencia says. “The Point Scholars have defied this. They are committed to academic excellence and leadership.”

Kelsey Phipps was president of the Scripps student body in 2000-01. Due to her service and academic achievements at Scripps, Kelsey was selected as a Truman Scholar and interned with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. Later named a Fulbright Scholar to Ireland, she earned a master’s degree in women’s studies and campaigned for a woman running for the Irish Senate.