Joan Y. Reede, MD, MPH, MBA
Dean for Diversity and Community Partnership

Jessica Halem, MBA
LGBT Program Director


Jessica Halem joined Harvard Medical School in August 2014 to establish and lead the first-ever LGBT Office. Situated in the Office for Diversity Inclusion and Community Partnership, the LGBT Office is responsible for enhancing LGBT inclusion and fostering a welcoming and affirming community for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, staff, faculty, trainees, and fellows at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Dental Medicine. This includes developing programmatic interventions and resources that support LGBT issues and working in collaboration with relevant offices and programs within Harvard University, the Harvard affiliated hospitals, and the broader community.

Jessica further developed her expertise in organizational change, mentoring, and diversity and inclusion through the MBA program at Simmons College School of Management. She has co-authored two book chapters and an article on diversity and mentoring. She frequently presents on "LGBT Inclusive Workplaces," "Advancing LGBT Health," and "Creativity and Leadership."

Jessica has led successful programs for equity, diversity, and inclusion since the 1990s. After graduating from Sarah Lawrence College, she worked alongside former Congresswoman Bella Abzug organizing women leaders from around the world for the United Nations Conference on Women in Beijing, China. Looking to further develop her communication skills, Jessica trained at Second City in Chicago where she learned the power of humor to facilitate collaboration and advance critical issues. Jessica has been featured in Fast Company, the Wall Street Journal and NPR.

Jessica was recruited to lead the Lesbian Community Cancer Project in Chicago. She spearheaded the transformation from a small volunteer-led initiative to a nationally recognized organization advancing LGBT health through expertise in training and advocacy. The result was a historic merger with Howard Brown Health Center. She served on the board of GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality as well as Barack Obama's first LGBT Advisory Committee for the 2008 campaign. Jessica became a sought after leader on transgender inclusion, cultural competency, lesbian visibility, and program design and implementation.

Drawing on her experience in community organizing, Jessica became engaged in broader questions about the intersection of urban planning and social justice. She worked for the New Orleans Institute for Resilience and Innovation managing community engagement activities for the city's first-ever Master Plan in the rebuilding efforts after Katrina. From there, Jessica joined the Municipal Art Society of New York where she managed large-scale convenings of local and national leaders on the future of New York City.