External Affairs Team | Equitas Health

Meet the Dedicated Advocates of Our External Affairs Team

Equitas Health’s External Affairs team is made up of passionate individuals dedicated to promoting health equity and advocating for racial justice and the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community. Our team works tirelessly to stay informed about legislative changes and developments that could impact our communities, and to develop and implement strategies to effect positive change. We believe that everyone deserves access to healthcare and social services, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, or race, and we are committed to advancing policies and programs that support these values. Get to know the individuals behind our mission and learn more about their experience and dedication to our community.

External Affairs Home

Advocating for Legal and Societal Change to Improve Health Outcomes for Marginalized Communities.

Director of External Affairs

Rhea Debussy, Ph.D. (She/Her)

Rhea Debussy, Ph.D. (She/Her) is the inaugural Director of External Affairs at Equitas Health, which is a federally designated community health center and one of the largest LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS serving healthcare organizations in the country. In her role at Equitas Health, Rhea is responsible for setting the government and community relations agenda for the agency. In doing so, she manages the organization’s public policy priorities; mobilizes community stakeholders to advance access to health and wellness services; cultivates strategic community partnerships across the state and beyond; and determines the organization’s legislative advocacy strategy at local, state-wide, and national levels.

Prior to joining Equitas Health in June 2022, Rhea enjoyed a decade of service in higher education, which began in public university settings in Connecticut. Most recently, she jointly served as the Associate Director for the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Kenyon College—where she specialized in fostering LGBTQ+ inclusion and equity on campus—and as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Kenyon College—where she designed and regularly taught the college’s first permanent queer studies course. For two years, Rhea also concurrently served as the founding Executive Director of the Ace and Aro Alliance of Central Ohio, which is the state’s first organization focused upon serving the asexual and aromantic community.

A graduate of the Dept. of Political Science at the University of Connecticut, Rhea’s doctoral work focused on the histories of LGBTQ exclusion from the military and intelligence communities. She actively writes about issues affecting LGBTQ people in the military and LGBTQ+ politics more broadly. Most recently, Rhea served as the lead author for the newly updated and expanded third edition of Freedom to Serve: The Definitive Guide to LGBTQ Military Service (forthcoming; Washington, D.C.: Modern Military Association of America), which is the most comprehensive guidebook on issues affecting LGBTQ service members across all branches of the military. Given the important nature of this work and the status of this guidebook, an advance copy of this text was requested by the Biden Presidential Transition Team in December 2020.

As a scholar of LGBTQ+ politics and policy, Rhea also regularly presents at regional, national, and international LGBTQ+ conferences. In fall 2020, she presented at the Equitas Health Institute’s Transforming Care Conference, where she was also recognized with the Community Advocate Award. Rhea, who is a member of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health (WPATH), also presented at WPATH’s 26th Annual Scientific Symposium, which is the world’s largest conference on transgender health. In summer 2022, she will be presenting an advocacy workshop at Stonewall Sports’ 8th Annual National Tournament and Summit, which is one of the largest LGBTQ+ focused athletic events in the country.

Passionate about accessible academic writing, Rhea frequently publishes non-academic articles on LGBTQ+ political issues. Her work has been published by The Conversation, The Associated Press, BUST Magazine, and The Gay & Lesbian Review among others. Her most recent article for The Conversation, which was also circulated by The Associated Press, garnered over 20,000 readers, and it was translated for international circulation throughout Japan. Additionally, her forthcoming book project is currently under contract with Columbia University Press.

As a nationally recognized advocate for trans-inclusive athletic spaces, Rhea was selected for the inaugural cohort of the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program, which is the organization’s first nationwide LGBTQ+ inclusion program. For nearly three years, she served as one of less than 55 facilitators across the country, and she facilitated trainings for hundreds of coaches, athletics administrators, DEI professionals, fellow facilitators, and student-athletes across multiple colleges and states during that time. In January 2022, she resigned in protest from that role, following changes to the NCAA’s transgender participation policy.

In addition to her role with Equitas Health, Rhea also currently serves as a Lecturer in the Dept. of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University at Newark, where she teaches courses about the LGBTQ+ community; a member of the Greater Columbus LGBTQ Health Coalition, which is a community-led working group that is focused on improving health outcomes for LGBTQ+ people living and working in Columbus, Ohio; a member of the Advisory Board for the TGX360 Initiative of the OUT Georgia Business Alliance, which is Georgia’s first transgender-focused economic empowerment initiative; and an organizational representative to the Public Policy Council of AIDS United, which is a national non-profit organization dedicated to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States.

Previously, she served as a Lecturer in the Dept. of Political Science at The Ohio State University at Newark, where she taught courses on international relations; she also previously served as both the Vice President for the Board of Directors and the Acting Operational Director of the Newark Ohio Pride Coalition, which coordinates a local pride festival of roughly 1,500 annual attendees.

Administrative Assistant

Sarah Green (They/Them/Theirs or She/Her)

Sarah Green (They/Them/Theirs or She/Her) currently serves as the Administrative Assistant – Advancement in the Dept. of External Affairs at Equitas Health. Previously, she served as a Prevention Support Specialist, where they performed administrative functions and assisted with HIV/STI testing needs for the community. In their new role in External Affairs, Sarah fulfills the major administrative responsibilities for the department and other units across the agency’s Advancement Division. In addition to this, she often assists with community outreach projects, advocacy work, and public testimony at both the state and federal level.

Outside of their role with Equitas Health, they are a local performer, and she is lifelong member of Columbus’s LGBTQ+ community. Previously, Sarah served on the Board of Directors for TransOhio, which is Ohio’s state-wide transgender advocacy organization. During their four-year tenure with TransOhio, she also served the organization as the Secretary for the Board of Directors. Sarah is also a community activist, who has organized with and for the BIPOC LGBTQ+ community, for the past decade. Sarah’s passion and voice continue to shape their work at Equitas Health.

Gender Equity Policy Manager

Oliver Licking (They/Them/Theirs)

Oliver Licking (They/Them/Theirs), currently serves in the Department of External Affairs at Equitas Health as the Legal Clinic Coordinator for the Ohio Name Change Legal Clinic, which is a partnership between the agency and key community partners TransOhio, Equality Ohio, and others. These legal clinics offer monthly free legal assistance to the transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive community of Ohio in accessing their legal name changes and/or gender marker changes on identity documents.

Oliver has taken great pride in growing the size and scope of the program since they began leading the legal clinics in winter 2019. Their work is focused in community partner relationship management, attorney volunteer training, project management, and attorney partnership recruitment. During their time in this role, Oliver has seen the program grow at a rate of 300% increase in clients served per month, cementing this program as of significance and importance to equitable access to transition related services to the Ohio trans and gender expansive community. Oliver has also served as the Legal Clinic Coordinator during the era of fast changing political landscape of Ohio with the new access for updating Ohio Birth certificates. Outside of their work with the Legal clinics, Oliver also serves in the Trans Business Resource Group, since before its official recognition in the agency.

Name Change Clinic Coordinator

Nico Schrenk (He/They)

Nico Schrenk (He/They) currently serves in the Department of External Affairs at Equitas Health as the Name Change Clinic Coordinator for the Ohio Name Change Legal Clinic, which is a partnership between Equitas Health and TransOhio, Equality Ohio. These legal clinics offer monthly free legal assistance to the transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive community of Ohio in accessing their legal name changes and/or gender marker changes on identity documents.

As an openly Pansexual and non-binary individual and Dayton, Ohio native, Nico has dedicated themselves to being a lifelong advocate, activist, and public speaker in the LGBTQ+ Community. In the past, Nico has served in a number of community groups like, Montgomery Co. Public Health LGBTQ+ Health Alliance. Nico’s passion is to use his voice, personal experience and thirst for knowledge to drive his mission to connect the community together to create positive change throughout Ohio.