(He/Him or They/Them)
Note: Lee has also applied for a General Board member position
My name is Lee Grabarek (he/him or they/them). I am originally from the United States where I went to Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts to get my BA in social justice, youth studies, and gender studies. I came to New Zealand to live in Auckland with my partner and have now been calling New Zealand “home” for the past four years.
During my time in New Zealand, I’ve worked closely with the rainbow community, interning and working with RainbowYOUTH and now working with Auckland Sexual Health as a sexual health educator for high schools and community groups throughout the Auckland region. I love working with young people, so having the opportunity to work closely with students in high schools around topics of sexuality, gender, safe sex, etc., makes working as a sexual health educator a dream job.
When not working, I love being outside--it’s my favourite place to socialise and centre myself. I’m a huge cycling fan and try to ride my bike whenever I get the chance. I also like to tramp, rock climb with friends, and kayak. Along with being outside, I love travelling (aside from those long-haul flights). Seeing new places and trying to understand other cultures makes me feel alive.
Tell us why you want to be an RY board member
As someone who identifies as transgender, queer, and who works closely with the rainbow community, I understand the invaluable importance of RainbowYOUTH’s work in the lives of young rainbow people. Having access to affirming and factual gender, sexuality, and identity education is limited for so many young people. I see the consequences of this limited access to proper gender, sexuality, and identity education on a daily basis both personally and professionally. Young people are being bullied, emotionally and physically abused/neglected by unaccepting family, suffering from mental health issues, and generally feeling alone and without support. RainbowYOUTH is such a powerful source of education and support for these rainbow young people. Whether it’s finding I’m Local resources in their school hauora centre, seeing the “If It’s Not Gay; It’s Not Gay” video online, attending a peer support group, or simply emailing RainbowYOUTH for information on identity, when young people access RainbowYOUTH, they access compassion and acceptance for their rainbow identity.
I want to ensure that RainbowYOUTH continues to better the lives of rainbow young people and the wider community. To do so, I’m committed to helping RainbowYOUTH fulfill its values of inclusion and acceptance, achieve its administrative and organisational duties, and effectively use its resources to achieve new organisation goals.
What particular skills do you think you have that make you suitable for the position(s) you've selected?
I bring with me a variety of skills that I believe would lend to my position as secretary or general board member. I pride myself on my ability to prioritise tasks--whether its my work or personal schedule--in order to bring about the most time efficiency. I practice my task management on a daily basis as I constantly need to arrange and rearrange meetings across schools, organisations, and different audiences.
I also have an ability to facilitate meetings in small and large group settings. My leadership style is characterised by my empathy, intuitively knowing when to step up or step back to allow for voices to be heard, and my commitment to staying on topic.
Lending to my leadership abilities is my ability to connect with different types of people on a relatable yet professional level. I connect to people best through showing genuine interest in the topics they find important, using humour to help others feel more comfortable, and reflecting confidence and friendliness in my body language.
Finally, I bring to this position connections with stakeholders and the target audience of RainbowYOUTH: rainbow young people. I have various working relationships with organisations such as Family Planning, New Zealand Aids Foundation, Rape Prevention Education, Auckland Sexual Health, and OUTline. More importantly, I have very close relationships with students, guidance counsellors, nurses, and teachers across twenty four schools in Auckland. These students and staff provide such an intimate glimpse into rainbow issues affecting young people and offer ways that these issues can be addressed. Having this position as board member, would allow me to support creating policies and plans that accurately reflect the voices of the young people who need RainbowYOUTH most.