Survey Team


Eric R. Wright, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator and Study Co-Director, LGBTQ Institute Scholar, & chair department of sociology, distinguished university professor of sociology and public health

Eric is Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Georgia State University and a Second Century Initiative (2CI) Faculty in the Atlanta Census Research Data – Health Policy and Risky Behaviors Cluster. He holds a BA in sociology from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and an MA and PhD in sociology from Indiana University Bloomington.  As a medical sociologist, his research interests center on social and public policy responses to mental health and illness, substance use and addictions, sexual health, and HIV/STI prevention. In addition, Dr. Wright is actively involved in conducting research to understand and ameliorate health problems and disparities in minority and other vulnerable communities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people (LGBTQ).

Dr. Wright has extensive experience in working with community organizations as well as local and state government to better understand community health needs and improve the effectiveness of health-and healthcare-related programs and policies.  He is or has been the Principal or Co-Principal Investigator of numerous externally federally and state-funded research and evaluation projects and has published many policy briefs, technical reports, and peer-reviewed scientific papers which have appeared in medical sociology as well as interdisciplinary health, psychiatric, and health policy journals. Professor Wright also is an award winning teacher and deeply committed to involving students in research and service learning projects to make learning more relevant and to build stronger bridges between the academy and the community.

Prior to joining the faculty at Georgia State University, Dr. Wright was a Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy and Management and Director of the Center for Health Policy in the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

Courtni Alexis Andrews


Courtni is an Atlanta-based native who champions for nerd culture, intersectionality, and mental health through institutional and community building. Her passion for health activism has been a core tenant of her work - combining her love of neuroscience, public health and intersectional justice. She is a “double-eagle” of Emory University – completing a double major in Psychology and Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology at Emory College and holds a Master of Public Health Degree in Behavioral Sciences & Health Education, specializing in human rights and socio-contextual determinants of health. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa.

Her activism first bloomed as an undergraduate where she worked with the Office of Health Promotion at Emory University to establish Community Well-Being, formerly known as Flourish Emory, to set the tenant for positive mental health programming and initiatives for all students. Coming to the University again as a graduate student, she chose to get involved in several organizations, such as Students for Social Justice, the Association of Black Public Health Students, the Emory Mental Health Alliance and the Queer & Trans* Collaborative. She has not only collaborated with several student organizations and community partners to help create events, focused on creating a positive environment for incoming and current students of all racial/ethnic, sexual, gender, and other underrepresented identities to Emory, but she works with faculty, staff and students to help set the standards and tone for social justice and health equity issues. She also serves on the Commission of Racial & Social Justice at Emory University as a Graduate Student Executive Committee Member and on the Social Justice Education Advisory Committee.

Additionally, at Rollins, she works (and has worked with) the Urban Health Initiative, the Georgia Center for Oncology Research and Foundation (Georgia CORE), Mental Health America of Georgia, Dekalb Medical Center, the Omer Research Group, and the CDC Minority Health and Health Equity Office.

Renee Shelby

georgia institute of technology, lgbtq institute fellow

Renee is a PhD candidate in the Department of History and Sociology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research is situated at the intersection of feminist science studies and feminist criminology, with a particular focus on gender violence, technology, and law. In taking a critical perspective, her work illuminates the relationships between cultural values and institutional responses to sexual assault, and aims to improve support mechanisms for survivors of sexual violence. She also supports local and national nonprofits conduct research on the commercial sex market. In her spare time, she is committed to finding ways to bring art and public sociology together.

Joshua Simpkins

georgia state university, lgbtq institute fellow

Joshua grew up in rural southwest Virginia, before moving to suburban Orlando, Florida in 2007, and urban Atlanta, Georgia in 2015. They received his Bachelors in Sociology and Masters in Applied Sociology at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and is currently enrolled in the Doctoral program in the Department of Sociology at Georgia State University. Joshua’s previous research projects have included research on: the assignment of gender in everyday interaction; the representation of women, racial minorities, and LGBTQ individuals as subject area experts on prime time cable news programming; and the social construction of pain and injury as deviant or normative based on the gender of the participant. His broader research interests include gender, sexuality, family, and labor. Joshua currently lives in Atlanta with his partner, Rachael McCrosky, and five cats: Penelope, Molly Millions, bell hooks, Toothless, and Paul Atreides.

Ana LaBoy

georgia institute of technology, lgbtq institute fellow

Ana was born and raised in the suburbs of Atlanta. Graduating from Georgia State University with a degree in Political Science, she continued on to graduate school at Georgia State in sociology. As a graduate student, she is interested in both Social Movement Theory and LGBT Health Issues and Disparities. She volunteers as often as possible for both Lost-N-Found and Georgia Safe Schools Coalition. She has also been a trainer for Teach for America on LGBT Culture inclusivity within the classroom curriculum. Her long-term goals include using academic research to enact policy change.

Madison Higbee

georgia state university, lgbtq institute fellow

Madison is pursuing an undergraduate degree in sociology at Georgia State University (GSU). She has always struggled to understand why people often treat others unfairly or poorly, which led her to spend her high school years engaged in community service at venues such as Kennesaw State University’s Museum of History and Holocaust Education. She feels particularly passionate about social justice issues, and she wishes to further LGBT rights. She spent the past year working with GSU’s Multicultural Center to advance multicultural competency.

Michael Jo Saint

georgia state university, lgbtq institute fellow

Jo is a PhD student in the College of Education and Human Development at Georgia State University. His primary research interests are school climate, disability, suicidality, and non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors. This research examines how student disability and whole-school climate act as risk and protective factors for both student suicidality and student non-suicidal self-injurious behaviors. His secondary research focuses on survey development, to create psychometrically valid measures. Currently, he works for a metro Atlanta area school system as a School Psychologist. In his spare time, he enjoys baking.

Ryan M. Roemerman

Study co-director and executive director, lgbtq institute & senior strategist, national center for civil and human rights

Ryan serves as the Executive Director of the LGBTQ Institute at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. The Institute connects academics and advocates to advance LGBTQ equity through research and education focused on the American South. At the Center, Ryan also serves as Senior Strategist, helping to refine its efforts to become a locally grounded, globally relevant voice for civil and human rights.

In addition to this work, Ryan is the creator and advisor of Safe School Certification, a technical assistance model that strengthens implementation of safe school laws and helps schools adopt best practices for sustaining safe and supportive learning environments. It is currently being piloted and studied in Washington, DC with support from the National Institute of Justice and in partnership with Child Trends, the Office of the State Superintendent for Education, and the Washington DC Office of Human Rights.

Prior to his work at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Ryan served as a communications and policy consultant for Out Leadership, a strategic advising firm dedicated to helping organizations realize the economic growth and talent dividend derived from inclusive business. His past work also includes co-founding a statewide nonprofit in Iowa to help amplify the voices of LGBTQ youth.  This work led to the passage of statewide safe school and amended civil rights laws that protect students from harassment and discrimination.