Volume One


Northwestern Bank


Chris Jorgenson


Chris Jorgenson

Dr. Christopher Jorgenson has led the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire into a more inclusive and inviting space for queer students. Since starting his role at the University in 2010 — now the Interim Executive Director of Diversity, Inclusion & Leadership — Jorgenson has played major roles in many LGBTQ+ events at the University, namely the Fire Ball Drag Show and Q Fest, the area’s first queer film festival. Thanks to his efforts, UWEC has been named among the top 25 best schools in the nation for LGBTQ+ students.

Unapologetic and conspicuous. Those are the two things Christopher Jorgenson vowed to be when he interviewed to be the LGBTQ+ Coordinator at the Women’s and Gender Equity Center in 2010. Though his title — and the center’s name — has gone through many changes, for the last 13 years, Jorgenson has embodied both of those things through his work and more, as he continues to advocate for marginalized groups on campus and in the community.

Now the interim Executive Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Leadership, Jorgenson has played a crucial role in UW-Eau Claire earning five out of five stars on the Campus Pride Index, a database that ranks universities across the nation that are actively creating inclusive spaces and programs for LGBTQ+ students. UW-Eau Claire has also been named among the top 25 best schools in the nation for LGBTQ+ students for three consecutive years by Best Colleges.

With the campus-wide implementation of preferred name policies, Rainbow Floor Living Learning Communities, about 110 all-gender restrooms across campus, and additional programming and resources, it’s no wonder Jorgenson and the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center have been highly acclaimed over the years.

“In many respects, we were doing the first of something which now serves as an example for so many different universities across the country, which is very exciting,” Jorgenson said.

Jorgenson has also been instrumental in implementing LGBTQ+-focused events on campus, one of the largest and longest-running being the annual Fire Ball. Held every spring, the Fire Ball is a drag ball extravaganza headlined by drag superstars from across the country. In 2014, Jorgenson was presented with the Region IV-East Innovative Program award by NASPA Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education for his role in creating Fire Ball.

Jorgenson has been involved with many other programs within the wider Eau Claire community, including this year’s inaugural Glowing with Pride event at the Pablo Center, Q Fest (Queer Film Festival) started by Dr. Pam Forman and Ellen Mahaffey, Walk A Mile-Chippewa Valley with Bolton Refuge House, and more. He has collaborated with the Family Support Center in the Chippewa Valley, Vivent Health, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, the Aging and Disability Resource Center, and many more organizations to help educate and allow for more resources for those who may need them.

“I think one of the joys of this work is you start smaller, a little more insular, and campus-specific,” Jorgenson explained. “But understanding over the years what the work we have done here has done for the community’s perception of queerness, both on and off campus, has been a joy. As I became more well-known on campus, I was sought after just as a speaker or an educator within the community.”

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to hide. I’m going to stake my claim in a city whose future involves me just as much as any other citizen here.”

Growing up in Waupaca, Wisconsin, Jorgenson came to Eau Claire for college, but at the time was met with a very different community — one that he has been able to help mold and shape into the far more inclusive environment we know now. “It’s been wonderful to see this community change from when I came here for the first time as a closeted, 18-year-old gay college student to now, a 47-year-old professional who is an accidental advocate. It, in many respects, is unrecognizable,” Jorgenson said. “Even so far as seeing so many more pride flags outside people’s apartments and houses which never existed before.”

With increasing anti-LGBTQ+ legislation being pushed throughout the country — with a reported record high of 510 anti-LGBTQ+ bills across the U.S. in 2023, according to the ACLU — Jorgenson says now is the time for Eau Claire to dig its heels in and become unapologetic and conspicuous with its own advocacy.

“As queer people, as marginalized people in general, we don’t get to choose whether or not we are politicized; who we are is politicized without our consent,” Jorgenson said. “So I’ll be damned if I’m going to hide. I’m going to stake my claim in a city whose future involves me just as much as any other citizen here.”


David Carlson
Gabe Brummett
Chris Jorgenson