A calling to improve, strengthen and give voice to those who have
been marginalized or silenced has directed the career path of
licensed clinical social worker Richard Chollar. His dedication to
that calling was recognized with an Alumni Citation Award during
Assistant director for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and
Questioning (LGBTQ) students in the Office of Diversity Programs
and Services at George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Va.,
Chollar co-created the Campus Safe Zone program at GMU. The
program has been in existence five years, and Chollar served as its
first coordinator, a position he still holds today.
"We have trained 350 faculty, staff and students as positive allies,"
Chollar said, explaining that positive allies display the symbol of the
"Safe Zone" to advise that they will be understanding, supportive and
trustworthy if a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth needs help,
advice or just someone with whom they can talk.
"I'm most proud of three things we've accomplished: increasing the
skill levels of our positive allies, the increase in our campus resources
and of the level of culture shift on campus in that it has become more
welcoming to the LGBTQ community," Chollar said.
Chollar's work also involves families experiencing violence, people
with addiction, those affected by HIV and all groups of diverse
backgrounds. He added that he has always been connected with all
systems of oppression as well as liberation, both the negative and the
positive forces. His work with HIV prevention remains one of those
programs closest to his heart.
As for Wittenberg, Chollar noted positive changes on campus
including the university's active social awareness organization, the
Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA), and the Safe Zone Project. Chollar was
also pleased to note that events sponsored by the GSA were included
on the Homecoming 2006 program.
"To be welcomed back and appreciated for who I am, it was healing -
one of the finest moments of my life."