The Scholars-In-Residence Program

In Spring 2023, the Penn LGBT Center received a generous $2 million commitment to create the first residency, at any university in the United States, dedicated to championing LGBTQ+ communities and scholarship.  

The Scholars-in-Residence (SIR) program aims to amplify queer voices and extend education beyond conventional limits to foster greater awareness of LGBTQ+ identities and contributions. By integrating these conversations into classroom settings, alongside programmatic opportunities connecting students with scholars, the program aims to ignite social change and cultivate allies across various communities.  

2024 Scholars-In-Residence

The LGBT Center is thrilled to welcome its 2024 Scholars-in-Residence, all three of whom are esteemed entrepreneurs and activists within the vibrant city of Philadelphia. This year’s selection holds special significance, showcasing the Center’s commitment to building connections with queer professionals who embody the diverse ingenuity of our local community. 

TS Hawkins they/them
International author, performance poet, art activist, playwright, trauma-informed, award-winning educator.

TS Hawkins (they/them) is an international author, performance poet, art activist, playwright, trauma-informed, award-winning educator, and member of the Dramatists Guild. Plays, short works, and books include Seeking Silence, sweet bread peaches (formerly, Cartons of Ultrasounds), Too Late to Apologize, In Their Silence (formerly, They’ll Neglect to Tell You), #RM2B, The Secret Life of Wonder: a prologue in G, AGAIN, #SuiteReality, “don’t wanna dance with ghosts…”, Sugar Lumps & Black Eye Blues, Confectionately Yours, Mahogany Nectar, Lil Blaek Book: all the long stories short, and The Hotel Haikus.  

Hawkins’ works and powerful performances have been praised by the Barrymore Awards as a Victory Foundation Theatre Education recipient, named Best of Philly by Philadelphia Magazine, and featured in publications like BroadwayWorld, Philly Voice, NPR, WHYY, WURD Radio, Philadelphia Weekly, Chicago Tribune, The Dramatist, and dosageMagazine.

Ongoing projects include TrailOff and Community Capital: an Afrofuturism South Philly Walking Experience.

Learn more on

Kyle Cuffie-Scott he/him
Founder and Co-Owner of Darnel's Cakes, located in Old City, Philadelphia. The bakery celebrates its third anniversary this year.

Kyle Cuffie-Scott (he/him) is the Founder and Co-Owner of Darnel’s Cakes, LLC. With over 20 years of experience in the hospitality industry he recently celebrated the third anniversary of Darnel’s Cakes, his brick-and-mortar location in Old City, Philadelphia. His recent accomplishments include an appearance on Good Morning America and making a celebrity birthday cake for the icon Janet Jackson! Kyle is originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, but he loves his roots here in Philadelphia. Kyle is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University with an associate degree in baking and pastry arts, and a bachelor’s degree in public relations from Temple University.

Darnel’s Cakes is a tasty project that raises awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic and supports local and national organizations that are at the forefront of fighting the virus, disease, and/or associated stigmas. What started as a small cupcake fundraiser in the Fall of 2015 for World AIDS Day is now a thriving retail business.

Darnel’s specializes in fresh cakes, cookies, bars and savory snacks that are carefully crafted by Chef/Owner, Kyle Cuffie-Scott. This project is all in honor of his late cousin Darnel Scott, who left us in January of 2013.

Dr. Danna Bodenheimer she/her
Founder and Director of the Walnut Psychotherapy Center with over 15 years of experience in the field of mental health.

Dr. Danna Bodenheimer (she/her), Founder and Director of the Walnut Psychotherapy Center, has worked in the field of mental health for over 15 years. Her expertise is most centered around working with the LGBTQ+ and neurodivergent population. She takes different, cutting-edge approaches to thinking about and treating individual and organizational trauma. She has also long studied the impacts of dual marginalization on the psyches of individuals in treatment and in the workplace. Dr. Bodenheimer received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Smith College, her post-baccalaureate degree from Columbia University and her doctorate in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. She has taught at Temple University, Rutgers University, Bryn Mawr College and Penn. She can easily discuss complex issues of life along the gender spectrum, neurodivergence, racial dynamics in the workplace and interpersonally, and the lifelong impact that trauma has on overall human functionality. She also authored two books on how to practice in the field of psychotherapy and has mentored hundreds of developing clinicians has they have grown their own practices.

Scholar-In-Residence Calendar of Events

The 2024 scholars will each host a family dinner, TedTalk, and class visit. Please check out the exact dates on our calendar.

2023 Scholar-In-Residence

The residency launched in April 2023 with inaugural scholar ALOK, an internationally acclaimed author, poet, comedian, and public speaker, whose work explores themes of trauma, belonging, and the human condition. ALOK is the author of “Femme in Public” (2017), “Beyond the Gender Binary” (2020), and “Your Wound/My Garden” (2021), and has toured more than 40 countries over the past decade. ALOK presented at two events, “Evening of Comedy & Poetry with ALOK” and “Radical Self-Love & Poetry Workshop. 

Scholar-In-Residence Fund

Continued support for the program is made possible through generous donations to the LGBT Center Scholar-in-Residence Fund. Be a part of amplifying LGBTQ+ voices and give today!