Adrian Shanker ‘09 has established himself as a well-known advocate and activist for the LGBTQI+ community. Shanker was the leader of multiple campaigns working to protect LGBTQI+ rights and prevent the implementation of conversion therapy in the U.S. He is also the author of two books, “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health” and “Crisis and Care: Queer Activist Responses to a Global Pandemic,” which both explore the inequalities faced by this community. Shanker’s interest in these policies was sparked by his classes as a political science and religion studies double major at Muhlenberg.
“One of the first courses I took as an undergraduate student at Muhlenberg was a community-engaged learning course through the political science department, where each student was paired with an elementary school student and we were asked to help them navigate a solution to a societal problem,” Shanker explained. “That course [which was taught [by Lanethea Mathews Shultz, Ph.D.] helped me understand how even a very specific policy that gets enacted or changed can make a profound impact on people’s lives.”
I’ve taken lessons from Muhlenberg like that one with me throughout my career as an advocate and non-profit leader, and now in my current role.”
After graduating from George Washington University with a graduate certificate in LGBT Health Policy & Practice, Shanker began his career as an LGBTQI+ activist. Three years into his occupational journey, Shanker established the Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center here in Allentown.
“I worked for eight years leading LGBTQI+ community centers in Allentown, Pennsylvania and Marin County, California,” he shared. “Working at the community level let me really understand the health challenges LGBTQI+ Americans experience every day.”
Shanker valued those eight years of experience and has recently joined the Biden-Harris Administration this month with hopes to apply his knowledge through legislative action.
“In my role as Senior Advisor on LGBTQI+ Health Equity, I provide policy advice within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,” said Shanker. “OASH plays a critical role in promoting a high quality of health for everyone living in America through its numerous offices, including the Office of Population Health, Office of Women’s Health, Office of Infectious Disease and HIV/AIDS policy, Office of Climate Change and health equity and more. It is an honor to work under the leadership of Admiral Rachel Levine, assistant secretary for health, to advance the goal of health equity for LGBTQI+ people!”
Shanker reflected on his career path since graduating from the College. He shared, “Remember that there is no singular ‘correct’ career path. Seek out opportunities that are exciting and meaningful and look for ways to make a positive impact in your community.”