Kristen Sims is the Lead Positive Behavior Specialist for a Gulf Coast school district in which she coordinates behavioral and mental health services for students. She is a MS Licensed Professional Counselor, a National Board Certified Counselor, and a Doctoral Minority Fellow for the National Board for Certified Counselors. She has a master's degree and is completing her doctoral degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Mississippi State University. Her specialities include depression and suicide assessment, cognitive and behavioral therapies, solution-focused therapy, and multicultural considerations in counseling. Kristen has spent her academic and professional career exploring LGBTQ+ issues in counseling and advocating for the LGBTQ+ community. Kristen also works to raise awareness about the positive role counselors can play in working within school systems to better serve the emotional needs of students from underserved/underrepresented minority populations.
During her graduate and undergraduate studies, Kristen served as the president of Spectrum, which was the only LGBTQ+ MSU student organization at the time. During her tenure as president, she organized and participated in a campus wide event to raise awareness for suicide and depression in the LGBTQ+ community. She also organized events for World AIDS Day, National Day of Silence, Transgender Day of Rememberence, and LGBTQ+ Pride and History Displays in the campus library. Kristen also performed as a drag king to raise money for Grace House located in Jackson, MS. Her greatest achievement while president was to bring Eric Alva as a speaker to Mississippi State University. Alva was the first American soldier injured in the Iraq War, losing his leg. Alva came out as gay and served as a former spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, playing an instrumental role in the repeal of the military’s "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy by working with members of Congress to end the discriminatory practice.
Kristen was instrumental in developing Mississippi State’s Safe Zone program which trains staff and students to be LGBTQ+ allies. She participated as an original student member of the Safe Zone Advisory Board. The MSU Safe Zone program has helped surrounding universities such as the Mississippi University for Women to develop their own programs. Kristen helped create materials for MSU’s Safe Zone, served as a group moderator/leader, and served as a panelist during Safe Zone workshops. Kristen has created a Safe Zone program for her pre-K - 12 school district. Kristen has been responsible for the full creation and implementation of the program and has trained over 100 administrators, teachers, school psychologists, speech pathologists, and assistant teachers since creating the program.
Kristen also served as the treasurer of Spectrum prior to becoming president and the treasurer of MSU’s College Democrats. Kristen served as a guest speaker and panelist for numerous MSU undergraduate and graduate classes to promote awareness and advocacy for the LGBTQ+ community. Kristen continues to be a guest speaker for companies and agencies on the Gulf Coast including Chevron Pascagoula Refinery and MS Child Protective Services.
Kristen is very excited and honored to be a member of the Gulf Coast Equality Council and is thankful to fulfill both a personal and professional goal of 13 years to assist in creating an LGBTQ+ community center in her hometown.