OUTright Youth is the ONLY PLACE in the Catawba Valley that provides a unique, youth-centered, safe environment for LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender and Questioning) youth ages 12-21, and their allies, to come together, receive unconditional support, and make friends who understand who they are as they struggle with sexual orientation, gender identity and other issues.

OUTright Youth strongly believes that it is essential to create a safe space for young people who are, who believe that they might be, or who have friends or family members who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. We offer educational programs, social activities, peer support groups and community outreach and fun!

OUTright Youth’s  goal is to reduce the isolation felt by LGBTQ youth by providing a sense of community and developing programs and services to counteract the prejudice and oppression that LGBTQ youth often face.

OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley was founded in 2010 to provide LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) youth , young adults and their allies, ages 12-21, with services and programs to help them become happy, healthy and successful adults.

“As a practicing family physician in Catawba County for the past 35 years, I have had the opportunity to try to make a difference in the lives of my patients. I have been able to watch them grow and prosper. I have seen tragedy, despair and disappointment. Nowhere has this been more evident than lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth and young adults.

“In early 2010 I had a number of young patients that were having problems at home and at school, and with life in general, as a result of dealing with their sexual orientation and questions. Most are suffering from emotional abuse and some from physical abuse.

“With the help of several patients, friends and others from our community and state we formed a committee that has developed OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley. The mission, and vision, of this organization are stated on this website. We welcome comments, input, and participation from all interested people in the Catawba Valley.” Dr. William E. Long, Conover Family Practice

To serve as a vehicle of change in our community by helping LGBTQ youth navigate adolescence and young adulthood in positive ways while educating others regarding the worth, value, and benefits of a diverse population.

To create a safe space and provide support for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and their allies.

Anna Watson, Executive Director    (828) 320-1937    awatson@outrightyouthcv.org

 OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley, Inc.
748 4th Street SW, Hickory, NC 28602

Dr. William E. Long, President

Bill is a native of Catawba County.  He is a practicing family physician in Conover, NC, and is serving or has served on numerous non-profit boards and is active as an elder and member of several choirs at First Presbyterian Church in Newton.

Edward L. Beard,  DNP,  Vice-president

Eddie obtained his Bachelor of Nursing at Lenoir Rhyne College in 1985, his Masters of Science in Nursing Administration from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, in 1990, and his Doctorate of Nursing Practice in Executive Leadership from American Sentinel University in 2012.  He began his work as a critical care nurse and has served in leadership positions throughout his career.  He currently serves as Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer at Catawba Valley Medical Center.  His community service includes positions on the Board of Directors for the local chapter of the American Red Cross, the AIDS Leadership Foothills Alliance (ALFA), as a founding member of OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley, Inc. and in a variety of professional nursing organizations serving both North Carolina and the United States.  He has served as a Magnet Appraiser for the American Nurses’ Credentialing Center, and has lead teams evaluating hospitals across the United States and abroad.

Edwin G. Farthing, JD

Ed now is retired from the practice of law after having practiced 32 years and spent 4 years working with and lobbying for Equality NC, the LGBT statewide political and advocacy organization. He now mediates and arbitrates legal issues for folks who want to try and settle their dispute before having to go to court. He is currently active in many community organizations including OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley, PFLAG of Hickory/Catawba Valley and Catawba Valley Pride; he is President of the Green Park Neighborhood Association and volunteers for ALFA doing community outreach and HIV testing.

Kathryn T. Greathouse

Kathy is Executive Director of the United Arts Council of Catawba County. She has over 15 years experience in non profit management, grant writing, and fundraising. She is active with PFLAG of Catawba Valley and OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley, and serves on the Catawba Valley Community College Drama Advisory Board. She is a member of the Hickory Rotary Club, where she is a Paul Harris Fellow and a member of the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. She attended Lenoir-Rhyne College and is an ordained Elder and member at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Hickory.

Becca Bleich

Becca is a Community and Regional Planner for the Western Piedmont Council of Governments. She has a background in public relations, nonprofit fundraising, and event planning. Becca earned dual Bachelor’s degrees in Public Relations and Sociology from Western Carolina University. She is a Paul Harris Fellow and former member of the Rotary Club of Newton-Conover.

Wendy Johnson

Wendy is the director of workforce development for Western Piedmont Council on Governments. She has over 15 years experience in Training & Development within the Private Sector .  She has over 15 years experience for industries of Fiber Optics, Pharmaceuticals, and Semiconductors. Seven of those years were spent in Richmond, Virginia.  While in Richmond,  Wendy volunteered for six consecutive years as the Volunteer and Raffle Coordinator for the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation. (Richmond Chapter) Annual Women’s Golf Tournament.  A career change in 2009 brought her back to Hickory, North Carolina. where she found work in the government arena. She obtained her Bachelor’s Degree from Gardner-Webb University, and her Graduate Degree from Clemson University. Wendy is also a regular volunteer at the OUTright Youth meetings.

Jenny Smith

Jenny is the Assistant Dean of Students and Director of Counseling Services at Lenoir-Rhyne University and has been in this position since June 2007.  Jenny specializes in working with students on mental health issues, as well as coordinating support services for students on campus.  As a part of the university, Jenny also teaches in the Master of Counselor Education program.  She further coordinates with community agencies to bring awareness about mental health and social issues to the campus community.  Jenny is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in the State of North Carolina an a Licensed Independent Social Worker (LISW) in the State of South Carolina.   Jenny’s commitment to the community extends beyound her professional career.  She is a former member of the Service League of Hickory as well as a former Hickory Jaycees.  She has also served on the Board of Directors at the Rape Crisis Center of Catawba County.

Beverly Biser-Austin

Beverly is a Maryland native, living in Hickory with her partner and two children.  She is a Dental Hygienist and has worked in the dental field for over thirty years.  “I have wanted to work with this organization ever since I first heard about it.”  She is very passionate about children’s rights and about bullying during the teen years.  “We can have a profound effect  on a child’s development, if we provide a safe non-judgmental community.  I hope we can reach every child who needs us.”  Beverly’s interests include art, theater and travel.

Brad Bollinger

Brad is a Broker/Realtor with Realty Executives of Hickory

Larry W. Johnson, (General Counsel)

Larry graduated from Oklahoma State University with honors in 1982 and from the University of Oklahoma College of Law in 1984. He is licensed to practice in a variety of state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court. He is engaged in the private practice of law with Johnson Law Office in Hickory, North Carolina, where he has lived since 1999. His practice currently focuses on small business, estate planning and the general practice of law. He serves on the Ethics Committee for Catawba Valley Medical Center and moderates Conversations in Ethics, a continuing education and outreach program of the hospital. During his career he has acted as Board Member or General Counsel for a variety of not-profit organizations including the AIDS Leadership Foothills Area Alliance (ALFA) and OUTright Youth of Catawba Valley. He is a Paul Harris Fellow with Rotary, International and a 32 degree Mason.