Black History Month Staff Spotlight: Osha Towers
By: Alyson Lynch
This Black History Month, Compassion & Choices is celebrating Black leaders within our organization who bring their unique and invaluable perspectives to the end-of-life options movement. Our staff and supporters make progress possible.
Compassion & Choices’ Community Engagement team works within communities to advance our mission of improving care and expanding options at the end of life. Sometimes, this means traveling to community events, conferences, and in Osha Towers’ role as LGBTQ+ Outreach Manager, Pride celebrations! Osha recounts Newark, New Jersey’s Pride, saying, “We had so many people show up; we had old school Black singers and performers. Just the community filling up the street, being our Black Queer and Trans selves, and having a good time.”
Osha brings a wealth of experience and their own personal experiences to the work. When asked how they lift up intersectional identities, Osha said, “By existing fully as myself, as a Black Queer, non-binary individual, making sure we’re constantly getting more voices from the community and seeking out more connections with organizations that lead to more diversity.”
There are many individuals who’ve inspired Osha’s work, including Jacquline Boyd, the founder of The Care Plan, an aging and wellness company that caters to LGBTQ+ individuals and communities. They also find inspiration from Miss Major, a Black trans activist who is a veteran of the Stonewall Riots, and Elle Halo, a model, speaker, activist and leader. For Osha, Elle Halo’s power comes from “leading by showing up fully as herself and commanding respect without conforming to expectations.” Coincidentally or not, Osha and their icons have something in common: hailing from the Midwest.
End-of-life care and options are ever-relevant to LGBTQ+ people. Osha argues, “end-of-life care matters to me because I've seen too many chosen families pushed aside and people buried as someone other than the person they lived as.” They continue, “Or the fear of being in a hospital and having someone speak for you that hasn't spoken to you in years. I want to make sure my community can keep itself safe and cared for all the way through the end of life.