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The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity is the education, research, and community engagement arm of Equitas Health, focusing on reducing health disparities in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. We do this by developing and delivering exceptional LGBTQ culturally competent healthcare education and training, engaging with LGBTQ and HIV-positive patients, working with community based organizations, and supporting LGBTQ health research efforts in our region.

Our work with the LGBTQ community encompasses all sexual and gender minorities, including, but not limited to, those who identify as pansexual, asexual, omnisexual, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and intersex.


Cultural competency builds knowledge, awareness, skills, and capacity to identify, understand, and respect the unique beliefs, values, customs, languages, abilities, and traditions of all people in order to provide effective programs and services. The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity is prioritizing moving beyond cultural competency towards cultural humility. Cultural humility is an important tool for tackling issues of health disparities and health inequities in the LGBTQ community. Cultural humility is a lifelong process and commitment to self-evaluation, self-critique, learning, reflection, and working in partnership with those belonging to a different culture. It also includes recognizing and addressing power dynamics in any provider-patient/client relationship. To improve the overall safety and quality of care, organizations should aspire to meet the unique needs of their patients – patient by patient. Addressing patients and clients from a place of cultural humility increases overall engagement and retention in care, resulting in better health outcomes.


Goal and Action Oriented

We strive to provide the tools needed to create meaningful organizational change in order to increase the quality of care for those who identify as LGBTQ. Participants will work towards achieving specific outcomes designed to increase culturally competent care resulting in improved patient retention, engagement, and optimal health.

Depth and Breadth

The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity seeks to provide thoughtful and complete education on a wide variety of topics.

Challenge and Enjoyment

Trainings are personal, interactive, and easily applicable to real world situations. We ask that individuals come ready to challenge their own beliefs and biases.

Cultural Humility

We believe that we learn most when interacting with those different than ourselves. We strive to provide a platform for dialogue between participants and members of the LGBTQ community to encourage understanding, empathy, and unconditional positive regard.


Our trainings emphasize best practices and incorporate data from recently published peer-reviewed articles.


Julia M. Applegate, MA

Julia M. Applegate directs the Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity at Equitas Health where she leads LGBTQ health education, research and community engagement efforts to improve the health and wellness of LGBTQ communities across Ohio. Prior to joining Equitas Health, Julia directed the LGBTQ Health Initiative at Columbus Public Health.

Julia has over 20 years of experience in curriculum design, education and public health programming/policy development. She has worked in public health programs focused on women’s health, HIV/AIDS, and LGBTQ Health. With over 10 years of academic teaching experience, Ms. Applegate is a skilled trainer and experienced presenter who has designed curricula, conducted Train the Trainer programs and presented at local, state, national and international conferences on public health, HIV/AIDS, gender and sexual orientation topics. Her trainings have focused on questions of health equity, diversity and inclusion-focusing primarily on marginalized and underserved communities. Ms. Applegate has worked on numerous federal grants and is an experienced grant writer. She has done policy and program development at the local, state and international level as a government employee and as a member of a Board of Directors. Ms. Applegate has several years of management experience as a public health professional and is currently working on obtaining a Master of Public Health degree from The Ohio State University. Julia lives in the Glen Echo area of Clintonville with her partner of 15 years, Liv Gjestvang, their two children, Karsten and Solveig.

Ramona J. Peel, MA
Lead Trainer

As the Lead Trainer for The Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity, Ramona is directly involved in The Institute’s education, research, and community engagement programs. She collaborates on creating The Institute’s training programs, and leads the delivery of training to internal and external audiences. As Trans Health Navigator, Ramona is a resource and an advocate for trans and gender non-conforming clients at Equitas Health clinics in Columbus and Dayton. Ramona also is a Political Science instructor, and currently teaches at the Newark branch of The Ohio State University.

Ramona has 15 years of classroom teaching experience, and her work was recognized by the Ohio State University Political Science Department, which awarded her Henry R. Spencer Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2004. Her varied background and experience also includes social science research, broadcasting, journalism, and activism. In addition, her lived experience as a trans woman informs and enriches her work in training and clinic environments.

Ramona has a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 1997. She lives in the Clintonville neighborhood of Columbus and has two wonderful, supportive children.

Dom Ali, IEWP
Community Engagement Manager

Dominic Ali is the Community Engagement Manager for the Institute for LGBTQ Health Equity at Equitas Health where he bears the overall operational responsibility for generating, promoting, coordinating, scheduling, and delivering the community engagement activities. He does this through representing the agency at community meetings and events including Pride celebrations throughout the state; leading the community-based programs; marketing community outreach opportunities in Ohio and beyond; and, assists in the delivery of the Institute’s training curriculum. Dominic is utilizing his passion for helping the LGBTQ+ community overcome their health barriers and ensuring that the community knows of the services offered by the organization.

Prior to this position, Dominic worked for the City of Columbus’ Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA) and Equitas’ Health under the Greater Columbus Mpowerment Center (GCMC). Through his previous works, Dominic acquired certification in Motivational Interviewing, and he became an HIV/STI testing counselor with additional training and education in Phlebotomy. Through administrative directives, Dominic held supervisorial coordination of programs executed for MSM and HIV+ clients through a CDC-funded grant. This has also provided Dominic with the opportunity to plan regular events for the community that included local politicians and coordination with other community providers. Dominic has lent his talents to other organizations in the community as a volunteer and his continued philanthropic works.

Originally from Washington, D.C., Dominic has called Columbus, Ohio home since 2010. He is a certified International Event and Wedding Planning Professional. Dominic resides in Central Ohio with his spouse since 2012 and his amazing “bonus” son.

Zoe Fawcett Freggens, MA
Education Manager

Zoe Fawcett Freggens is the Education Manager at the Equitas Health Institute. In this role, she creates, evaluates, maintains, and promotes LGBTQ+ Health Education Curricula on a statewide, regional, national, and international level, as required. Her education efforts are tailored for health and social service providers, corporate entities, community based organizations, and academic institutions, and include education related consultation services.

Prior to joining Equitas Health, Zoe worked at Ohio State University as a staff member with the USDA-NIFA-funded Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP). While in that position, Zoe’s primary focus was on database management and program evaluation. Although she enjoyed her work at EFNEP, Zoe was ready to refocus her efforts toward her ultimate career goal: bettering the lives of LGBTQ+ individuals. Before joining the Equitas Health team, her passions were focused on research, teaching, political engagement, and activism. Zoe was recently part of a wonderful research team that investigated utilization of preventive care among trans-men and cisgender adults. The research, titled, “Do transgender men have equal access to health care and engagement in preventive health behaviors compared to cisgender adults?” was recently published in Social Work in Health Care.

Previously, Zoe has taught at the undergraduate level and with adult learners outside the university context. Her additional skills include designing, testing, and evaluating both survey and curricula, and she enjoys both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. Zoe prefers affiliating with the general term, ‘scientist,’ rather than ‘social scientist,’ and she strives to do work that is intersectional and inclusive. Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Donna Haraway are just a few of her academic heroes from which she draws inspiration.

Zoe graduated magna cum laude from Salem College with a B.A. in both Psychology and Sociology. In 2013, Zoe entered a joint M.A./Ph.D. Sociology program at Georgia State University in Atlanta, GA. In 2015, she obtained her M.A. in Sociology; she is now working remotely (and slowly) on the Ph.D. portion of her program. Zoe’s dissertation research focuses on non-hegemonically-feminine folks that choose to give birth and how they navigate the personal, social, and medical experiences associated with that process.

Zoe lives in Franklinton with her amazing soon-to-be-wife, Marjorie, and their three cats/fur-children: Squizmo, Catalina (Kit Cat for short), and Remi.