Obituary – Sheltreese (Treese) McCoy

It is with heavy hearts that we share the news that Sheltreese McCoy passed away Thursday, November 22. Known to most as Treese, she was a longtime and fierce advocate for racial justice, disability rights, intersectionality, queer folks (especially queer and trans people of color), and more.

Sheltreese was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1981, and raised in Cleveland Ohio. During her time in Madison, Sheltreese was the Social Justice Educator and Crossroads Initiative Coordinator at UW Madison’s Multicultural Student Center, as well as the creator of RHedI, LLC, a social justice development firm, and president and founder of Change the Field, a Queer People of Color social justice development firm.

Sheltreese earned her B.A. from Bowling Green State University, and a Masters’ of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from UW Madison. She was a writer, speaker, trainer, and teacher who facilitated trainings and workshops all over the United States, Canada, and South America. She recently completed her PhD. in Educational Leadership & Policy Analysis, with a focus on queer and trans people of color in higher education.

In 2015, the Fair Wisconsin Education Fund recognized Sheltreese with their Activist of the Year award, citing her creation of the first and most comprehensive Queer People of Color Resource Guide, presented annually at The LGBTQ Task Force’s national Creating Change Conference, and facilitation of numerous workshops and trainings about intersectionality, race and racism, homophobia, and erasure. Sheltreese was also the last multicultural issues director at United Council of UW Students. In this capacity she organized the annual Building Unity Multicultural Issues Conference and the first ever United Council Queer People of Color summit.

UW’s MSC wrote, “Dr. McCoy’s presence, influence, power, and grace are felt still today in her advocacy for students and through the programs that she championed, particularly the Crossroads Initiative. Treese devoted her life and research to uplifting QTPOC experiences and stories and has a deep legacy of care and mentorship.”

Longtime and close companion Eric Pitcher had this remembrance of Treese: “Dr. Sheltreese McCoy was a brilliant intellectual, fierce advocate, unapologetic human, life companion, and my best friend…. While I did not know it would be her last, her last day was a joyful one. We ate, we laughed, we joked, she shaded me, I shaded her. We had all the foods. We told each other that we loved each other. I held her hand. We lived big, full, and fabulously yesterday.”

Our Lives had the honor of publishing Sheltreese’s story in her own words in our November 2015 issue. She was a force to be reckoned with, an tireless advocate for positive change, a great intellect, and a big heart – and she will be missed by many.

Rest in power.


“Don’t level the playing field. Change it!” – Sheltreese McCoy

You can read Dr. McCoy’s PhD dissertation online here: “Where Is My Place? Queer and Transgender Students of Color Experiences in Cultural Centers at a Predominantly White University”