A Family with Pride
As a social worker in the neuro-oncology program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s, Allegra Kartha, M.S.W., provides social and emotional support for patients and their families.
Allegra Kartha, M.S.W., is part of a Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital family. Their father, Vyas Kartha, M.D., is an anesthesiologist at the St. Petersburg, Florida, hospital.
Allegra is a clinical social worker, supporting patients and families primarily in the neuro-oncology program. They recently were honored with a Johns Hopkins Pride Month Achievers Award.
In celebration of Pride month, we wanted to learn more about Allegra’s work at the hospital.
Tell us about your role at the hospital.
I am a social worker in the neuro-oncology program at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. As social workers in the hospital, we provide social and emotional support, advocate for and connect our patients and families to community resources, and coordinate with multidisciplinary teams to address the patient and family’s needs or concerns. In the neuro-oncology program, as a social worker, I meet with patients and families in the inpatient and outpatient settings, providing support as they navigate diagnosis, treatment, remission and recurrences.
What is a typical day like for you at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital?
On clinical days, I shift between seeing patients in the clinic, infusion center and inpatient. I also participate in weekly clinical meetings with my team to discuss and collaborate on patient care. On nonclinical days, I participate in different roles and committees inside and outside my department. I co-chair the social work department’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging (DEIB) Committee. I am also a co-chair of the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group at the hospital. Also, I participate in our Diversity, Inclusion and Health Equity Committee.
What's something people might not know about you?
Not everyone knows but most people are beginning to discover how John’s Hopkins All Children’s has been a part of my life for as long as I know because my father works here at the hospital as well. Though we seldom cross paths clinically, it’s one of the things I love and am proud about working here.
Can you describe your journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community?
My journey as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is constantly changing and growing. In addition, my experience as a queer, nonbinary person of color is distinct. I first came out as queer when I was only 13 years old. When I was in college as a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies major, I began to gain more of an understanding of my gender identity. My definition of my gender identity as a nonbinary person might look different from someone who identifies as nonbinary. I relate a lot to what Alok Menon said on “The Man Enough” podcast about their gender identity, “The reason I am gender nonbinary is that I love my people, I love being brown, and I love being South Asian, and because I know my history.” Alok and I are both not only South Asian but South Indian, whose cultures have a history of recognizing that gender is not binary. I feel incredibly proud to represent my culture in this way. In this journey phase, I aim to provide more space for healing and support for other queer and trans people of color.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
Pride month is not just one month out of the year for me but a continuous lived experience. I reflect a lot on our history as a community, especially how queer and trans people of color (QTPOC) have continued to be at the front lines of this movement. Yet this history continues to be erased, and Black queer and trans people are most likely to experience violence and discrimination. Marsha P. Johnson said it best, “No pride for some of us without liberation for all of us.” Pride month requires moving beyond performative allyship corporate sponsorships and actively working as an accomplice in solidarity with LGBTQIA+ and QTPOC communities. I believe the most extraordinary revolutionary act I can perform is to be myself and be proud of representing all my intersectional identities, especially in a world that may not want me to or may disagree with my identities or communities. This is what Pride means to me, and I aim to embody this always.